Peru: radio silenced, legislators suspended

On June 8 Peru’s Transportation and Communication Ministry (MTC) cancelled the license of Radio La Voz de Bagua, a family-owned radio station with a signal of 100 watts in Utcubamba province in the Amazonas region in the north of the country. The MTC cited technical issues with the station’s equipment, but La Voz news director Carlos Flores Burgos dismissed this as “a lie.” The station is based in the area where dozens of people died on June 5 in a confrontation between police and indigenous protesters, and Flores said the station had made it possible for members of the public to report alleged abuses by security forces. After the June 5 killings, Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas accused the station of agitating the situation and called for sanctions against it, while Congress members Aurelio Pastor, Jorge Del Castillo and Mauricio Mulde, all from the Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP) of President Alan García, accused La Voz and Flores of supporting and inciting violence.

The Press and Society Institute of Peru (IPYS), an organization of independent journalists, questioned the license cancellation and said it might be a “reprisal.” (Radio Programas del Perú, June 12; Los Andes, Puno, June 13; La República, Lima, June 13)

On June 12 the Peruvian Congress, which is dominated by the PAP, voted a 120-day suspension for seven legislators from the opposition Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) of Ollanta Humala for having staged a protest in the legislature’s chamber in support of the Amazonian indigenous protesters. The suspended Congress members were María Sumire, Hilaria Supa, Nancy Obregón, Juana Huancahuari, Cayo Galindo, Yaneth Cajahuanca and Rafael Vásquez. The suspension was approved 58-18 with one abstention; voting with the PAP for the suspension was National Unity and the Alliance for the Future of former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), convicted of human rights abuses on April 7 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The protests in the Congress began on June 10 after the legislators voted to suspend indefinitely decrees on drilling, mining and land use that had sparked the indigenous protests. The PNP members called for the decrees to be repealed rather than suspended, and nine PNP legislators began a fast to protest the vote. A total of 22 Congress members from the PNP and left groups stayed in the chamber overnight and prevented Congress from holding a session the morning of June 11. The protesters finally left later to join a march in Lima, part of a day of nationwide strikes and mobilizations in support of the indigenous demands. (Correo, Lima, June 12; La Raza, Chicago, June 13 from EFE; La Jornada, Mexico, June 12 from Reuters, AFP, DPA; AFP, June 12; NACLA, April 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 14

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