Israel J. Ruiz
After an extensive debate that ended on Friday afternoon, the grand majority of Peru’s congress voted to repeal two laws that would have facilitated the sale of tribal lands to mining and energy companies.
Sixty-six votes were cast in favor of repealing legislative decrees 1015 and 1073, which were passed by President Alan Garcia earlier this year as part of Peru’s free trade deal with the United States.
Twenty-nine congressional representatives took heed to Garcia’s warning that changing the law would be a historic mistake and voted against revoking the controversial law.
Despite Garcia’s statement that Peru’s Indian and rural communities would be doomed to another century of backwardness and misery if the law were repealed, congressional representatives went to a floor vote on Friday afternoon and revoked it.
In an effort to comply with the new free trade pact established with the U.S. and under special powers granted to him by congress, Garcia passed the laws, which made it possible for an indigenous community to allow the sale of tribal lands by a simple majority vote as opposed to two-thirds of the community’s vote.
As congress affirmed Garcia had gone too far, protests and riots were sparked in several of Peru’s regions with roads being blocked and clashes between indigenous communities and police.
Eleven days of protest took place and did not end until the Andean country’s congress agreed to vote on the law.
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