Law of the Jungle A new free trade deal implicates Canada in Peru’s Indian Problem

It was a scene that would have made sixteenth-century Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro proud: a few dozen police officers armed with automatic rifles facing off against 3,000 spear-bearing Awajun and Wampi natives in possession of the Curva del Diablo, gateway to the Peruvian Amazon. What the officers didn’t realize was that not all the natives who’d emerged from the jungle weeks earlier to block this critical stretch of highway were gathered there. As dawn broke on June 5, 2009, a unit patrolling the dry hills above the Curva stumbled on a group of several hundred more protesters nervously milling in the brush, and within minutes dozens had been shot and at least nine officers bludgeoned to death. The surviving police fled, spraying bullets behind them as they ran, while a police detachment manning the road dove into the ditch and opened fire on the masses. “Tear gas we were ready for,” says Joel Shimpukat, an Awajun teacher who travelled five hours by canoe and car from his village deep in the Amazon to help lead the blockade. “But when bullets started flying past my head, I realized the government had declared war on us.”…

 

To get the entire article, please follow this link to the Walrus Magazine

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