Andes, Latin America: Week in Review, Peru

Peru Announces New Anti-Logging Efforts After Activists Killed

September 22, 2014 By Staff

Top Story – Peru’s government has formed a commission to stop illegal logging on the Peru-Brazil border following the killings of four indigenous leaders of the Ashaninka community in early September, the BBC reported.

Anti-logging activist Edwin Chota was shot and killed along with three other Ashaninka leaders near the Brazilian border on Sept. 1, but due to the remoteness of the region their deaths were not reported until a week later.

Illegal loggers and the Ashaninka have been in conflict for years. Many loggers pay off officials to operate with relative impunity, depleting the area of valuable hardwoods including mahogany and tropical cedar.

Up to 80 percent of Peru’s exported timber is linked to illegal logging, according to a 2012 World Bank Report. For years the Ashaninka community has aimed to expel the loggers and seek an official title for their land.

Chota was evidently aware of the risk of reprisals by loggers. National Geographic reported on death threats against activists in April 2013.

Peru’s national ombudsman, Eduardo Vega, said the deaths could have been prevented if authorities acted sooner. The government discussed sending police to the region as far back as July.

The authorities have already arrested one suspect in the killings, reported El Comercio.

In addition to investigating the killings, the commission will address issues like a lack of security and disputes over land titles in the region.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • An accident at a copper mine in the border state of Sonora, Mexico has contaminated the drinking water of some 25,000 people.
  • Following alleged death threats from Mexican drug cartels, organizers in the U.S. cancelled plans to blockade 17 border crossings on Saturday in protest against illegal immigration.
  • The brother of the alleged leader of Mexico’s Knights Templar drug cartel was found dead on Friday.


  • The case of American Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba since 2009, is back in the U.S. Court of Appeals. His lawyer is arguing that he should be able to sue the U.S. government for legal fees and lost wages, the AP reported.
  • Cuba is privatizing 9,000 state-owned restaurants, CNN reported.
  • The chikungunya virus has sickened almost 500,000 people in the Dominican Republic, according to the Associated Press.

Central America

  • Dozens were wounded and eight killed on Saturday after a dispute over plans to build a cement factory in a Guatemalan village turned violent.
  • The U.S. is moving to finalize $277 million in economic aid to El Salvador amid pressure to address the surge in unaccompanied child migrants coming from that country.


Southern Cone

  • Forty-one years after American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were killed by Chilean security forces in the aftermath of the coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende, their families are still waiting for answers, according to Free Speech Radio News.
  • Al Jazeera America has an in-depth look at Brazil’s quilombos, remote settlements founded by runaway slaves before the country’s abolition of slavery in 1888.
  • Paraguay has become the latest country to pass a freedom of information (FOI) law, The Guardian reports.

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[…] Corruption and market forces continue to fuel illegal logging in Peru’s Amazon region, despite outcry over the recent deaths of several anti-logging activists. […]

[…] is facing international scrutiny due to the slow pace of an investigation into the August 31 killing of four indigenous environmental activists in the Amazon jungle, including the Asháninka tribal leader and prominent anti-logging activist […]

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