Peruvian lawmaker and ex-interior minister Mercedes Cabanillas of the ruling Aprista Party, with the support of current Prime Minister Javier Velásquez, is proposing legislation that would authorize the National Police to use deadly force against civilians if they believe a violent confrontation is imminent. Opponents of the measure say it would give police broad discretion to fire on protesters—just as indigenous groups in the Amazon are preparing a new mobilization in defense of their land rights.
Opposition lawmaker Víctor Mayorga (Union for Peru) said the measure seeks to “silence the people at the point of bullets.” But the proposal was defended by conservative legislator Javier Bedoya (Popular Christan Party), who said police are often at a disadvantage when confronting “delinquents,” citing the deadly confrontation earlier this year with squatters at the Bosque de Pómac nature reseve.
The proposal is to be added to the agenda of the meeting of Peru’s regional governors this week, called to discuss outstanding indigenous demands over land rights, and the pending Gasoducto Andino del Sur project. (La Primera, Lima, Aug. 21)
Construction on the Gasoducto Andino del Sur is set to begin early next year by the Brazilian firm Odebrecht and its Peruvian partner Kuntur Transportadora de Gas. It will start at Malvinas, in Concepción province, Cusco region, and terminate near Arequipa on the Pacific coast. (Andina, Nov. 2, 2008) It will augment the Camisea pipeline, that ends near Lima and has been subject to repeated protests over its ecological impacts. (Amazon Watch)
Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon announced they will resume their protest campaign as early as tomorrow if the government does not fulfill its commitment to an honest dialogue on the question of land rights, as agreed to in the accords that ended June’s violent unrest. Walter Kategari of the Amazon indigenous alliance AIDESEP accused the government of excluding genuine indigenous leaders from the talks. Salomón Awananch, indigenous leader in the Amazonas region, said his followers will begin a cross-country march tomorrow, with the support of AIDESEP. (La Primera, Lima, Aug. 21)