Protesters take 65 police, general hostage in Peru
57 minutes ago
LIMA (AFP) Thousands of protesters demanding a greater share of economic benefits from mining operations overwhelmed riot police in southern Peru on Monday and took hostage 65 police and a general, mediators said.
Furious residents of Moquegua, a town 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south of Lima, have conducted a weeklong road blockade to demand more from an economic boom that has enriched mining companies.
In a tense standoff about 20,000 people have converged on a cathedral where the hostages were being held.
The violence left about 60 people injured, including 13 -- mostly female police officers -- who were released by the demonstrators, Veronica Paredes, of the Peruvian ombudsman's office which is seeking to negotiate an end to the violence, told AFP.
She said 65 police were captured in the clashes and were being held in a cathedral along with a commanding officer, General Alberto Jordan.
"Right now the hostages are being held in the cathedral in Moquegua and they can not leave," Paredes said, adding that an angry mob had gathered outside the cathedral.
General Jordan told a radio station that conditions around the cathedral remained highly volatile and that government forces needed to withdraw.
"The situation in Moquegua is no longer under police control," Jordan told RPP radio.
"I have wounded here and I am in trouble, so I urge police to please draw back. There are 20,000 people, and it is because of them that the police must withdraw."
In the capital Lima, Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo was aiming to reach a deal with leaders of the protesters, who in their weeklong protests have blocked the main highway from the south of the Andean nation to Chile.
The inhabitants of Moquegua, a town of 50,000, insist that the government redistribute taxes paid by Southern Peru Copper Corporation, the country's largest copper producer.
The company is exploiting vast mineral reserves in arid Tacna, Peru's southernmost region bordering Chile, and capitalizing on record prices on the world's copper market.
Social unrest is common in Peru's mining regions, where the population accuses large mining companies of generating windfall profits and polluting the environment while offering little benefit to local residents.
At the same time...
Peru GDP Expanded at Fastest Pace Since 1997 in April (Update1)
By Alex Emery
June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Peru's economy expanded at the fastest pace in 11 years in April, led by construction, fishing and manufacturing.
Gross domestic product grew 13.25 percent in April, up from 5.5 percent in March, the government said in Lima. The median forecast of 13 economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted growth of 10.1 percent. The monthly surge in GDP was the biggest since April 1997, when the economy grew 14.40 percent.
Soaring global prices for metals, natural gas and fishmeal coupled with surging investment and domestic demand have helped fuel Peru's longest economic expansion. Two extra working days in April compared with last year also drove growth, said Jorge Gonzalez, a former labor minister who now heads the economics department at Pacifico University in Lima.
``Economic growth is robust and mainly led by internal consumer demand,'' Gonzalez said in a phone interview. ``State investment in infrastructure is growing much faster than GDP.''
The country's central bank on June 13 raised its estimate for 2008 economic growth to 8 percent on surging for exports such as metals, natural gas and fishmeal.
Construction jumped 34 percent in April as the government increased spending on housing and roads, the agency said. The two-day Easter Holiday fell in March this year and in April 2007.
Fishing jumped 28.8 percent, manufacturing rose 16.5 percent and electricity rose 11 percent, the agency said. Copper and zinc rose 13 percent and natural gas jumped 29.4 percent.
Peru's sol weakened for the first day in three, dropping 0.2 percent to 2.8905 per dollar at 3:08 p.m. The currency has gained 4 percent this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Emery in Lima at
When will Tanzanians wake up and start fighting for what is rightfully theirs. It seems mass protest and unrest is the only way to get the message across to our so called 'leaders'