Peru’s National Police to get “license to kill”?

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)

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

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  1. Corporate fat-cats calm Camisea controversy?
    From Dow Jones, Aug 27:

    LIMA –Peru’s government has reached a deal with the companies in the Camisea natural gas consortium to guarantee increased gas supplies for domestic use, according to media reports Thursday.

    The administration of President Alan Garcia has been negotiating with the consortium since mid-May, aiming to defuse criticism that the nation will export gas without ensuring that domestic demand has been met.

    Critics have demanded changes to the 40-year contract awarded in 2000 for the consortium to develop the Camisea, which came on stream in mid-2004.

    Former Energy and Mines Minister Carlos Herrera told RPP radio Thursday that he had seen a document of the deal reached between the consortium and the government on Wednesday. He said the deal guarantees that for the next five years only gas from Camisea block 56 will be able to be exported, while gas from block 88 will be destined for domestic use.

    He added that the deal says that gas from block 57 will be aimed at domestic use, and that the companies in the Camisea consortium will increase the capacity for transporting gas and will boost exploration efforts to confirm more reserves.

    Newspaper La Republica said Thursday that the Camisea consortium will also divert some gas to domestic use that was originally planned to be sold to Peru LNG, a consortium that will export liquefied natural gas.

    The government says that the Camisea area blocks 88 and 56 have proven reserves of exploitable gas totaling more than 14 trillion cubic feet, although critics say that amount is exaggerated