Thursday, June 18, 2009

Indigenous People and Peru

Bolivian leader 'enemy of Peru'

By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima
Peru's foreign minister has accused Bolivian President Evo Morales of being an enemy of Peru.

Jose Antonia Garcia Belaunde's remarks followed Peru's withdrawal on Tuesday of its ambassador to Bolivia.

That move, on Tuesday, was a response to Mr Morales's remarks about violent clashes that have erupted in Peru over Amazon land rights.

Mr Morales described the deaths of indigenous protesters in the dispute as a genocide caused by free trade.


The Peruvian foreign minister's response marks an escalation of tension and bad feeling between the governments of the neighbouring Andean countries.

Mr Garcia Belaunde said the Bolivian leader appeared to believe he had a messianic role to play in liberating Peruvians from the government of President Alan Garcia.

Mr Morales's comments on free trade appeared to be a reference to Peru's bilateral treaty with the United States, which facilitated the decrees that the native Amazonians believed to be a threat to their lands.

At least 34 people were killed when police attempted to clear a roadblock of indigenous protesters this month.
President Garcia blamed foreign forces - widely believed to mean Bolivia and Venezuela - for inciting the unrest.
Mr Garcia Belaunde reinforced that allegation, saying there were many indications that Bolivia was behind the violence in Peru.
Some experts say the relationship between the two countries has never been so bad.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Peru's Congress revokes controversial Amazon land decrees
3 hours ago
LIMA (AFP) — Peru's Congress on Thursday revoked two controversial decrees on land ownership in the Amazon river basin which triggered protests by indigenous groups that left at least 34 people dead in early June.
The measure was approved 82-12 after a nearly five-hour debate in Peru's single-chamber legislature.
A group of some 30 Amazon natives of the Ashanika community wearing feather headdresses and traditional garb led by Lidia Rengifo and Daysi Zapata, two of the national protest leaders, witnessed the vote in Congress.
"This is a historic day because our demands were just and finally the government acknowledged that we were right," said Zapata.
She called on native protesters in the vast Amazon river basin to lift roadblocks that had halted traffic on key regional highways and put an end to the protests.

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