Tag Archives: Peru

Peru’s ex-leader commits suicide during police raid

Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia

Former Peruvian president Alan García shot himself in the head during arrest 

Peru’s ex-president Alan García committed suicide on Wednesday after police arrived at his house in Lima to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation.

When the authorities arrived at the home of the former leftist president, with an arrest warrant, García locked himself into his bedroom, shot himself and was rushed to a hospital, his personal secretary told reporters.

According to CBC News, members of once-powerful Apra party announced the 69-year-old’s death to crowds gathered outside of hospital Casimiro Ulloa, where he underwent emergency surgery. Health Minister Zulema Tomas said he suffered three cardiac arrests after being admitted.

Police stand guard outside a hospital where Peru’s former President Alan Garcia was taken after he shot himself, in Lima, Peru, on April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Supporters of Garcia expressed shock and anger following news of his death.

A line of officers in helmets and riot shields stood guard outside the hospital, keeping them at a distance.

President Martin Vizcarra, whom Garcia had blamed for the investigation, announced his death on Twitter. “Dismayed over the death of García,” he wrote. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Reuters reports, García was one of nine people a judge ordered to be arrested on Wednesday in connection with an investigation into bribes distributed by Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal when it admitted publicly in late 2016 that it had secured lucrative contracts across the region with bribes.

A skilled orator who led Peru’s once-powerful Apra party for decades, García governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

He was hailed as “the president of hope.”

García had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.

“Others might sell out, not me,” García said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

García also denied the claims on Twitter saying that all accusations against him were speculation.

“I never sold myself,” he tweeted.

After police arrived at Garcia’s house to arrest him early on Wednesday, Garcia told them he had to call his attorney, Interior Minister Carlos Moran said.

“He entered a room and closed the door behind him,” Moran told a news conference shortly before Garcia’s death was confirmed. “Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard and police forcibly entered and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head.”

Last year, García asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.

García would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case. Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017-2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges last week.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

All have denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

Vizcarra ordered flags flown at half staff and declared a three-day national period of mourning for Garcia.

Garcia’s family members opted to break with protocol and not have Vizcarra or a government representative preside over his funeral, local media said.

Supporters of Peruvian ex-president Alan Garcia participate in a memorial service at the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) party headquarter’s in the Andean city. (AFP / CRIS BOURONCLE)

On Wednesday night, his body was taken to a memorial service at his party’s headquarters, known as the “House of the People,” a blue colonial-style building where Garcia once celebrated his presidential victories.

Several men carried his wooden casket through a thick crowd of supporters chanting, “Alan! Alan!”

“He’s still with the people!” they cried out.

Burnt body of British environmental activist found at youth hostel in Peru

Police cordoned off the murder scene at the youth hostel Paul McAuley ran in Iquitos

A British Catholic missionary and environmental activist Paul McAuley, was found dead in a hostel for indigenous students in Peru.

The body of McAuley, 71, was discovered last week by students in the city of Iquitos on the Amazon river.

The religious order to which he belonged said in a statement that the body had been burned.

According to The Guardian, a forensic expert in Peru has confirmed that McAuley was dead before his body was burned.

The head forensic doctor in Peru’s Loreto region, Francisco Moreno, said it was difficult to determine the cause of death and more pathological and toxicological tests were being conducted but it could take between three to six months to know the results.

Authorities questioned six indigenous youth who lived in the hostel he managed in a poor area of the isolated city.

The death of McAuley is still under investigation.

Born in Portsmouth, the activist lived in Peru for more than 20 years.

He had worked on behalf of the country’s indigenous communities to battle powerful oil and mining interests.

Paul McAuley, 71, originally from Portsmouth, was found burned to death in Peru

McAuley attracted international attention in 2010 when the Peruvian government ordered his expulsion. He was accused of causing unrest among the indigenous population for protesting against the destruction of the environment. This resulted in hundreds of people demonstrating for him and allowing him to stay in the South American country after a long trial.

Environmental groups were quick to pay tribute to McAuley after his death.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit group, said he “fought peacefully for indigenous rights and forests in Peru.”

It added: “His death should be investigated. Rest in peace, Brother Paul, we will continue the fight.”

The group’s Peru programs director Julia Urrunaga tweeted: “What tough news. A great man who did a lot for indigenous communities, their rights and the forests.”

Canadian man lynched in Peruvian Amazon was accused in fatal shooting of Indigenous elder

Traditional healer and elder Olivia Arevalo Lomas of the Shipibo-Conibo Indigenous people of Peru was shot and killed at her home.

A man reportedly from Canada has been killed in Peru after villagers accused him in the shooting death of an Indigenous spiritual elder.

Olivia Arevalo Lomas, 81, a defender of environmental rights and traditional plant healer of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe was found dead with two gunshot wounds last week at her home in the Ucayali region of the Amazon rainforest.

Local media claims the killer pulled up to Lomas’ house on a motorbike and called out her name.

When she appeared at the door, a gunman opened fire and Lomas was killed instantly, with the shooter fleeing the scene.

According to Global News, local villagers pointed the finger at Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, from the Comox Valley in B.C., who had travelled to Peru to study hallucinogenic medicine. He’s believed to have been studying with Lomas.

Woodroffe, who lived nearby was blamed for the fatal shooting of Lomas and he was killed that same day by a vigilante mob.

He had not been named by police as a suspect in her murder.

Sebastian Woodroffe was lynched in Peru after being accused of killing Olivia Arevalo Lomas.

crowdfunding page set up by Woodroffe says he wanted to explore Ayahuasca, a local brew that contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) – a powerful hallucinogenic and psychedelic drug.

BBC reports, the hallucinogenic medicine has become increasingly popular with backpackers who take part in Ayahuasca ceremonies in the rainforest.

Police did not investigate Woodroffe’s death until cellphone video on local media showed a man who was beaten, then lynched and dragged through a village.

Police found Woodroffe’s body in an unmarked shallow grave on Saturday.

Canadian officials are investigating Woodroffe’s death.

It is not clear, why the villagers anger focussed on the Canadian as other indigenous leaders in the past have been targeted for efforts to keep illegal loggers off Indigenous lands.

“We want the communities of the Amazon to know that there is justice,” Ricardo Palma Jimenez, the head of a local group of prosecutors told TV Peru in Ucayali. “But not justice by their own hands.”

According to The Guardian, Ronald Suárez, the highest authority of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe, said that the men responsible for the lynching “acted on the spur of the moment and resorted to traditional justice.”

“But we are a peaceful people who have always lived in harmony with nature,” he insisted. “We have little confidence in the police as, so often, crimes against us go unpunished.”

No arrests have been made in either of the cases.

Indigenous Tribes in Peru Seize Oil Facilities Operated by Canadian Company

Indigenous tribes seize facilities at Peru oil field, warn of wider uprising 

Indigenous people living on Peru’s largest oil field concession have seized facilities operated by Frontera Energy.

They are demanding that the government apply an indigenous rights law before signing a new contract with the Canadian company.

Passed in 2011 the so-called prior consultation law, requires the government to seek input from indigenous people before approving any development plans that might affect them.

Tribal chiefs in Frontera’s Block 192 said the government has refused to carry out the consultation process even though it is negotiating a new contract with Frontera, whose 2-year contract is due to expire this month.

Protesters from the indigenous community had taken control of oil drums and other facilities to curb output in Block 192.

“If the government says it’ll carry out prior consultation, we’ll automatically end the protest” – Wilmer Chavez, chief of the community of Los Jardines

The same installation was hit with an occupation which began in April and ended in June. Indigenous communities had demanded US$1 million from Frontera for use of their territory.

Photo of occupation by El Commercio

Frontera, which produced some 7,500 barrels a day from Block 192 in July, said in a statement that it values community consent and that only the government could legally carry out prior consultation.

Amazonian tribes in Block 192 want the government to sign new commitments for the clean-up of oil pollution and for access to health care and education in the remote region before awarding Frontera a new contract.

Other Indigenous groups in the region are backing the occupation and warn there will be a wider uprising unless Peru begins proper consultations.

Nearly 25 representatives from some 120 Indigenous communities have been in Lima since Monday to talk with the government officials about the issue.

Chiefs of Amazonian tribes attend a news conference with the foreign media in Lima, Aug. 22, 2017.

Four other chiefs, speaking to foreign media in Lima described similar demands in the 16 out of 20 villages they represent in Block 192 and vowed to stage their own protests unless prior consultation was applied.

Carlos Sandi, chief of the Corrientes River basin, told reporters that the government must fulfill its promises to clean up oil pollution that is sickening local residents.

U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp operated Block 192 for about 40 years before Argentine energy company Pluspetrol took over in 2001.

Video of occupation by El Commercio

Indigenous Groups Unhappy With The Growing Number Of Ayahuasca Retreats

Vidal Jaquehua: Such tradtions need to be respected and understood. (Photo: WikiCommons)

Vidal Jaquehua: Such tradtions need to be respected and understood. (Photo: WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by: Peru this WeekMay 20, 2016

Ayahuasca is a brew that comes from a vine and once was only used in spiritual ceremonies however, with ayahuasca ceremonies being commercialized the traditions are somewhat changing.

Ayahuasca tourism has become increasingly popular over the past years, especially to outsiders such as Americans and Europeans. The reason why there has been a surge in people looking for this kind of thing is because some tourists do not just go to take ayahuasca to experience a spiritual awakening but just for the sake of getting intoxicated. However, this ceremony was originally used by the indigenous people of the jungle as an act of spiritual healing.

This has caused many people to start opening ayahuasca retreats used to attract tourists throughout Peru and the world,capitalizing and commercializing this ancient practice. As a result, some indigenous people have become angry due to the lack of respect and consideration for the ritual.

In one interview with Vidal Jaquehua, a Quechua native who also runs a tour company called Adios Adventure Travel, he made it clear he would not involve himself in ayahuasca retreats as he sees it as a disrespect to his people’s customs and traditions and such rituals need to be respected and understood.

Another trend that is happening is the ritual has now become increasingly unpopular with the indigenous people themselves, which has caused a creation of pseudo-shamans hoping to profit off the tourists. This can endanger people, as those pseudo-shamans do not fully understand the lethality of the vine due to lack of studies and experience.

One American indigenous rights group called Cultural Survival voiced their concern regarding the practice stating, “Ayahuasca is a spiritual cultural practice that is rooted in specific cultures and should not be commercialized and exploited, but protected [as] a private community sacred practice.”

Some argue that the revival of such a ritual is good for the region and is bringing awareness to forgotten traditions not only that some poor regions of the amazon have built an economy based on ayahuasca tourism.

However, this notion has been critized as many people don’t fully believe that indigenous groups benefit from the practice and most profits go elsewhere, so people become rich while indigenous groups still struggle with poverty.

One other concern is the idea of ayahuasca and the distortion of a tradition, some shamans for the sake of demand have conformed to a stereotype, misleading tourists and destroying the true value of their own customs and traditions.

Ayahuasca retreats are appearing in all parts of Peru and are practiced by groups of people that do not have any historical or traditional belief in the vine but are following the tradition as a way of making money.

So this upward treat in such retreats may benefit certain people and the region as a whole it does not take into account the social and cultural destruction it can leave behind.