Indigenous leader running for president of Peru

Alberto Pizango announced he will run in the April 2011 presidential election representing the country’s Indigenous groups. He was apparently the leader of a bloody native uprising last year in Peru.

With the support of all apus, the tribal leaders in Peru’s Amazon region, Pizango took an oath to uphold Indigenous rights as a member of the Alliance for the Alternative of Humanity party.

To seal his appointment as the Indigenous presidential candidate, the chiefs awarded Pizango the “maskaipacha” headband, the traditional Inca symbol of authority. Representatives of the Amazon jungle Shipibo community hung a medallion of a “radiant Sun,” representing Peru’s ancient civilizations, around his neck.

In June 2009 Pizango headed a protest strike of Indigenous peoples that led to violent clashes with police in which 34 people were killed, including 24 police officers. The people were protesting the encroachment of mining and oil companies on Indigenous lands. The events caused a political crisis in Peru and the resignation of the prime minister.

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