| By Anthony Bebbington | Published in NACLA Report on the Americas, 42(5) September/October, pp. 12-20. |
| Reprinted, 2013 in P. Vandergeest (ed.) World Geography. Pearson. |
Excerpt: On June 5, two months of gathering indigenous protest across the Peruvian Amazon culminated in one of the country’s most tragic moments in many a year. Several thousand indigenous and non-indigenous people had assembled in the Amazonas town of Bagua, blocking the highway and demanding the derogation of executive decrees on which they had not been consulted and that they felt threatened their future access to land, and therefore their livelihoods, in the territories they have long occupied. Also gathered were police forces, sent in by the central government to reopen the highway. In a still unclear sequence of events, shooting began.
By the end of the day, and though numbers are still disputed, five Awajún-Wampís indigenous people and five mestizo townspeople were confirmed dead, along with 23 policemen, 11 of whom were killed in retaliation by indigenous people as they were guarding a pumping station of the North Peruvian Oil Pipeline. One hundred and sixty-nine indigenous and mestizo civilians and 31 police were confirmed injured. A report issued in July by the national Ombudsman’s office found that all the indigenous people involved in the conflict had been accounted for in the villages its representatives had visited and that no formal complaints of missing persons had been received. Indigenous leaders, however, said that many more remote villages had not been visited and that reliable figures on the missing or killed would not be available unless an independent commission were created to investigate the events.