Pope defends Peru’s Amazon and its indigenous groups

By: Emily Green
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru – Pope Francis traveled to a distant corner of the Amazon on Friday, January 19. In Peru’s jungle, he met with indigenous people to discuss the deforestation and illegal mining that wreak havoc on their livelihood.

Pope Francis delivers speech to representatives of indigenous groups. Image Courtesy of Vincenzo Pinto.

The Pope arrived at his first official event in Puerto Maldonado aboard his popemobile. He was greeted by thousands of indigenous people decked out in traditional dress. Men in loincloths and colorful costumes surrounded him and chanted, “Francis, Francis, you are now Amazonian.”

Puerto Maldonado is the capital of one of the Peruvian Amazon’s most threatened regions, Madre de Dios. Deforestation has escalated to the point that scientists at the Mapping of the Andean Amazon consider it a “deforestation crisis.” Calculations have tracked an increasing trend of annual forest loss since 2001 that peaked in 2017. In 2017 alone, 208 square kilometers (80 square miles) of forest were lost. Gold miners and farmers are taking down trees with little regard to the effects of their operations. Logging and mining devastates the forest and contaminates the air, water, and soil with toxins. As a result, indigenous people who rely on those resources are suffering.

Pope Francis arrived with a plan to highlight environmental issues and human rights violations. During a 20-minute speech, the pontiff said, “We have to break with the historical paradigm that views the Amazon as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries, without concern for its inhabitants. Defense of the Earth has no other purpose than the defense of life.” He regarded the Amazon as a source of biological riches as well as a “culture reserve.” He recognized that it was under threat by new forms of colonialism, and suggested that limits be set to help preserve the habitat from massive destruction.

The visit was meant to build on his treatise on the environment, the 2015 Laudato Si encyclical, which is a plan for a council of Amazon Basin bishops. The message guides the clergy and their followers on key environmental issues. The crowd applauded this message, but some express concern that it does not go far enough to protect the rights of inhabitants. The pope did not specifically reference some of the controversial issues faced by indigenous peoples such as territorial demarcation, property titles and consent, and the right to veto extractive or infrastructure projects.

However, the pope did dedicate part of his address to people living in isolation. Many leaders and representatives of indigenous groups were in attendance to present their case to the pope. Pope Francis said that they were the “most vulnerable of the vulnerable” and should not be considered a “kind of museum of a bygone way of life.”  He did not go after illegal mining directly, but did not completely avoid it. He said, “There exists another devastating assault on life linked to this environmental contamination favored by illegal mining. I am speaking of human trafficking: slave labor and sexual abuse.”

For more information, please see:

Washington Post – Pope brings environmental crusade to Peru’s Amazon, citing ‘defense of the earth’ – 19 January 2018

Los Angeles Times – Pope Francis, in Peru, speaks of threats to native Amazonian people and the rainforest – 19 January 2018

Straits Times – Pope to meet indigenous people in Peruvian Amazon – 19 January 2018

Mongabay – Pope set to visit site of deforestation, indigenous struggle in Peru – 19 January 2018

Voice of America – Pope Heads to Chile, Peru to Focus on Indigenous People – 14 January 2018

Former Peruvian president granted divisive pardon

By: Emily Green
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru – Alberto Fujimori ruled Peru in the 1990s and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses and corruption. On Sunday, Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, granted him a medical pardon.

Protestors gather outside of the hospital where Fujimori is being treated. Image Courtesy of Guadalupe Pardo.

Fujimori expressed his gratitude to President Kuczynski in a video from his hospital bed. He explains that the pardon had a strong impact on him, creating “a mix of extreme happiness as well as sorrow.” He stated, “I’m aware that the results produced by my government were well received by some, but I recognize that I have let down others. Those I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart.”

Fujimori suspended civil liberties and oversaw a violent crackdown on the opposition during his presidency from 1990 to 2000. In 2007, he was extradited from Chile and sentenced to jail for six years on charges of bribery and abuse of power. Two years later, he was sentenced to another 25 years for human rights abuses from his rule. Fujimori was convicted of authorizing military death squads.

Critics denounce the pardon and claim it was motivated by a desire to reward Fujimori’s son, Kenji. The congressman helped the president survive a crucial impeachment vote last week when the conservative Popular Force party, who controls Congress, tried to impeach him over a corruption scandal. However, they failed because Kenji split the party’s vote, thus allowing the president to stay in power.

President Kuczynski’s office states that he granted a “humanitarian pardon” to Fujimori and seven other people in similar condition. Doctors have declared that he has a progressive, degenerative, and incurable illness.

However, protestors rallied as soon as the pardon came to light and claim that the pardon was carried out in an illegal manner. They say the president was trying to save his own skin and the pardon was treason. One protestor stated, “The reality is that this sadly was a political agreement between the Fujimorists and the current government.”

Activists and protestors gathered by the thousands in Lima, the capital, in late December. Human rights experts and political analysts join in the criticism. President Kuczynski pardoned one of the few Latin American strongmen who has been held accountable in judicial proceedings for abuses committed during his reign. The South American representative for the UN High Commission for Human Rights claims that “not putting victims at the center of this decision derails the progress the Peruvian state has made on truth, justice, memory, and reparations.”

The pardon has already cost the president the support of three allies in Congress. They resigned in protest and leave him with only 15 allies left in the lawmaking body.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Peru’s Alberto Fujimori speaks after divisive pardon – 26 December 2017

NY Times – From a Hospital Bed, Alberto Fujimori Asks Peru to ‘Forgive Me’ – 26 December 2017

Latina – Thousands of Peruvians Protest the Pardon of Former President Fujimori – 26 December 2017

Bloomberg – Peru’s President Back Under Fire for Freeing Leader – 26 December 2017

CNN – Peru’s ex-leader Fujimori asks for forgiveness amid heated protests – 26 December 2017

Miss Peru contestants use stage to protest gender violence

By: Emily Green
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru –Peru’s Miss Universe Pageant broke from tradition in early November and dedicated the stage to raising awareness for gender violence. Instead of the standard answers, participants gave hard-hitting statistics about femicide that plagues their country.

Miss Peru Beauty Pageant 2018. Image Courtesy of Canal Peru.

The opening segment of Sunday night’s Miss Peru 2018 contest presented an unexpected set of figures to the audience. The time came for contestants to reveal their most intimate measurements on stage including bust, waist, and hip size. One woman responded, “my name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country.” Each participant answered in the same way, offering horrific statistics about violence against women in place of their measurements. Another woman offered, “my measurements are: the 65 percent of university women who are assaulted by their partners.”

The pageant organizers later explained that the protest was planned. As each woman spoke, images of brutalized women and newspaper clippings about femicide killings flashed across the enormous screen. Pageant organizer and former beauty queen Jessica Newton sees the event as an opportunity to empower women. In a country with an appalling record for gender violence, the pageant is an effective way to reach the country. The program concluded with a question and answer portion where women were asked how they would change the legal code to better protect women.

Latin American beauty pageants are sometimes criticized as sexist and patriarchal in their portrayal of women. Many are quick to criticize the pageant for maintaining a swimwear segment where contests pose in bikinis. However, pageant supporters disagree. They argue that they should be treated with respect regardless of what they are wearing. Newton responds, “if I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress.”

Gender violence is an escalating problem in Peru, but awareness is growing. One of the most widely publicized cases was that of Lady Guillen. After showing photos of her bruised face that spanned all the way back to 2012, the judge decided that there was not enough evidence to prove her life was in danger. Her ex-boyfriend was released after only four years in prison. This case, along with many others, sparked the women’s rights campaign in Peru. In August, more than 50,000 people took part in a march in the capital, Lima, to protest the lenient sentences given to perpetrators of violence against women. The movement has continued under the slogan #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less).

The ultimate winner of the competition, Romina Lozano, said her “measurements were 3,114 female victims of trafficking that have been registered since 2014”. She also answered in her final question that she would “implement a database containing the name of each aggressor, not only for femicide but for every kind of violence against women”.

Accordingly, Human Rights Watch released a report that around 700 women were murdered in Peru between 2009 and 2015. Also, more than 50% of Peruvian women will experience severe domestic violence in her lifetime. These startling statistics make the #NiUnaMenos movement even more crucial.

For more information, please see:

Green Left – Miss Peru contestants place femicide centre stage – 4 November 2017

PRI – The dangers of reporting femicide in Argentina – 3 November 2017

The Guardian – Miss Peru contestants accuse country of not measuring up on gender violence – 1 November 2017

Independent – Beauty Pageant Contestants Use Stage Time To Inform Crowd About Women’s Rights – 1 November 2017

Vox – Miss Peru hopefuls chose to highlight women’s safety onstage instead of their measurements – 31 October 2017

Peruvian Court Convicts Fromer Officers of Human Rights Abuses and Indigenous Leaders Demand Consultation

By: Max Cohen
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru – A court has convicted two former military officers of human rights abuses for their role in the torture and murder of civilians in 1983 during a conflict between the government and the Maoist Shining Path rebel group. Recently indigenous tribal leaders have vowed to block the government from accessing their territories and halt oil production unless an indigenous rights law is applied within 20 days.

Carlos Sandi, president of the Amazon’s native communities of the Corrientes basin, complains that his people’s rights aren’t being respected. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

The case against the former military officers had dragged on for a decade, and resulted in only two convictions thus far, with a third officer cleared due to lack of evidence and suspended sentences for two others due to their dementia. One of the surviving victims of the torture unfortunately died before the verdict came in. The two officers who were convicted were sentenced to 23 and 30 years respectively, however they did not appear in court for their sentencing and authorities are seeking their arrest. The country of Peru was also found to be partially responsible for the crimes and as such has been ordered by the court to pay reparations to the families of the victims. In addition to murder and torture of around 53 people, those in charge at the military base of Los Cabitos used an oven to burn the bodies of their victims.

During the 20-year conflict between the Peruvian government and the Maoist Shining Path rebel group that began in 1980, about 69,000 people were killed or went missing. Seventy five percent of those who were killed were indigenous peoples.

In recent days, tribal leaders have accused the current Peruvian government of refusing to carry out a consultation process even though the government is negotiating a new contract with Frontera Energy, whose current contract expires in 2019. Currently there exists a law, passed in 2011, which requires the government to seek the informed consent of the indigenous people before undergoing any development which may affect them. However, the government has not confirmed whether another consultation would happen, stating that one which had taken place during 2015 was still valid. Even though a consultation would not veto the project if indigenous leaders say no, tribal leaders have threatened to cut off access to their territories from both the government and oil companies if the demand is not met.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian – Peru tribal leaders vow to halt oil output unless indigenous rights respected – 27 Aug, 2017

teleSUR – Peru Court Convicts 2 in Military Human Rights Abuse Case – 19 Aug, 2017

Reuters – Peru court convicts two of human rights abuses at military base – 18 Aug, 2017

Peru Ponders Pardon for Former President As Tragedy Unveils Slavery Like Conditions for Peruvian Workers

By: Max Cohen
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America 

LIMA, Peru – At least 2,000 Peruvian citizens protested July 7th, urging President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski not to pardon the country’s ex-leader Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving 25 years in prison for human rights violations.

Protesters in Peru display photos of victims as they march against a possible pardon for former president Alberto Fujimori. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

One of President Kuczynski’s chief promises that allowed him to win the election against Fujimori’s daughter Keiko, was that he wouldn’t pardon Fujimori. However, Kuczynski proposed a potential pardon for Fujimori last month for health reasons, just after Kuczynski’s finance minister was ousted by a Congress dominated by Fujimori’s supporters.

Fujimori held office from 1990-2000, and was convicted in 2009 for leading groups which had massacred civilians and kidnapped journalists during his tenure. Despite this, Fujimori has an enormous amount of support due to his role in fixing Peru’s economy and stopping a bloody leftist insurgency. In fact, a May Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Peruvians back a humanitarian release for him.

President Kuczynski meanwhile, has said that he will follow the recommendation of the doctors evaluating Fujimori, as to whether a pardon should be given for medical reasons. However, in 2013 a medical team which was then evaluating Fujimori said his condition didn’t warrant a pardon, so it is possible that history will repeat itself.

On June 27th, President Kuczynski had condemned the conditions some workers were living in after a fire killed four people imprisoned inside a shipping container by their boss. They had been locked inside to prevent theft, and detection by municipal inspectors. Since then Peru’s public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into human trafficking and labor exploitation. The International Labor Organization described the conditions in which the workers died and 17 others were injured as akin to modern day slavery.

After only Mexico and Colombia, Peru has the third highest rate of cases of forced labor and human trafficking in the region and is 18th worldwide, per the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index. Jorge Toyama, a labor lawyer, claims that the country only has 500 labor inspectors when it needs four times as many, and that many workers in Peru are not aware of their rights.

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Peruvians protest against possible pardon for jailed Fujimori – 7 July, 2017

Human Rights Watch – Peru: Don’t Give Fujimori Special Treatment – 6 July, 2017

The Guardian – Peru launches investigation as fire kills workers ‘locked inside container’ – 27 June, 2017

Arrest Warrant Issued for Peruvian ex-President Alejandro Toledo

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Lima, PERU—The Peruvian attorney general has issued an arrest warrant for the former president of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, on charges of laundering assets. Prosecutors are accusing the former president of accepting $20 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht.

Ex-President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, is accused of obtaining millions in bribes. (Courtesy of The New York Times)
Ex-President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, is accused of obtaining millions in bribes. (Courtesy of The New York Times)

Prosecutors claim that Mr. Toledo accepted bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for infrastructure contracts. These contracts included the right to build a highway extending from Brazil to Peru. It is believed that Mr. Toledo obtained the payments through Peruvian-Israeli businessman Josef Maiman, who is also being investigated. The Peruvian attorney general, Pablo Sánchez, has requested for the “precautionary imprisonment” of Mr. Toledo for 18 months during the investigation. Currently, Mr. Toledo is in Paris, France and has told the media he is innocent of the accusations. He stated, “Say when, how and where and in what bank they’ve given me $20 million.” Mr. Toledo is set to travel to Stanford where he is a visiting scholar but is willing to travel to Peru as long as he is given a fair trial.

Odebrecht has been involved in similar scandals in the region that involved the Brazilian government and the administration of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In addition, the CEO of Odebrecht was sentenced to 19 years of prison for corruption and money laundering charges. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Odebrecht had created a department within its company dedicated to bribing international government officials in exchange for public works contracts.

Mr. Toledo was president of Peru from 2001 to 2006 and rose to power after protests toppled his predecessor, Alberto K. Fujimori, who is currently serving time in prison.

For more information, please see:

ABC News—Peru Attorney General Seeks Arrest of Ex-President Toledo—7 February 2017.

New York Times—Corruption Scandal Ensnares Leaders of Peru and Colombia—7 February 2017.

Wall Street Journal—Peru Seeks Detention of Ex-President Alejandro Toledo—7 February 2017.

BBC—Peru’s ex-President Alejandro Toledo Denies Taking Bribes—6 February 2017.

Police Kill Farmer During Clash

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, PERU—On Friday, a farmer, Quintino Cerceda Huilca, was shot in the head and killed by police during a clash in the highland region of Apurimac. Congressman Richard Arce, who represents the region, confirmed the death caused by police officers attempting to clear the road.

Mining company in Las Bambas is not abiding by the environment plan. (Photo Courtesy of America Economia)
Mining company in Las Bambas is not abiding the environment plan. (Photo Courtesy of America Economia)

An estimated 200 villagers protested the Chinese company, MMG Ltd’s $10-billion Las Bambas copper mine, for changing its environmental plan. The protestors had been blocking the road leading to Las Bambas copper mine for nearly a week. They were met by police dressed in riot gear. A community lawyer stated that about 21 to 34 local community members were injured, including some with bullet wounds. In addition to the injured, 12 protestors were arrested. Peru’s interior ministry released a statement claiming that they lamented the death of the farmer. The office also stated that 20 policemen were injured during the clash and the matter is under investigation. This was the first death related to a mining protest.

A community spokesman stated, “The community has never disagreed with the project. They are not anti-mining. The issue is that they cheated us, they lied to use. The ore was going to go through a pipeline, not trucks that are polluting the fields.” The remote community claims that an estimated 300 trucks pass through the area every day affecting their way of life, including their livestock. In addition, some of the demonstrators have stated that some of their communal land had been used without permission to construct a paved road leading to the mine.

Peru’s economy has grown within the past year due to copper production. La Bamba mine is expected to make Peru the second largest copper producer in the world. La Bamba alone produced 35,000 tonnes of copper in August.

Reuters—One Killed in Peru Protests Against Las Bambas Copper Mine—14 October 2016.

America Economia—Al Menos Una Persona Muere Durante Protesta Contra Minera de Cobre La Bambas en Peru—15 October 2016.

Peru Reports—Peru Police Kill Protester Near Las Bambas Copper Mine—15 October 2016.

TeleSur–Mining-Related Clash with Police Leaves One Dead in Peru—15 October 2016.

Thousands March Against Femicide in Peru

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, PERU—An unprecedented number of protestors, more than 50,000, marched on August 13th denouncing violence against women. Protestors in Lima marched to the palace of justice while eight other cities across Peru simultaneously held protests. The march was an outcry against lenient sentences given by the court in two high profiled cases of male perpetrators.

Over 50,000 Protestors in Lima. (Photo Courtesy of Telesur)

Those among the protestors included the newly elected president, Pedro Pablo Kucynski and his wife. He announced his plan of combating femicide: “to ask for facilities for women to denounce violence because abuse flourishes in an environment where complaints cannot be made and the blows absorbed in silence and this not how It should be.” Also present was Victor Ticona, the president of Peru’s judicial system, he stated, “Today, the 13th of August, is a historic day for this country because it represents a breaking point and the start of a new culture to eradicate the marginalization that women have been suffering, especially with violence.” He also announced that a commission of judges would receive the protestors and listen to their demands. Protestors chanted “by touching one, they are touching all of us” and “no more violence nor impunity.”

Peru has experienced a rise in gender violence. According to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable people, fifty-four women were killed by their partners and another 118 women were victims of femicide attempts. An estimated seven out of ten Peruvian women have been victims of violence. A study conducted by the defender’s office stated that in eighty-one percent of the cases of attempted femicide no measures were taken to protect survivors. Because the state neglected to protect survivors, twenty-four percent of those women were murdered by their male perpetrators. Ana Maria Romero, Peru’s minister of women stated, “our problem is not a lack of legislation, it is how we apply the law. Those in charge of justice need more sensitivity and a better understanding of the rights of the women.”

These protests follow those that have occurred earlier this year in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico—all under the slogan “Ni Una Mas” coined by the slain poet and activist Susana Chavez.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian—Women in Peru Protest Against Rising Tide of Murder and Sexual Crime—13 August 2016

Telesur—Tens of Thousands March Against femicide in Peru—13 August 2016

Fox News Latino–#Not One Less: Tens of Thousands March in Peru Protesting Violence Against Women—14 August 2016

The Guardian—50,000 March in Peru Against Gender Violence—14 August 2016

Executions by the Peruvian National Police

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, PERU–The newly appointed president, Pablo Kuczynski, the Attorney General and Office of the Inspector General will open an investigation following accusations that the national police force carried out extrajudicial killings of 27 people from 2011-2015. All 27 victims were Peruvian civilians from Lima, Ica, and Chiclayo. The police considered those they killed a nuisance or a common criminal. Innocent victims are alleged to be among the dead.

The National Police Force is under fire after accusations emerge of death squad. (Photo Courtesy of RPP Noticias)

Ninety-Six members of the police force, including sixteen highly ranked officials, are among those being investigated. The units within the force being investigated are: Robbery, Intelligence, anti-terrorism, and a unit similar to SWAT. They were all under the command of Enrique Prado Ravines, a highly ranked police commander. The inspector general’s office will head the commission and investigation. The minister of interior affairs, Carlos Basombrio made it clear to the nation that “the authorities are treating the case with utmost seriousness and will have zero tolerance for the police abuses.” He continued to state that it is important to protect the institution from the bad elements. The goal of the investigation is to release a report to the nation within 10 days detailing the situation.

The allegations were brought forth by members of the police force. After receiving the complaints, the inspector general’s office immediately conducted a month long investigation that confirmed the irregularities within the force. The allegations stated that commander Enrique Prado Ravines would pay lower ranked officials to carry out the killings—which his attorney denies. The claims accuse him of creating a plan to lure the victims by using local gang and criminal organizations. These organizations would kidnap the victims and the lower ranked police officers would kill the captive’s execution style. Forensic reports have revealed that all the victims were shot in a downward trajectory most common among death squads. It was stated that Enrique Prado Ravines killed the individuals because he sought personal career advancements and monetary gains.

Such death squads have not existed in Peru since the dictatorship of Fujimori—a president that carried various human rights violations and is currently serving time in prison.

For more information please see:

RPP Noticias—Un Grupo de Policías es Acusado de Ejecuciones—31 Julio 2016

El Comercio—Presunta Ejecución de Delincuentes: en 10 días Emitirán Informe—01 August 2016

El Economista—Peru investiga a un Centenary de Agentes de la Policia por Presuntas Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales—01 August 2016

Telesurtv—Peru Investigates suspected Death Squad in the Police Force—2 August 2016

Chile Disputes Creation of Peruvian District

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chileans are protesting in reaction to the Peruvian government’s creation of the new La Yarada-Los Palos district. The Peruvian Congress passed the decision last month and was signed into law on Saturday morning. The Chilean government has issued a statement rejecting the move.

The creation of the district would allow residents of the area to elect representation to the Peruvian Congress and to take part in national politics. President Ollanta Humala hopes the move will also push development in the area.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. (Photo courtesy of La Prensa SA).

A communique from the Heraldo Munoz, head of the Chilean Foreign Ministry, said that the new district “includes territory that is unquestionably Chilean.” Munoz also said that although Chile would keep open channels of diplomatic communication to resolve the matter, the new district has “significantly deteriorate[d]” the relationship between the two countries.

The area in question has been in dispute since the end of the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific. Following the war, Peru and Bolivia lost territory in the region to Chile, including Bolivia’s only outlet to the sea.

A land treaty laying out the border was signed in 1929, but both Peru and Chile have different interpretations of the treaty. As a result, both countries claim the so-called “land triangle,” which covers 37,610 square meters.

The International Court of Justice issued a ruling on the border in 2014 which awarded additional ocean territory to Peru.

The incorporation of the district comes only days after Chile complained of Peruvian military presence at the border. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet alleges that the Peruvian military travelled to an area known as Milestone 1 in vehicles and took photos. Chile interprets Milestone as the site of the border between the two countries.

Chile claims that the presence was in violation of a 1994 bilateral accord dictating procedures for the surveillance and patrol of the Peru-Chile border. Peru denies that the incident occurred. Chile has also cancelled a scheduled bilateral meeting, set for December 7.


For more information, please see:

BBC – Peru-Chile border defined by UN court at The Hague – 28 January 2014

Peru this Week – Chile upset over Peruvian military presence at border – 5 November 2015

Andina – Peru Ambassador: Land boundaries with Chile are perfectly established – 6 November 2015

Fox News Latino – Peru denies posting troops on border with Chile – 6 November 2015

Peru this Week – Chile border: Peru denies military presence – 6 November 2015

La Prensa – Humala enacts law to create border district despite Chile objections – 7 November 2015

Yahoo News – Peru steps up border dispute with Chile – 7 November 2015

BBC – Chile and Peru in border spat over La Yarada-Los Palos area – 8 November 2015

Costa Rica Star – Border Conflict Between Chile and Peru Intensifies – 8 November 2015

Peru Investigates Forced Sterilizations

The Peruvian government is investigating the forced sterilizations programs of the 1990s. The program was carried out mostly during 1997 and 1998 under the leadership of President Alberto Fujimori. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 350,000 women and 20,000 men were forcibly sterilized during the program.

Amnesty International’s “Contra Su Voluntad” (“Against Her Will”) campaign. (Photo courtesy of Peru Reports).

State prosecutor Luis Antonio Burgos ordered the reopening of the criminal investigation into the matter back in May, the third time the investigation has been reopened since 2009. A 2014 investigation was closed due to a lack of evidence. The current investigation will allow the oral testimony of affected women into evidence.

The Peruvian ambassador to the Organization of American States has recently committed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that the government will be launching a full investigation into the programs.

The move comes in response to a recent campaign launched by Amnesty International – “Against Her Will” – which demands the government create a national register of victims. Peru’s forced sterilization program is said to be the most “emblematic” in Latin America, according to Amnesty International Americas director Ericka Guevara.

The programs were mostly carried out in rural areas of the country, and targeted poor and indigenous communities. Some victims were lured in to clinics with promises of food and medical care, while others were threatened with fines and jail time. Many women suffered medical issues as a result of the procedures such as back and abdominal pain as well as psychological trauma. A number of women also died from botched sterilizations.

Fujimori’s government promoted the program as a way to reduce the birthrate among poor and indigenous populations to reduce poverty rates in the country. Fujimori was imprisoned in 2007 on corruption and human rights abuses. He has claimed that the sterilization program was voluntary.

For more information, please see:

Thomson Reuters Foundation – Peruvian women haunted by forced sterilization seek state apology – 3 June 2015

TeleSur – Peru’s Indigenous Women Demand Justice for Forced Sterilization – 22 October, 2015

Peru Reports – Peru to investigate government’s forced sterilizations program – 27 October, 2015

Peru this Week – Japan Times: “Peruvian women seek state apology over forced sterilization under Fujimori” – 27 October 2015

Prensa Latina – Ex Peruvian President Fujimori may Face Another Trial – 27 October, 2015

Amnistia Internacional – Contra Su Voluntad – 2015



Peru Looks into Military Corruption

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru — Last week the Associated Press reported that the Peruvian military was turning a blind eye to regular and frequent flights transporting cocaine out of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley region (known as VRAEM). Responding to the allegations, Peruvian authorities announced that they would launch an investigation into corruption in the military.

Peru’s military inspector general will head the probe.

Police in the region say that roughly half of Peru’s cocaine exports have left the country this way: four times a day, a small plane lands in the valley. Cash is exchanged for 300 kilos of cocaine, then the plane takes off and flies out to Bolivia. Each exchange is worth about $7.2 million.

An airstrip used for cocaine trafficking in the VRAEM region. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press).

The remote jungle region where the flights land are under the control of the military. The landing sites are in close proximity to military bases.

An alleged pilot of a narcotics transport plane interviewed by the Associated Press claimed that local military commanders charged $10,000 per flight to look the other way.

The military claims that their forces in the region are outmatched by “heavily armed traffickers” and the participating community. Officials claim a connection between the traffickers and the Shining Path guerrilla group in the region.

A retired army general, Wilson Barrantes, has complained about drug related corruption in the military for years, calling military control of the cocaine-producing region “like putting four street dogs to guard a plate of beefsteak.”

Drug related corruption is an open secret in Peru, according to anti-corruption nonprofit Transparency International.

President Ollanta Humala named combatting illegal drug trafficking as a priority of his administration when he took office in 2011. Over the summer, Humala’s administration authorized an “eradication” campaign, in which government workers destroyed coca plots across the country. It was a controversial move which devastated the livelihood of thousands of Peruvians. Other efforts have included blasting holes in known airstrips.

In August, the Congress unanimously authorized the military to shoot down these narcotics transport planes.

Humala’s critics say that he has allowed cocaine production to go on in the VRAEM region, where the eradication campaigns didn’t reach. A narcotics public prosecutor says that trafficking has gone “from bad to worse” during Humala’s tenure. Humala has eight month’s left in office, with an approval rating of about 15 percent.


For more information, please see:

The Seattle Times – Eradication spells misery for Peru’s coca farmers – 17 August, 2015

Associated Press – Peru Military fails to act as narco planes fly freely – 14 October 2015

The Guardian – Peru to investigate cocaine ‘air bridge’ where smuggler planes are ignored – 14 October 2015

Latin Dispatch – Peru Will Probe Military Collusion With Traffickers After Damning Report – 15 October 2015



Peru Declares State of Emergency Following Protests

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru — Four people have died following clashes with police during protests in Apurímac, in the Cotabambas province in southern Peru. Another fifty protesters and police officers were injured, and about twenty-one protesters were arrested.

Protesters at the Las Bambas copper mining project in Peru. (Photo courtesy of the BBC).

The demonstrations were against the Chinese-backed mining project at Las Bambas, owned by China’s MMG Ltd. The copper mine will be Peru’s largest, and is scheduled to begin production in May or June of 2016.

The communities in the area initially supported the Las Bambas project, but attitudes changed after an adjustment to the environmental impact assessment was made without consulting area residents. There are concerns that the mine could contaminate water sources and that the project isn’t creating enough jobs for residents.

The demonstrations, which began last Friday, escalated on Monday once protesters began gathering on mine owned land near Challhuahuacho. The official and alleged eyewitness accounts of what happened differ.

Peruvian authorities reported that police used non-lethal weapons until they were attacked by protesters breaking into Las Bambas property. Others have claimed that police began shooting live bullets as soon as the protesters tried to enter the property.

The state of emergency allows for a suspension of constitutional rights, including freedom of assembly and movement. Police will be allowed to search homes without a warrant.

Protesters have agreed to a 24 hour truce in the hopes of holding talks with the government.

Protests in Peru over mining projects have increased in recent years, with frequent escalation. Demonstrations against the Tia Maria copper mine back in May turned deadly and prompted a sixty day state of emergency.

The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Peru reports more than 200 active social conflicts.

Peru is ranked third in the world for copper exports, representing about one tenth of the country’s economic output and 58% of its exports.

For more information, please see:

Argentina Independent – Peru: State of Emergency After Four Killed in Anti-Mining Protests – 30 September 2015

BBC – Peru declares state of emergency in mining region – 30 September 2015

Buenos Aires Herald – Four killed in anti-mining protests in Peru – 30 September 2015

LA Times – Peru protesters lift blockade at China-funded mine in hopes of talks – 30 September 2015

Latin America News Dispatch – Peru Declares State of Emergency Over Anti-Mining Protest Deaths – 30 September 2015





Peru To Introduce Bill To Broaden Scope Of Domestic Violence

By Brendan Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru – In an effort to curb the rampant violence against women experienced in Latin America, the Executive branch of the Peruvian government is proposing legislation in order to expand the definition to further protect its population. The submitted bill will amend the countries Law on Protection against Domestic Violence (LPDV) expanding the definition of violence to include coercion via sexual, physical, psychological and economic means.

The Executive Branch of Peru is introducing legislature that would broaden the definition of Domestic Violence. (Photo courtesy of Gestion)

According to independent estimates in Peru, 50% of women in urban areas have experienced at least one instance of physical or sexual violence, with that number rising to 69% in rural areas, and with 30 percent of women suffering some sort of psychological abuse as a result of their partners.

This new bill is just the next step that President Ollanta Humala’s fight to bring Peru into the 21st Century. The National Parliament of Peru approved a bill that would modify the National Plan of Reparation in order to include compensation for survivors of sexual violence. This would allow those forced into prostitution, sexual slavery, survivors of sexual abuse and kidnappings that occurred in Peru’s violent wartime past. These victims will be allowed to seek compensation for any sexually based crimes that were forced upon.

The initiative to amend the LPDV would mean that any act or omission, directly or indirectly, produced between household members that could result in any type of impairment of physical, sexual or psychological or economic detriment would be punishable. Earlier domestic violence was hard to identify, with only immediately view able situations or evidence such as bruises was domestic violence easy to punish. Domestic violence has been known to affect not just the abused, but the health of children within violent households. Peruvian children whose mothers suffered from domestic violence tend to weigh less and are more likely to suffer from disease. Seeing as nearly 50% of women in Peru have reported some type of violence, these results have widespread meaning.

Economic violence would be classified as any attempt to coerce the autonomy a household, which would cause financial or property damage through loss, conversion, theft or destruction property of the partnership or owned by the victim.

The reasoning behind the amended bill works under the theory that actions of a sexual nature committed against someone against their consent or during times of duress, even without penetration constitutes a violation of human rights and an offense to human dignity.

With Peru’s less than impeccable past concerning women’s rights, this represents at least an attempt to curb the epidemic of gender inequality that haunts the Latin American country.

For more information, please see:

Gestion – Executive Proposes To Expand The Legal Definition Of Domestic Violence – 10 February 2013

Eval Central – Development That Works: The Costs Of Crime And Violence In Latin America And The Caribbean – 5 February 2013

Womankind – Peru Moves To Bring Justice For Women Survivors Of Sexual Violence During Conflict – 5 June 2012

United States Institute of Peace – Sexual Violence And Justice In Postconflict Peru – 1 June 2012

Chilean Marines Caught On Tape Chanting Xenophobic Tunes

By Brendan Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

SANTIAGO, Chile – Discomfort rocks the already uneasy relations among in the South American continent. The Chilean government has felt the sting of embarrassment as a video surfaced early Wednesday morning of Chilean Marine Cadets jogging through town chanting what is being called, a ‘xenophobic’ chant. “Argentinos kill, fusilare Bolivian, Peruvian killeth,” the video echoes, or translated as “Kill Argentines, shoot Bolivians and slit the throats of Peruvians.”

A video showing Chilean Marine students chanting xenophobic songs surfaced earlier this week. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

The posted video was recorded by tourists visiting the coastal city of Las Salinas. Nearby the Naval Polytechnic Academy was busy, training the new batch of Chilean marines and technical soldiers for the new age. Late in the afternoon a group of ‘apprentices’ began trotting by in formation, led by a superior, chanting as they made their way to the city’s main attraction – a large flower clock tower – before returning to base.

Upon the videos dissemination via the internet the Navy immediately began the process of identification and within hours was able to identify all participants.  According to the Chilean Secretary of State, the event took place on January 28, at about 1600 hours. The Navy was almost immediately able to identify the 27 apprentices from the Academy Polytechnic, including the sergeant who was acting as an instructor.  According to reports, many of the 27 were engineering students, second year apprentices training in the mechanical field for senior technical positions before graduating as a marine. The Navy and Secretary of State were quick to denounce the apprentices actions emphasizing that “these practices are far from their doctrine” and believed that the songs were improvised to move along with the normal military marching songs.

But according to Internet users from twitter and social media, this may not have been a singular instance. While some came to the Academy’s defense, claiming that this was merely the isolated incident, others including a former graduate from the Polytechnic Academy explained that these chants are sung every day during their physical training. Another user managed to quote an allegedly missing line: “and we’ll drink their blood.”

Reeling back from the controversy, the secretary of state was quick to point out that while sanctions and punishments were to be leveled, it is currently unclear where blame should be associated with. Merely the recruits jogging and chanting, or their sergeant. Either way, the State Department will has stated that they establish an administrative inquiry within 20 days to determine possible sanctions.

For more information, please see:

La Nocion – The Chilean Navy Already Plans Xenophobic Chants Sanctions – 8 February 2013

Noticias Terra – Argentina Expressed “Discomfort” With Chilean Sailors Xenophobic Chants – 7 February 2013

Noticias Terra – Government And Xenophobic Chants: “Lyrics Are Offensive” – 7 February 2013

Latercera – Navy Report On Video Identifies Higher By Apprentices And Sets 20 Days To Assess Penalties – 7 February 2013

BBC – Chile Navy Investigates ‘Xenophobia’ In Video – 6 February 2013