NEW YORK TIMES – CARACAS, Venezuela — Peru’s Congress on Thursday overturned two decrees by President Alan García that were aimed at opening large areas of the Peruvian Amazon to logging, dams and oil drilling but set off protests by indigenous groups this month in which dozens died.
The move appeared to ease tensions with the indigenous groups, which had continued with their protests and road blockades in parts of Peru despite Congress’s decision to suspend the decrees last month. After the vote on Thursday, however, some indigenous leaders said they would lift the scattered blockades and halt the protests.
“Today is a historic day for all indigenous people and for the nation of Peru,” said Daysi Zapata, a leader of the Peruvian Jungle Inter-Ethnic Development Association, a group representing more than 300,000 people from Peru’s indigenous groups.
The apparent end to the impasse came after at least 24 police officers and 10 civilians were killed in clashes and acts of retaliation in northern Bagua Province, some of Peru’s bloodiest political violence since a two-decade war ended in 2000.
The decrees, issued by Mr. García as part of a regulatory overhaul for a trade deal with the United States, were intended to open parts of jungle to investment and allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to attain permits for petroleum, biofuels and hydroelectric projects.
Other disputed decrees by Mr. García remain in effect, raising the prospect of new protests. Still, Mr. García acknowledged in a speech late Wednesday that his government had made a crucial mistake by not including native groups in discussions over the decrees before he issued them.
The repeal of the decrees and the apology by Mr. García open a new phase of uncertainty in Peru, where economic growth is sharply declining amid a decline in commodities prices.
Andrea Zarate contributed reporting from Lima, Peru.
Source: New York Times