- Title: PERU: Blockades in Peru's Amazon continue while indigenous leader seeks asylum
- Date: 10th June 2009
- Summary: LIMA, PERU (JUNE 09, 2009) (REUTERS) PEOPLE AT NICARAGUAN EMBASSY PROTESTING AGAINST INDIGENOUS LEADER ALBERTO PIZANGO'S ASYLUM REQUEST RIOT POLICE GUARDING AREA PROTESTERS YELLING 'MURDERER' AT PIZANGO (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PROTESTER LILIANA PERALTA SAYING "We can't let the Nicaraguan embassy give Pizango refuge. He's a murderer who has cruelly killed practically all of our brother policeman, so many young people have died in this slaughter." PROTESTERS YELLING: PIZANGO GENOCIDE, MURDERER (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DIXON LEON SAYING "I know people from Yurimaguas, Bagua and we are really indignant that the Nicaraguan embassy is giving this killer political asylum." POLICE GUARDING EXTERIOR OF EMBASSY
- Embargoed: 25th June 2009 00:36
- Location: Peru
- Country: Peru
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA197NLUJZ6725IJUNPN14D8SKW
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Protesters gathered outside the Nicaraguan embassy in Lima on Tuesday (June 09) where an indigenous leader was seeking asylum while native demonstrators continued to block some roads after bloody conflicts with police.
Around 60 people died in clashes over the weekend when police fought with indigenous tribes opposed to plans to drill for oil and mine resources in the jungle.
Most of the violence occurred in Bagua Grande, 870 miles (1,400 km) north of the capital Lima, and it was the worst violence faced by President Alan Garcia's government.
An indigenous leader said 40 protesters were killed and the government said 23 members of the security forces perished in two days of battles over Garcia's push to open up the rainforest to billions of dollars in foreign investment.
Indigenous leader Alberto Pizango was reportedly holed up and seeking asylum at the Nicaraguan embassy, where riot police kept angry protesters at bay.
Demonstrator Liliana Peralta called Pizngo a murderer.
"We can't let the Nicaraguan embassy give Pizango refuge. He's a murderer who has cruelly killed practically all of our brother policeman, so many young people have died in this slaughter," she said.
Another protester Dixon Leon also spoke out against Pizango.
"I know people from Yurimaguas, Bagua and we are really indignant that the Nicaraguan embassy is giving this killer political asylum," he said.
Speaking on Monday night (June 8), Tasha del Pozo, a spokesperson for the embassy, said Nicaragua had already effectively granted the indigenous leader asylum.
"We report that this embassy has effectively granted asylum to Mr. Pizango. That's all I can say. The Nicaraguan government has decided to give him asylum and that's all I'm authorized to say," del Pozo said.
Meanwhile in Yurimaguas, close to Bagua Grande, roadblocks continued but were opened in a number of areas.
Protesters include women and children from the surrounding subsistence farming region, some dressed in long red tunics and headbands and holding traditional wooden spears. Families have set up tents of plastic sheeting along the roadside.
Leoncio Ruiz, a 40-year-old truck driver, said among the victims of the conflict were transport workers who had been stuck at blockades, some for almost two months.
"We are the victims. The truck drivers are stranded because of this war. We want a solution," he said.
Indigenous leader Vladimiro Tapayuri Mirani had strong words for Garcia.
"Alan Garcia has violated the rights of the Amazon people implementing anti-Amazon laws without consulting us. Now indigenous leaders like Alberto Pizango are being persecuted. The struggle does not end when the law is overturned, but when the Amazon is free. We want regional autonomy, an Amazon state. The people have finally realized that capitalism has been hurting our development for many years," he said.
Analysts say Garcia -- whose approval rating is just 30 percent -- will likely have to fire senior cabinet members, including the prime minister, and roll back investment laws to end the stand-off.
Indigenous tribes, worried they will lose control over natural resources, have protested since April seeking to force Congress to repeal laws that encourage foreign mining and energy companies to invest billions of dollars in rainforest projects.
The violence has highlighted deep divisions between the elite in Lima and the rural poor, and threatened to derail the government's push to further open Peru to foreign investors.
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