The strike in the Peruvian Amazon is continuing and getting grimmer every day. Not only at the strikers side, but also at the side of the government whose unwillingness to dialog is starting to show. The distance between Lima and the Amazon seems larger the ever and after more then a month of protest the solution seems far away.
Not only the indigenous population is radicalising also the measures taken by the government are more drastically. Last Saturday, 9th of May, the Peruvian government declared the seven provinces of the Amazon region in a state of emergency. This means that the constitutionally provisions on freedom and security of persons and the immunity of accommodation are temporarily suspended, besides this there is an assembly and movement ban. The indigenous population interprets this as a declaration of war.
The government explained that this regulation was issued to guaranty continued operation of multinational companies. Also, it provides the government with the possibility to use more force. This way, the government hopes to counter the threat of the Amazon population: they have said to take multinational companies - other than PetroPeru - and to block the economically most important connecting roads.
Sunday morning, 10th of May, a delegation of 350 indigenous Awajun and Wampis took the bridge Corral Quemado in the province of Jaén. After blocking this road - that connects the coast with the rainforest in the Northern part of the country - for eight hours, they were expelled by force. In the process, the military officers used rubber bullets and bombs with tear gas; because of this, about 20 Awajun en Wampis were wounded. Ten people were detained but they were released the following day. At least one person is still missing - Hernandez Wisum Jankug – and they now fear for his life.
Various protesters later narrated that they were harassed and beaten by the officers and that they took advantage of the situation to burn their possessions and to steal their money. Also, the militaries burned the Peruvian flag the protesters were carrying, a symbolic deed that signals that the military officers do not consider the indigenous population true Peruvians.
In the province of Amazonas, six people were taken hostage by the protesters at the road block in Shushunga. One of them Fidel Castañeda Mendosa, is a military officer who was returning to Station six of PetroPerú – one of the occupied petroleum stations. The other five have stated to work for “Consorcio IDC-HK”, a company that will be doing infrastructure works in the region. The protesters however, suspect them of being Peruvian secret service and have started an investigation.
The road between Tarapoto and Yurimaguas, in the North of the country, remains closed. And in the province of Loreto, the blockade of wooden canoes has twice been broken by one of the war boats of the marine. In the Southern part of the country, the river Urubamba remains closed for all traffic. And twelve boats of petroleum companies Pluspetrol, Petrobrás and Repsol are now under control of the Asháninkas from Atalaya, in the region of Ucayali.
The indigenous protesters are determined, they will 'continue until the end'. They won’t stop until the decrees that facilitate further exploitation of the rainforest are withdrawn and they want voice in the establishment of multinational companies in their territories.
The actions continue everywhere in the Amazon and they are radicalising. Strategic positions are taken by the army and the Amazon population alike. Helicopters with military personnel are arriving at 'Station 6' of Petroperú. The peaceful protest is changing, the mood is getting grim.