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Genocide Watch Alert & Country Report: Peru

An anti-government protester in Lima © Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Peru has one of South America’s largest Indigenous populations. They are located in the Andean and Amazonian regions. From 1996 to 2000 former President Alberto Fujimori's regime performed coercive sterilizations (tubal ligation and vasectomies) on 272,000 women and 22,000 men by health workers who did not speak Indigenous languages or provide translators to explain what they were doing.

Neo-Malthusian population notions inspired this racist campaign. European and Asian elites perceived Indigenous people as ‘the cause of poverty’ and sought to reduce their numbers. Article II(d) of the 1948 Genocide Convention, ratified by Peru in 1960, defines as acts of genocide "imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group." Peru's Programa de Salud Reproductiva y Planificación Familiar (PSRPF) or Programa Nacional de Población constituted genocide. Fujimori faced several legal procedures, but no prosecution resulted in conviction. Impunity remains.

In the 1980s, nearly half of the Nahua people died following Shell Oil’s incursions onto their land. Logging, gas, and oil corporations threaten Indigenous ways of life. Their attacks include land invasions and murders. Violence against women, violent attacks by security forces, suppression of freedom of expression, corruption, and political violence remain major concerns in Peru.

President Pedro Castillo, son of Indigenous peasant farmers, was hailed as a champion of the rural poor and Indigenous groups. Wealthy political elites had Castillo arrested. They accused him of illegally seizing control of Congress on December 7, 2021.

Protests by poor and indigenous Peruvians ensued after President Dina Boluarte took Castillo’s place. The protests have resulted in scores of deaths at the hands of Peru's military and police. Peru's economy is at a standstill. Indigenous Peruvian communities in Lima have come together to support the protestors. They are calling for a new election and a new constitution.

President Boluarte calls the protestors violent radicals who are being paid to promote drug traffickers, illegal miners, smugglers, and other criminal groups. These are false claims. Boluarte also claims it has been protestors, not police officers, who have killed civilians. As of Jan. 25, 2023, 45 of the 56 dead were protestors killed in direct clashes with security forces.

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Watch for Peru.

Genocide Watch considers Peru to be at Stage 3: Discrimination against Indigenous people; Stage 4: Dehumanization of Indigenous people as ‘drug traffickers’ and ‘criminals.’; Stage 6: Polarization between wealthy European and poor Indigenous Peruvians; and Stage 10: Denial due to continuing failure to prosecute the architects of Fujimori's genocidal policies against Indigenous people.

Genocide Watch recommends the following:

· Peru should prosecute the architects of Fujimori's genocidal sterilization campaign and pay reparations to its victims.

· New presidential elections should be held, and Pedro Castillo should be permitted to run again.

· President Boluarte should stop dehumanizing protestors as criminals and drug traffickers.

· Peru should improve its health and educational programs for Indigenous Peruvians.

· Peru should withdraw military troops and police officers from non-violent protests.

· Peru should write a new constitution with significant representation for Indigenous groups.

Genocide Watch Peru March 2023
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