Workers World | Jun 21, 2009
Protest supports Peru’s Indigenous
- (Photo: John Catalinotto)
Indigenous peoples, solidarity movement activists and environmentalists filled the sidewalks outside the Peruvian Consulate in New York June 10. Around the corner, three activists chained shut the doors to the building housing Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office.
It was New York’s turn to join the international solidarity movement that has sprung up since Peruvian President Alan Garcia ordered police to attack a demonstration of 5,000 Indigenous people in Peru’s Amazon region. The people had shut off access to transnational corporations that plan to expand logging, oil drilling and gas exploration in the people’s homeland. Trying to break their resistance, Peruvian police killed 50 Indigenous people on June 5.
Three of the New York protesters were arrested after chaining themselves by the neck to the doors of Schumer’s office at 757 Third Avenue. They targeted the New York senator because he was a main supporter of the U.S. Free Trade Agreement with Peru. Garcia used the FTA as his excuse to clear the Indigenous people from the roads they were blocking.
Before the FTA vote, members of Tiksigroup, a Peruvian Indigenous cultural group from New Jersey, and of Trade Justice New York, which called the June 10 action, had presented Schumer’s staff with reports from the Washington Office on Latin America predicting violence and instability if the agreement passed.
Peruvian Indigenous activist Ana Maria Quispe of Tiksigroup said: “Chuck Schumer, President Barack Obama and other politicians who supported the Peru Free Trade Agreement need to be held accountable for an agreement that they were warned would have disastrous human rights and environmental consequences. Unfortunately, they were more interested in serving the real beneficiaries of this agreement—the same financial industry giants responsible for the current economic crisis.”
—Report and photo by John Catalinotto