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Cablegate: Gop Responds Quickly to Campesino Unrest In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


Sensitive But Unclassified, Please Handle Accordingly

1. (U) SUMMARY. The GOP responded quickly to road blockages
last week by campesinos around Andahuaylas, Apurimac
Department, declaring a 30-day state of emergency on 4/3,
substantially increasing police presence in the area and
offering to send a high-level negotiating commission to
address the demonstrators' demands for higher potato prices
and improved roads. The GOP, recognizing that this is the
same volatile region where the Ethno-Cacerista uprising took
place three months ago, has been quick off the mark to ensure
that the latest unrest is dealt with expeditiously and
peacefully. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The Government declared a 30-day state of emergency on
4/3, in the provinces of Andahuaylas and Chincheros, located
in the northwest corner of the Apurimac Region. The action
came in response to protests carried out by several hundred
local farmers demanding higher prices for their products.
The protesters blocked all of the roads leading to the city
of Andahuaylas, and took over the local airport, blocking the
runway. They demanded that the government purchase 7,000
tons of potatoes, as over-production had dropped the price
for this crop to about three U.S. cents per kilo (from
previous levels of around 17 cents), and they also called for
better roads to get their produce to market. Officials
reports said 15 people were injured in clashes linked to the
strike activity.

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3. (U) The state of emergency decree suspends certain
constitutional guarantees: it permits warrantless search of
homes, restricts the right of free transit, and prohibits
public assemblies and demonstrations. The decree authorizes
the National Police, with the support of the Armed Forces, to
take measures to maintain control of internal order in the
affected provinces. This was the second time this year that
a state of emergency decree was issued for Andahuaylas; the
previous instance resulted from the Ethno-Cacerist uprising
in January (Reftel).

4. (U) Speaking for the Government, Deputy Agriculture
Minister Julio Escudero said the protesters should call off
the strike for 48 hours. If they did, a high-level
government commission would meet with them, but Escudero
averred that the Government would not negotiate under
pressure. Vice Minister of Social Development Mario Molina
also pledged that the GOP would buy 5,000 tons of potatoes
from small producers through its food distribution program
(Pronaa). Despite initial rejection by some sectors, peasant
leaders announced 4/4 that they had agreed to a 48-hour
suspension of the strike to allow the arrival of the
government commission. When it became clear that the roads
and airport were still blocked, however, Agriculture Minister
Manuel Manrique said the commission would not travel until
the blockades were lifted. Manrique also accused Congressman
Michael Martinez, who has also been an outspoken proponent of
cocalero interests, of spurring on the protesters in order to
serve Martinez's personal political interests.

5. (SBU) Interior Ministry Intelligence Director Jorge
Cardenas told Deputy Polcoun on 4/4 that the situation on the
ground had not changed appreciably and that demonstrations
were continuing, but the police were moving to put
reinforcements in place and take control. Cardenas said that
by the end of the day, the PNP would have three times its
normal contingent operating in the Andahuaylas area. As of
the morning of 4/5, 300 police officers were reported to be
encamped in San Jeronimo, on the outskirts of Andahuaylas,
and access to the airport had been restored.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOP's prompt dispatch of police
reinforcements to Andahuaylas and its offer to send a
high-level commission to address the demonstrators' demands
reflects the Government's concern about this area's
volatility in the wake of the January Ethno-Cacerista
uprising. By contrast, the GOP has not/not expressed an
intention to engage in a similar dialogue with cotton growers
who have carried out blockages of the Pan American Highway
near Ica recently. END COMMENT.

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