Monday, June 08, 2009

AMAZON ALERT: PERU

Indigenous Protesters in Peru
Indigenous protesters fighting logging and drilling blocked a road in northern Peru on Friday as police tear gas hung in the air. Photo: Associated Press

[Update 1: Reuters reports that the death toll has risen to more than 60 and that thousands of Indians are still blocking roads. Here's an activist's report about the actions likely this week.]

[Update 2: Simon Romero, reporting for the NY Times, points out that the issue is not only over oil and timber leases. For instance, leaders from the Asháninka indigenous group are trying to derail a plan by Eletrobrás, a company controlled by Brazil’s government, to spend more than $10 billion to build five hydroelectric plants in Peru.]

This morning (Jun 6) I received an email from our dear friend Anjo who is in Peru. She says: "heading into the jungle in a few days. mad stress to get all done. 35 people dead this morning. hundreds wounded. many I know. a curfew. feels like back in Palestine."

Anjo is not exaggerating. Here is some video from May 22, 2009.



According to AMAZON WATCH 25 civilians and 9 police have been killed in the current clashes. Peru's Amazon Indigenous Peoples need you to TAKE ACTION now.

AMAZON WATCH

Since April 9th communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting new laws that usher in an unprecedented wave of extractive industries into the Amazon Rainforest. President Alan Garcia's government passed these laws under "fast track" authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to make laws to facilitate the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and to make Peru more economically "competitive".

Over 30,000 indigenous people have taken to blockading roads, rivers, and railways to demand the repeal of these new laws that allow oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking prior consultation or consent. The protests have led to disruptions of transport as well as the interruption of oil production.

In the early morning of June 5, Peruvian military police staged a violent raid on a group of indigenous people at a peaceful blockade on a road outside of Bagua, in a remote area of northern Peruvian Amazon. Several thousand indigenous peoples were forcibly dispersed by tear gas and real bullets. Initial reports of fatalities include at least eleven indigenous people, along with nine police officers.

We need you to immediately TAKE ACTION adding your voice in solidarity with thousands of indigenous people. Send a letter today to the Garcia Administration demanding and end to the violent repression and respect for the constitutionally guaranteed rights of indigenous peoples.

As one of the Earth's largest tropical rainforests, the Amazon plays a critical role in safeguarding the global climate. Its destruction releases massive amounts of global warming gases into the atmosphere, worsening climate change. Indigenous peoples are the guardians of the Amazon rainforest. They need your support.

There's more from AmazonWatch and an excellent roundup at DailyKos that covers how US Free Trade agreements have been contributing to the problem.

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