Prime Minister Yehude Simon (c) led talks with the tribesPeru’s Congress has overturned two controversial land ownership laws that sparked deadly clashes between police and Amazon tribal groups. At least 34 people were killed in the clashes earlier this month. The laws were passed under powers Congress had granted President Alan Garcia to implement a free trade agreement with the US. Tribal groups said they were not consulted and some of Peru’s South American neighbours voiced opposition.
Congress passed the revocation measure by 82-12 after a five-hour debate
The Amazon tribal groups argue the decrees – passed in 2007 and 2008 – open up mineral and mining rights in a way that would threaten their way of life. The worst of the clashes occurred when police tried to clear roadblocks set up by the groups at Bagua, 1,000km (600 miles) north of Lima.
Peru’s Prime Minister Yehude Simon had earlier said the government had to know how to listen. He said the reversal of policy would not put at risk Peru’s free trade agreement with the US but has said he will step down once the dispute is settled.
The dispute led to a diplomatic row between Peru and Latin American neighbours Venezuela and Bolivia. Peru recalled its ambassador to Peru for consultation on Tuesday after Bolivian President Evo Morales described the deaths of the indigenous protesters as a genocide caused by free trade.
Peru’s Foreign Minister Jose Antonia Garcia Belaunde called Mr Morales an “enemy of Peru”.