Search

 

Cablegate: Radicals Hijack Cusco Protests; City Loses Apec

VZCZCXYZ0950
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041759Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PE
SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC
EVENT


Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)

1. (C...
id: 144228
date: 3/4/2008 17:59
refid: 08LIMA389
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
VZCZCXYZ0950
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041759Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PE
SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC
EVENT


Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)

1. (C) Summary: Radical union and student leaders recently
led a strike to protest a law that would facilitate private
investment in tourist services at archeological sites,
effectively shutting down the city of Cusco February 21-22.
Residents of Cusco broadly rejected the law and said it
favored deep-pocketed investors and tourists over poorer
local residents, but accepted changes made by Congress to
give Regional Presidents flexibility in implementation.
Radicals who sought to exploit public sentiments for
political gain have clear ties to Peruvian Nationalist Party
(PNP) leader Ollanta Humala, the communist Patria Roja party,
and (in some cases) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses.
Humala's own role was indirect (via proxies), and most local
analysts said Venezuela was not behind the protests (the GOP
disagrees). The intensity of the strike and the prospect of
another one soon -- part of a larger dynamic of radical
actions seeking to incite instability during Peru's year of
summits -- led the government to move the scheduled April
APEC event from Cusco to another location. End Summary.

A Month of Protests: Timeline of Events
---------------------------------------
2. (C) The February 21 to 22 general strike that shut down
commerce and movement in Cusco was the culmination of a
series of protests launched to oppose a law passed by
Congress in December 2007 (Law 29164) to facilitate private
investment in tourist services for archeological sites.
About five thousand university students on January 16 led the
first protest, which was reportedly handled poorly by local
police. Regional government and civic leaders saw the
political value of the first protest and called a general
march on January 23 that attracted some 20-50 thousand locals
to a peaceful rally and series of speeches. Regional leaders
followed these marches with a general strike on February 7th
that attracted fewer people but slowed activity in the city;
local observers described that strike as peaceful and
festive. To preempt further protest, Congress agreed to
modify Law 29164 to allow Regional Presidents to decide, at
their discretion, whether or how to implement the law in
their regions. Cusco's Regional President welcomed this
change and called for dialogue with the central government.
Several local contacts argued that the modifications were not
perfect but hat no further strikes could be justified.

3. (C) Just as it seemed the protest would fade, a group of
radical union and student leaders hijacked the movement and
called for a two-day stoppage of commerce and traffic in the
region on February 21-22. Radical leaders had been planning
this strike for at least two weeks and had discussed
attempting to storm the airport on February 9, according to
internet documents. Although local sources say only about
3,000 people participated in this strike -- some reportedly
under threat of fine by union leaders -- observers described
a surprisingly intense and effective shutdown of the city and
surrounding region. Taxis and shops that tried to do
business were attacked with rocks; roads were blocked with
boulders; trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu were cancelled;
and a minor assault on the airport was turned back. Local
observers added that while one-day strikes are common in
Cusco, two-day strikes are unprecedented.

Cusco Residents Reject Law for Discriminating against Locals
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
4. (C) Cusco residents rejected the archeological law for a
variety of reasons. Many locals say they fear the law would
exacerbate the over-commercialization of the region's
historical patrimony that is creating a society that is
deeply stratified between tourists and locals. Several
pointed out to poloff that, while tourists have access to the
best services the city offers, dark-skinned locals are turned
away at the door; archeological sites that locals once
entered freely are now off limits to everyone but the
wealthy. Several embassy contacts argued that the real
purpose of the law was to enrich people tied to former
President Toledo -- whose party proposed the bill --
including his wife and vice president, who have purchased
tracts of land near a significant yet underdeveloped Cusco
archeological site. Many others opposed the law based on
misinformation: embassy contacts reported that local

journalists interviewed protestors who said they were
fighting to prevent America from buying Machu Picchu. More
rationally, the Regional President's General Manager told
poloff that Cusco's grievances would have surely been
addressed if Congress had followed the normal process of
consultation with the regions before passing the bill.

Radicals Co-opt and Manipulate Grievances
-----------------------------------------
5. (C) Just as it seemed the wind would go from the sails of
the protests, a variety of radical local leaders effectively
manipulated Cusco's grievances for political gain. The
following is a brief sketch of key protest leaders and their
established links to groups such as the communist Patria Roja
party, nationalist opposition leader Ollanta Humala and his
Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP), and (in at least one case)
Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses:

a) Efrain Yepez: The most visible leader of the two-day
strike, Yepez is coordinator of Cusco's Regional Assembly --
a grouping of syndical and civic leaders -- and secretary
general of the Departmental Federation of Cusco Workers
(FDTC). Linked to the Nationalist Party, Yepez openly
campaigned for Ollanta Humala in the 2006 presidential
election and invited Humala to speak at the February 7
protest as well as at another protest in November. (Ollanta
attended in November but not February.) Yepez is also tied
to ALBA: an article recently deleted from ALBA's Peru website
(www.alba-peru.net) describes Yepez as a member of Cusco's
ALBA delegation; internal documents obtained by the media
reportedly title him the Secretary for Institutional
Relations in Cusco. Yepez has publicly admitted these links
but calls them minimal.

b) Bernardo Dolmos Bengoa: Another prominent strike
leader, Dolmos is vice president of the FDTC and head of
Cusco's transportation union, which one contact described as
the most important player in any strike (for its ability to
halt transportation). Dolmos is also a former Congressman
for the communist New Left Movement (MNI, aka Patria Roja).
Dolmos ran for Congress again in 2006 on the MNI slate but
obtained only about 8,000 votes. Sources say Patria Roja's
declining political appeal has led the party to work to

rebuild influence through union leadership.

c) Cristian Quispe Montanez: Publicly linked to Yepez
and Dolmos during the strikes, Quispe is a key student
organizer and president of the Cusco University Federation.
The head of security for Cusco's rail system told poloff that
Quispe is a known member of Patria Roja and an important
player in the group's efforts to rebuild support at Cusco's
universities.

d) Tito Lenes Sihua: Lenes is Secretary General of the
Civil Construction union, which along with student groups led
the failed assault on Cusco's airport. Cusco's human rights
Ombudsman described Lenes as a dangerous and erratic radical
who will sit down to negotiate one day, then attack the next.


e) Hugo Blanco: Blanco is an unaffiliated radical
leader that led the effort to block roads in Anta Province
outside Cusco city, according to local contacts. Blanco is a
prominent anti-systemic actor who was jailed for leading an
indigenous insurgency in Cusco in the 1960s. He now
publishes a newspaper called "La Lucha Indigena" (The
Indigenous Battle).

f) Julian Incarroca: Incarroca is director of the ALBA
house located in Cusco's San Sebastian district, according to
two local sources, and is described on the ALBA website as
the local government representative for the Cusco ALBA House
Delegation. His involvement in the protests is unclear, but
he attended at least one planning meeting, according to a
Nationalist Party contact.

Ollanta Humala's Role in the Protests
-------------------------------------
6. (C) Our contacts in Cusco agreed that Ollanta Humala
probably did not have a direct role in organizing the strikes
but instead allowed independent proxies to foment unrest on

his behalf. Humala himself told a press conference on
February 22 that he is not "behind the protests, but rather
in front of them." (Comment: We take this to mean he played
no role in organizing the protests but has sought actively to
associate himself publicly with them during and after the
fact. End Comment.) Humala in July 2007 told poloffs his
strategy is to make common cause with protest groups and
leftist movements around the country in order to form a
united political front to contest the 2011 election. One
Humala associate, Miguel Angel de la Puente, says Ollanta has
already formed political alliances with various social
movement leaders. In return for their launching protests to
undermine the government, Ollanta has promised these leaders
positions on his next campaign slate. Several contacts in
Cusco believe this explains the relationship between Ollanta
and Javier Yepez, who has invited Humala to speak at protests
twice in the past four months. This also explains Ollanta's
relationship with Patria Roja. One well-informed source told
us that Ollanta and Patria Roja leader Alberto Moreno had met
clandestinely in 2006 to form such an alliance, and claimed
to have photos as proof. (Note: We have not seen the photos.
End Note.) De la Puente adds that Ollanta is particularly
interested in coordinating protests in the run-up to the
international summits planned for May and November.

Venezuela and the ALBA Houses
-----------------------------
7. (C) Contacts in Cusco believe broadly that ALBA houses in
Cusco have no discernible role in the protests and are only
indirectly linked with certain protest leaders. Local
sources told poloff there are as many as three ALBA houses
located in the districts of San Sebastian, San Jeronimo, and
Sicuani, but described them as little more than coordinating
offices for the Venezuelan-sponsored "Mision Milagro"
(Miracle Mission) program to provide eye surgeries to poor
people. The role of the Cusco ALBA houses is to arrange for
patients to be transferred to Venezuela or to the ALBA house
in Copacabana, Bolivia for treatment, they said. (One source
said his cousin had received eye surgery in Copacabana.) The
Regional President's General Manager argued that the problem
with ALBA houses is not that they threaten the government by
spreading unrest but that have been established informally
without a government-to-government accord. In that sense,
local sources suggested that there was no direct involvement
of Venezuela or Venezuelan representatives in the protests.
One PNP congressional advisor says his Venezuelan Embassy
contacts are more interested in promoting the Bolivarian
Continental Coordinator (CCB) organization than the ALBA
houses. (Note: The GOP appears to disagree with the local
assessment minimizing the role of Alba Houses in the recent
protests. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and Interior
Minister Luis Alva Castro have publicly accused Alba Houses
of seeking to foment instability in Peru, and claim to have
documents to prove it. End Note.)

Cusco Protests: Part of A Broader Anti-Summit Dynamic
--------------------------------------------- --------
8. (C) While protests in the Andes are widespread and common,
the intensity of the recent Cusco strike took many by
surprise. That its radical leaders were unfazed by changes
to the law removing rational cause for further protest and
apparently emboldened by a separate "nationwide" agricultural
strike that caused the death of several people in Ayacucho,
suggests the Cusco strike was part of a broader dynamic of
disruption. Anti-systemic leaders, including Ollanta Humala,
have publicly stated their plans to organize anti-summits
parallel to the scheduled EU-Latin America meeting in May and
the culminating APEC leaders' conference in November. More
broadly, there have been reports of radicals' plans to incite
instability and undermine the government's image in the
run-up to these events (septel). In response to the Cusco
strike and to protest radical leaders' stated plans to launch
another one at some future date, the government announced
that the April APEC Tourism Ministerial would be switched
from Cusco to another location (probably Lima). Conscious of
the more general threat, government officials have privately
and publicly emphasized that ensuring the security of the
country and the safety of visiting delegations during Peru's
year of international summits is the highest government
priority.
NEALON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: