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On the morning of April 16 at least 200 indigenous Yashínanka and Yines occupied the airport in Atalaya, capital of Atalaya province, Ucayali region, in Peru’s Amazonian area. The Inter-Ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Forest (AIDESEP) had been leading a strike since April 13 (or earlier, according to one source) around demands for the repair of environmental damage and for an end to illegal cutting and to the granting of land for mining and oil drilling without consultation with the local communities. The protesters also demanded that the government drop the proposed Law 840/2006, known as the “Law of the Forest,” which would increase private investment in the development of state-owned forests.
AIDESEP vice president Daysi Zapata Fasabi said Prime Minister Yehude Simon had promised to hold a dialogue with the indigenous groups on April 16, but the government announced on April 13 that the meeting was postponed until April 20. “The government is laughing at the indigenous people,” she told the media. “We’ve been disrespected again.” The occupation of the airport was said to be disrupting operations by the Repsol, Pluspetrol and Petrobras oil companies since it kept employees from reaching the companies’ camps. AIDESEP leaders said 1,350 indigenous communities supported the strike, which could escalate to include the blockage of rivers like the Urubamba if the government doesn’t pay attention to the demands. (El Comercio, Peru, April 16; La Primera, Peru, April 17; La República, Peru, April 20)