Bagua: Six Years On

8 June 2015

Six years have now passed since the so-called Baguazo on 5 June 2009, but no-one has been brought to justice. On that day, at a place known as the Curva del Diablo just north of Bagua, the capital of Amazonas region, 33 people lost their lives in a confrontation between locals and the police force, 23 of the them members of the police force.

The Baguazo has become an emblematic event in the conflictive history of relations between the state and indigenous groups opposed to the indiscriminate use of their territories for the extraction of oil and gas. Both policemen’s families and indigenous groupings demand that justice be done, not just those immediately responsible but those politicians whose actions provoked the conflict in the first place.

Those in the firing line include former president Alan García and two of his ministers, Mercedes Cabanillas (interior minister at the time) and Mercedes Aráoz. Also criticised is the prime minister at the time, Yehude Simón. Families of the policemen killed have now lodged charges against García, Cabanillas and Araoz with the public prosecutor’s office (Fiscalía de la Nación). A parliamentary commission also argued that these figures were criminally liable for what happed at the Curva del Diablo.

According to Augusto Alvarez Rodrich, an influential journalist, the Baguazo and the failure to attribute responsibility typifies the lack of understanding in official circles of the realities of Peruvians living far from the capital. “Six years later”, he writes “the distrust of people in the area continues, especially the feeling among citizens [there] that norms are issued from Lima with regard to their territories that modify their way of life without them being consulted or taken into account”.

The confrontation near Bagua followed close on the heels of attempts by the García government to make it easier for investors in the oil and gas industry to appropriate indigenous lands. García later vetoed legislation that attempted to make consultation mandatory. He argued that indigenous peoples were standing in the way of national progress.

All articles

  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

  • Why join the PSG?

    • Keep up to date with latest news and developments in Peru
    • Learn about key issues of poverty, development and human rights in Peru
    • Support the work of the Peru Support Group

    Become a member