Naitonal Police troops and soliders fired on a crowd of protesters staging an occupation of the airport at Juliaca, in Peru’s conflicted southern region of Puno, leaving six dead and at least 37 injured. Protesters had succeeded in setting one of the terminals on fire when security forces started shooting. The protesters were Quechua campesinos from the neighboring province of Azángaro, who are demanding remediation of the local Río Ramis following its pollution by small-scale mining operations in the area of Ananea district, San Antonio de Putina province. The National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI) condemned the killings as “ethnocide and genocide…against the protests of the original Quechua people, defenders of life.” (La Republica, June 25; CONACAMI, Mariátegui blog, June 24)
In the south-central region of Huancavelica, protests are continuing in the fifth day of an indefinite civil strike called by the Defense Front for the Interests of Huancavelica. The strike was called to demand justice for three student protesters—including one minor—killed by the National Police June 21 during protests over budget cuts at the University of Huancavelica. Up to 100 were injured in the incident. (Mariátegui, June 24; AFP, June 22)
The regional president of Huancavelica, Maciste Díaz, has issued a call for an investigation of President Alan García for the numerous episodes of deadly repression in his six-year term. The call has been taken up by other regional presidents, including that of Junín, Vladimir Cerrón, who called an investigation of García “a moral and political necessity upon the new parliament.” (Diario LaPrima, Lima, June 27)
English-language accounts have been considerably garbled by the existence of two separate protest movements in Puno, with overlapping but distinct sets of demands: one led by Aymaras in the south of the region around Puno city, largely concerned with halting the Santa Ana mining project slated to be developed by the multinational Bear Creek; the other led by Quechuas in Juliaca and Azángaro provinces to the north, largely concerned with small-scale mining operations along the Río Ramis. The García government is in negotiations with both protest movements, having conceded to some demands of each but having reached a definitive deal with neither. (Carwil Without Borders blog, June 25)
Even while making concessions to indigenous protesters, García continues to harshly criticize them. In a televised interview on June 17, García blasted the “absurd pantheist ideologies” of the protesters, saying their “primitive form of religiosity” stands in the way of development. (Los Andes, June 26)
See our last posts on the struggle in Peru.