Peru: demands grow for Amazon massacre truth commission

The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a formal recommendation Aug. 28 that the government of Peru open an “exhaustive, objective and impartial investigation, including indigenous represetatives” into the June 5 deadly violence that ensued when National Police troops broke up an indigenous road blockade at Devil’s Curve in Amazonas region—a bloody episode that the Peruvian press has dubbed the “Baguazo.” (24 Horas Libre, Lima, Aug. 29)

Two generals of the Peruvian National Police (PNP), Elias Muguruza and Javier Uribe, are facing an internal investigation before the PNP’s Disciplinary Tribunal for their role in the massacre. Uribe is denying responsibility, insisting that only his subordinate Muguruza was on the scene at Devil’s Curve. Records indicate that Uribe initially told the Tribunal that he had left the Bagua operation in the hands of Muguruza on the direct orders of then-Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas. However, the Lima daily La Republica reported that in an interview with the newspaper he “incredibly denied” ever having mentioned Cabanillas in his testimony. In highlighted quotes, the paper presented the following:

Uribe 1: “An order came from…Cabanillas that Gen. Muguruza should assume the operation (at Bagua).”

Uribe 2: “I deny categorically having mentioned Dr. Cabanillas. I never spoke with the minister.”

Muguruza for his own part insists he was only following Uribe’s orders. The Peruvian press is generally portraying a cover-up to protect Cabanillas. National Prosecutor Gladys Echaiz says she is considering criminal charges against the two generals. She has not broached an investigation of Cabanillas. (La Republica, Aug. 27)

The Tribunal has also announced findings that Muguruza and Uribe ignored an official warning issued by a Police Intelligence unit at Utcubamba that a “violent dispersal could result in the death or injury not only of police but also of residents” of the Bagua area. (La Republica, Aug. 26)

See our last posts on Peru and the struggle for the Amazon.

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