VRAE

Peru: Lucanamarca massacre remembered

Peru's President Ollanta Humala oversaw a ceremony April 3 at the village of Lucanamarca (Huancasancos province, Ayacucho region), delivering a "symbolic" package of reparations for the massacre there on that date in 1983. The reparations, delivered to five communities in the district-level municipality, ammounted to 100,000 soles (not quite $40,000). The ceremony centered around the reading of the names of the 69 victims of the massacre, including 11 women and 18 children. The youngest of the victims was less then six months old. (Andina, April 3) Sendero Luminoso guerillas occupied the village and "executed" the 69 residents after villagers had killed their local commander Olegario Curitomay, in retaliation for cattle thieving by the rebels. (La Republica, April 4; pro-Sendero account at RevLeft)

Peru: scandal over Israeli security contractor

Peru's Congress has opened a high-profile investigation into a contract with Israeli security firm Global CST, entered into by the previous government of Álan García, after an audit by the Comptroller General of the Republic found irregularities in the deal. The probe concluded that the Peruvian state had lost $16 million when the firm failed to fulfil terms of its contract with the Armed Forces Joint Command. A congressional oversight commission has questioned three former cabinet members in the scandal—ex-housing minister Hernán Garrido, and ex-defense ministers Ántero Flores Aráoz and Rafael Rey—as well as ex-Joint Command chief Gen. Francisco Contreras. Special anti-corruption prosecutor Julio Arbizu has called on García himself to testify before what is being called the Mega-Commission, and for the attorney general's office, or Fiscalía, to investigate the former president. 

Peru: will land titling undercut Sendero?

Peru's President Ollanta Humala on Oct 25 announced the creation of a new multi-million dollar fund for development projects in the Upper Huallaga Valley and the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE)—the last two remaining areas of the country where the Shining Path insurgency remains active. The initiative is aimed at undermining the insurgency and providing economic alternatives to coca cultivation. (La Republica, Oct. 25) The government's Organism for the Formalization of Informal Property (COFOPRI) also announced that land titles would be granted to 784 campesino families in San Martín region's provinces of Huallaga and Lamas, both in the Huallaga Valley. Since August 2011, a total of 3,513 land parcels have been titled to peasant families in San Martín, in a bid to pacify the restive region. (Andina, Oct. 25)

Peru: indigenous development plan for Amazon

The Inter-ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) on Oct. 17 issued a "Plan for the Full Life of the Amazon," calling for indigenous-directed development projects, with the necessary funds to be provided by companies that exploit resources in the Amazonian regions. But the document, which was presented to the executive and legislative branches of the Peruvian government, draws a hard line against numerous existing and planned exploitation projects. It states that forests are threatened by 26 hydro-electric projects, particularly naming the Inambari project in Madre de Dios region and the Tambo 40 project in the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE); that hydrocarbon blocs cover 70% of the Peruvian Amazon, with mineral blocs of an additional 10 million hectares; and that an "inundation" of new roads into indigenous territory constitutes a "grave threat to the autonomous peoples," especially naming the controversial Purús-Iñapari highway in Madre de Dios. The statement called upon Peru's government to comply with International Labor Organization Convention 169 and halt projects that have not been approved in prior consultation with impacted indigenous peoples. (AIDESEP, Oct. 17)

US to revise defense pact with Peru

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meeting with President Ollanta Humala in Lima Oct. 6, secured an agreement to re-negotiate Washington's 60-year-old defense cooperation pact with Peru. Panetta said updating the 1952 accord would "improve our ability to conduct joint activities, to do training and other exchanges. Ultimately that will help us deal with shared security challenges in the future." On the eve of the visit, the Department of Defense issued a press release broadly outlining new measures called for in the 2012 Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement—including plans to invite Peru to participate in a US program of Ministry of Defense Advisers (MODA), currently being pioneered in Afghanistan. "If Peru accepts, MODA will embed a technical expert in the Ministry of Defense for up to two years," the DoD statement said. "The expert will provide consistent technical advice on issues like budgeting, acquisition, procurement, planning and strategic planning." (Reuters, Oct. 7; Peruvian Times, Oct. 6; DoD press release, Oct. 5)

Peru coca crop rises for sixth year: UN

Peru's coca crop increased by some 5.2% in 2011, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)—marking the sixth consecutive year that cultivation increased in the Andean nation. Some 64,400 hectares of coca cultivation were detected in satellite images, compared to the estimated 61,200 hectares cultivated in 2010. While the Upper Huallaga Valley and Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE) continued to account for some 50% of Peru's illegal coca crop, the area under cultivation in these zones increased by only 1%. However, cultivation was up by over 40% in northern Peru, with the provinces of Putumayo and Bajo Amazonas (both in Loreto region) especially named—areas newly opened to cultivation, where the government carries out no eradication campaigns. "Drug traffickers are becoming more efficient," said Flavio Mirella, chief of UNODC's Peruvian office, during a presentation of the report in Lima. "Traffickers need less coca leaf to produce more cocaine. Routes of supply are diversifying and producing areas are getting closer to certain routes of exit" toward Bolivia and Brazil, he said. (Bloomberg, UNODC press release, Sept. 27; BBC News, Sept. 26*)

Peru: jungle shoot-out as narco-flight intercepted

Peru's National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO) claimed a blow against the resurgent Sendero Luminoso guerillas after intercepting a plane loaded with 350 kilograms (770 pounds) of cocaine in plastic-wrapped bricks when it landed at a clandestine airstrip in a jungle area of Oxapampa province, Pasco region, Sept. 18. The crew of the Bolivian-registered Cessna put up armed resistance before fleeing into the jungle. A manhunt to apprehend them is now underway. DIRANDRO said the cocaine  originated in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a jungle zone just south of Oxapampa where the "narcosenderista" brothers Víctor, Jorge and Martín Quispe Palomino—known by the respective code-names  "José," "'Raúl" and "Gabriel"—are said to control coca production. The cocaine was believed to have been brought to Oxapampa by back-pack along jungle trails, and was to be flown to Bolivia for re-export to Brazil in an operation overseen by wanted Bolivian kingpin William Rosales. (RIA-Novosti, La Republica, InfoSur Hoy, Peruvian TimesReuters, Sept. 18)

Peru: Shining Path control outlaw gold operations?

Five soldiers were killed in an attack by presumed Shining Path guerrillas Aug. 15 on a military base in Mazangaro, Junin region, in Peru's Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE). According to La Republica, the attack could be in response to the army's seizure three days prior to the assault of 800 kilos of precursor chemicals used in the production of cocaine. (InSight Crime, Aug. 16) Two days after the attack, Peru's special anti-terrorism prosecutor, Julio Galindo, asserted that the Shining Path column in the coca-growing region was financed not only by the narco traffic, but by illegal gold-mining and logging. He said the state is attempting to crack down on the guerilla column's money laundering networks, which he characterized as "very technical." He also referred to the area of guerilla operations as the VRAEM—including the Mantaro River in the acronym, a western tributary of the Apurimac-Ene, in an implicit acknowledgement that the insurgency is spreading. (Perú21, Aug. 18; El Comercio, Aug. 17)

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