Peru Amazon Indigenous Leader Announces Presidential Bid

Alberto Pizango, the Amazon indigenous leader whom the Peruvian government blames for inciting deadly clashes between native protesters and police in June 2009, has announced he will run in the April 2011 presidential elections.

In a Nov. 18 ceremony and press conference with Amazonian spiritual leaders and indigenous community members, Pizango, 45, said he will fight for a “plurinational” state, if elected in next year´s election, in which he will run under the new movement Alliance for Humanity´s Alternative.

Pizango was the leader of the Inter-Ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Amazon, or AIDESEP, an umbrella organization of Amazon indigenous organizations, during protests last year against a series of investment decrees that aimed to ease restrictions on investment projects — particularly, gas, oil, mining and forestry — in Peru´s Amazon basin.
The demonstrations, which lasted nearly two months, turned violent on June 5, and 33 police officers and indigenous demonstrators were killed.

Pizango then received asylum in Nicaragua, and though he returned to Peru in May of this year, he still faces charges that he allegedly incited the protests, accusations he says are fabricated.

Tensions between Peru´s Amazon indigenous movements and the government have intensified over recent years as the administration of President Alan García more aggressively opens up the nation´s jungle to extractive industry and other investments, which indigenous, environmental and human rights groups argue bypasses indigenous rights, such as the right to a previous and informed consultation on investment projects that affect them, as outlined by the International Labor Organization´s Convention 169 on native peoples.

Pizango said his movement is neither politically left, right, or center, but that he plans to “stop the destruction of Mother Earth by the Western consumerism- and individualistic-based model.”

A recent Ipsos-Apoyo poll showed former Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda leading voter intent with just over 24 percent, followed by former President Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) with 20 percent, and Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex- President Alberto Fujimori, who governed from 1990 to 2000, with 19.6 percent.

Source: Latinamerica Press


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