Self-defense committees in indigenous communities of Peru’s conflicted Apurímac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) received 400 rifles from the army Sept. 14 to fight “narco-terrorists” operating in the high jungle zone. Commander of the VRAE Military Region, Gen. Ricardo Moncada Novoa, and commissioner for Peace and Development of the Central Selva, Mario Jerí Kuriyama, presided over the ceremony, where the arms were turned over to indigenous leaders from Pangoa and Río Tambo districts in Satipo province of Junín region, near the borders with Ayacucho and Cusco regions. Jonatan Sharete Quinchoquer, president of the Campa Asháninka Organization of the Río Ene (OCARE), said indigenous communities are suffering harassment by resurgent Sendero Luminoso guerillas, and called for more armed forces patrols in the zone. A photo with the story shows a mixed group of soldiers in camouflage and Asháninka warriors in traditional ceremonial robes holding aloft their rifles. (El Comercio, Lima, Sept. 15)
Meanwhile, Peru’s drug czar rejected a proposal from populist opposition leader Ollanta Humala that the government buy all the coca produced in the VRAE for the country’s internal legal market. Rómulo Pizarro, chief of the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), said, “If the state buys everything, we would only cause more people to leave licit cultivation and pass to the illicit, or we would have to restrain and apply barriers so they don’t do it, and meanwhile the situation of poverty of the cocaleros would continue.” (Peru 21, Sept. 13)
See our last posts on Peru and the VRAE.
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