Peru: prime minister to step down in bid to defuse Amazon crisis

Peru’s Prime Minister Yehude Simon said June 16 he plans to resign in the coming weeks, as President Alan GarcĂ­a’s government faces harsh criticism over its handling of protests by indigenous groups in the Amazon region. Simon, a former left-wing activist, joined the cabinet last October in an effort by GarcĂ­a to improve relations with Peru’s poor. A day earlier, Simon announced that he had reached a deal with the protesters in which he would ask Congress to repeal the controversial decrees that would speed development in the Amazon. (NYT, June 16)

Simon signed a pact with indigenous leaders in the jungle city of San RamĂłn, Junin region, that included a pledge to present a bill this week that would strike down legislative decrees 1090 and 1064. Indigenous leaders, in turn, promised to call off the protests if the laws are overturned. (Living In Peru, Reuters, June 15)

Back in Lima, Simon told the newly formed National Coordination Group for the Development of Amazonian Peoples that he would submit the measure to repeal the decrees to Congress the following day. He added: “The important thing is that this is what Peru wanted. In the following days, the country will sleep peacefully, knowing that the sacrifice of so many police and so many natives has not been in vain.” (RPP, Peru, June 16)

The National Coordination Group was formed June 11 to draw up an “Integral Plan of Sustainable Development” for the Amazon region, covering education and health as well formalization of land titles. It is made up of four representatives from the Executive branch; the presidents of the regions of Loreto, Ucayali, Amazonas, San MartĂ­n and Madre de Dios; and ten representatives from indigenous communities. One of the Executive representatives is to lead the body. It is also to coordinate with the Institute of Investigations for the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP) and the National Institute for the Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples (INDEPA). (Andina news agency, Peru, June 11)

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

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