Three people die in clashes between police and protesting farm workers, who demand higher wages.
Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti has vowed to take action against police “who violated the ban on the use of firearms” after three people, including a 16-year-old boy, died this week during farmer protests against a controversial new agricultural law.
Authorities said clashes erupted between protesters and police on Wednesday, who dispersed a roadblock on the country’s main coastal road through La Libertad, a farming community about 600 km north of the capital Lima. .
The country’s ombudsperson’s office said two protesters died from gunshot wounds during the blockade on Wednesday, while a 56-year-old man with cancer died in a vehicle blocked by the protest.
Television footage showed police using tear gas and bullets against protesters.
Officials said 28 protesters and 15 police officers were injured, while 45 workers were arrested, AFP news agency reported.
“We deplore and reject what happened at La Libertad,” President Francisco Sagasti tweeted Thursday. “We condemn those who incite violence. We will punish police officers who violate the ban on the use of firearms. “
We deplore and reject what happened at La Libertad. We condemn those who incite violence. We will punish police officers who violate the ban on the use of firearms. (1/5)
– Francisco Sagasti (@FSagasti) December 31, 2020
The Peruvian Congress adopted the agricultural reform bill on Tuesday.
This increases the base wages of agricultural workers by 30% which were as low as 39 soles ($ 11) a day, but workers’ groups say wage and benefit provisions are still not sufficient.
They had asked agricultural export companies to increase their daily wages from $ 11 to $ 18.
Workers also say the law confirms what they say are unwarranted advantages enjoyed by powerful agricultural conglomerates.
“We continue to be discriminated against [against by the new law] in terms of benefit payments, ”Juan Antonio Herrera, the national leader of the agricultural workers’ union, told Reuters news agency.
“In Peru, even those who sell sweets pay taxes, why do large companies that have grown for 20 years continue to benefit from tax exemptions?”
However, business leaders are also unhappy with the legislation, saying higher wages will affect some 2,000 businesses and 200,000 jobs.
Sagasti on Thursday called for a new dialogue between political parties and the three branches of government, saying the new law “does not satisfy any of the parties involved”.