Photo: Roadblock in Peru (El Comercio)
Hundreds of people blocked roads Tuesday in the southern region of Madre de Dios to protest the Peruvian government’s imposition of controls on fuel distribution as part of authorities’ battle against drug trafficking and illegal mining.
Miners in the region have been mobilized for three weeks in response to Lima’s decision to exclude them from a process of legalization of mining activities in natural reserves.
On Tuesday, the miners were joined by some 400 members of Fenamad, a group representing indigenous people in Madre de Dios, the organization’s secretary told Efe.
Another 1,600 Fenamad members are expected to reinforce the protesters in the coming days, Cesar Augusto Jojaje said.
Fenamad supports the protests because the government’s new restrictions are denying indigenous residents the fuel they need for their boats, the main means of transport in the jungle region, Jojaje said.
The indigenous people also object to Lima’s characterization of Madre de Dios as a center of drug trafficking, he said.
“The situation here is chaotic,” regional chamber of commerce president Luis Portocarrero told Efe, adding that protesters are beginning to attack private property.
“Demonstrators have taken over all the streets. One cannot travel freely,” he said.
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala met Monday with Cabinet ministers and police and military commanders to discuss additional security measures for Madre de Dios.
The region’s top official, Jorge Aldazabal, has spent the last week in Lima attempting to persuade Humala’s government to exempt Madre de Dios from the fuel restrictions.
One person was killed and 30 others injured last week in clashes between police and disgruntled residents in Mazuco, Madre de Dios.