Peru: Aymara protest leader elected regional gov

Aymara leader Walter Aduviri was elected governor of Peru's Puno region Oct. 7—just two days after the country's Supreme Court declared void a seven-year prison term against him for "disturbing public order" during a 2011 protest wave in which he was the principal leader. Aduviri had carried out his campaign from hiding, and only emerged from clandestinity with announcement of the high court ruling. He will now face a new trial on the charges related to the so-called "Aymarazo"—an Aymara uprising against an unpopular mineral development project, which was ultimately suspended. His Mi Casita Movement for Regional Integration and Development won 48% of the vote in the race, ahead of the other candidates. It also took several municipal races in Puno region. (El Comercio, Oct. 12)

The Supreme Court agreed to review Aduviri's case following an international campaign by rights groups, who charged that the sentence against him was an example of the "criminalization of protest." (Mining Watch Canada, Sept. 13)

Aduviri, an accountant by profession, sought to reassure business interests upon his election, saying, "We are not radicals, we are not anti-mining, we are not anti-investment, we just want the natural resources to be put at our service." He named as an example Evo Morales, the Aymara president of Bolivia, which lies just across Lake Titicaca from Puno. "Before Evo Morales, the natural resources were in the hands of the trans-nationals. Evo came in, and things changed." (Diario Uno, Oct. 9)

Under a 2015 reform to Peru's internal administrative structure, governors now are elected rather than appointed by the Interior Ministry, and have greater power over development decisions in their regions. The elected regional leaders were formerly called "presidents," and were concrned with civil matters while the "governors" were concerned with internal security. The appointed figures responsible for security matters are now designated "prefects." (Andina, Sept. 2, 2015)

Photo: Diario Uno