Peru’s parliament is voting on repealing two controversial land-use laws that have sparked bloody protests.
Prime Minister Yehude Simon has apologised to indigenous leaders, acknowledging that the government failed to win their support before passing the legislation, aimed at exploiting the Amazon’s resources. Promising to step down as soon as calm is restored, he said he hoped to bring back peace to his country, adding that it was the responsibility of the government toward its “Amazon brothers”. President Alan Garcia says the plans to develop parts of the Amazon are needed to lift the country’s largely poor rural population out of poverty. But the indigenous people fear they would turn their habitat over to foreign oil, gas and mining companies. At least 34 people – among them police officers and protestors – died in violence that erupted when police moved in to end roads blockades in the north of the country earlier this month. President Garcia has said that even if the laws are overturned, he plans to try to convince the tribes to accept his development plan for the Amazon.