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Viewing cable 08LIMA389, RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08LIMA389 2008-03-04 17:05 2011-02-20 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lima
Appears in these articles:
http://elcomercio.pe/
VZCZCXYZ0950
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041759Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PE
SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC 
EVENT 
 
 
Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) 
 
1. (C...
id: 144228
date: 3/4/2008 17:59
refid: 08LIMA389
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 
header:
VZCZCXYZ0950
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0389/01 0641759
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041759Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8088
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1932
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5556
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7786
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3301
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1081
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 4766
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9463
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1783
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1775
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000389 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PE
SUBJECT: RADICALS HIJACK CUSCO PROTESTS; CITY LOSES APEC 
EVENT 


Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) 

1. (C) Summary: Radical union and student leaders recently 
led a strike to protest a law that would facilitate private 
investment in tourist services at archeological sites, 
effectively shutting down the city of Cusco February 21-22. 
Residents of Cusco broadly rejected the law and said it 
favored deep-pocketed investors and tourists over poorer 
local residents, but accepted changes made by Congress to 
give Regional Presidents flexibility in implementation. 
Radicals who sought to exploit public sentiments for 
political gain have clear ties to Peruvian Nationalist Party 
(PNP) leader Ollanta Humala, the communist Patria Roja party, 
and (in some cases) Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses. 
Humala's own role was indirect (via proxies), and most local 
analysts said Venezuela was not behind the protests (the GOP 
disagrees).  The intensity of the strike and the prospect of 
another one soon -- part of a larger dynamic of radical 
actions seeking to incite instability during Peru's year of 
summits -- led the government to move the scheduled April 
APEC event from Cusco to another location. End Summary. 

A Month of Protests: Timeline of Events 
--------------------------------------- 
2. (C) The February 21 to 22 general strike that shut down 
commerce and movement in Cusco was the culmination of a 
series of protests launched to oppose a law passed by 
Congress in December 2007 (Law 29164) to facilitate private 
investment in tourist services for archeological sites. 
About five thousand university students on January 16 led the 
first protest, which was reportedly handled poorly by local 
police.  Regional government and civic leaders saw the 
political value of the first protest and called a general 
march on January 23 that attracted some 20-50 thousand locals 
to a peaceful rally and series of speeches.  Regional leaders 
followed these marches with a general strike on February 7th 
that attracted fewer people but slowed activity in the city; 
local observers described that strike as peaceful and 
festive.  To preempt further protest, Congress agreed to 
modify Law 29164 to allow Regional Presidents to decide, at 
their discretion, whether or how to implement the law in 
their regions.  Cusco's Regional President welcomed this 
change and called for dialogue with the central government. 
Several local contacts argued that the modifications were not 
perfect but hat no further strikes could be justified. 

3. (C) Just as it seemed the protest would fade, a group of 
radical union and student leaders hijacked the movement and 
called for a two-day stoppage of commerce and traffic in the 
region on February 21-22.  Radical leaders had been planning 
this strike for at least two weeks and had discussed 
attempting to storm the airport on February 9, according to 
internet documents.  Although local sources say only about 
3,000 people participated in this strike -- some reportedly 
under threat of fine by union leaders -- observers described 
a surprisingly intense and effective shutdown of the city and 
surrounding region.  Taxis and shops that tried to do 
business were attacked with rocks; roads were blocked with 
boulders; trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu were cancelled; 
and a minor assault on the airport was turned back.  Local 
observers added that while one-day strikes are common in 
Cusco, two-day strikes are unprecedented. 

Cusco Residents Reject Law for Discriminating against Locals 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
4. (C) Cusco residents rejected the archeological law for a 
variety of reasons.  Many locals say they fear the law would 
exacerbate the over-commercialization of the region's 
historical patrimony that is creating a society that is 
deeply stratified between tourists and locals.  Several 
pointed out to poloff that, while tourists have access to the 
best services the city offers, dark-skinned locals are turned 
away at the door; archeological sites that locals once 
entered freely are now off limits to everyone but the 
wealthy.  Several embassy contacts argued that the real 
purpose of the law was to enrich people tied to former 
President Toledo -- whose party proposed the bill -- 
including his wife and vice president, who have purchased 
tracts of land near a significant yet underdeveloped Cusco 
archeological site.  Many others opposed the law based on 
misinformation: embassy contacts reported that local 

journalists interviewed protestors who said they were 
fighting to prevent America from buying Machu Picchu.  More 
rationally, the Regional President's General Manager told 
poloff that Cusco's grievances would have surely been 
addressed if Congress had followed the normal process of 
consultation with the regions before passing the bill. 

Radicals Co-opt and Manipulate Grievances 
----------------------------------------- 
5. (C) Just as it seemed the wind would go from the sails of 
the protests, a variety of radical local leaders effectively 
manipulated Cusco's grievances for political gain.  The 
following is a brief sketch of key protest leaders and their 
established links to groups such as the communist Patria Roja 
party, nationalist opposition leader Ollanta Humala and his 
Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP), and (in at least one case) 
Venezuela-sponsored ALBA houses: 

      a) Efrain Yepez: The most visible leader of the two-day 
strike, Yepez is coordinator of Cusco's Regional Assembly -- 
a grouping of syndical and civic leaders -- and secretary 
general of the Departmental Federation of Cusco Workers 
(FDTC).  Linked to the Nationalist Party, Yepez openly 
campaigned for Ollanta Humala in the 2006 presidential 
election and invited Humala to speak at the February 7 
protest as well as at another protest in November.  (Ollanta 
attended in November but not February.)  Yepez is also tied 
to ALBA: an article recently deleted from ALBA's Peru website 
(www.alba-peru.net) describes Yepez as a member of Cusco's 
ALBA delegation; internal documents obtained by the media 
reportedly title him the Secretary for Institutional 
Relations in Cusco.  Yepez has publicly admitted these links 
but calls them minimal. 

      b) Bernardo Dolmos Bengoa: Another prominent strike 
leader, Dolmos is vice president of the FDTC and head of 
Cusco's transportation union, which one contact described as 
the most important player in any strike (for its ability to 
halt transportation).  Dolmos is also a former Congressman 
for the communist New Left Movement (MNI, aka Patria Roja). 
Dolmos ran for Congress again in 2006 on the MNI slate but 
obtained only about 8,000 votes.  Sources say Patria Roja's 
declining political appeal has led the party to work to 

rebuild influence through union leadership. 

      c) Cristian Quispe Montanez: Publicly linked to Yepez 
and Dolmos during the strikes, Quispe is a key student 
organizer and president of the Cusco University Federation. 
The head of security for Cusco's rail system told poloff that 
Quispe is a known member of Patria Roja and an important 
player in the group's efforts to rebuild support at Cusco's 
universities. 

      d) Tito Lenes Sihua: Lenes is Secretary General of the 
Civil Construction union, which along with student groups led 
the failed assault on Cusco's airport.  Cusco's human rights 
Ombudsman described Lenes as a dangerous and erratic radical 
who will sit down to negotiate one day, then attack the next. 


      e) Hugo Blanco: Blanco is an unaffiliated radical 
leader that led the effort to block roads in Anta Province 
outside Cusco city, according to local contacts.  Blanco is a 
prominent anti-systemic actor who was jailed for leading an 
indigenous insurgency in Cusco in the 1960s.  He now 
publishes a newspaper called "La Lucha Indigena" (The 
Indigenous Battle). 

      f) Julian Incarroca: Incarroca is director of the ALBA 
house located in Cusco's San Sebastian district, according to 
two local sources, and is described on the ALBA website as 
the local government representative for the Cusco ALBA House 
Delegation.  His involvement in the protests is unclear, but 
he attended at least one planning meeting, according to a 
Nationalist Party contact. 

Ollanta Humala's Role in the Protests 
------------------------------------- 
6. (C) Our contacts in Cusco agreed that Ollanta Humala 
probably did not have a direct role in organizing the strikes 
but instead allowed independent proxies to foment unrest on 

his behalf.  Humala himself told a press conference on 
February 22 that he is not "behind the protests, but rather 
in front of them."  (Comment: We take this to mean he played 
no role in organizing the protests but has sought actively to 
associate himself publicly with them during and after the 
fact.  End Comment.)  Humala in July 2007 told poloffs his 
strategy is to make common cause with protest groups and 
leftist movements around the country in order to form a 
united political front to contest the 2011 election.  One 
Humala associate, Miguel Angel de la Puente, says Ollanta has 
already formed political alliances with various social 
movement leaders.  In return for their launching protests to 
undermine the government, Ollanta has promised these leaders 
positions on his next campaign slate.  Several contacts in 
Cusco believe this explains the relationship between Ollanta 
and Javier Yepez, who has invited Humala to speak at protests 
twice in the past four months.  This also explains Ollanta's 
relationship with Patria Roja.  One well-informed source told 
us that Ollanta and Patria Roja leader Alberto Moreno had met 
clandestinely in 2006 to form such an alliance, and claimed 
to have photos as proof.  (Note: We have not seen the photos. 
 End Note.)  De la Puente adds that Ollanta is particularly 
interested in coordinating protests in the run-up to the 
international summits planned for May and November. 

Venezuela and the ALBA Houses 
----------------------------- 
7. (C) Contacts in Cusco believe broadly that ALBA houses in 
Cusco have no discernible role in the protests and are only 
indirectly linked with certain protest leaders.  Local 
sources told poloff there are as many as three ALBA houses 
located in the districts of San Sebastian, San Jeronimo, and 
Sicuani, but described them as little more than coordinating 
offices for the Venezuelan-sponsored "Mision Milagro" 
(Miracle Mission) program to provide eye surgeries to poor 
people.  The role of the Cusco ALBA houses is to arrange for 
patients to be transferred to Venezuela or to the ALBA house 
in Copacabana, Bolivia for treatment, they said.  (One source 
said his cousin had received eye surgery in Copacabana.)  The 
Regional President's General Manager argued that the problem 
with ALBA houses is not that they threaten the government by 
spreading unrest but that have been established informally 
without a government-to-government accord.  In that sense, 
local sources suggested that there was no direct involvement 
of Venezuela or Venezuelan representatives in the protests. 
One PNP congressional advisor says his Venezuelan Embassy 
contacts are more interested in promoting the Bolivarian 
Continental Coordinator (CCB) organization than the ALBA 
houses.  (Note: The GOP appears to disagree with the local 
assessment minimizing the role of Alba Houses in the recent 
protests.  Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and Interior 
Minister Luis Alva Castro have publicly accused Alba Houses 
of seeking to foment instability in Peru, and claim to have 
documents to prove it.  End Note.) 

Cusco Protests: Part of A Broader Anti-Summit Dynamic 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
8. (C) While protests in the Andes are widespread and common, 
the intensity of the recent Cusco strike took many by 
surprise.  That its radical leaders were unfazed by changes 
to the law removing rational cause for further protest and 
apparently emboldened by a separate "nationwide" agricultural 
strike that caused the death of several people in Ayacucho, 
suggests the Cusco strike was part of a broader dynamic of 
disruption.  Anti-systemic leaders, including Ollanta Humala, 
have publicly stated their plans to organize anti-summits 
parallel to the scheduled EU-Latin America meeting in May and 
the culminating APEC leaders' conference in November.  More 
broadly, there have been reports of radicals' plans to incite 
instability and undermine the government's image in the 
run-up to these events (septel).  In response to the Cusco 
strike and to protest radical leaders' stated plans to launch 
another one at some future date, the government announced 
that the April APEC Tourism Ministerial would be switched 
from Cusco to another location (probably Lima).  Conscious of 
the more general threat, government officials have privately 
and publicly emphasized that ensuring the security of the 
country and the safety of visiting delegations during Peru's 
year of international summits is the highest government 
priority. 
NEALON 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================