Peru: Morning News Roundup – Tuesday February 19

Peru farmers’ protest leads to state of emergency

The authorities in Peru have declared a state of emergency in eight provinces following clashes between striking farmers and police, in which one person died. The farmers have blocked main roads and railways in protest at a free-trade agreement with the United States signed in December. The farmers are demanding talks with the government. They are worried that Peru will be swamped by subsidised US agricultural produce as a result of the agreement. Thousands of travellers were stranded by the protests, including hundreds of tourists bound for Peru’s top tourist attraction, the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The Pan American highway was also blocked, north and the south of the capital Lima. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide – click here to see article)

Striking farmers cut access to Peru’s Machu Picchu

Peruvian farmers upset over a free trade deal with the United States blocked rail service to the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu and closed key highways on Monday, prompting the government to say it may deploy the army to end the strike. The protests temporarily stranded thousands of travelers in the Andean nation, including some 400 people stuck on the train to the ancient Incan citadel, Peru’s top tourist attraction. The Pan-American highway, the major road on the Peruvian coast, was blocked north and south of the capital, Lima, travelers and police said. Farmers nationwide snarled traffic with tree trunks, rocks and sand. "The government only listens to us when we strike," said Antolin Huascar, the head of a national farmers’ group. He said farmers would protest until the government agrees to meet with them about their demands. (Reuters – click here to read complete article)

Peru to host Apec, seek free-trade area

Peru on Monday said it will encourage the creation of a free trade area among Asia-Pacific nations when it hosts an annual summit of the bloc later this year. The creation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) would strengthen commercial ties in the region, said Ambassador Luis Quesada, the Peruvian Foreign Ministry official in charge of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting November in Lima. Queseda told reporters that his country hopes to lay the groundwork for the FTAAP in 2008, so that the long-term plan can become a reality in the future. (Bangkok Post – click here to read complete article)

Peruvian police arrest 15 suspected guerrillas

Peru has captured 15 suspected rebels in a new push to weaken the Shining Path guerrilla group before a summit meeting of leaders from 21 countries later this year, police said on Monday. The arrests were made in the last two weeks in the capital Lima and in several northern regions. Shining Path killed thousands of people in a fierce rebellion before its leadership collapsed in the early 1990s. Remnants of the group are still active but the government says they have all but abandoned their Maoist ideology in favor of running drugs. (Reuters – click here to read complete article)

Colina death squad used techniques from SOA curriculum

Techniques that Peruvian military officers learned at the Georgia-based US Army School of the Americas were used in massacres carried out by the Colina Group paramilitary commando in the early 1990s, several former Colina members have confirmed at the trial of ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). Fujimori is accused of ordering or approving a number of human rights violations during his administration, including the deaths of 25 people at Barrios Altos in 1991 and at La Cantuta University in 1992 in operations by the Colina Group. The techniques said to come from SOA manuals and classes included the use of clandestine graves and lime to bury the victims. According to the newspaper La Primera, the military officers who organized Peru’s commandos and the counterinsurgent "dirty war" were trained at SOA, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). (WW4 Report – click here to read complete article)

Canadian firm accused of infringing on Peru tribe

Indigenous rights group says workers entered area where reclusive nomads live
Indigenous rights groups are renewing pleas for an area of Peru’s Amazonian jungle to be set aside as a reserve after workers from a Canadian oil and gas company entered an area inhabited by a nomadic tribe that has refused contact with the outside world. Calgary-based Petrolifera Petroleum Ltd. says workers for a subcontractor were clearing paths to use small explosions for oil and gas seismic testing in a remote central region of the Peruvian Amazon when they found "marks on a tree," but an area indigenous rights group claims the sighting was of a temporary village likely set up by a reclusive nomadic tribe. Richard Gusella, executive chairman of Calgary-based Petrolifera, said the company has asked its experts to investigate further. (Canada.com – click here to read complete article by Jorge Barrera)

Peru’s Economy Booms

Peru’s GDP grew 8.99% in 2007, it highest rate in 13 years, the national statistics office reports. The expansion was fueled by a surge in the construction and manufacturing sectors, as well as mining, with its exports of copper, zinc and other minerals climbing due to rising prices of the commodities in the world market, expansion in the Asian markets and the continuation of APDEA. Fisheries and power generation also experienced significant growth. Inflation, on the other hand, was 0.24% in January, the institute reports. (Latin Finance)