The Amazonian and indigenous communities of the Peruvian jungle (especially in Loreto, San Martín, Amazonas, Ucayali, Huánuco, Cuzco and Madre de Dios) are once again sounding their war drums of struggle and resistance against the onslaught of the neoliberal economic model supported by the Peruvian government (with the Aprista party at its head). They have launched a call to popular rebellion through an Indefinite Popular General Strike which has been going on with mass participation since 9th April this year. They have thus been on the war foot now for over 50 days, a clear example of their valour, their organisation and their heroism.
This intense process of indigenous and Amazonian struggle has come about because the Peruvian State, in contravention of its own international treaties, is systematically violating the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Convention (Convention No.169) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which provides for obligatory consultation in advance with indigenous peoples on any planned intervention on their lands, through the appropriate community bodies.
In other words, the Aprista government has begun (or rather, has recommenced) a new campaign of stealing and selling off to the best multinational offer, lands which tradition and history have placed in the hands of all the communities (Wajún-Wampis, Kichuas, Arabelas, Huaronis, Pananujuris, Achuar, Murunahus, or Chitonahuas, Cacataibos, Matsés, Candoshis, Shawis, Cocama-Cocamilla, Machiguengas, Yines, Asháninkas, Yaneshas and others, including the “uncontacted” peoples), who today are demanding their right to exist and to resist.
The role of the Peruvian State
Law No.20653, the General Law on Native Communities, which was passed by General Juan Velasco Alvarado’s military regime in June 1974, recognised the “legal existence and juridical identity of the indigenous Amazonian people and their territories, declaring them to be inalienable, indefeasible and inviolable”. This was confirmed in the 1979 Constitution. However, it was removed at the strike of a pen by the Fujimori Constitution of 1993, to open the way for dispossession and plundering by successive governments, opening the door to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and becoming law following the Executive Orders of the second Aprista government.
We must not forget the fact that with Fujimori’s 1993 Constitution the door was left open for the plundering of resources, as mentioned above. So it is clear that work has already begun to suffocate and isolate the communities, for the greed of the multinationals in gaining concessions for oil, gas, mining, tourism and logging in areas traditionally belonging to the peoples living there.
In other words, it paved the way for the State to declare the lands of the native peoples “negotiable, in accordance with the market economy” by means of executive orders, thus bypassing the legislature (Parliament).
Once again, the Peruvian State has shown itself to be an instrument of domination and exploitation in the hands of the exploiting classes of this country, who are seeking to continue to expropriate not only the political rights but also the resources of our indigenous (native) peoples, who are now rising up in revolt against the oppressor power.
As libertarian communists, we declare that the native communities’ right to free self-determination is the exercising of popular power, as it is based on communitarian principles, the utilization and collective use of natural resources, and on those forms of work and collective benefit that they have traditionally preserved in the Amazon, home to 31 of the 114 world ecosystems, 95% of the country’s forests and an important potential water and water-powered energy resource.
The struggle of the indigenous people of the Abya Yala
In the context of the Indigenous Popular General Strike, there was an important meeting of native Andean communities in one of Peru’s southern regions, Puno. This encounter was called the 4th Continental Summit of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations of the Abya Yala and came to a conclusion Sunday last, 31st May), with a unanimous agreement to respect the mother earth and its natural resources for the benefit of human beings, a strong rejection of the privatisation of water, the presence of multinational corporations and the neoliberal economic model.
All of this was included in the “Declaration of Mama Quta Titikaka” (Lake Titicaca, on the Peruvian-Bolivian border), in which there was agreement to mobilise the various social and indigenous organisations in June, in defence of the Amazonian peoples, as was a call for marches and protests outside Peruvian embassies in every country.
It is important in itself to emphasise the nature of this indigenous summit, which is essentially self-managed, the sort of organisation promoted by libertarian militants. In its Concluding Recommendations, it called for “the construction of Plurinational Peoples’ Communities, based on self-government and the free determination of every people”.
Likewise, it denounced the efforts of the official press which is dedicated to misinforming, misrepresenting or hiding the just means that are being attacked in the Peruvian jungle, in collusion with the current neo-liberal government and its leaders – Alan García; the vice-president and retired admiral responsible for the prison massacres during the first Aprista government of the 1980s, Luis Giampietri; the prime minister, Yehude Simon, previously a left-wing leader who had even been imprisoned for his beliefs and who is now the faithful guardian of the Aprista reaction.
It is clear to see that for the bourgeoisie that controls the State under imperialist orders, the path lies through the dispossession of the communities. It is at the same time a plan to destroy their type of social organisation and the relationship that links them to their land, a relationship that in essence clashes with the Western understanding of property and is therefore a brake on the voracity of multinational Capital which is trying to take root in these zones, usurping them in alliance with the State and turning them into fiefdoms in order to guarantee the exploiters’ prosperity and domination.
President Alan García is lying “subtly” when he says that of the 63 million hectares of Peruvian jungle, only 12 million belongs to the Amazonian communities, when instead it is around 25 million, as confirmed by the leader and highest representative of the communities in struggle, Alberto Pizango, who has been accused of “endangering the common security and damaging public services” together with other indigenous leaders, Marcial Mudarra, brothers Saúl and Servando Puerta, Daniel Marzano and Teresita Antazu. Furthermore, Pizango has already been charged with “rebellion, sedition and other offences” by the Provincial Criminal Court in Lima and is facing a third charge from the Provincial Criminal Court in Utcubamba, Amazonas, for “disturbing the peace”.
It is clear that this series of charges and in general the judicial and political repressio0n is part of the State’s efforts to criminalise all popular protest and repress just social demands, negatively influencing public opinion by presenting our indigenous brothers and sisters of Peru as “mere vandals or savages, ignorant of the progress that globalisation brings”.
Therefore, as libertarians we believe that the struggle of the indigenous people, Amazonian and Andean, for the defence of their land, their way of organising themselves and their culture, is part of a minimum programme that involves the conquest of the demands of the peoples oppressed by the State, Capitalism and Imperialism.
This minimum platform should be based on the need for or the use of direct action in order to expel the multinationals from their lands. This is necessary in order to protect the integrity and sustainability of the region’s habitat and ecosystem – which, it should be remembered, is one of the “lungs” of the planet – and in order that there can be sustainable development and planned usage of the flora and fauna, on the basis of criteria established by the communities. Furthermore, there needs to be active self-defence of their lands, which must be restored to their original condition.
We thus believe that true, active solidarity with the indigenous and Amazonian peoples’ struggle will take the form of popular protest (agitation, propaganda, union-led strikes and popular strikes, direct action, etc.), to be incorporated into a general platform of struggle based on that of the native peoples.
Support the just protest of the Indigenous and Amazonian peoples
As libertarian communists who expect nothing from the State (other than its destruction), we sympathise with the struggle of the native peoples as an immediate part of a larger project for the liberation of all exploited people, and thus part of a wider strategy or maximum programme of social revolution.
For this reason, we should support demands which in the short term serve to improve living conditions and to enhance their social, political and economic organisation with the aim of facing up to the exploiter State and destroying it from within, building those kernels of popular power which will bring down the giant with the feet of clay that is Capitalism, mortally wounded at a global level by a global crisis from which it cannot recover if, as we want, it is the bourgeoisie that has to pay and not the workers.
We thus support the struggle of the Amazonian people and their various communities to seek immediate solutions, and we join the call to demand:
- Repeal of all laws that damage or violate the interests of Native and Rural Communities: repeal of Law No.29317, the Forestry & Wildlife law, which is the product of a forced and partial modification of Executive Order No.1090 (the “Jungle Law”) and the related orders 1089, 1064 and 1020. In other words, the 99 Orders that were imposed on the people without any consultation.
- Respect for the autonomy and self-determination of the native communities and their active political participation in the making of decisions. The final decision of whether or not to approve legal regulations or contracts for concessions must be made by means of direct-democratic mechanisms (popular assemblies, referendums, etc.).
- Benefits and facilities so that native communities or peoples can develop their productive, commercial and industrial activities, with the prospect of direct control over these processes by the people themselves, based on the principles of self-management and socialisation.
- Benefits and facilities for the commencement and promotion of education and culture within the communities (by them and for them). More schools and qualified teachers to promote the education of native students. In other words, the development of a rational, high-quality educational system without those competitive, voracious tendencies that the world capitalist market demands.
- Greater benefit from oil and gas exploration and extraction to devolve to the native peoples, together with the building of hospitals, roads and all the necessary infrastructure, provided it is approved by the people themselves, managed by the communities themselves through mechanism giving them full control over their administration.
- An immediate cessation of the campaign of criminalising protest that the Aprista government and the Peruvian Right has embarked on, together with an end to the harassment of social activists and the other psychological means diverting attention from the country’s social problems.
Internationalist solidarity with the struggle of the Amazonian peoples in Peru!
Immediate repeal of the Executive Orders that violate the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples!
For the freedom and defence of the thought, culture and self-determination of all the world’s peoples!
Against the authoritarianism of the State, organise and struggle from below!
Down with NAFTA and other capitalist trade agreements!
Imperialist multinationals and American military bases out of Latin America!
Stop the criminalisation of protest; immediate release for those arrested in the struggle!
Long live the heroic struggles of the indigenous peoples of the Abya Yala!
We are all Amazonians!
Long live those who struggle!
Lima, 5 June 2009
1. Unión Socialista Libertaria (Lima, Peru)
2. Red Libertaria Popular Mateo Kramer (Colombia)
3. Periódico Barrikada (Uruguay)
4. Convergencia Anarquista Específica (Chile)
5. Corriente Acción Libertaria (Chile)
6. Huancayo Rebelde (Huancayo, Peru)
7. Centro de Estudios Sociales Manuel González Prada (Huancayo, Peru)
8. Columna Libertaria Joaquín Penina (Argentina)
9. Organisation Communiste Libertaire (France)
10. Asociación Obrera de Canarias / Ēššer Ămăhlan n Təkanaren (Canary Islands, Africa)
11. Frente de Estudiantes Libertarios (Chile)
12. Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy)
13.- Ateneo Autónomo de Contracultura y Estudios “La Libertaria” (Venezuela)
14.- Red Libertaria (Argentina)
15.- Antorcha Libertaria (Colombia)
16.- Revista libertaria Divergences (Belgium)
17.- Colectivo de comunicación y agitación popular “Mecha” (Colombia)
18.- Colectivo ReXiste Riot Grrrl (Colombia)
19.- Estrategia Libertaria (Chile)
20.- Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (Uruguay)
21.- Organización Socialista Libertaria (Argentina)
22.- Organización Comunista Libertaria (Chile)
23.- Colectivo Agitación Libertaria (Chile)
24.- The Anarchist International (…)
25.- Espacio Libertario (Argentina)
26.- Kolectivo Utopía Ácrata Libertario (Argentina)
27.- Colectivo ResGestae (Colombia)
28.- Fédération Anarchiste (France/Belgium)
29.- Colectivo Qespikay (Cusco, Peru)
30.- Periódico Anarquista “El Surco” (Chile)
31.- Buffalo Class Action (USA)
32.- Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (South Africa)
33.- Unión Solidaria y Libertaria (Argentina)
34.- Workers Solidarity Alliance (USA and Canada)
35.- La Batalla de los trabajadores (Chile)
36.- Colectivo: Kolumna Insumisa Fraternal Anarquista (Colombia)
37.- Alternative Libertaire (France)
38.- Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes (France)
39.- Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
40.- Comité de solidarité avec les peuples du Chiapas en lutte (France)
41.- Miami Autonomy and Solidarity (USA)
42.- Társadalmi Forradalom -anarcho communist portal- (Hungary)
43.- North Eastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (USA)
44.- Colectivo de Género Libertario de Arica (Chile)
45.- Grupo Militante Libertario (Mexico)
46.- Revista “Hombre y Sociedad” (Chile)
47.- Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (Australia)
Translation by FdCA International Relations Office