Peruvian lawmakers yesterday suspended a controversial decree that contributed to a bloody conflict between police and indigenous protesters in the country’s Amazon region, reports the AFP.
The legislature voted 59 to 49 to suspend decree 1090, which eased restrictions on logging and development in the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous communities say loggers, miners, and oil and gas developers are encroaching on their lands, putting their traditional way of life at risk.
Decree 1090 was one of several approved in 2007 and 2008 as part of President Alan Garcia’s plan to secure a free-trade agreement with the United States.
The vote is seen as a step towards resuming talks between the government and protesters following the killing of at least 35 people last weekend. The deaths occurred when government forces cleared a roadblock near the city of Bagua. Police shot and killed indigenous protesters, while the protesters killed police hostages. The government has since been accused of trying to conceal the number of dead by burying and burning bodies, according to a report from the BBC.
AFP reports that more than 3,000 Indians continue to block “a key Amazon highway linking the cities of Tarapoto and Yurimaguas, some 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of Lima.”