Growing tensions in Peruvian Amazon regions

Following failure of the Peruvian Government to attend to the complaints and protests voiced by Peru's Amazon indigenous organisations concerning a package of nine privatisation laws seriously affecting the future of the Amazon lands, on April 9, 2009, several indigenous peoples of the Amazon region have initiated an uprising in a desperate attempt to stress their demands, have the laws derogated and a round table established. Whereas in August 2008 the Amazon peoples succeeded in the derogation of law 1015 and 1073 by the Congress, since then the indigenous demands and worries have not been dealt with in any serious way. While the Government on one hand followed a policy of criminalisation of the protest, on the other hand it tried to weaken the indigenous movement by the installation of a round table with a rather government-oriented organisation. A general strike was already considered in December but postponed in hope of a positive development. Then, on April 9, AIDESEP, the indigenous umbrella organisation, declared the beginning of an uprising in the region to have their case be heard and, above all, solved in accordance with the provisions of ILO Convention 169 requiring free, prior informed consultation and consent of the indigenous peoples on measures affecting their territories. Since over 60 % of the Amazon woodlands, their biodiversity and thus their inhabitants are endangered by the implementation of the Ley Forestal y de la Fauna Silvestre and the others established in relation to the Free Trade Agreements with the United States and Chile, Peru's Amazon indigenous peoples, such as the Ashaninka, Kichwa, Huampi and Awajún, refuse these laws protesting with the blockade of bridges and other important infrastructure. While the Government has sent first military troops to the region breaking barriers in some places and declared state of emergency over various Amazon regions like Loreto, Bagua, Ucayali and parts of Cuzco, the indigenous organisations already receive support from other social organisations and a number of bishops. Indigenous organisations of the Andes region have also declared their solidarity while - after a heated debate on May 8, 2009 - the Peruvian Congress finally approved of the Special Congressional Commission's Report on the indigenous situation. With mitigated wording to find approval of the Congress, the report concludes in favour of the derogation of the laws threatening indigenous lands.