June 15, 2009 / 10:13 PM / 10 years ago

Peru says it may revoke laws after Amazon clashes

* PM: bill to revoke laws goes to Congress by Thursday

* Amazon development laws sparked deadly confrontation

LIMA, June 15 (Reuters) - Peru’s prime minister said on Monday he would ask Congress to revoke two laws that aim to increase foreign investment in the Amazon rain forest after deadly clashes between police and indigenous groups.

Yehude Simon signed a pact with tribal leaders in the jungle city of San Ramon that included a promise to present a bill in Congress by Thursday that would strike down legislative decrees 1090 and 1064, state news agency Andina reported.

Tribes said they would call off lingering protests if the laws, which they fear would speed destruction of the Amazon, are overturned. [ID:nN06294730]

After telling tribes for weeks that it would not review the laws, the government of President Alan Garcia has been forced to backtrack to avert more violence and protests over its push to open up the rain forest for energy, agricultural and mining projects.

At least 34 people died in police raids ordered 10 days ago to break indigenous blockades of roads and rivers in the rain forest, in the worst crisis since Garcia took office in 2006.

The government says 24 police and 10 tribal members died. Indigenous leaders say up to 40 protesters died and hundreds were injured. Some tribal members have stayed on at protest sites across the Amazon basin.

Garcia signed a series of laws last year using special powers Congress gave him to implement a free-trade agreement with the United States. But tribes say he went too far and wrote laws that undermine their control over land and natural resources.

The government initially said revoking the laws would violate the free-trade deal, but Peru’s trade minister later said the U.S. government agreed to support any changes if they helped avoid more conflict.

Simon, a former left-wing activist who was named prime minister last October to help Garcia improve relations with groups representing the poor, has faced calls from opposition leaders to resign since the deadly clashes. (Reporting by Marco Aquino and Terry Wade; Editing by Eric Beech)

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