Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and to the Council and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0679/03 and E-0678/03
by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and to the Council
(26 February 2003)

Subject: Arrest of the Peruvian national Nelson Palomino

Last week, whilst I was staying in Lima Nelson Palomino - one of the leaders of the Peruvian "campesinos" - was arrested on charges of incitement to terrorism, an offence covered by the Fujimori government's Penal Code, which is currently undergoing reform. Peruvian press sources indicate that Palomino is allegedly guilty of encouraging demonstrations and road blocks without ruling out the use of force.
Relations between the Peruvian Government and the "campesinos" are particularly tense because of a stalemate in the dialogue on a package of agricultural reforms, in particular the disastrous policies to eradicate by force the cultivation of coca.
During my meeting with the leaders of the Peruvian anti-drugs agency DEVIDA, they refused to give me and the Secretary of the International Anti-Prohibitionist League, Marco Perduca, any information on the situation of the "campesinos" and, in particular, on the arrest of Palomino.
Can the Commission ask the Peruvian authorities for information - to be passed on to Parliament -concerning a situation which, if it is not tackled promptly in a spirit of dialogue, threatens to lead to outbreaks of violence such as those which caused dozens of people to die and hundreds to be injured in neighbouring Bolivia in recent weeks?
What results have been achieved by the Commission's projects in Peru designed to replace the cultivation of coca leaves throughout the country?
To what extent is the Commission's work in the region influenced by the increased militarisation of Peru and the tension following Palomino's arrest and what interlocutors among the "campesinos" does the Commission have to help carry out its projects?

Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(9 April 2003)

The Commission Delegation in Lima monitors closely the political, economic and social situation in Peru. This includes keeping abreast of important current issues such as counter-narcotics and alternative development efforts through, among other means, contacts with Peruvian government authorities.

Commission policy is to support voluntary rather than forced eradication, and this policy is known to the Peruvian Government. Until recently, the Commission was not involved in any significant projects in Peru aiming at promoting alternatives to coca leaf cultivation. In October 2002 a project promoting alternative development in the Pozuzo Palcazu area, PER B7 310 IB 98 0253, was launched. This project will approach the promotion of alternatives to cultivation of coca as one aspect among many others within the framework of an integrated regional development project. The Global Operational Program of the Pozuzo Palcazu project is in the process of being established.

The field work of the project, still very limited at this stage, has not been affected by any tensions in the area up to now. The Commission’s Peruvian counterpart agency and principal national interlocutor for the project is the Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Comisión para el Desarollo y la Vida sin Drogas – Devida).