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Peru to ‘consider’ U.N. suggestions, Congress to investigate

The government of Peruvian President Alan Garcia will “consider” recommendations by the United Nations to set up an investigative commission to find out who caused the June 5 clashes between policemen and Natives that killed at least 33 people.

“We will always consider the suggestion,” said Rosario Fernandez, Peruvian justice minister, following a special mid-June visit by a U.N. envoy that recommended an independent investigation where Natives will feel represented.

“We have informed him that in Congress an investigative commission will be set up, but evidently we accept with good disposition the suggestions that are given to us because I believe they were all done in good faith by the envoy,” Fernandez said June 20.

Peruvian congressional investigations have a record of not finding guilt in government officials. There are no Amazon Native representatives in Congress.

A 2008 investigation of officials close to Garcia over allegations of bribes and luxury gifts in exchange for oil and gas licenses ended with all officials close to Garcia free of any guilt. The journalist who supplied audio taped evidence to local media – forcing an investigation and resignations – was the only one sanctioned by Congress.



U.N. Report

Fernandez’s reaction came after U.N. special envoy for indigenous people Jaime Anaya visited Peru June 17 – 19 to investigate the killings. Fernandez said Anaya concluded that “there was not any genocide” in Peru.

Peruvian Vice President Luis Giampietri echoed the comment along with other officials and separately said those accusing Peru of genocide should apologize. “What we had was no genocide but a homicide – a homicide of policemen.” He assured Peruvian reporters that Anaya himself had concluded so.

Yet, in a special report by the envoy published at the end of Anaya’s visit, he did not reach any such conclusion but called for a “complete and objective” investigation of the killings by a special group that should be formed with Native representation.

Anaya’s doubts of the official version are shared by most Peruvians. According to a survey of 1,000 Peruvians in 16 cities conducted by leading local pollster Apoyo, 63 percent believed there were more Natives dead than police, and 57 percent said Natives had been right in organizing protests.

Anaya also encouraged the participation of “the international community” in investigations. He reminded Peru that any treatment of Natives must conform to international accords ratified by Peru.



Native Persecution

The estimated 350,000 Natives in Peru claim that a “persecution” of their leaders continues after the success of protests in getting Congress to repeal laws that Garcia enacted last year – without discussion in Congress – to ease Amazon land sale.

Daysi Zapata, AIDESEP’s acting president, said June 23 that Peruvian security forces continued to arrest Native leaders apparently as reprisals following the successful protest that involved nearly 60-day highway blockades.

Native leader Alberto Pizango is already living in Managua with political asylum. A state attorney is trying to prosecute him and other leaders, still in Peru, who are blamed for killing police.

The Peruvian ombudsman’s office has listed the names of 24 dead policemen. The official lists only name nine dead civilians. The government insists just five of those were Natives.

The list of 24 dead policemen includes last names such as Yanac, Huanci, Tinoco, Choque, Cahuana and Mayhuasca which are all typical Peruvian indigenous names.