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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Peruvian teachers destroy airport to protest education reforms

In Lima, 300,000 demonstrators demanded President Alan Garcia to overturn a law on public education.

Teachers protesting education reforms launched by the government destroyed an international airport in southern Peru on Thursday, as 300,000 protesters led by unions demanded President Alan Garcia more equity in the distribution of incomes. According to versions that Pravda.Ru could not independently confirm, protests left three people dead and seven wounded.

Members of the One Peruvian Education Workers Union, which began an indefinite strike a week ago, attacked Juliaca's Inca Manco Capa Airport in the southern department of Puno, which borders Bolivia. They occupied the airport in the Andean city Juliaca in the worst violence witnessed in the country in recent years. Others blocked roads and assaulted a train station in Cuzco setting fire on cars.

In Juliaca’s airport, strikers went on rampage, looting and burning furniture and other property. They also used stones, tree trunks and car tires to block runways, bringing operations to a halt, according to local media.

At the same time, the General Workers Federation of Peru already called a 48-hour general strike in support of the union. Among its demands, the federation wants the government to set up a Constituent Assembly and reduce the price of fuel and other staple goods.

The strike also affected other parts of the country. In Abancay, a city in the southern department of Apurimac, a child died when police and teachers clashed on Tuesday. Fourteen teachers were arrested in the incident.

Rail services were affected and teachers were reported to have blocked traffic in the departments of Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Apurimac. Strikers erected blocks in Moquegua and Tacna.

On Thrusday, the Capital Lima was flooded by policemen and members of the military deployed to maintain order, as President Alan Garcia went forward with his education reform aimed at “modernizing schools to take Peru out of underdevelopment”. Teachers believe it hides an attempt to privatize public education.

Peruvian Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo called for peace and tolerance, and announced he was deploying the army for 30 days to maintain public order. "I want to make a call for calm in the nation. People can protest, that is their right, but they should not vandalize public and private property, or worse still attack people," he said.

He said the army was needed because the protestors were not targeting the current government, nor the ruling party, but democracy itself. "Peru continues to progress and we must not allow this to be held back," he said.

Despite threats, protesters filled Lima’s streets turning the city into chaos. In the evening, some 300 teachers took over a train station in southern Peru, setting some of the cars on fire. The train service from Cuzco to Machu Picchu ruins was temporarily suspended as demonstrators threw stones at the cars.

Hernan Etchaleco