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Lobby chacano por tierras en el Cusco

id: 144228 date: 3/4/2008 17:59 refid: 08LIMA389 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0950 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 041759Z MAR 08 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, PE SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC EVENT Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) 1. (C) Summary: Radical union and student leaders recently led a strike to protest a law that would facilitate private investment in tourist services at archeological sites, effectively shutting down the city of Cusco February 21-22. Residents of Cusco broadly rejected the law and said it favored deep-pocketed investors and tourists over poorer local residents, but accepted changes made by Congress to give Regional Presidents flexibility in implementation. Radicals who sought to exploit public sentiments for political gain have clear ties to Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) leader Ollanta Humala, the communist Patria Roja party, and (in some cases) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses. Humala's own role was indirect (via proxies), and most local analysts said Venezuela was not behind the protests (the GOP disagrees). The intensity of the strike and the prospect of another one soon -- part of a larger dynamic of radical actions seeking to incite instability during Peru's year of summits -- led the government to move the scheduled April APEC event from Cusco to another location. End Summary. A Month of Protests: Timeline of Events --------------------------------------- 2. (C) The February 21 to 22 general strike that shut down commerce and movement in Cusco was the culmination of a series of protests launched to oppose a law passed by Congress in December 2007 (Law 29164) to facilitate private investment in tourist services for archeological sites. About five thousand university students on January 16 led the first protest, which was reportedly handled poorly by local police. Regional government and civic leaders saw the political value of the first protest and called a general march on January 23 that attracted some 20-50 thousand locals to a peaceful rally and series of speeches. Regional leaders followed these marches with a general strike on February 7th that attracted fewer people but slowed activity in the city; local observers described that strike as peaceful and festive. To preempt further protest, Congress agreed to modify Law 29164 to allow Regional Presidents to decide, at their discretion, whether or how to implement the law in their regions. Cusco's Regional President welcomed this change and called for dialogue with the central government. Several local contacts argued that the modifications were not perfect but hat no further strikes could be justified. 3. (C) Just as it seemed the protest would fade, a group of radical union and student leaders hijacked the movement and called for a two-day stoppage of commerce and traffic in the region on February 21-22. Radical leaders had been planning this strike for at least two weeks and had discussed attempting to storm the airport on February 9, according to internet documents. Although local sources say only about 3,000 people participated in this strike -- some reportedly under threat of fine by union leaders -- observers described a surprisingly intense and effective shutdown of the city and surrounding region. Taxis and shops that tried to do business were attacked with rocks; roads were blocked with boulders; trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu were cancelled; and a minor assault on the airport was turned back. Local observers added that while one-day strikes are common in Cusco, two-day strikes are unprecedented. Cusco Residents Reject Law for Discriminating against Locals --------------------------------------------- --------------- 4. (C) Cusco residents rejected the archeological law for a variety of reasons. Many locals say they fear the law would exacerbate the over-commercialization of the region's historical patrimony that is creating a society that is deeply stratified between tourists and locals. Several pointed out to poloff that, while tourists have access to the best services the city offers, dark-skinned locals are turned away at the door; archeological sites that locals once entered freely are now off limits to everyone but the wealthy. Several embassy contacts argued that the real purpose of the law was to enrich people tied to former President Toledo -- whose party proposed the bill -- including his wife and vice president, who have purchased tracts of land near a significant yet underdeveloped Cusco archeological site. Many others opposed the law based on misinformation: embassy contacts reported that local journalists interviewed protestors who said they were fighting to prevent America from buying Machu Picchu. More rationally, the Regional President's General Manager told poloff that Cusco's grievances would have surely been addressed if Congress had followed the normal process of consultation with the regions before passing the bill. Radicals Co-opt and Manipulate Grievances ----------------------------------------- 5. (C) Just as it seemed the wind would go from the sails of the protests, a variety of radical local leaders effectively manipulated Cusco's grievances for political gain. The following is a brief sketch of key protest leaders and their established links to groups such as the communist Patria Roja party, nationalist opposition leader Ollanta Humala and his Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP), and (in at least one case) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses: a) Efrain Yepez: The most visible leader of the two-day strike, Yepez is coordinator of Cusco's Regional Assembly -- a grouping of syndical and civic leaders -- and secretary general of the Departmental Federation of Cusco Workers (FDTC). Linked to the Nationalist Party, Yepez openly campaigned for Ollanta Humala in the 2006 presidential election and invited Humala to speak at the February 7 protest as well as at another protest in November. (Ollanta attended in November but not February.) Yepez is also tied to ALBA: an article recently deleted from ALBA's Peru website (www.alba-peru.net) describes Yepez as a member of Cusco's ALBA delegation; internal documents obtained by the media reportedly title him the Secretary for Institutional Relations in Cusco. Yepez has publicly admitted these links but calls them minimal. b) Bernardo Dolmos Bengoa: Another prominent strike leader, Dolmos is vice president of the FDTC and head of Cusco's transportation union, which one contact described as the most important player in any strike (for its ability to halt transportation). Dolmos is also a former Congressman for the communist New Left Movement (MNI, aka Patria Roja). Dolmos ran for Congress again in 2006 on the MNI slate but obtained only about 8,000 votes. Sources say Patria Roja's declining political appeal has led the party to work to rebuild influence through union leadership. c) Cristian Quispe Montanez: Publicly linked to Yepez and Dolmos during the strikes, Quispe is a key student organizer and president of the Cusco University Federation. The head of security for Cusco's rail system told poloff that Quispe is a known member of Patria Roja and an important player in the group's efforts to rebuild support at Cusco's universities. d) Tito Lenes Sihua: Lenes is Secretary General of the Civil Construction union, which along with student groups led the failed assault on Cusco's airport. Cusco's human rights Ombudsman described Lenes as a dangerous and erratic radical who will sit down to negotiate one day, then attack the next. e) Hugo Blanco: Blanco is an unaffiliated radical leader that led the effort to block roads in Anta Province outside Cusco city, according to local contacts. Blanco is a prominent anti-systemic actor who was jailed for leading an indigenous insurgency in Cusco in the 1960s. He now publishes a newspaper called "La Lucha Indigena" (The Indigenous Battle). f) Julian Incarroca: Incarroca is director of the ALBA house located in Cusco's San Sebastian district, according to two local sources, and is described on the ALBA website as the local government representative for the Cusco ALBA House Delegation. His involvement in the protests is unclear, but he attended at least one planning meeting, according to a Nationalist Party contact. Ollanta Humala's Role in the Protests ------------------------------------- 6. (C) Our contacts in Cusco agreed that Ollanta Humala probably did not have a direct role in organizing the strikes but instead allowed independent proxies to foment unrest on his behalf. Humala himself told a press conference on February 22 that he is not "behind the protests, but rather in front of them." (Comment: We take this to mean he played no role in organizing the protests but has sought actively to associate himself publicly with them during and after the fact. End Comment.) Humala in July 2007 told poloffs his strategy is to make common cause with protest groups and leftist movements around the country in order to form a united political front to contest the 2011 election. One Humala associate, Miguel Angel de la Puente, says Ollanta has already formed political alliances with various social movement leaders. In return for their launching protests to undermine the government, Ollanta has promised these leaders positions on his next campaign slate. Several contacts in Cusco believe this explains the relationship between Ollanta and Javier Yepez, who has invited Humala to speak at protests twice in the past four months. This also explains Ollanta's relationship with Patria Roja. One well-informed source told us that Ollanta and Patria Roja leader Alberto Moreno had met clandestinely in 2006 to form such an alliance, and claimed to have photos as proof. (Note: We have not seen the photos. End Note.) De la Puente adds that Ollanta is particularly interested in coordinating protests in the run-up to the international summits planned for May and November. Venezuela and the ALBA Houses ----------------------------- 7. (C) Contacts in Cusco believe broadly that ALBA houses in Cusco have no discernible role in the protests and are only indirectly linked with certain protest leaders. Local sources told poloff there are as many as three ALBA houses located in the districts of San Sebastian, San Jeronimo, and Sicuani, but described them as little more than coordinating offices for the Venezuelan-sponsored "Mision Milagro" (Miracle Mission) program to provide eye surgeries to poor people. The role of the Cusco ALBA houses is to arrange for patients to be transferred to Venezuela or to the ALBA house in Copacabana, Bolivia for treatment, they said. (One source said his cousin had received eye surgery in Copacabana.) The Regional President's General Manager argued that the problem with ALBA houses is not that they threaten the government by spreading unrest but that have been established informally without a government-to-government accord. In that sense, local sources suggested that there was no direct involvement of Venezuela or Venezuelan representatives in the protests. One PNP congressional advisor says his Venezuelan Embassy contacts are more interested in promoting the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator (CCB) organization than the ALBA houses. (Note: The GOP appears to disagree with the local assessment minimizing the role of Alba Houses in the recent protests. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and Interior Minister Luis Alva Castro have publicly accused Alba Houses of seeking to foment instability in Peru, and claim to have documents to prove it. End Note.) Cusco Protests: Part of A Broader Anti-Summit Dynamic --------------------------------------------- -------- 8. (C) While protests in the Andes are widespread and common, the intensity of the recent Cusco strike took many by surprise. That its radical leaders were unfazed by changes to the law removing rational cause for further protest and apparently emboldened by a separate "nationwide" agricultural strike that caused the death of several people in Ayacucho, suggests the Cusco strike was part of a broader dynamic of disruption. Anti-systemic leaders, including Ollanta Humala, have publicly stated their plans to organize anti-summits parallel to the scheduled EU-Latin America meeting in May and the culminating APEC leaders' conference in November. More broadly, there have been reports of radicals' plans to incite instability and undermine the government's image in the run-up to these events (septel). In response to the Cusco strike and to protest radical leaders' stated plans to launch another one at some future date, the government announced that the April APEC Tourism Ministerial would be switched from Cusco to another location (probably Lima). Conscious of the more general threat, government officials have privately and publicly emphasized that ensuring the security of the country and the safety of visiting delegations during Peru's year of international summits is the highest government priority. NEALON =======================CABLE ENDS============================