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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 July 2007, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Street protests 'paralyse' Peru
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Striking teachers in Lima. Photo: 13 July 2007
The protesting teachers object to a new proficiency test law
Nationwide protests and a general strike have brought Peru to a near standstill over the last week.

Thousands of people in every major town and city took to the streets, and three people are reported to have been killed in clashes around the country.

The protests are widely seen as a show of disapproval with the government of President Alan Garcia.

They come just a fortnight before President Garcia completes his first year in office.

Mass arrests

In the biggest demonstration since Mr Garcia became Peru's president, there was a national show of discontent with his government.

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It began as a national strike by the left-wing Peruvian education workers' union. But as construction workers, farmers and miners joined, it grew in size and became more widespread.

There have been running battles with the police in the centre of Lima, and the authorities have detained more than 100 union leaders.

In the southern region of Puno, protestors stormed an airport and a railway station, and three people have been killed in different clashes across the country.

On Friday, a tourist train on its way to Machu Picchu was pelted with stones, and in the city of Trujillo striking teachers tried to throw eggs and tomatoes at President Garcia and clashed with his supporters.

Several police officers were held hostage by angry demonstrators in the same city but later released.

'Left-wing radicals'

The protesting teachers object to a new law which obliges them to take a proficiency test and says they will be sacked if they repeatedly fail it.

The test is part of the government's attempt to reform the standard of Peru's state education.

But union leaders say it will mean hundreds of arbitrary sackings.

President Garcia appears to have inflamed the protests by launching insults at union leaders and dismissing them as left-wing radicals.

But the opposition leader, Ollanta Humala, and several MPs have also joined the demonstrations.

They accuse Mr Garcia of reneging on his campaign pledges and say social development and working conditions have not improved, despite Peru's booming economic growth.


SEE ALSO
Peru miners end five-day strike
05 May 07 |  Americas
Peru miners on nationwide strike
30 Apr 07 |  Americas
Peru leader gets emergency powers
28 Apr 07 |  Americas
Peru coca farmers warn government
19 Apr 07 |  Americas
Garcia begins fresh term in Peru
29 Jul 06 |  Americas
Profile: Alan Garcia
05 Jun 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
12 May 07 |  Country profiles

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