Peru’s indigenous to launch political party

Indigenous groups in Peru’s Amazon region will launch a political party to compete in the country’s 2011 elections, Spanish news agency Efe reported the head of the Interethnic Association for the Development of Peru’s Jungle (Aidesep), Alberto Pizango, as saying.

The party will be called the Alliance for an Alternative for Humanity, or APHU, Pizango said. They are currently collecting signatures and plan to officially register the party in September.

The party will “reach all citizens that want to defend life, forests and nature,” Pizango said. The party will also promote rights for indigenous groups in Peru’s highlands and coast.

According to Pizango, there are some 1.2 million indigenous people in Peru, however official figures place the population at approximately 400,000.

Pizango, a Shawi Indian who is well-regarded among Amazonian communities, said he may be the party’s candidate for Peru’s presidency if he is chosen.

Pizango had led protests in 2009 over plans to open large swaths of the Amazon jungle to oil drilling and other large development projects. He was charged with sedition, conspiracy and rebellion.

He had sought refuge in Nicaragua’s embassy in Lima and was later granted a letter of safe-conduct by Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to travel to Nicaragua where he was granted asylum. In May 2010, he returned to Peru.

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