Amazon Update: Peru Government declares state of emergency in 9 eastern districts

The Executive declared a state of emergency for 60 days in the the Amazon districts of four departments in eastern Peru, including Loreto, Amazonas, Ucayali and Cusco.

The decision ws triggered by continuing protests from indigenous communities throughout the Amazon region, most recently in the northeast at Petroperu’s Nº 5 pump station on the North Peru Pipeline, where Awajun indigenous leaders have cut off water and electricity supplies for the second consecutive day. The station has been unable to pump crude oil for the past week.

Premier Yehude Simon says the protests are manipulated politically and that the indigenous communities are misinformed about the scope and risks of the legislation enacted last year to meet standards set in the Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States.

Although Simon recognized that the State was at fault for the poor flow of communications with Amazonia, he told Radio RPP, “The Amazonian groups are taking on attitudes that do not help in the least, because the State can stop that violence being created and there could be a high social price, and we are not interested in that.”

Three days ago, the Catholic bishops of Amazonia called for urgent steps to be taken by President Alan Garcia and Congress to repeal what they consider damaging legislation and to seriously consider the claims of native communities and their full participation in creating new laws.

The state of emergency, signed by President Garcia, by premier Simon, and by the ministers of Justice, Defence, Interior, and Energy and Mines, suspends the constitutional rights of personal safety and freedom, the liberty of gatherings and public meetings, and freedom of transit, and authorizes law enforcement officers to search people’s homes or other private property without a warrant.

The districts under the state of emergency are Echarate and Kimbiri, in the province of La Convención in Cusco; Sepahua, in Ucayali; Napo, in the province of Maynas, Loreto; Andoas, Pastaza, Morona and Manseriche, in the province of Datem del Marañon, Loreto; and Imaza, in Bagua, department of Amazonas.

Yesterday, Alberto Pizango, president of Aidesep, warned that Amazonian communities are willing to die to defend their territories, if the government were to declare a state of emergency.

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