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Peru suspends decree that fueled Amazon violence: lawmaker

Source:  Copyright 2009, Agence France-Presse
Date:  June 10, 2009
Original URL: Status DEAD

43 mins ago

LIMA (AFP) -- Peru's legislature on Wednesday temporarily suspended a decree easing restrictions on lumber harvesting in the Amazon rain forest, sparking weekend clashes between indigenous people and police that claimed at least 35 lives.

Legislature chief Javier Velasquez said Peru's single-chamber legislature agreed to suspend for 90 days a legislative decree 1090, covering forestry and wild fauna in Peru's northeastern Amazon rain forest.

The measure passed by a vote of 59 to 49.

The decree is one of six measures approved in 2007 and 2008 by the center-right government of President Alan Garcia easing restrictions on mining, oil drilling, logging and farming in the Peruvian Amazon.

The decrees are vehemently opposed by the approximately half-million Indians of 65 ethnic groups who live in the Peruvian jungle, who have been holding protests since April across the region. Native groups see the development of the jungle as an assault on their way of life.

Violent protests over the weekend were the bloodiest clashes since the government's war in the 1980s and 1990s against the Shining Path, a violent Maoist insurgency, and the leftist Tupac Amaru guerrillas.

Amazon Indians have been protesting for nearly a year over two decrees that Garcia signed in 2007 and 2008 opening jungle areas they consider ancestral lands to drilling for oil and timber.

The opposition Nationalist Party (PNP) called for the decree to be overturned, but the vote to suspend the measure is seen as a compromise that will allow the government to resume talks with the protesting indigenous groups, who have been blocking key regional highways, and comes of the eve of a massive protest planned by leftist and labor groups on Thursday.

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