Gov’t declares state of emergency in Echarate, Cuzco department

Peru’s government has declared a state of emergency for 60 days in Echarate district, located in Cuzco department’s La Convencion province where residents are protesting exports of natural gas.

According to state news agency Andina, the state of emergency was declared due to vandalism during a demonstration and as a result of protesters trying to take over part of a plant owned by the Transportadora de Gas del Peru.

TGP forms part of the Camisea Gas Consortium and is owned by Pluspetrol, Hunt Oil of the US, Brussels-based Suez-Tractebel, SK Corporation of Korea, Algerian state-owned Sonatrach, and the Peruvian construction and energy group Graña y Montero

The government says these actions put in risk the transportation and distribution of natural gas. The state of emergency suspends some constitutional rights including the freedom to hold meetings and of movement.

“We don’t want that thousands of residents, who have all the right to protest, to endanger the transportation of gas that fuels the gas turbines which provide electric energy in Lima,” newspaper La República quoted President Alan García as saying.

“The only thing I ask for is that there is tranquility, there is calm. The people can mobilize themselves, have strikes, protests, that is democratic. It is legal insofar as they don’t take public buildings or block the free transit of other citizens.”

Local leaders of the protests have criticized the measure and said they will not comply with the state of emergency.

“There has always been a state of emergency in the zone,” local leader Ricardo Gomez said. “Rather than providing a solution and organizing talks, the executive is sending repression and bombs. That is the response from the government.”

Authorities in southern Peru have protested the government’s plan to export natural gas, arguing that there will not be enough to meet local demand.

Peru’s government recently inaugurated a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Cañete, on the coast about 170km south of Lima, which will make the country a net exporter of natural gas.

The LNG plant is the first in South America. It is owned by Peru LNG, which is 50 percent-controlled by US-based Hunt Oil. Both SK Energy of Korea and Repsol of Spain have a 20 percent interest in the consortium, and Marubeni Corporation of Japan holds the remainder.

The consortium invested $3.8 billion in the project, the largest spent on a single project in the Peru’s history.

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