Peruvian agriculture unions begin national protest

Peruvian farmers blockaded highways with large rocks and burning tires today as part of a national strike over the government´s agriculture policy.

The protests are being led by the National Agrarian Confederation, CNA, with support from the National Agro Convention, Conveagro, and the National Assembly of Users from Irrigation Districts in Peru, Jnudrp.

CNA president, Antolín Huáscar, told daily El Comercio their main demands include restructuring the agriculture sector, compensation for farmers ahead of the implementation of the free trade agreement with the United States, and decreasing the price of fertilizers. Other demands include the rejection of water privatization and Law 840, known as the Law of the Jungle, which encourages private investment in deforested areas of Peru’s Amazon.

The protest has been criticized by President Alan García and members of his ruling APRA party after Conveagro and Jnudrp reached their own agreements with the government on Friday. “Neither of the two organizations have reason to protest, but they do it because they are competing to see who is more radical,” El Comercio reported Cabinet Chief Jorge Del Castillo saying.

Interior Minister Luis Alva Castro told reporters said blocking highways is illegal and authorized police to arrest anyone committing that crime. Radio Programas reported that 11 protesters were arrested in the Chillion River Valley north or Lima, where they blocked the Pan American Highway with burning tires.

But according to Huáscar, blocking highways is the only way for members of the CNA to communicate their adversities. “Only the highways are blocked, we aren’t intervening in private property.” Huáscar added they will likely end protests Wednesday, but if their demands are not met they will prepare for another strike in May.

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