Peru to Build Military Airport and Seven Bases to Fight Drug Trafficking
By Dialogo February 15, 2013
Peru will build seven military bases, including at least one airport, in the main coca valleys in the country as part of its strategy to reinforce the fight against drug trafficking and the armed organization Shining Path, executive president of the governmental National Commission for the Development and Life without Drugs, Carmen Masías, said on February 13.
“There will be seven new bases and a military airport,” Masías told the Foreign Press Association in Peru during a meeting where she talked about the government’s national strategy to counter drug trafficking. “The military airport will be small, and it will have landing strips,” the official added.
The nongovernmental organization Drugs and Human Rights Research Center, expressed that the “eventual construction of Pichari airport, with U.S. support and assessment, constitutes a regular pattern of U.S. aid in Latin America.”
Masías stated that the bases would extend about two or three hectares, and she denied that 470 hectares would be taken from away native communities in order to build the airport.
“It’s a bluff to say that 470 hectares will be taken away from farmers. That is not credible,” said the Peruvian counter drug head about the claims presented by Pichari’s local authorities and a NGO.
For security reasons, Masías did not specify exactly where the airport would be built, or if it would operate helicopters and light aircrafts.
According to Pichari’s authorities, the airport would be located in that area, in the valley of La Convención, Cusco region, and it would “strengthen the militarization of the fight against drug trafficking” in Peru.
Pichari is one of the largest coca areas in Peru, where 13,090 coca hectares were grown in 2012.