Thursday, January 21

Peru: MPs repeal contested agricultural law after 5 days of roadblocks

In addition to a salary increase of 11 to 18 dollars a day, these workers demanded the repeal of the Agrarian Promotion Law which had been approved under the presidency of Alberto Fujimori (1900-2000).

This law, which had made it possible to strengthen the Peruvian agricultural export sector – with a turnover of 5 billion per year – granted tax advantages to companies but deprived workers of certain rights and limited their wages. It was extended a year ago until 2031.

The new government of President Francisco Sagasti, inaugurated on November 17, had sent the bill to repeal the law to Congress.

The deputies repealed the controversial text by a very large majority, after five days of blocking sections of the Pan-American, a route that crosses the country from north to south, from the Ecuadorian border to that of Chile.

Immediately, hundreds of workers who blocked the road in Ica, 250 km south of Lima, celebrated the good news, with the cry of “Yes it was possible“, noted AFP journalists. Some 2,000 trucks and dozens of buses had been blocked in Ica.

We are currently cleaning the road because the demonstrators have lifted their measure of force (roadblock, editor’s note) so that vehicles can get to their destinationPolice Colonel Marlon Anticona told AFP on the spot, adding: “all sections of the Pan-American are now unlocked“.

In the region of La Libertad, 490 km north of Lima, two people were killed during the actions on the roads: a 19-year-old, killed Thursday by a shooting attributed by the workers to the police, and a man from 23 year old hit by a motorcycle on Friday.

Peruvian police had previously been criticized for cracking down on protests in Lima which left two dead when parliament ousted popular President Martin Vizcarra on November 9.

Mr Vizcarra had been replaced by Manuel Merino, who had to resign five days later under popular pressure and was replaced on November 17 by Francisco Sagasti, 76.

In a televised message, Mr. Sagasti was satisfied with the resolution of the first social conflict that arose under his mandate.

Unfortunately, one sector of employers did not respect labor standards, which created unfair and unsustainable situations for workers“, he said, referring to”citizen demands that had not been satisfied for months and years“.

However, Mr. Sagasti argued that the use of force could not be used to gain rights. “It doesn’t have to be repeated“, he said of the roadblocks.



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