Peru

Indigenous Amazonians protest against laws that sought to privatize communal territories. Photo courtesy of AIDESEP.
Indigenous Amazonians protest against laws that sought to privatize communal territories. Photo courtesy of AIDESEP.

Today’s social movements in Peru have successfully resisted mega-mining projects and expanded democratic rights, and are building “a culture and lifestyle different from the hegemonic. These [movements] include those in the struggle for memory and reparation for the victims of the internal war; those for sexual dissidence; those for gender justice, the recognition of, and respect for, cultural identity and cosmovision proper to the Afro-Peruvian or indigenous; and those for respect of human rights in general and what is now called the rights of nature, that is, those struggling for a more sustainable and equitable society in ecological terms….”
“Development within society, development as economic growth based on the endless exploitation of the country’s natural resources (and of the popular classes, women and non-white populations) has dominated public policies and debates during colonial and republican history. At the same time, the Peruvian peoples have continuously sought another place in history. Perhaps the most well known episode of resistance was the uprising against the colonial regime led by Tupac Amaru….”
Social movements in the 1970s profoundly transformed the country. Land takeovers inspired one of the most radical agrarian reforms on the continent. Urban popular movements, labor unions among them, contributed to the overthrow of the military government. But the growth and activity of armed movements like the Communist Party of Peru–Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in the 1980s led to an internal war that killed some 70,000 people, including social movement leaders, and “a very aggressively anti-left, anti-movement stigmatizing discourse was installed, one which didn’t distinguish between the social movements and armed groups, and which still continues….
“The fall of the Fujimori regime and the return to democracy was brought about by social mobilizations throughout the country between 1998 and 2001, mobilizations which, in contrast with other countries of the region, didn’t reject the neoliberal model as such, but focused criticism on corruption and authoritarianism…..
“Since the new return to democracy, protests have emerged in growing numbers and with increasing intensity….
“Without being too idealistic, we believe these multiple processes are real disputes in both public and private spheres of the future development of Peruvian society seeking social, ecological, cultural and gender justice, equity and democracy.”

—from “Disputed bodies, territories and imaginaries—social movements of Peru,” by Raphael Hoetmer and Mar Daza of the Programa Democracía y Transformación Global (www.democraciaglobal.org),
introduction to the Peru chapter of Until the Rulers Obey

Interviews in this chapter:

Hugo Blanco
‘The indigenous movements are building the new society.’
Interview by Raúl Zibechi, June 2010; translation by Luis Ballesteros

Margarita Pérez Anchiraico/ Resident and community organizer in San Mateo Mayoc and member of National Confederation of Peruvian Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI)  
‘Progress for me would be to enhance livestock development and agriculture, and not the of sowing cement.’
Excerpts of an interview published in Minería y Territorio en el Perú (Lima: PDGT, 2009); translation by Margi Clarke

Magdiel Carrión/ President, Ayabaca Provincial Federation of Peasant Communities and national leader of CONACAMI
‘Our job is to make sure that the community’s right to ownership of territory is respected.’
Excerpts of an interview published in Minería y Territorio en el Perú (Lima: PDGT, 2009); translation by Margi Clarke

Luzmila Chiricente and Sari Salinas Ponce/ Regional Federation of Ashaninka, Nomatsiguengas and Kakintes Women from the Central Jungle (FREMANK)
‘We’re the only ones who feel our environment as part of our feet,
our hands, our heads’
From the Flora Tristan Peruvian Women’s Center and published in “Amazonia Rebelde!” (Lima: 2009), translation by Clifton Ross

Members of the Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL), the oldest LGBT organization in South America, march for Pride. Photo courtesy of MHOL
Members of the Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL), the oldest LGBT organization in South America, march for Pride. Photo courtesy of MHOL

Veronica Ferrari/ Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL)
‘We’re completely without legal protection.’
Interview by Katherine Alva Martínez, November 2012; translation by Clifton Ross

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