Militarization and Environmental Struggles in Peru Print
On September 1, 2015, the United States plans to send over 3,000 U.S. soldiers to Peru.  Why Peru?  The justification is fighting insurgents and drug trafficking, but throughout Latin America, the drug war is often a guise for military control and repression of social movements, especially those defending their natural resources. In Peru, social movements defending their land and water from multinational mining corporations face repression.  On February 11, 2015, 22-year old Ever Pérez Huaman was killed in a protest against oil company Pluspetrol. This article below from Romina Rivera Bravo, who participated in SOAW's 2014 Youth Encuentro, explains more about the situation in Peru.

Peru, country of wonders

By Romina Rivera Bravo

During the last decades, Peruvians have been recipients a false nationalist discourse, that focuses on our “wondrous” economic growth – in spite of the worldwide crisis – as a result of the market dogma: Investment = Economic Growth = Development. This premise requires that the environmental, social, labor, cultural, and other elements of society be subjugated to this dogma in the quest to be attractive for investments. Those who don't agree are automatically labeled as anti-development.

In this pursuit, our biodiversity and natural resources have been the principal attraction for international investment and large capital. Since the implementation of neoliberalism in Peru in the 1990s, corporations have exploited, destroyed, and squandered our country, selling our sovereignty and future subsistence, which affects millions of Peruvians.

As part of this game, Perú has presented itself to the outside world as a wonder of growth in harmony with the environment. Because of this, in December 2014, Peru became the host of the Twentieth United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP20) , where the world's governments discussed the signing of a Climate Agreement committing countries to reduce greenhouse gases. A lot of talking, but little action. The COP20 continued the deception and failed to unmask the Peruvian government's extractivist quest and policy of criminalizing environmental leaders.

Most recently, the Peruvian government has decreed a series of laws to “reactivate” the market, given the imminent arrival of the economic crisis. These laws reduce the Environmental Ministry's ability to create reserved areas, environmental standards, and pollution limits. They also reduce the fines for companies that break environmental legislation, particularly mining companies.

Criminalization, Repression, and Harassment

According to a report by Global Witness, Peru is the fourth most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists, only after Brazil, Honduras, and the Philippines.

As a country with more than 150 socio-environmental conflicts (struggles against multinational mining, petroleum extraction, etc) in which over 200 civilians have been murdered in the past decade (153 during the government of Alan García and 46 during Ollanta Humala), it is not too much to say that there is a huge conflict between millions of Peruvians and multinational capital, in which the government continues to make laws that benefit corporations at the expense of the population.

In January 2014, Peru's Penal Code was modified to “exempt from responsibility members of the police or Armed Forces who 'in complying with their duty' use weapons or other means of defense to cause injury or death.” This law exemplifies the disasterous role the police have played against environmental and social struggles, in which they act to protect large companies and not people.

In the end, it is clear that the powers at be plan to confront the finanicial crisis by imposing the looting of our territories, degrading our natural resources and exploiting people. To do so, they seek to criminalize and militarize social protest and defense of one's land. When faced with this, our answer is to keep organizing ourselves and struggling for our rights and environment, defending our sovereignty and the future for those who will follow.