from Weekly News Update on the Americas
HUGE PROTEST AGAINST TRADE PACT
On July 14, some 500,000 people–construction workers, teachers, students and many others–marched in seven of Peru’s regions to protest the Andean free trade treaty being negotiated between the US, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The protests, organized by the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP), were also seeking an end to privatization and other neoliberal economic policies, and the resignation of Labor Minister Juan Sheput. The CGTP is also demanding the convening of a constituent assembly to rewrite Peru’s Constitution, and a new social security law based on the principles of solidarity. (Adital – World Data Service, July 15; Campana Continental Contra el ALCA, July 15)
A day earlier, July 13, some 4,000 people marched in Lima in another protest against the Andean trade pact, this time organized by the Association of Pharmaceutical Industries of National Origin and Capital (ADIFAN) and the National Convention of Peruvian Agriculture (CONVEAGRO). The noisy march stretched for 20 blocks, ending at the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Rather than rejecting the Andean trade pact as a whole, ADIFAN and CONVEAGRO are demanding that Peru drive a harder bargain in the negotiations. “The Peruvian negotiators seem to be gringos, since until now they have achieved nothing for the country. On the contrary, they have given up 50% of the national market to the US,” said CONVEAGRO president Luis Zuniga. Protesters, some of them on horseback, carried signs that said: “Competition, yes. Monopoly, no,” and “Don’t give it away. Negotiate.” Growers of sugar cane, rice, corn, potatoes and cotton fear US agricultural subsidies will make it impossible for them to compete. The negotiations have been going on for more than a year; the next round begins on July 18 in Miami. (Adital, July 15; CCCA, July 15; AP, July 14; Miami Herald, July 14)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 17
AMAZON: INDIGENOUS SEIZE OIL COMPANY
On July 8, some 300 Shipiba Coniba indigenous people from the community of Canan de Cachiaco (or Cashiyacu) entered the Maquillas (or Maquias) camp of Maple Gas Corporation in Ucayali province, in the Peruvian Amazon region of Loreto. Led by 80 Shipiba warriors armed with machetes, spears, and bows and arrows, they proceeded to take control of at least nine of the 27 oil wells on the company’s lot 31-B; the 150 workers at the camp were taking their lunch break and were caught off guard. “The occupation was totally peaceful, there were no material damages, since the company’s security personnel proceeded to close the fuel extraction valves to prevent leaks, and this was done in the presence of the crime prevention prosecutor, Julio Barreto,” said Ucayali deputy mayor Jose Diaz. The 80 Shipiba warriors are maintaining the occupation of the camp; the other community members returned home later on July 8.
Roberth Gimaraes, a leader of the Inter-Ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle, in Ucayali, said the Shipiba seized the camp to protest the environmental, social and cultural damage done to their communities by Maple Gas. Gimaraes said that in recent years an epidemic of stomach infections has affected the Shipiba communities, killing an average of five people a year. The Shipiba believe the stomach infections are caused by the company’s dumping of toxic waste in the Cachiaco river. They are demanding an environmental impact study to determine the extent of the pollution. They are also demanding that Maple Gas pay rent for the use of their territory, and provide basic necessities like schools and medical examinations. They want a high-level government delegation to come and meet with them over their demands. Barreto, the local prosecutor, apparently brokered a pact between the Shipiba and Maple Gas personnel in which both sides agreed not to touch the installations until a dialogue process could be established to address the Shipiba demands. As of July 10, the Shipiba were continuing to occupy the site.
Maple Gas general manager Guillermo Ferreyros said the conflict arose because the community doesn’t receive any of the royalties that the company pays to the Peruvian state. Ferreyros said the government’s oil company, Perupetro, was going to address the problem in a meeting with the Shipiba during the first week of July, but the meeting was cancelled for economic reasons. (La Ultima, Peru, July 9; AFP, July 8; 24 Horas Libre, Peru, July 9; RPP Noticias, Peru, July 10)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 10
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #111
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Aug. 1, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution