Peru: miner protests paralyze rainforest region

On Dec. 9, informal gold-miners in Peru's southern rainforest region of Madre de Dios suspended a paro or civil strike they had launched more than two weeks earlier. Leaders of the Alliance of Federations said they would call off the strike as talks were underway with a team from Peru's cabinet, the Council of Ministers, that arrived in the remote region that day. Since Nov. 23, regional capital Puerto Maldonado had been paralyzed by protesters demanding the national government drop its new plan to crack down on illegal mining and logging operations. Specifically, they sought the overturn of Supreme Decree 013-2015—which would supervise and control the sale of chemicals that can be used for illegal mining—and Supreme Decree 1220, a measure that seeks to fight against illegal logging. Talks are to center around establishing a "Table for Sustainable Development" in the region, coordinating national policy with popular organizations.

Terms in Supreme Decree 013-2015 establishing quotas for gasoline won the strike widespread support in Madre de Dios. The regional governor, Luis Otsuka, said it was the decision of the people to continue the strike earlier this month—for which he was blasted by Environment Minister  Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who said that Otsuka "wants total impunity" in Madre de Dios. (Living in Peru, Dec. 9; Mongabay, Dec. 4; Living in Peru, Dec. 3; Living in Peru, Dec. 2; El Comercio, Nov. 23)

Days before the strike began, on Nov. 19, a local environmentalist who was an outspoken opponent of mining in Madre de Dios was assassinated. Alfredo Ernesto Vracko Neuenschwander, a woodworker who led a movement to resist forest invasions by illegal gold miner, was gunned down at his home along the Interoceanic Highway at La Pampa, Tambopata province. (Info Región, Mongabay, Nov. 20