Nicaragua gives asylum to Peru protest leader

Nicaragua's leftist government has granted political asylum to Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango, wanted in Lima on charges he fomented protests against Amazon oil exploration that killed 60 people.

Nicaragua's ambassador in Peru, Tomas Borge, told Reuters on Tuesday that Pizango sought asylum in the Nicaraguan Embassy in the Peruvian capital.

Thousands of Indians armed with wooden spears fought Peruvian security forces in two days of battles last week in the worst unrest of President Alan Garcia's government.

"We ask for the understanding of the Peruvian government and a few moments ago I rang to reiterate (to Pizango) that we have given him asylum," Borge said, adding that Nicaragua would ask for his safe passage out of Peru.

Garcia, a fierce critic of Latin American leftist leaders like Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, wants to open up Peru's rainforest to oil and gas production, sparking months of protests by native tribes who have vowed to defend their ancestral lands.

[Source: Reuters, Managua, 09Jun09]

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