Latin America

Peru: Alan García represses the miners

April 15, 2010

At least five dead is the toll left by the repression ordered by Peruvian President Alan García against the miners that were blockading the roads in southern Peru. The strike by the so-called artisanal miners, that began on April 5, was called by the Federación Nacional de Mineros Artesanales del Perú (FENMARPE) and the Federación Minera de Madre de Dios, against Emergency Decree 012-2010, which declares artisanal mining in the southern region of Peru illegal, in order to classify it as "formal mining." The extraction of gold in the south employs more than 40,000 people and represents a business that exceeds six hundred million dollars a year.

Many organizations, including FENMARPE and the Federación Nacional Minera, charged that the decree, behind cynical arguments of protecting the environment, rights at work, and the "formalization" of the sector, only seeks to hand over the business worth millions to the transnationals, in the context of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and the openly neoliberal policy of García’s government.

It is worth recalling that Alan García is the very one who, during the decade of the 1980’s won sympathy among groups in Peronism and the center-left, that embellished his first term with the slogan, "Ay patria mía, dame un presidente como Alan García" ["Oh, my homeland, give me a President like Alan García"], and demanded of Raúl Alfonsín a little "anti-imperialist" boldness in facing the problem of the foreign debt. Thirty years later, in a recent official visit, the [Argentinean] President [Cristina Fernández de Kirchner] stressed Peru’s supportive role during the war over the Malvinas, thereby giving support to a García administration, that, since taking office, has repressed protests by indigenous communities and workers’ strikes, and has aroused anger among broad groups of the Peruvian people. In the same visit, the Binational Business Council was established with the support of big firms of both countries, among them, the Peruvian mining companies (that will be big beneficiaries of the Decree under discussion and of the investments the Council is promoting). On the Argentinean side will be Franco Macri (the father of Mauricio), who will head the Council to do business in the Peru of economic growth (that has maintained a rate of 6% of GDP during recent years), where, however, social inequality and poverty are intensifying.

Less than a year ago, social and political organizations of the Amazonia region blocked roads and seized oil installations in opposition to similar measures over forests and rivers. In June 2009, like today, the Peruvian people and workers suffered repression, that culminated in what was known as the Bagua massacre, where 40 people were murdered, and a still indeterminate number continue missing. Once again, Alan García’s government is using repression to guarantee the deals of the big companies.