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Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 08:19 UK

Peruvian tribes end land protests

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Indigenous Amazonian tribes in Peru have begun lifting armed blockades on roads and energy installations after a week-long protest.

Their action was called off after a congressional committee voted to repeal two laws which the tribes say make it easier for companies to buy their land.

The laws, supported by President Alan Garcia, are aimed at promoting private investment in communal territories.

Mr Garcia called the committee's decision a grave mistake.

Peru's congress will now have to vote on the committee's decision, which was apparently prompted by the public outcry at the laws.

It is a blow to Mr Garcia's plans for state reform, the BBC's Dan Collyns in Lima reports.

A state of emergency had been declared in Peru after thousands of Amazonian tribespeople armed with spears, bows and arrows took over main roads, a hydroelectric dam, and oil and gas installations in the provinces of Cusco, Loreto and Amazonas.

We have faith and expect Congress to follow through
Alberto Pizango
AIDESEP head

The protestors from 65 tribes feared the laws would make it easier for investors to buy their energy-rich land in Peru's Amazon basin, parts of which are rich in oil and gas.

The legislation was introduced as part of the country's free trade agreement with the US.

The tribes are distrustful as companies extracting oil or gas have, in the past, brought contamination, which has had an impact on both their environment and health, says our correspondent.

'Huge mistake'

"We have lifted the strike," said Alberto Pizango, head of the indigenous Amazonian organisation, AIDESEP, after the congressional committee's decision.

Alan Garcia addresses Peru's Congress, file pic from July 2008
Mr Garcia said repealing the laws would hold up progress

"We have faith and expect Congress to follow through."

Mr Garcia, who passed the laws earlier this year under special powers granted by Congress, said repealing them would be a grave error.

"I am obliged to say to Peru that it would be a huge mistake which would hold up change and keep those farming communities in poverty and marginalisation for another century," he said in a televised address.

Mr Garcia says bringing investment and industrialisation to Peru's remoter areas are the only way to tackle widespread poverty.

But it is clear many people in Peru's Amazon see this as a threat to their way of life, says our correspondent.


SEE ALSO
Peru moves to end Amazon protests
19 Aug 08 |  Americas
Peru to protect isolated tribes
04 Jun 08 |  Americas
Peru's Amazon oil deals denounced
03 Feb 07 |  Americas
Peru 'must protect Amazon tribes'
31 Mar 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
06 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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