After the riots: Where is the justice for Peru’s indigenous?

Digging up an issue I have watched for some time, the IPS reported yesterday that justice is still elusive for the indigenous of the Peruvian Amazon. In June of last year, tribal opposition to the government’s trade liberalization policies erupted in rioting. Sixty people were killed in what has been described as the worst fighting Peru had seen in a decade and a revolution that should inspire the world.

While the Peruvian government was forced to hold off on FTA-mandated plans to open large swaths of tribal land to oil, mineral, and timber extraction, it has not been a total victory.

From the IPS report:

Although the technical investigations cleared two of the indigenous demonstrators accused in the murders of 12 policemen during a bloody June 2009 clash between native protesters and the security forces near the northern Amazon jungle town of Bagua, they are still behind bars.

Feliciano Cahuasa and Danny López have been in prison for over eight months, despite the fact that technical crime scene investigations showed that neither of them fired a single shot, and that they are thus innocent of the Jun. 5 killings of the police officers.

On the other hand, no police are in prison for the Jun. 5 shooting deaths of at least 10 indigenous protesters, which occurred when the police were ordered to clear their roadblock on the main highway near Bagua.

This comes on the heels of another report from Indian Country Today concerning the corruption of the official investigation into the riots.

So while the elusive “official story” is likely to pin quite a bit of blame on “foreign provocateurs” and shrug off the actions of law enforcement, we can at least remember Danny and Feliciano.

Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez.