The following article is an unofficial translation from A Nova Democracia on the recent peasant uprisings in Peru.
By Giovanna Schaidhauer
A peasant was murdered in La Libertad on November 3, by the police during a strike against the exploitation and oppression of the latifundium (large landowners), triggering a rebellion in the departments of La Libertad (North of the country) and Ica (South), where the strike was also taking place. On December 12, workers at La Oroya mineral foundries also joined the demonstrations. On December 6, after the combative day of protests, the government of the government revoked the law that had provoked the revolt.
Peasant Jorge Muñoz Jimenez, 19, was murdered by police officers who repressed the blockade of workers on the Pan American Highway, demanding their most basic rights. They were attacked with firearms and tear gas bombs as they tried to advance towards the north side of the same highway.
The demonstration took place against law 27360, promulgated as “provisional” under the Fujimori regime in 2000, but which was extended by the other presidents until 2031. Such law removes all the rights of peasants in favor of the latifundio.
The peasant’s father, denying the police version that the agents only used rubber bullets against the demonstration, denounced: “It was a peaceful march of the people in Valle de Dios, and the police threw tear gas bombs. My son had a bullet shot in his head and it took his life. He was recently engaged, had a little boy, and now, what’s next? ” The young man’s father also said he had the police cartridges with him.
The Peruvian Ministry of Health reported that there were 44 wounded on December 3, in clashes with the police on the Pan American Highway, 37 in Ica and seven in La Libertad.
Workers Rise Across the Country
About 8 thousand people took part in the demonstrations on December 3, along the 16 kilometers of the Pan American highway in the north, to which workers from Camposol , an imperialist multinational fruit exporter, joined . Talsa workers joined the strike on December 4.
However, the strike started on the November 31, in the south, in Ica, a region of large asparagus, blueberry and grape plantations, but also of great water stress ( situation in which the demand for water is greater than its availability and capacity for renewal ) generated by the latifundio, which caused profound damage to the local soil. Ica workers, who mobilized independently and are not organized into unions, demanded the repeal of Law 27360.
“All activities were stopped, there are no harvests, there is nothing. Grapes and asparagus are spoiling, we are in the middle of the season for these two harvests,” Fernando Cilloniz, a grape exporter, told the Reuters press monopoly on the roadblocks.
Peru is the world’s largest exporter of blueberries, in addition to producing large quantities of grapes, avocados and asparagus.
Metalworkers Join the Fight
On December 4, workers at the La Oroya mineral foundry, a department with large mineral exploitation, blocked the Central Highway against unemployment in the region due to the dismantling of the Don Roe Peru Metallurgical Complex. About 2,500 workers could lose their jobs.
Metallurgists demand that the old state transfer the company to them so that they can resume production.
Exorbitant Profits for the Landowners, Poverty for the Peasants
When Law 27360, known as the “Agrarian Promotion Law,” was enacted by the fascist Fujimori, it was announced as provisional, only for five years, but the governments of Alejandro Toledo and Martín Vizcarra, respectively, extended it to remain in effect until 2031.
The law establishes a special regime for the exporting landowner with the payment of 15% income tax – for the private sector it is 29% – and a smaller contribution to the social security of employees.
The latifundium export sector significantly increased its exports and profitability. “Between 2000 and 2018 the value of exports grew by more than 1,000%, reaching 6 billion dollars, and in 2020 it is one of the only sectors that continued to grow in a pandemic,” says Anthropologist Ana Lucía Araújo. However, the wages of rural workers have adjusted below the average percentage of annual inflation in the country, less than 2% per year.
Ica workers, like Geraldine Martinez, explain that some of the law’s “benefits” – such as overtime, holidays, vacation or compensation for length of service and social health insurance – do not materialize because most agro-export companies (imperialist multinationals, large estates) prefer not to have any employment relationship, outsourcing the hiring.
They demand, in addition to the annulment of the law, the increase of the daily payment and formal contracts that guarantee them the right to vacation, social security and the recognition of overtime.
On December 2, at a meeting in Ica, a delegation from the Ministries of Labor and Agriculture offered workers, after two days of strike, to end the services that outsource contracting and increase the number of labor inspectors in the region. In addition, the ministries proposed to repeal the chapter on “labor regime” of the agricultural promotion law, also known as the Chlimper Law, made by José Chlimper, a former agriculture minister in the Fujimori government, whose family businesses were among those that benefited the most from the law.
As of December 4, the struggling peasants and the old Peruvian state had not yet reached an agreement.
On December 6, the law was officially annulled after the great day of protests. Parliament will have 15 days to prepare a new reform.
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