Peru/Bolivia diplomatic rift over deadly clashes in Amazonia

Peru withdrew on Monday its ambassador to Bolivia, Fernando Rojas, in protest against Bolivian President Evo Morales calling the June 5 deaths of indigenous people in north Peru “genocide”.

June 16, Mercopress

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde said that the measure was "a redress manifestation for the continued intromissions of the Bolivian government on internal issues of the country".

Morales said on Saturday that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and the deaths of indigenous people during clashes with security forces in Bagua city in the Peruvian Amazons were "genocide".

Peruvian indigenous people from the Amazons went on strike two months ago, demanding the Peruvian government to abolish legislation opening vast tracks of land to logging and hydrocarbons and minerals exploration. Clashes with security forces who tried to open blocked routes and waterways left over 50 dead, including 24 policemen.

Amazonia tribes consider it their ancestral land and are protesting they were never consulted on the matter, which the administration of President Alan García has admitted.

Peruvian cabinet chief Yehude Simon met on Monday with indigenous communities and their chiefs (apus), to organize a round of talks on the issue with the “facilitating efforts” of Peru’s ombudsman office and the Catholic Church.

“We won’t let you down; the commitments we’ve agreed to will be honoured, other wise I wouldn’t be here”, said Simon.

An “act of understanding” contemplates 12 points among which the derogation of the controversial decrees opening Amazonian lands to loggings and mining.

The opening of land to logging and mining is part of the free trade agreement recently signed by Peru with the United States, under former president Bush.

Simon said he was particularly shocked and remorseful about all the killings and suffering because of the clashes and asked for forgiveness from the families of the policemen and the indigenous communities for all the “mistakes committed”.

“I’m saying this with moral authority”, underlined the Peruvian cabinet chief.

However some details remain among which the lifting of the military curfew in the area demanded by indigenous organization and help to find people “still missing” from the weekend of the clashes.

In related news a special envoy from United Nations for indigenous peoples is expected this week in Peru for an appraisal of the deadly events of June 5th which left 24 policemen and at least 34 indigenous dead.


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