Indigenous peoples’ global fight with big business

As mining and oil firms race for dwindling resources, indigenous peoples battle to protect their land, and often pay the ultimate price

Taipi Times,

By John Vidal | THE GUARDIAN, LONDON
Monday, Jun 15, 2009, Page 9

It has been called the world’s second “oil war,” but the only similarity between Iraq and events in the jungles of northern Peru over the last few weeks has been the mismatch of force. On one side have been the police armed with automatic weapons, tear gas, helicopter gunships and armored cars. On the other are several thousand Awajun and Wambis natives, many of them in war paint and armed with bows and arrows and spears.

In some of the worst violence seen in Peru in 20 years, the natives this week warned Latin America what could happen if companies are given free access to the Amazonian forests to exploit an estimated 6 billion barrels of oil and take as much timber they like. After months of peaceful protests, the police were ordered to use force to remove a road bock near Bagua Grande.

In the fights that followed, nine police officers and at least 50 Indians were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights group Survival International described it as “Peru’s Tiananmen Square.”

Continued >>

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