The Advisory Council of the National Coffee Board of Peru (JNC) has commissoned us to share with you our deepest sorrow over the violence carried out against the indigenous population of the provinces of Jaén, Utcubamba and Bagua, in the north of the country, causing the loss of lives and hundreds of wounded. These methods of resolving the legitímate demands of those marginalized social sectors only generate greater violence and provoke more injustices, behavior which is at odds with the democratic values that are so frequently invoked.
It is vital that we be able to count on your solidarity with the indigenous and small farmers of the north of Peru.
Lorenzo Castillo, JNC
We received this email a few days ago accompanied by a formal letter of protest from the Peruvian National Coffee Board expressing solidarity with the communities in the north of Peru where a massacre occurred early in the morning on Friday, June 5th.
The following information has been compiled from several reports written by the Quixote Center:
For the past two months, communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting new laws that usher in an unprecedented wave of extractive industries – expanding logging, oil drilling, mining, and destructive agriculture into the Amazon Rainforest. President Alan Garcia’s government passed these laws under “fast track” authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to make laws to facilitate implementation of the US –Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Over 30,000 indigenous people have taken to blockading roads, rivers, and railways to demand the repeal of these new laws that allow transnational oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking prior consultation or consent. The indigenous are using these nonviolent actions to protest this unprecedented expansion of new transnational petroleum, mining and logging actions which threaten indigenous communities, their resource rights, and the future of the Amazon.
According to Jennifer Atlee, Co-Director of the Quixote Center, 72% of the Amazon is already concessioned for petroleum exploration and extraction. As one of the earth’s largest tropical rainforests, the Amazon plays a critical role in safeguarding the global climate. Its destruction releases massive amounts of global warming gases into the atmosphere, worsening climate change.
On Friday morning, 600 Peruvian police in helicopters and on foot opened fire on thousands of peaceful indigenous protesters who were blocking a road near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon. The number of dead is estimated at 25 – 60, with hundreds more wounded badly. Police are accused of burning indigenous bodies, throwing them in the river and removing wounded from the hospital to hide the real number of casualties.
Miguel Paz, Export Manager of CECOVASA, one of our Peruvian farmer co-op partners has sent us a link to some pretty horrifying photos. I can’t imagine anyone could see these photos and not take action.
What can you do?
- Protests are being planned all this week in front of Peruvian Consulates in many U.S. cities.
- Write President Obama to let him know that you are outraged at the massacre of peaceful, indigenous protestors. Let him know that you reject the violence, human rights violations, and environmental destruction which current U.S. free trade policies promote.
Peruvian officials are meeting with Ron Kirk, the US Trade Representative this week in Washington to discuss FTA implementation. Please send a strong message to our government that we stand with the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon and reject the violence and the killing. We also reject the human rights violations and environmental destruction which current U.S. free trade agreements promote.