Peru suspends Amazon logging decree

The Peruvian congress has suspended a law easing restrictions on timber harvesting in the Amazon rain forest, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The move came days after clashes between police and indigenous protesters in which dozens of people were killed. The protesters consider development of the jungle an assault on their way of life.


Legislative decree 1090, which covers forestry in Peru’s north-eastern Amazon rain forest, was suspended indefinitely, along with a decree related to the governing of private investment in the region. Both were vehemently opposed by the approximately half-million members of 65 ethnic groups who live in the Peruvian jungle. The protesters demand nothing short of repeal.


The decrees are among many issued in 2007 and 2008 by president Alan García to ease restrictions on Amazonian mining, oil drilling, logging and farming. García issued the laws when Peru’s congress granted him special powers to implement a free-trade agreement with the United States.


The Amazon protest peaked last Friday and Saturday when some 400 police officers moved in to clear indigenous people who were blocking a highway near the northern city of Bagua. Garcia’s government has been rocked by the repercussions from those clashes – the bloodiest since Peru’s war in the 1980s and 1990s against Shining Path and Túpac Amaru guerrillas.


Meanwhile, about 3,000 Indians from 25 ethnic groups continue to block a key Amazon highway linking the cities of Tarapoto and Yurimaguas. Other protests are planned, including a march to the presidential palace in Lima by labour unions opposed to “the arrogant, intolerant, overbearing and discriminatory attitude of the government towards the Amazon communities”.


See full story