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Peruvian Indigenous Peoples Mobilize Across the Amazon

by April 24, 2009

Thousands of indigenous people are mobilizing across the Peruvian Amazon in continued protest over a set of legislative decrees that undermine indigenous land rights and violate Peru's constitution as well as international law.

Coordinated by the National Organization of the Amazon Indigenous people of Peru (AIDESEP), as many as 1,350 Indigenous communities are involved in what is being called the "Mobilization for Indigenous Peoples."

The main focus of the mobilization appears to be on the Napo and Corrientes Rivers, two of the Amazon's main tributaries. Several communities have been holding blockades on both rivers since late last week, reports The Latin American Herald Tribune.

The situation is particularity tense on the Napo right now. Two boats reportedly broke through the blockade, including one from the Anglo-French company Perenco. "Three shots were allegedly fired at the Indians who chased after them," says Survival International.

Following this, 80 police officers from the National Directorate of Special Operations of the National Police of Peru (DINOES) were ordered to clear the road blockade at the "El Vado" port on the Napo.

In preparation for a possible confrontation, a group of 300 indigenous people were sent in yesterday morning for additional support.

In recent weeks, protests and other blockades have also taken place along the Cenepa and Santiago Rivers, on a set of train tracks leading to Machu Picchu, and in several other commercially-important areas in the departments of Amazonas, Loreto, Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Cuzco and Junin.

Several protests are ongoing, and, as AIDESEP president Alberto Pizango indicated a few days ago, many more are likely to emerge. Speaking on CNR radio he said, "We are going to keep insisting."

AIDESEP is demanding the annulment of legislative decrees 1020, 1064, 1080, 1081, 1083, 1089 and 1090.

They also want the formal recognition and entitlement of indigenous communities, and the suspension of all concessions currently on indigenous lands.

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