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Peru congress repeals controversial indigenous land laws

[JURIST] The Peruvian Congress [official website, in Spanish] voted Thursday to repeal controversial land laws [press release, in Spanish] that had led to indigenous protests and violent clashes last week when police attempted to disperse groups blocking access routes. Last week, the congress temporarily suspended [JURIST report] legislative decree 1090, the Forest and Wild Fauna Law [text, PDF, in Spanish] and legislative decree 1064, establishing the legal framework for agricultural land usage [text, PDF, in Spanish] in the wake of the protests. The repeal came after negotiations between the Peruvian government and indigenous groups resulted in Peruvian Prime Minister Yehude Simon [official profile, in Spanish] announcing Monday that the Executive Branch would ask the congress to repeal [JURIST report] the laws. On Wednesday, Simon announced that he would resign in the wake of the protests. Peru's largest indigenous organization, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP) [advocacy website, in Spanish], hailed [press release, in Spanish] Thursday's repeal, saying, "[t]oday is a historic day, we are grateful that the will of indigenous peoples has been heard, and only hope that in future, governments meet and listen to the people..."

Peruvian President Alan Garcia [official website, in Spanish] decreed the controversial laws under powers to implement a free trade agreement with the US. The laws would open Amazon land to development by international companies. Simon maintained earlier this week that the repeal of the laws would not harm a Peruvian-US free trade agreement [Andina report, in Spanish]. In November 2008, Simon declared a state of emergency [JURIST news report] when violence broke out amidst indigenous protests over a new law reducing revenue to the province from local mining operations. In August 2008, protests over a controversial law [JURIST report] that reduced the majority by which a tribe must agree to sell communal land to oil and natural gas companies led the Peruvian government to declare a state of emergency over widespread indigenous protests.

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