Peru protesters clash with police
Skirmishes erupt during national strike over economic policies and rising prices.
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2008 07:33 GMT
Thousands took to the streets to protest against rising living costs [AFP]

Protesters angry over economic policies pursued by Alan Garica, the Peruvian president, have clashed with police during a 24-hour countrywide strike.

Tens of thousands of union workers took to the streets across the country on Wednesday.

Luis Alva Castro, the interior minister, said: "At least 200 people were detained nationally for trying to conduct illegal acts."

Nine police officers were injured in the village of Puerto Maldonado in the remote Madre de Dios state in the southeast, local media reports said.

Jorge del Castillo, a cabinet member, told reporters that a government office was also set fire to in Puerto Maldonado.

The protesters have been angered by rising fuel and food prices which they blame on Garcia's free market policies.

Pot banging

About 6,000 people marched on Lima, the capital, and held a pot banging session in a central plaza.

Transport workers did not strike but demonstrators tried to block roads in many areas.

The army was deployed to protect airports and water and power plants.

The strike was organised by the General Confederation of Workers. The union called the strike "successful on the national level".

Higher wages

The government said the strike failed to meet the union's expectations, but Garcia acknowledged that there is "dissatisfaction in a large section of the Peruvian society".

"I salute those who protested peacefully and those who worked taking their protest in their minds," he said.

Mario Huaman, the secretary-general of the General Confederation of Workers, said that the "incessant rise of the cost of living" and the country's "neo-liberal economic policy that hurts the interests of the impoverished" meant that the government had to increase wages.

Peru's economy has achieved impressive growth since Garcia became president in 2006, reaching 9 per cent in 2007.

However, the Andes mountain and jungle regions of the country feel neglected by this growth which they feel has primarily benefitted Lima and coastal areas.

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