05 June 2010

This past weekend marked the one year anniversary of June 5th, 2009, the day that indigenous groups organized to protest land rights in the Peruvian Amazon faced off with police forces in a battle that took 33 lives.

The Baguazo, a name commonly used to refer to the violent culmination of the months of protests in the region of Bagua, has gone largely unresolved. Shortly after the event, the government created an commission tasked with investigating the implications of the protests, new land rights concessions given in newly signed free trade agreements, and the rights of indigenous peoples to natural resources within designated reserves. The final report, more than 100 pages long, was widely criticized by human rights advocates and indigenous groups for containing no signatures from groups representing the interests of indigenous peoples.

Throughout the country, the anniversary sparked a number of commemorative events and informative dialogue exploring how, one year later, the incident continues to symbolize the struggles of the Amazon's indigenous. In Bagua, in addition to processions honoring those lost in the incident, a forum was held to educate and instruct the indigenous of the region on the Law of Criminalization of Protests. In the capital Lima, several gathered in the Plaza Francia to commemorate those lost.

The event remained peaceful, a demonstration of prayers, music, and silence. The broader sentiment read from the shirts of those crouched on the plaza, insisting that Bagua was not an isolated incident but one deeply rooted in the injustices prevalent throughout Peruvian society. Todos Somos Bagua. We are all Bagua.

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