IQUITOS, Peru — Faced with a simmering crisis over dozens of deaths in the quelling of indigenous protests last week, Peru’s Congress this week suspended the decrees that had set off the protests over plans to open large parts of the Peruvian Amazon to investment. Senior officials said they hoped this would calm nerves and ease the way for oil drillers and loggers to pursue their projects.
But instead, indigenous groups are digging in for a protracted fight, revealing an increasingly well-organized movement that could be a tinderbox for President Alan García. The movement appears to be fueled by a deep popular resistance to the government’s policies, which focused on luring foreign investment, while parts of the Peruvian Amazon have been left behind.
The broadening influence of the indigenous movement was on display Thursday in a general strike that drew thousands of protesters here to the streets of Iquitos, the largest Peruvian city in the Amazon, and to cities and towns elsewhere in jungle areas. Protests over Mr. García’s handling of the violence in the northern Bagua Province last Friday also took place in highland regions like Puno, near the Bolivian border, and in Lima and Arequipa on the Pacific coast.
“The government made the situation worse with its condescending depiction of us as gangs of savages in the forest,” said Wagner Musoline Acho, 24, an Awajún Indian and an indigenous leader. “They think we can be tricked by a maneuver like suspending a couple of decrees for a few weeks and then reintroducing them, and they are wrong.”
Wowsers: Rosemary gets the Bagua Peru story right
Credit where due; Simon Romero has actually filed a report that tells people what’s really going on this time. He kinda reminds me of the Ancient Mariner (he naileth one in three), but no complaints and a round of applause deserved; tomorrow morning readers of the NYT will have a good grasp of the situation in Peru thanks to the below (here’s the first part, click through to read it all):