Over one year of declared opposition and advocacy, 65 straight days of civil disobedience, two days of bloody confrontations with the police and military, and the government of Peruvian President Alan García still won’t meet with AIDESEP, the coalition of indigenous community organizations at the forefront of the movement to resist the exploitation of Peru’s Amazonian resources. In fact, the government has chosen to charge the coalition’s leader, Alberto Pizango, with sedition, causing him to seek asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy. Freelance journalist Ben Powless reports from inside Peru’s Amazon Basin that this approach neglects the true nature of the movement. Powless reports that Pizango has never played a central role in the movement. The resistance is a spontaneous response to the threats posed to their land, and by extension their lives, by President García’s plans. Powless reports that those plans, which were set in motion by the enacting of free trade agreements with the US and Canada, are in violation of numerous international laws, since they allow the government to develop land held by indigenous nations without prior consultation and consent.
Ben Powless is an independent journalist and photographer based out of Ottawa, Canada. He is a regular contributor for the Canadian news website, Rabble.ca. He has been an active member of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition since its inception and is heavily involved with the Indigenous Environmental Network. He also sits on the board of the National Council of the Canadian Environmental Network, as well as the Youth Advisory Group to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.More by Ben Powless