LIMA, Peru – The Peruvian government and opposition union groups came face to face during new protests on July 7, with a 72-hour strike in nine of the country's 25 provinces.
The first 24 hours of the strike were strictly observed in the Andes and southern Amazon regions, reported EFE, where social and political protests were led by the National Life and Sovereignty Front, which mainly represents farmers from the mountain regions of Arequipa, Puno, Huancavelica, Apurímac and Ayacucho, and the provinces of Junín, Pasco, Huánuco and Áncash in the center and north of Peru.
The government placed the 35,000-strong police force on maximum alert, reported El Comercio, and mobilized 6,500 army troops to boost security.
The protests featured several different social sectors. The Peruvian General Workers Union (CGTP), with 1.5 million members, demanded the resignation of Cabinet Minister Yehude Simon Munaro and the Home and Trade Secretaries, Mercedes Cabanillas and Mercedes Araóz, respectively.
The CGTP rejected Alan García’s liberal economic policies, reported Andina, and called for the suspension of all free trade agreements between Peru and other countries. The union also demanded salary increases and questioned other fundamental government policies including privatization plans for ports, airports, electric power and oil.
Other groups joining the protests included the teachers’ unions, who wanted the government to scrap a law which they felt undermined their job security. Transport workers wanted to repeal new road laws which introduced harsher traffic fines.
Peru, with 24 million people, is experiencing a wave of social protests which peaked on June 5, when demonstrations by indigenous groups from the northeastern Amazon province of Bagua resulted in 33 deaths, including 23 police officers attacked by mobs protesting against laws to allow natural resources in protected areas to be exploited.