Humala: Government Won’t Allow “Status Quo” In VRAE

President Ollanta Humala said this week that the government won’t allow the “status quo” to continue in the coca-growing Apurimac and Ene river valley, or VRAE, state news agency Andina reported.

The VRAE is Peru’s biggest producer of coca leaves, used to produce cocaine. Much of the area, located in south-central Peru, is controlled by remnants of the Shining Path guerrillas, which waged a bloody insurgency against the government in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“We can’t allow a policy of status quo, we have to have a presence in the VRAE and that is what we are going to do,” Humala said.

“The VRAE has been neglected for decades and now we are confronting the problem,” Humala said. “If there are costs, we have to assume the costs.”

The most recent costs that the government has faced include the deaths of some 10 police officers and soldiers since April at the hands of Shining Path rebels.

The government’s handling of an operation against the guerrillas, which resulted in most of those deaths, was heavily criticized by opposition politicians and resulted in the resignation of two ministers. Humala has also seen his approval rating fall as a result of the mishandled operation.

President Humala’s recent changes of Defense and Interior ministers, as well as chiefs in the armed forces, has also included changes of police and military commands for the VRAE area.

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