* Pizango had been granted asylum in Nicaragua
* Says indigenous groups fighting multinationals
LIMA May 27 A Peruvian indigenous leader
accused of fueling protests against foreign investment in which
more than 30 people died was released on Thursday pending his
trial on charges of fomenting violence.
Police arrested Alberto Pizango on Wednesday after he
returned from a self-imposed exile in Nicaragua, where leftist
President Daniel Ortega had granted him political asylum.
Amazon tribes, guided by an organization headed by Pizango
that represents Indian groups in the Amazon, staged protests in
June last year to force Congress to repeal laws designed to
encourage foreign mining and energy companies to invest
billions of dollars in the rainforest.
Violence broke out when police tried to break a roadblock
that had been in place for weeks. A clash between protesters
and police left scores of people killed or injured in the worst
violence of President Alan Garcia's term, prompting him to
shuffle his Cabinet.
"As indigenous groups, we don't just fight for our rights,
but for the defense of life, humanity and mother earth, which
is being damaged by voracious multinational companies," Pizango
told reporters on Thursday.
Pizango, who was wanted in Lima on charges he contributed
to the violence, fled to Nicaragua soon after the unrest.
The bloodshed underscored divisions in Peru between wealthy
urban elites and poor indigenous groups in the countryside.
Garcia lacks support in rural areas, especially the Amazon,
and his critics say his free-market policies benefit mainly the
urban middle class.
Peru's Congress suspended several land-use laws two weeks
after the violence. But indigenous people still want Garcia to
sign a bill that would give them the right to be consulted
about major natural resource projects on their ancestral
(Reporting by Patricia Velez and Terry Wade; Editing by Xavier