Peru: youth protest labor law
Thousands of youth marched on Peru's Congress in Lima Jan. 15 to demand repeal of a new labor law cutting benefits to young workers. The march came just as President Ollanta Humala was signing the law. There were clashes as the march passed through Plaza San Martín, with police using tear-gas and detaining 20. But a delegation of 30 protesters was allowed past police lines to enter the Congress building and deliver a statement. Banners read: "Empresario no seré tu esclavo" (Businessman, I won't be your slave) and "¡Humala escucha, el miedo se acabó!" (Humala listen, we aren't afraid anymore!). CGTP trade union federation leader César Soberón called for the law to be overturned "as soon as possible to avoid a climate of social conflict that does not help the country."
The Youth Labor Law has been dubbed by protesters the "Ley Pulpín"—after a fruit drink popular with children, which has taken on the slang meaning of "wet behind the ears" in English. Ostensibly intended to address youth unemployment, it lifts requirements for health insurance and reduces paid vacation days from 30 to 15 for workers between the ages of 18 and 24. (Of course the majority of Peru's young workers are in the informal sector, and receive no such benefits.) The march was the fourth mobilization since Congress passed the law Dec. 11. One on Dec. 29 targeted Peru's chamber of commerce, CONFIEP. (InfoBAE, Argentina, Peru21, El País, Spain, Jan. 16; Peru This Week, AP, El Nuevo Herald, Jan. 15)