August 22, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Turmoil in Peru's Amazon

For the most part, Peru has been relatively tranquil compared to its neighbors over the past few years,* but recent violent protests in the Amazon part of the country may indicate that instability is becoming "contagious." As a protest against a recently-enacted law that would allow more sales of land to companies for purposes of oil exploration, some Indian groups in the Amazon jungle region have blockaded oil and gas installations. See BBC. The very same sort of thing has happened recently in neighboring Ecuador (May 2006) and Bolivia (January 2007). It's almost as thought someone were orchestrating the unrest in South America...

From a broader, strategic perspective, the apparent instigation of indigenous unrest in oil-producing countries can be seen as a bargaining tactic, to bid up the market price of petroleum by restricting potential future supplies.

* The last time Peru experienced such a wave of political turbulence was in January 2005, when radical military officers launched an abortive coup d'etat.