Escrito por Antonio Peña Jumpa (*)
On June 5, 2009, and May 26, 2011, two events occurred that stand out for their social strength in the multicultural history of Peru. The first date corresponds to El Baguazo, the protest and resistance of native communities (so called in Article 89 of the Peruvian Constitution) against the decision of the central government to legislatively release the protection of the natural resources of their territories without consulting them, while the second date corresponds to El Aymarazo, the radical protest of peasant communities (this is also called in the same article 89 of the Constitution) against the central government for also granting their lands to numerous mining companies without consulting them.
What is common in both experiences of social forces and how different is the present to suppose that they will not happen again?
Both events that can very well be identified as complex social conflicts, show the following characteristics in common:
- The origin of the problem lies in the decisions of the central government. Both events correspond to the government of President Alan García, who, by electorally promising not to sign free trade agreements, did the opposite when assuming his functions. His government obtained legislative powers from Congress to promulgate Legislative Decrees that would facilitate free trade agreements, but also promulgated supreme decrees that favored the granting of benefits to extractive companies to the detriment of the collective rights of native communities and peasant communities.
- The social actors that stand out in both protests are people who correspond to another culture and another law: On the one hand, the native communities of the Amazon appear in El Baguazo, particularly the Aguaruna native communities or people of the Amazon region, of the eastern Peruvian; On the other hand, peasant communities appear in El Aymarazo, specifically the native Aymara people of the Puno region, in the southern Peruvian Andes. Both are important communities, peoples or ethnic groups in the Amazon and the Andes, respectively: the Aguaruna communities correspond to historical warrior peoples, the second largest ethnic group in population in the Amazon, after the Ashánikas; Aymara communities also identify with historical warrior peoples, as important in the Andes as the Quechuas, and who could not be conquered by the Spanish.
- The object of the dispute or conflict consists of the usufruct or exploitation of the natural resources located in the territories of the native and peasant communities. These are desirable natural resources in the modern world: on the one hand, there are energy resources such as crude oil or gas, or timber resources or substitute crops for palm oil or biofuel in the Amazon, and on the other hand It has the diverse mineral resources that exist in the mountains of the Peruvian Andes. Both groups of natural resources generate millions of tons of raw material for the world’s industry and for the consumption of current technology.
- The people favored after the legislative measures of the central government are transnational corporations. They are favored by the concession of natural resources for their exploration, exploitation, and commercialization. They are large companies with million-dollar investments in the world that exercise direct or indirect control over the prices of raw materials and the manufactured products derived from these raw materials. In the social conflict, these people do not appear or appear slightly to protect their capital, because the ones who face the problems of the conflict are the State authorities through the Public Force, in front of the affected communities that protest.
After these main characteristics of El Baguazo and El Aymarazo, other less noticeable characteristics appear, such as the management of the law or the omission of consultation. The management of the law corresponds to the use made by the rulers of the State of legal norms to favor a person or interest group to the detriment of another person or group. The laws, the legislative decrees or the supreme decrees are the instruments through which the central government has operated causing these two great conflicts.
In the same sense, the omission of consultation with the affected people, who supposedly would be favored by economic activities and by legislative measures, is an act of misunderstanding that goes beyond the violation of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. Government measures are given that affect the original peoples without knowing them or taking them into account. The rulers have not treated the original peoples of El Baguazo and El Aymarazo in the same way that they treat the citizens of a rich urbanization, or the businessmen favored by the measures. This discrimination is notorious by not consulting them about the content of legislative or administrative measures on the understanding that we know more than they do.
How much of the facts mentioned has been overcome today in Peru?
It is very difficult to ensure that we are able to avoid another conflict similar to El Baguazo or El Aymarazo in Peru. Whether with «left», «center» or «right» governments, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the problem.
However, we do believe that it is possible to think in the long term of a process of integration or coexistence accepting cultural diversity and its consequences. This coexistence would lead us to share the wealth of Natural Resources, not in money, but in new living conditions. At least we could share quality public services without discrimination.
Lima, June 9 and 11, 2022
(*) About the author: Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and lecturer at the National University of San Marcos. Lawyer, master’s in social sciences and PhD in Laws.