Power and presence of oligarchy not mentioned
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By Carlos Quiroz, peruanista.blogspot.com
June 19, 2008 (updated June 26) -- The videos you are about to see are a bit shocking. For 18 months the people of the Moquegua region (southeastern Peru) and the mining workers from that region have been seeking for peaceful negotiations with the Peruvian government in Lima.
The Moqueguanos were trying to lobby against a bill sent by the Peruvian executive to Congress, which could mean a reduction in the royalties paid by foreign mining companies -- Southern Copper Corporation (USA/Mexico) in this case -- which are very important for the Moquegua region. But workers were ignored.
So it was clear for the more than 22,000 people of Moquegua -- they are not delinquents as the press in Lima has called them -- that their protest was necessary and legitimate. They began a hunger strike and blockade of a national highway, on June 11.
The violence we can see in these videos is the result of the negligence and arrogance of President Alan Garcia's administration and Peru's right-wing politicians. They have attacked workers who are fighting for their legitimate interests with tear gas.
Our right to protest
The Peruvian government has the obligation to listen to its citizens, but instead it has responded with excessive violence. Unfortunately this proves that only these kind of protests are the most appropriate way for all Peruvians to reclaim their rights because the central government in Lima will not listen otherwise. Peruvians must use fully their right to peaceful protest, free expression and full participation in their communities.
Instead of trying to find solutions, Jorge del Castillo, who is the president of the council of ministers, Luis Alva the minister of interior (police and internal security) and the Southern Copper Corporation directors, denounced the protesters and accused them of crimes, threatening to imprison their protest leaders.
The government bureaucrats talk
comfortably in Lima, while they send 500 police -- who are as poor as
the miners -- with orders to violently repress their own people.
President Garcia should be in Moquegua talking with his citizens, but
obviously he is not interested in doing so.
Peruvian miners that work for Southern Copper Corporation, started a 48-hour strike on June 19 calling for better wages and against the reduction of mining royalties. They also announced another strike for June 23. The Federation of Miners of Peru (FMP), which represents about 28,000 miners and 70 unions, has announced a nationwide strike for June 30 to demand that Congress pass a separate law to improve pensions, labour rights for subcontractors and a greater participation in the company's profits.
Who is the Peruvian government protecting?
The Southern Copper Corporation -- formerly known as Southern Peru Copper Corporation -- is a multinational mining company founded in 1952 and based in Phoenix, Arizona. It's a subsidiary of America Mining Corporation, with operations in Peru, Mexico and Chile. It produces and sells copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, lead and gold. The company operates mines in Peru --Toquepala and Cuajone in the Peruvian Andes, southeast of Lima -- and also a smelter and refinery in the coastal city of Ilo. One of SCC's mines in Mexico was shut down by a strike since July last year. Its ownership is currently shared by investors from the US and Mexico mostly.
June 26, 2008 -- President Alan Garcia ordered an attack that included bombings and shootings, but it failed to defeat the civilians. During the attacks, 700 police officers under the commande of General Alberto Jordán, head of the Arequipa division of the Peruvian National Police (PNP), went after 20,000 people who had blocked streets and roads of this mining town located in a beautiful and peaceful valley.
Jordan had received clear orders from Lima: to sho-t people executiont-style. Instead, he put his gun down and ordered his troops to do the
same. He was taken hostage quietly, among 63 other officers, by the Moqueguanos, but they were all freed when the Garcia administration agreed to negotiate.
A popular victory
After the courageous response of the Moqueguan people, and under a huge pressure from non-government organisations and human rights advocates, the Peruvian goverment had to accept a dialogue with the protesters. But President Alan Garcia, his prime minister, Jorge del Castillo, and his minister of the interior, Luis Alva , (in charge of the PNP) did not bother to travel to Moquegua. They requested that Moqueguan leaders travel to Lima.
Finally, after a 14-hour long session, both parties signed an eight-point agreement that met the goals set by the people of Moquegua. This was a condition in order to stop their protests.
The media in Peru were divided in their reactions to the agreement, with very few outlets informing Peruvians of the true reasons for the protests. But most TV stations and newspapers accused the rioters of being delinquents, thugs or terrorists. Manipulated pro-Garcia journalists and analysts asked for strong military and penal action to prevent more popular replicas of what they called the ``Moqueguazo'' revolts. They ignored the fact that aside from the mining workers there were children and women, who came from 17 small communities to defend their rights for better living conditions.
Afterwards, General Alberto Jordan has been ousted by President Garcia and blamed for the violent events, said that he didn't handle the revolts with strong hand. Jordan is now being investigated by the authorities. So far, not a single member of the Garcia administration has resigned or accepted any responsibility for the violent attacks against the human rights of Peruvian citizens. In fact, politicians, the right-wing media and ``well-to-do'' jurists are asking the government to take judiciary action against the community leaders who led the protests. The chairperson of the Attorneys' Bar of Lima (CAL) Walter Gutierrez has said that the civilians committed crimes ``against private property, kidnapping, extortion and resistance against the authorities''.
What is next?
The people of Moquegua are pleased to know that finally their region will get a fair share of funds from the extraction of their natural resources by foreign corporations backed by the government of Lima. But they are not resting in their laurels. Things are far from settling down.
Legal action against community leaders is being planned already by the Fiscalia -- Peru's justice department -- as a way to punish their ``insolence'' and rebellion against national authorities. Gladys Echaiz, Peru's national prosecutor, has said that "we will do our job backed by our constitution and laws''. Echaiz said that there is ``an organisation'' behind the riots and that civilians are already under investigation, based on oral testimony and videos recorded by the government to identity who was involved in these actions.
The people in Moquegua have declared that they will protest again if any of their leaders are detained or arrested, and they are serious about it, especially after the strong international support they have gained.
The neighbouring region of Tacna (on the border with Chile) has said it doesn't accept the agreement between Lima and Moquegua, since it has long benefited by the previous system of royalty distribution.
Meanwhile, a national strike in all Peru is planned for July 9 by labour unions, student and women's rights organisations, farmers' unions
and leftist political parties. This strike is to protest neoliberal
economic policies, the high cost of living, authoritarian and violent
repression, poverty, injustice, the criminalisation of social protest,
protection of the environment and natural resources, protection for
farmers, for retired workers rights, against privatisation and for
This is an article posted by Inter Press Service:
In mid-June 2008, President Alan Garcia had a 30% of national approval, while in the southern regions of Peru a whopping 90% expressed opposition to his policies.
In case you still wondering what is going on in Peru and why Peruvians are facing such violent attacks from their own government, these are some reasons.
Peru is a post-colonial country, controlled by a small group of corrupt, racist people based mostly in Lima, who are descendants of families who ruled this land since it was a Spanish colony. They are backed by corrupt politicians and business owners who have made extraordinary fortunes by controlling the lives of 28 million people and their natural resources.
While Lima and one or two other coastal cities grow, most of the rest of the regions in the Andean nation are kept impoverished and terribly underdeveloped. These regions are precisely where mostly Indigenous and African-descendant people live. In provinces like Moquegua, valuable natural resources are located.
These resources are extracted by foreign corporations and exported to rich developed countries, especially the US, China and Europe, which need the minerals for their manufacturing and armaments industries. In this inhumane and polluting business, only the foreign investors and their rich Peruvian partners benefit, while miners live under horrible conditions and entire Andean towns, rivers and lakes are destroyed.
The current Garcia
administration is ruling in favour of the rich and powerful, increasing
injustice and poverty among those who have been historically neglected.
So when you read about how well the economy of Peru is doing, it means
that the rich are doing good business and the huge majority still live
in poverty. This is just the continuation of the same policies that
make Peru such an unfair nation for centuries, and something needs to
be done to correct that.
Obviously, Peruvians are aware of that.
I agree with what you say in general, but plainly this article DOES mention the oligarchy and its backing from the rich countries. The article states clearly:
``In case you still wondering what is going on in Peru and why Peruvians are facing such violent attacks from their own government, these are some reasons.
``Peru is a post-colonial country, controlled by a small group of corrupt, racist people based mostly in Lima, who are descendants of families who ruled this land since it was a Spanish colony. They are backed by corrupt politicians and business owners who have made extraordinary fortunes by controlling the lives of 28 million people and their natural resources.
``While Lima and one or two other coastal cities grow, most of the rest of the regions in the Andean nation are kept impoverished and terribly underdeveloped. These regions are precisely where mostly Indigenous and African-descendant people live. In provinces like Moquegua, valuable natural resources are located.
``These resources are extracted by foreign corporations and exported to rich developed countries, especially the US, China and Europe, which need the minerals for their manufacturing and armaments industries. In this inhumane and polluting business, only the foreign investors and their rich Peruvian partners benefit, while miners live under horrible conditions and entire Andean towns, rivers and lakes are destroyed.``The current Garcia administration is ruling in favour of the rich and powerful, increasing injustice and poverty among those who have been historically neglected. So when you read about how well the economy of Peru is doing, it means that the rich are doing good business and the huge majority still live in poverty. This is just the continuation of the same policies that make Peru such an unfair nation for centuries, and something needs to be done to correct that.''
Peru: National strike demands respect for indigenous collective rights
This past 8-10 July, the Peasant Confederation of Peru and the National Agrarian Confederation, with the wide backing of a large number of indigenous and peasant organizations, carried out a country-wide protest which coincided on July 9 with a national general strike called by the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP).
The protest drew together numerous communities, federations and organizations, including Amazonian indigenous groups, and was used to voice a range of messages. Chief among these was the demand for respect for the collective rights of indigenous peoples affected by the policies that the government is attempting to impose in the Amazon region, aimed at promoting industries with destructive impacts on the environment and inhabitants of the region, such as mining, oil drilling and tree plantations.
Some of the demands voiced by indigenous peoples in Peru relate to a series of draft laws and other legislative initiatives that violate indigenous collective rights, including the following:
* Legislative decrees 1015 and 994, aimed at coercively imposing a process by which collectively owned indigenous community lands throughout Peru would be divided into parcels and transferred to private individual ownership. This would leave the land unprotected, and open the way for the invasion of powerful economic groups, mainly representing extractive industries. The proposed regulations would also violate numerous articles of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to communal property and the right of communities to autonomously choose their own forms of organization.
* Draft law 840, known as the “Forest Law” (see WRM Bulletin Nº 129), which is aimed at the privatization of thousands of hectares of land in the Amazon forest, purportedly to facilitate their “reforestation”. The justification used is that the land in question is unforested, idle wasteland, with no acquired rights over it. However, indigenous organizations have countered that there are in fact no unused wasteland areas in the Amazon forest.
* Draft law 2133, which would authorize the sale of beaches, sandbars and marshes along riverbanks in the Amazon region.
The Front for the Defence and Development of the Upper Amazon (FREDESAA) maintains that these laws would leave the Amazon region’s inhabitants landless, converting the legitimate owners of the land into workers and eventually slaves.
The July 9 general strike, which left much of the country paralyzed, particularly in the southern Andes, central and Amazon regions, was also aimed at protesting the government’s neoliberal policies, the United States-Peru free trade agreement, and the privatization of ports and basic services like water.
In numerous cities people took to the streets to demonstrate and set up roadblocks on highways. The government mobilized 100,000 police officers throughout the country and called out the armed forces to take control of strategic facilities such as electric power stations, drinking water reservoirs and airports. Around 200 protestors were arrested during the strike.
Article based on information from the following sources: “Unidad de los Pueblos ante Paro en la Amazonía del Perú”, Red Ucayali, 09/07/2008, http://peru.indymedia.org/news/2008/07/40434.php; “El paro pegó fuerte en Perú”, Carlos Noriega, Página 12, 10/07/2008, reprinted by bilaterals.org, http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=12653; “En defensa de las tierras de la Amazonía”, FREDESAA, 06/06/2008, http://frentes-regionales.blogspot.com/2008/06/fredesaa-frente-de-defensa-y-desarrollo.html
Tom Baker here, Chicago Nicaragua Solidarity Committee Fair Trade Resource, Alliance for Global Justice, Latin America Solidarity Coalition, and so on speaking for myself.
There is important aspect to the situations in all these countries with whom we profess solidarity with the People - Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, and so on. THE OLIGARCHY, bo, the oligarchy, and all their Big Money friends back home, from Europe, mostly.
How cum how the oligarchy plays is obscured? Who were the dictatorial powers? Who were the power people rose up against before turning the electoral scam against itself and taking some power for a first time? Who? And did they go away? Have they changed their suits?
Friends, before you start ganging up on an Evo, a Hugo, a Fidel, or a Daniel, you got to acknowledge the continuing presence and cynical interests of the Same Old Oligarchy.
You got to see the Class War going on.