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Jungle residents protest development of Amazon rainforest

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Last year, Peruvian president Alan Garcia signed a series of laws vastly decreasing forest protection, opening up 111 million acres for potential development. The laws also authorize the government to approve development projects in the region without consulting existing residents. These and other laws essentially nationalize the ownership of much land, water and oil, in addition to other resources. Meanwhile, they push for formal, private ownership of agricultural land, which is incompatible with current communal systems and may reduce agricultural sustainability at a national level. As various jungle oil concessions were granted in April, Amazonian residents instituted a months-long road-block in protest of these laws, blocking oil lines and leading to a spike in oil prices in the capital. A State of Emergency was declared, allowing police to break the road block with violent measures on Friday, June 5. A reported 60 were killed that day, although some say the numbers are higher. Facing widespread popular resistance, the government temporarily suspended the laws on June 10. Protests continue throughout the country.

Friday, June 05 2009
Source: Reuters

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Kaitlyn Van Arsdell June 13, 2009
A good 2 min video clip --

nifty Duke study on overlap of Amazon biodiversity and development plans, with lots of pretty maps --

"In sum, more than 180 oil and gas blocks now overlap the most species-rich part of the Amazon, including areas having the world's greatest known diversity of trees, insects and amphibians."

This obviously raises the question of whether people living here have the right to exploit and benefit from these national resources. However, the jungle residents are actively resisting this development while the remote national government pushes for it (under pressure from international corporations and falling tax revenue). Congressional representatives speaking against development, and on behalf of their constituents, have been accused of instigating the protests. The national government has repeatedly declared that any national resources should benefit the entire population, and therefore development cannot be blocked by "the small group of people who had the fortune to be born there."