LIMA – Hundreds of Peruvian Indians seized the airport of the Amazon city of Atalaya as part of a national protest against laws they consider damaging to the integrity of their territories.
A police spokesman in Atalaya, which lies on the border with Brazil, told Efe that “some 350 Indians armed with clubs and arrows have seized the airport.”
For their part, sources in the Aidesep group representing Indian communities in the Amazon, said Thursday that the group occupying the airport numbers more than 2,000.
The demonstrators are determined to stay there until the government of President Alan Garcia hears their demands, Aidesep said in a press release Thursday.
Aidesep said that occupation of the Atalaya airport aims to stop oil company personnel from reaching “their camps set up inside Indian territory.”
The Indians hope that their leaders will be able to talk next Monday with Cabinet chief Yehude Simon to find a solution to their problems.
“Without a satisfactory response to the interests of the Amazon Indians, the measures (of force) will get more radical,” Indian leader Hugo Perez Petza said.
Since last week, the inhabitants of several communities in the Peruvian Amazon blocked boat transit on two major jungle rivers as part of the protest.
Amazon Indians demand that the new laws regulating access to water and forest resources be struck down, among other petitions.
Last August, thousands of Indians of the Peruvian jungle staged a general strike for more than a week, during which they blockaded highways and seized electrical installations to demand the rescinding of legislation they said undermined their hold on ancestral lands.
After the violent protests, the Peruvian Congress repealed the two controversial laws. EFE