Peru Repeals Farm Law After Days Of Road Blockades

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Peru's Congress on Friday repealed a farming law that had triggered days of roadblocks and other protests by striking workers.

The protesters erupted with joy and immediately began lifting the blockades that had choked many stretches of the north-south Pan-American Highway.

"We did it!" protesters chanted at one blockade site in Ica, around 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Lima. There, an estimated 2,000 trucks and buses had been stuck for days.

Farmers in Peru demonstrate at the Pan-American Highway in demand of labor reforms, better wages and other benefits on December 4, 2020 Farmers in Peru demonstrate at the Pan-American Highway in demand of labor reforms, better wages and other benefits on December 4, 2020  AFP / ERNESTO BENAVIDES

The strikers were demanding wage increases and the repeal of a decades-old law, recently extended until 2031, that sought to boost farm exports and gave exporters tax breaks. The strikers also said it set their wages unfairly low.

President Francisco Sagasti sent a bill to congress Friday to repeal the law in the face of the five days of protests, and it passed by a vote of 114 in favor, two against and seven abstentions.

On Thursday, police opened fire on one group of protesting farm workers, killing one, in the first labor dispute confronting Sagasti.

Sagasti took power just two weeks ago amid an acute political crisis during which Peru had three presidents in just one week.

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