Peru's army on standby as jungle unrest grows

Peru is considering sending in the army to break up protests by Amazonian Indians who claim the government is preparing a massive land grab in the country's remote jungles.

Indigenous groups have blockaded roads and a river and set up pickets at energy installations to protest changes in the law which would make it easier for commercial interests to buy up collectively owned tribal lands in the northern regions of Peru.

The government has responded to an appeal for talks by declaring a state of emergency in three states and threatening protesters with military action.

"Indigenous people are defending themselves against government aggression," said an Amazon Indian rights campaigner, Alberto Pizango. "This is not an ordinary or everyday demonstration. The Indians have told us they are not afraid. If the government declares a state of emergency they prefer to die there and show that this government violates human rights."

Relations between indigenous groups and the President Alan Garcia have become increasingly hostile as the government has sought to exploit what are thought to be rich oil and gas deposits in lands owned by Amazon Indians. Energy companies have pushed deep into supposedly protected areas in the past year, leading to clashes with some of the most remote tribal peoples left in the world.

The increasingly unpopular Garcia administration is under pressure due to soaring energy costs and failure to translate economic growth into a general rise in the standard of living. It is actively courting outside energy giants and this week agreed a £2.5bn stake in the state oil company to China.

Ten days of protests have so far seen thousands of Indians from all over the Peruvian Amazon mobilised. A small number of arrests have followed and a clash between police officers and hundreds of spear-carrying Indians on Saturday led to eight people being injured, according to local media reports. Police claim that two of their officers have been taken hostage after being sent to a protest site over the weekend.

Protesters have also surrounded Peru's largest natural gas installation, the Camisea field, in the south of the country.

The Environment Minister Antonio Brack said protesters have closed a bridge and highway "and threatened to cut the supply of oil via the oil pipeline and gas through the Camisea gas pipeline".

"The government of Peru cannot permit it," he added.

The protests are in response to new laws passed by the government. The Indians say the changes undermine their rights and make it easier for companies to take control of their territories. Under old laws a two-thirds majority of each community was required before land could be sold, this has been changed to a simple majority.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine