Alberto Pizango, the exiled leader of Peru's Inter-Ethnic for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), is planning to run for President in Peru's 2011 general election, according to reports.
Pizango was charged with sedition after a deadly and controversial clash in June between police in tribal members led to the deaths of at least 50 people and injured hundreds of others. Pizango and AIDESEP were protesting several laws that would open their Amazonian lands to oil exploration. Pizango quickly fled to Nicaragua, seeking asylum from what he and many others viewed as unfair charges.
As a result of the battle, Peru’s government repealed two of the eleven decrees that the tribes were protesting, amid large nation-wide protests. This action lead to cheers from tribes, although the issue of indigenous sovereignty still remains to be a hot political topic in Peru, with many issues unresolved. Several indigenous communities recently protested the co-opting of their lands into national parks that would limit their ability to participate in subsistence fishing and hunting, suggesting that productive cooperation between the tribes and federal government is still limited.
Pizango remains in Nicaragua, but has hinted because of legal concerns that he may soon return to Peru. His candidacy for the presidency would most likely keep Amazonian issues in the limelight, but he would face stiff competition from a number of candidates who have established followings.
Probable candidates include Representative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, who has recently been convicted on charges of corruption and human rights abuses among a series of ongoing trials concerning his presidency; Lima mayor Luis Castañeda, who has led a popular effort to revitalize the nation's capital and improve roads and infrastructure; former president Alejandro Toledo who was not popular when his term ended in 2006, but is thought by many to have helped stabilize the country and improve its economy; socialist leader Ollanta Humala who was a serious contender for the presidency in the 2006 election; and Representative Lourdes Flores, a perennial conservative candidate who also has a strong base of support. A recent poll showed mayor Luis Castañeda with a marginal lead over Fujimori.
Peru is riding a huge economic surge that has placed it atop Latin America in terms of economic development, mostly because of a thriving commodities market that has also helped make Peru one of the most successful nations in the Americas during the global recession. This emphasis on natural resource extraction has not come without its costs, among them increased tension with Amazonian tribes, political scandals, and questions about Peru's long-term commitment to protect the environment and the Amazon.