WITNESS Signs Onto Statement by Alternative Media about Protests in Peru
In 2021, WITNESS’s Brazil and Latin America and the Caribbean programs joined Coletivo Catarse, Laboratorio Popular de Medios Libres, La Sandía Digital, Maizal and Radio JGM to create the network CORAL Colectivxs Reunidos de América Latina – a network of audiovisual collectives in Abya Yala (an Indigenous term used to refer to the “Americas”) that from different geographies accompany movements in the defense of land, territory and common goods.
CORAL is an initiative that spans the continent and seeks to share tools to strengthen community communication, with emphasis on the use of audiovisuals for the defense of the territory and the telling of their own narratives. From September to December 2022, CORAL held the 1st Latin American School of Communication for Land Defense, in which the closing modules took place in Paraty, Brazil and Mexico city, Mexico. After the gatherings CORAL network has grown significantly to include the participants of this first school. Find more about this initiative in https://redcoral.la
After seeing the violent response of the Peruvian government to the mobilizations that started on December 7th, the CORAL network released the following statement. Laboratorio Popular de Medios Libres and WITNESS have also joined forces in an open call for video evidence of human rights violations using an autonomous server, and working together with other members of CORAL, such as Maizal and Radio Kurruf, to create an archive that can preserve multimedia coming from Peru. More about this initiative here.
To the independent, free, community, alternative media at Abya Yala and beyond,
To international civil society,
To the governments and international organizations that are meant to protect and guarantee human rights,
We the undersigned, as representatives of community and alternative media, members of Indigenous and afro-descendant peoples, communities, and organizations of our Abya Yala continent, denounce the serious social and political situation that the Republic of Peru is experiencing, as a result of the legislative coup that has broken the rule of law in that sister nation.
We strongly reject the repressive use of the police and military forces that have murdered 39 protesters in 35 days, since December 7th, 2022, with direct shots to the body during the demonstrations and/or using snipers. In total, the number of deaths from the current social protests amounts to 47 people and hundreds of people injured.
Despite reaching office democratically, since the beginning of President Castillo’s administration in July 2021, the Peruvian congress has been characterized by a racist, classist and violent vision and narratives, and put forth a fierce fight for Castillo’s dismissal. The congress has dedicated itself solely to block the work of the executive branch, which has prolonged the stagnation of the State and the country. Six presidents in four years demonstrate the political instability that obviously generates discomfort in Peruvian society.
We express our concern about the tepid role of international bodies; the UN and OAS, that are already per se delegitimized, reiterate their position at the service of the interests of local oligarchies and international corporations to prevail over the needs of the population in general.
As independent communication media and collectives, we stand by the generalized rejection against the media concentration that exists in Peru, where the radioelectric space is monopolized by a handful of companies that use it to spread a racist, classist and patriarchal narrative that confuses and polarizes public opinion.
We denounce that the state of national emergency, decreed by who currently usurps the presidency of Peru, is an open letter for the violation of all human rights, a history sadly repeated in the territories of our Abya Yala where repression gave rise to barbarism; a situation which we deeply regret again in Peru.
We urge the national and international actors involved to channel mechanisms for the restoration of constitutional order and respect for human rights in Peru.
We call on governments, institutions, international bodies and civil society throughout the continent to ensure that the Peruvian State respects and acts in accordance with the principles that govern human life on the planet; peace and respect for life, self-determination and autonomy of the peoples.
We invite the various free, popular and community communication groups to articulate in the dissemination and denunciation of human rights violations against the Peruvian people and their just demands.
From all Latin America we send our solidarity and support to the sisters and brothers of Peru. We are peoples of peace weaving the word to communicate the defense and care of life and territories.
Abya Yala, January 11, 2023.[Featured Image: Mayimbú via Wikipedia]