On May 9, 2009, the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in the regions of Loreta, Amazonas, Cusco, and Ucalyali — where thousands of indigenous people have mobilized against several new laws that threaten to strip away their indigenous land rights.
In effect, the state of emergency (SoE) is a “declaration of war” against “those who seek to change the course of history,” says Roger Rumrrill: a license for the government to violently repress Indigenous People.
The Real State of Emergency
One day before the SoE was announced, AIDESEP, the National Organization of the Amazon Indigenous People of Peru, and several other key indigenous and peasant organizations pledged unanimously to “radicalize” the mobilization, which is backed by more than 1,200 communities.
They say it is the only thing they could do to “resolve the mobilization,” since the government refuses to act responsibly and repeal the laws in question.
As far as needs and rights go, this is the real state of emergency in Peru right now. Indeed, the mobilization isn’t some “misinformed” adventure as the government would have us believe — as if the needs and rights of indigenous people can be relegated to mere provender, and then tossed aside for the “greater good” of foreign bank accounts.
No, the mobilization is a struggle for life itself. And it is one that will continue no matter what rhetoric or violence the government puts out during its own State of Emergency.
- May 12 — (Spanish) Yurimaguas Tarapoto road-blocked by the people and Shawi Cocama Cocamilla
- May 12 — State of emergency rejected in Peru’s amazon basin provinces
- May 11 — Indigenous leaders declare hunger strike in Peruvian Congress to protest FTA decrees
- May 10 — (Spanish) Awajun and Wampis block Corral Quemado bridge, (English) violent clash follows
- May 9 — Catholic Bishops in Peru’s Amazon call for protection of ethnic communities
- May 8 — (Spanish) 400 Indigenous People blockade road in Lamas Province
A Two-Spirit of Haudenosaunee and European descent, John “Ahniwanika” Schertow is a writer, painter, musician, sculptor, poet, and self-taught web-designer. Based in Winnipeg, Ahni’s had his paintings, articles, and poetry featured in Serendipity, the Adagio Review, Swerve Magazine, Upside Down World, Activist Magazine, Toward Freedom, the Dominion, and Poets against the War. He is also the webmaster for The Oneidas for Democracy. This article was first published in his blog Intercontinental City on 13 May 2009 under a Creative Commons license.