Continued from page 1

Mr. Garcia, however, has accused his former presidential rival and Chavez acolyte, Ollanta Humala, of working with Venezuela’s president to convince Indians to carry out what many in Peru see as acts of domestic terrorism.

Mr. Humala narrowly lost the presidency to Mr. Garcia in 2006. He embraced a Chavez-style populist platform including promises to nationalize oil, gas and mining. He is set to make another presidential run in 2011.

“Its obvious that the natives are being manipulated,” said Roberto Ugarte, owner of a hotel not far from Cuzco, a major tourist attraction. “And its obvious that Chavez and Humala are involved. Our economy is working well, and now they want to change it.”

Alvaro Vargas-Llosa, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Independent Institute, agreed.

“I give credibility to claims that they are involved,” he said.

“Past experience shows that Humala, and more widely, the Chavez government, are heavily involved in efforts to destabilize outlying provinces and further an anti-democratic cause based on vaguely nationalist and very anti-democratic ideas.”

Many say that Perus estimated 500,000 natives — increasingly hemmed in and clamoring for their share of Amazonian oil and gas projects — have found new organizations and resolve that will help Mr. Humala.

“This is the first time Indians have worked together and made a change,” said Vincent Alagon, a Peruvian peasant who was interviewed recently standing near a flaming effigy of Mr. Garcia in the jungle town of Quillabama. “Alan Garcia is a murderer and a thief. We will make Humala president.”

Mr. Vargas-Llosa said that natives are being manipulated and lack the organization and national agenda needed to make real political change.

“Natives have long been ignored by a government, so they respond when people come around with offers to help,” he said. The protesters are being “bamboozled.”

He added, “What these people really want is the opposite of what Chavez and Humala stand for. They want to own things, to exploit the rain forest themselves and to have property rights.”

He said the Garcia presidency wont be the same following the protests.

“For the remainder of his term, he will have to take a defensive posture rather than a proactive one,” Mr. Vargas-Llosa said.

Emboldened natives are likely to keep up demands for schools, roads, clinics and a seat at the oil-and-gas table.

While Mr. Humalas National Party has denied giving funding to protesters, many Peruvians - especially wealthy elites - think that Humala loyalists help protesters by dipping into local government checkbooks made fat by oil and natural-gas royalties.

Story Continues →