Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peru Moves to ease Amazon Crisis

This article is copied from the BBC World News website PLEASE PRAY FOR A PEACEFUL SOLUTION .

Peru's government is set to send a bill to Congress revoking land laws that led to deadly clashes between police and indigenous protesters in the Amazon.
The move follows talks between the government and indigenous leaders on ways of easing tensions after more than 30 people died earlier this month.
Amazon Indians say the laws will open their lands to drilling and logging.
Peru's Prime Minister Yehude Simon, who has led the talks, has said he will step down once the dispute is settled.
"I will leave as soon as everything has calmed down, which should be in the coming weeks," Mr Simon told Peruvian radio on Tuesday after meeting indigenous leaders.
He said the government would send a bill to Congress on Wednesday asking for a repeal of the laws which would have allowed mining, oil and gas exploration and other economic development in the Amazon rainforest.

Indigenous people say they want to be consulted on development
The government had to know how to listen, Mr Simon said, insisting that the reversal of policy would not put at risk Peru's free trade agreement with the US.
Mr Simon offered to end a state of emergency and curfew in the region, while Amazon leaders indicated they would end their blockade of a main road if the decrees were overturned.
Thousands of indigenous people have been blocking roads, rivers and fuel pipelines since April to force the government to repeal the laws which they say were introduced without consultation and would open their lands to foreign exploitation.
Violence erupted on 5 June when security forces moved to end the blockades near the town of Bagua, more than 1,000km (600 miles) north of the capital, Lima.
At least 34 people, both police and protesters, died in the clashes, officials have said, although indigenous leaders say more than 50 people were killed.
Safe passage
Peruvian President Alan Garcia has said that developing parts of the Amazon are part of his investment programme to tackle widespread poverty.
He has repeatedly argued that all Peruvians should benefit from the country's natural resources not just the people who happened to live in the areas concerned.

"We have to open up a space for reconciliation, peace and hope," Mr Garcia said in a statement on Tuesday.
But he indicated that he intended to move ahead with his development policies based on free trade and foreign investment.
"Time will show that those who reject something today will be the first to ask for it in the future because they need development, investment and a better life," he said.

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