from Weekly News Update on the Americas
On Sept. 11, Peruvian police agents entered the community of Sion, San Martin department, in the Alto Huallaga region, and physically attacked a group of campesino coca growers (cocaleros). The agents fired tear gas canisters, shot weapons into the air and beat residents. At least 30 cocaleros were injured, one of them seriously. Sion mayor Nestor Sallago Mateo said three community members were detained by police and their whereabouts are unknown.
Initially, the government blamed the cocaleros for the clash in Sion, but on Sept. 14 Nancy Obregon, Peru’s top cocalero leader and member of Congress with the Union for Peru party led by Ollanta Humala Tasso, gave reporters a videotape of the incident showing clear evidence of excessive force on the part of police.
On Sept. 14, Interior Minister Pilar Mazzetti acknowledged that she had seen the video–Obregon showed it to her on Sept. 12–and that it confirmed police had committed “excesses” in Sion following “an eradication operation that went out of control.” According to Mazzetti, eradication agents are supposed to limit their actions to coca plantations, and cannot intervene in towns or use tear gas in residential areas. Calling the incident “inadmissible,” Mazzetti announced she had fired the director of the Alto Huallaga coca control and reduction program (CORAH), Jose Yale Morales, transferred six police officers who were in charge of the operation and ordered an investigation to determine responsibilities. Mazzetti also ordered the temporary suspension of coca eradication operations in the area, and said the government was reevaluating its eradication plans. Cocalero leaders were set to meet on Sept. 18 with Agriculture Minister Jose Salazar to discuss crop substitution programs. (AP, Sept. 14; AFP, Sept. 15; El Comercio, Lima, Sept. 12, 14; La Republica, Lima, Sept. 15)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 17
Weekly News Update on the Americas
WW4 REPORT #125, September 2006
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Oct. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution