The Andes
indulto

Peru: protests over pending pardon for ex-dictator

Protests broke out in Lima, Cuzco and other cities in Peru after the country’s Constitutional Tribunal overruled a lower court annulment of a pardon for former dictator Alberto Fujimori, and ordered his release from prison. Days later, however, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that the Peruvian state must refrain from executing the release order while the IACHR weighs provisional measures requested by representatives of the victims of the 1991 Barrios Altos and 1992 Cantuta massacres, for which Fujimori was convicted and sentenced in 2009. Fujimori has also been facing a judicial process over accusations of mass forced sterilizations under his government. (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
motin

Sri Lanka to Lima: ripples from Ukraine storm

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide state of emergency as angry protests over fuel shortages and power cuts erupted in the capital Colombo. When police repression failed to quell the protests, Rajapaksa sought to appease demands for his resignation with a purge of his cabinet. Peru’s President Pedro Castillo meanwhile imposed a curfew in Lima and its port of Callao in response to an eruption of protests over dramatic fuel price hikes. As street clashes broke out in the cities, farmers outraged at a jump in fertilizer costs blocked highways at several points around the country—including Ica, where a toll-booth was set on fire. The world has seen an oil price surge to $100 a barrel in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Photo: Twitter via La Tercera)

The Andes
Bambas

Peru: pueblos divided on Bambas mega-mine

Chinese-owned MMG Ltd announced that it has secured approval from Peru’s Ministry of Energy & Mines (MINEM) to expand its copper mine at Las Bambas, despite ongoing outrage from local campesino communities. The country’s fourth-largest copper mine and the world’s ninth-largest, Las Bambas has been repeatedly shut down by peasant protests since it opened in 2016. The most recent blockades were launched in February by residents of several pueblos, to oppose excavation of a second open pit at the facility. Ahead of approval of the expansion, MINEM secured a pledge by some 20 communities to lift their blockades and refrain from further protest actions in exchange for agricultural aid. However, the pueblo closest to the Chalcobamba pit rejected the deal. Huancuire pueblo, Apurímac region, said the community had agreed to take all necessary “legal and social” measures to prevent excavation of a second pit. (Photo: Wikimedia)

The Andes

Peru: police pop presidential palace in petro-corruption probe

Special anti-corruption prosecutors backed up by National Police troops raided 15 properties around Peru’s capital Lima—including the presidential palace. The raids came as part of Megaoperation Resplandor 2022, an investigation into alleged irregularities in tenders for the purchase of biodiesel between parastatal PetroPerú and private firm Heaven Petroleum Operators. Also raided were the homes of PetroPerú director Hugo Ángel Cháves Arévalo, HPO manager Samir Abudayeh, and prominent entrepreneur Karelim López. The administration of President Pedro Castillo, a populist political outsider, has been wracked by repeated crises and scandals since he took office last July. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mexico
Pemex

Control of oil behind Mexico-Spain tensions

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called for a “pause” in relations with Spain, in a speech that explicitly invoked the legacy of colonialism going back to the Conquest. But the speech was aimed principally at Spanish oil company Repsol, which had been favored during the presidential term of Felipe Calderón. Specifically, López Obrador questioned the granting of gas contracts in the Burgos Basin, in Mexico’s northeast. He charged that Repsol operated the fields less productively than the state company Pemex had. “In the end, less gas was extracted than Pemex extracted” before the contracts, he charged. Repsol is meanwhile under investigation by Spanish prosecutors on charges of graft related to the company’s efforts to fend off a take-over bid by Pemex. (Photo via Digital Journal)

The Andes
Playa Cavero

Peru demands Repsol pay in coastal oil spill

Peru’s authorities declared an environmental emergency after announcing that 21 beaches around the Lima area were contaminated by an oil spill at a refinery run by Spanish multinational Repsol, calling it the “worst ecological disaster” in the city’s history. The Environmental Evaluation & Control Organism (OEFA) estimated some 6,000 barrels of crude had spilled—dramatically above the mere seven gallons that Repsol had initially reported to authorities when the disaster occurred days earlier. Some 1,740,000 square meters of coastline and 1,1187,000 square meters of sea have been covered in sludge that has blackened beaches and killed marine life. Peru is demanding compensation from Repsol, accusing the company of trying to cover up the scale of the disaster and not having a contingency plan in place. (Photo: Andina)

The Amazon
Peter Gorman

Podcast: entheogenic adventures with Peter Gorman

In Episode 99 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews an old friend and colleague—legendary journalist, naturalist and adventurer Peter Gorman, who reflects on his long years collecting (and personally sampling) psychoactive and shamanic plants, from the Peruvian Amazon, to the Rif Mountains of Morocco, to the Palani Hills of southern India. Now approaching 71, Peter is about to head back down to the Amazon to revisit the remote Matsés indigenous people, who he first contacted in 1985. His latest collection of first-hand accounts is Magic Mushrooms in India & Other Fantastic Tales. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo courtesy of Peter Gorman)

Planet Watch
anthropocene

Glasgow: ‘climate-vulnerable’ protest ‘compromise’ pact

The COP26 UN climate summit concluded a deal among the 196 parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement on long-delayed implementation measures. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the deal a “compromise,” and indeed it was saved through eleventh-hour haggling over the wording. Just minutes before the final decision on the text of the Glasgow Climate Pact, India, backed by fellow major coal-producer China, demanded weaker language on coal, with the original call for a “phase-out” softened to “phase-down.” And even this applies only to “unabated” coal, with an exemption for coal burned with carbon capture and storage technology—a technofix being aggressively pushed by Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, in a propaganda blitz clearly timed for the Glasgow summit. Another corporate-backed fix that allows polluters to go on polluting was also embraced at Glasgow: the pact calls for establishment of a global carbon-trading market in 2023. (Photo: CounterVortex)

The Andes
antamina

Protests shut down Peru’s largest copper mine

Peru’s massive Antamina copper mine had to halt operations due to protest blockades on an access road by local campesinos. The company, owned by multinationals BHP Billiton and Glencore, urged the government “to restore order” and open dialogue with the protesters, stating that as long as “these conditions are not met, we cannot continue to operate.” Residents of the local communities charge that Antamina “usurped” campesino lands for the project, which bring no benefit to the community. After a week of blocking the access roads, the campesinos agreed to lift the protest following intercession by the Ministry of Energy & Mines. However, they pledged to maintain the blockades until Antamina signs a formal agreement recognizing them as dialogue partners. (Photo via MercoPress)

The Amazon
awajun

Peru: indigenous protesters shut down pipeline

On the sixth day of a declared civil strike (paro) in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, hundreds of indigenous protesters armed with spears seized oil installations, effectively shutting down the NorPeruano Pipeline. Station 5 on the pipeline, as well as oil exploitation blocs 192, 95 and 8, are under occupation. State company PetroPerú admitted that personnel have been evacuated from the pumping station, and that seizure of the installation has “paralyzed the operations” of the pipeline. Awajún apu (traditional leader) James Pérez, speaking for the Indigenous Association for the Development & Conservation of the Bajo Yurimaguas, said the paro will continue until the central government responds to protesters’ demands for environmental remediation following hundreds of oil spills.  (Photo via Gestión)

The Andes
castillo

Peru: populist president prevails amid polarization

Proclaiming that “change is coming,” Pedro Castillo, a left-populist former school teacher, was sworn in as Peru’s new president on the bicentennial of the country’s independence. He pledged to redraft the constitution, raise taxes on mines, and form a “Binational Cabinet” with neighboring left-led Bolivia. But Castillo assumes office amid a profound political crisis and growing polarization—as well as the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world. His far-right opponent Keiko Fujimori, who challenged his victory with baseless claims of voter-fraud, has a formidable bloc in Congress and promises to obstruct his agenda. (Photo: Diario Uno)

The Andes

Peru: ex-spymaster in plot to throw recount

The Fiscalía of Peru, the country’s top prosecutor, has opened an investigation into Vladimiro Montesinos, the imprisoned former intelligence chief under dictator Alberto Fujimori, following release of a recording in which he evidently urges electoral authorities to throw the pending presidential election to Keiko Fujimori—daughter of the ex-dictator. The so-called “Vladiaudios” were released by Pedro Rejas, a retired military officer and Fujimori loyalist who received the phone call from Montesinos. In the call they appear to discuss bribing members of the National Jury of Elections (JNE). (Photo: A.Davey/Flickr via Aula Blog)