Andean Theater

PERU: COCALEROS CLASH WITH COPS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On May 29 in Tocache province, in the Huallaga valley of San Martin in north central Peru, at least 3,500 campesino coca growers (cocaleros) armed with sticks surrounded a group of 230 police agents charged with carrying out coca leaf eradication operations. According to police, the resulting clash left 17 agents hurt--one by a bullet, the rest by beatings. Twenty cocaleros were injured; Tocache mayor Nancy Zagerra said three of them are in serious condition with bullet wounds. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 31, from DPA)

The 230 anti-drug police agents had arrived in the area on May 26, along with 50 workers from the Control and Reduction of Coca Crops in the Alto Huallaga (CORAH) project. On May 28, the anti-drug forces set up camp in the village of 5 de Diciembre, where according to cocalero leader Nancy Obregon they forced the campesinos from their homes and destroyed their crops, even after the campesinos showed them documents from the state-run National Coca Company (ENACO) demonstrating that the crops were legal. "They said those [documents] were no good and they threw everyone out. The people have had to sleep outside," said Obregon. Outraged at the incident, Obregon organized nearly 4,000 cocaleros to confront the agents at their camp the next day. (La Republica, Lima, May 30)

Chile: Mapuche editor imprisoned

Another escalation is reported in the persecution of the Mapuche indigenous people of Chile: the imprisonment of the editor of a Mapuche magazine on six-year-old charges related to a land occupation, effectively preventing him from travelling to Canada for a meeting of Native journalists. This June 16 account is from Reporteros Sin Fronteras (RSF) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX):

COLOMBIA: PARAMILITARY AMNESTY PASSES, NEW AID PENDING

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

AMNESTY LAW PASSES

On June 20, the last day of ordinary sessions for the Colombian Congress, the Senate approved the "Justice and Peace" law, which paves the way for a "demobilization" and amnesty process under negotiation with the country's right-wing paramilitaries since last July. The law grants the paramilitaries political status, allowing them to potentially benefit from pardons. Under the demobilization program, paramilitary commanders are supposed to confess all their crimes in order to benefit from reduced sentences of 4-8 years in prison. The Chamber of Representatives approved the law on June 21 in an extraordinary session. Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries have historically been strongly supported by the state. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, June 21 from AP; Inter Press Service, June 22)

ECUADOR: STRIKERS SEIZE OIL WELLS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On May 21, residents of the northern Ecuadoran provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana began an open-ended civic strike to demand improvements to roads, schools, housing and health care in the region, which borders on Colombia and Peru. The protesters seized 114 oil wells on nine fields operated by the state-run oil company Petroecuador and blocked access roads to oil facilities, forcing a shutdown of drilling and repair work.

As the strike continued on May 25, President Alfredo Palacio declared a 60-day state of emergency in Sucumbios and Orellana, deeming the oil region a "security territory." The state of emergency allows the restriction of certain civil rights. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 25; AP, May 26)

PERU: COCALEROS, PEASANT ECOLOGISTS STAGE STRIKES

from Weekly News Update on the Americas


HUALLAGA VALLEY: COCALEROS CLASH WITH COPS

On May 29 in Tocache province, in the Huallaga valley of San Martin in north central Peru, at least 3,500 campesino coca growers (cocaleros) armed with sticks surrounded a group of 230 police agents charged with carrying out coca leaf eradication operations. According to police, the resulting clash left 17 agents hurt--one by a bullet, the rest by beatings. Twenty cocaleros were injured; Tocache mayor Nancy Zagerra said three of them are in serious condition with bullet wounds. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 31 from DPA)

COLOMBIA: CHEMICAL WARFARE EXPANDS

Ecologists Warn of Disaster as U.S. Sprays Glyphosate in Threatened National Parks

by Daniel Leal and combined sources

In the past few months, the people of Quibdo, capital city of the Colombian Pacific coast department of Choco, have observed daily the landing at their local airport of helicopters and small aircraft, packed with "gringos" from Plan Colombia and their Colombian associates.

They have come with one objective: to spray the illicit crops located in the huge territory of Choco. In the Feb. 11 edition of the Colombian news magazine Semana, Choco journalist Alejo Restrepo, writes that biodiversity and watersheds of the region are threatened by this chemical assault.

PLAN COLOMBIA'S SECRET AIR FORCE PROGRAM IN PERU

A Father Waits for Justice as Deadly Accident Reveals Air-Interception Exercises

A tragic air accident on Peru's northern coastline in August of 2001 cost the lives of two exemplary pilots, one Peruvian and one American. It received little notice at the time. But a WW4 REPORT investigation into the incident has exposed a series of blunders, mysterious official silence from both Lima and Washington, and finally a trail of corruption extending from the hand of Peru's former intelligence czar Vladimir Montesinos--now convicted on multiple corruption charges--to the U.S. State Department. The regime of Peru's authoritarian President Alberto Fujimori, ousted in November 2000, is now widely recognized to have allowed drug flights to get through, and the U.S.-coordinated program to shoot the flights down was officially suspended after the embarrassing downing of an innocent missionary plane in April 2001. But training for the program apparently continued at least through 2003 and the State Department won't talk. The father of the Peruvian pilot killed in the 2001 accident wants to know why. And since your tax-dollars may be funding a clandestine military operation in South America that violates official policy--you should too.

COLOMBIA: INDIGENOUS TOWNS BESIEGED; DAM REPARATIONS WON

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

CAUCA: FARC SEIZE INDIGENOUS TOWNS

Around 5 AM on April 14, hundreds of rebels from the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) simultaneously attacked the neighboring municipalities of Jambalo and Toribio in southern Cauca department and fired homemade rockets and other weapons at police. About 98% of the residents of the two municipalities are Nasa indigenous people; their communities have always been clear in rejecting the presence of armed groups in their territory. Toribio is an important town for the Nasa: the Nasa Project, an autonomous indigenous development program, is based there, and Toribio mayor Arquimedes Vitonas is a respected Nasa leader. Vitonas headed a delegation that was held captive for two weeks by the FARC last year.

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