Peru’s executive repeals state of emergency in district following natural gas protests

Peru’s executive has repealed a state of emergency that was declared in early August in Echarate district in Cusco department, state news agency Andina reported.

President Alan Garcia signed the supreme decree on Wednesday to void the state of emergency, which suspends some constitutional rights including the freedom to hold meetings and of movement.

The 60 day state of emergency was announced ahead of protests by residents in La Convencion province, where Echarte is located, against Peru’s natural gas exports. The residents were demanding that the gas be used for internal demand.

The decision to repeal it follows an end to demonstrations announced last weekend and meetings between Prime Minister Javier Velasquez and protest leaders on Monday.

The demonstrations had turned violent with numerous people injured and damage to infrastructure owned by Transportadora de Gas del Peru (TGP).

Peru’s government and TGP had said the violence from the protests could put at risk the supply of gas from Camisea and affect electric energy generation for about 35 percent of the country.

According to journalist and former minister of interior Fernando Rospigliosi, however, the size of the protest was exaggerated by officials and the media. Instead the protests were really set up by local politicians with the goal of use the issue of natural gas exports to gain support as candidates for the country’s upcoming elections.

“In reality the protest in this province was not that strong,” Rospigliosi said. “There isn’t an ideological problem here. There are local caudillos [strongmen] who want to a political deal.”

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