from Weekly News Update on the Americas
On June 8, Peruvian campesinos held a day of protest against the Andean Free Trade Agreement (known in the region as the Free Trade Treaty, or TLC) which Peru’s government signed with the US last December. (The regional pact includes Colombia and Ecuador, but the US has carried out negotiations with each country separately, and the talks with Ecuador have been suspended since March.) Hundreds of campesinos marched on the Panamerican South highway in Chincha, Ica region, blocking traffic for hours. The campesinos are demanding that Peru’s Congress make changes to the pact so it won’t hurt small-scale farmers, especially those producing cotton and corn. More than 3,000 campesinos marched to the central plaza of Tarapoto, in San Martin region, from areas including Altomayo and Huallaga Central. They threw rice during the protest to draw attention to the negative impact the TLC will have on Peruvian rice producers. (Cadena Peruana de Noticias, June 8) On June 7 or 8, before the protests began, the Constitution Commission of Peru’s Congress ruled out holding a referendum on the TLC. (Adital, June 8)
Campesino leader Jose Villanueva told the Cadena Peruana de Noticias radio network: “[President-elect] Alan Garcia in his initial speech said the signing of that treaty was irresponsible, yet now that he won the elections he is in favor and it seems he won’t say anything in the face of its ratification.” (Cadena Peruana de Noticias, June 8)
According to official results reported on June 10, with 99.77% of the ballots counted, Garcia of the Peruvian Aprista Party won the June 4 presidential runoff election with 52.6% of the vote, compared to 47.4% for nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, who has come out more strongly against the TLC. Earlier reports showed Garcia with a lead of more than 10 percentage points over Humala. (La Jornada, Mexico, June 6 from AFP, DPA, Reuters; El Nuevo Herald, June 10 from AP) Based on the results from the April 9 general elections, Humala’s Union for Peru party will have the largest bloc in Congress, with 45 of the 120 seats, compared to 36 for Garcia’s Aprista party. (El Nuevo Herlad, Miami, June 8 from AP)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 11
PROTESTERS BLOCK MACHU PICCHU
As part of an ongoing series of protests against the Andean Free Trade Agreement, Peruvian campesinos in the southeastern region around Cusco shut down tourist visits to the Machu Picchu ruins on June 21. The campesinos used tree trunks and boulders to block railroad tracks outside Cusco; others blocked streets inside the city. The company PeruRail, which operates the only rail service to the ruins and normally carries 1,200 tourists a day, suspended operations for the day.
Peru signed the TLC in December. On June 6 the government of outgoing president Alejandro Toledo sent the 1,000-page document to Congress for ratification. He is pushing for the accord to be finalized before July 28, when a new Congress will be seated and Toledo’s successor, former president Alan Garcia (1985-1990), will take office.
The General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP) called for the June 21 action. “The TLC [creates] the cruelest unfair competition between our Andean products and highly subsidized US products; it will plunge us into poverty, destroying our agriculture and our national manufacturing sector in its early stages.” (El Nuevo Herald, June 22 from AP)
The Struggle Against the TLC National Coordinating Committee, an umbrella organization for labor and campesino groups, has scheduled another protest for July 4. On June 22 former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, a nationalist who lost to Garcia in a June 4 runoff election, announced his support for the anti-TLC protests. Nelson Palomino, the leader of the Confederation of Peruvian Cocaleros [coca growers], who spent three and a half years jailed in the Yanamilla prison in Ayacucho, announced his intention to march at the head of the protests and demanded a meeting with Garcia to discuss the TLC. Garcia, who was on a visit to Chile, said his party didn’t unconditionally support the accord. His government would push for an “improvement…of the conditions that Mr. Toledo negotiated,” he told the Chilean radio state RPP. (Cadena Global/EFE, June 22; Cadena Peruana de Noticias Radio, June 23)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 25
CAJAMARCA: STRIKE AT GOLD MINE
Some 1,000 workers at Yanacocha mine in the Cajamarca region of Peru went on strike April 15. The mine, owned by the US-based Newmont Mining Corp. and the Peruvian company Buenaventura, is Latin America’s largest gold mine. The union said the strike shut down operations at the mine on April 17; the company claimed only 100 workers walked out and the mine kept running on a contingency plan. On April 17, the company announced that the union had “unconditionally lifted” the strike and the workers would return to their jobs on April 18. The union said the strike was to demand benefits such as free healthcare, education and housing which the company had promised to the workers.
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 30
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #119
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, July 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution