LIMA, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Dozens of buses and trucks on the
largest highway in southern Peru were stranded on Wednesday as
farm workers launched a third day of protests, forcing lawmakers
to promise fresh debate over a long-standing but controversial
The protesters, whose demands include higher wages, have
since Monday blocked the Panamericana Sur highway 300 km (190
miles) south of Lima, leaving trucks carrying fresh fruits and
vegetables at a standstill.
Peru's ministers of agriculture and labor met with leaders
of the farm workers movement on Wednesday but have yet to reach
agreement to halt the demonstrations.
"It is important to prioritize dialog so that we do not
generate consequences that we could later regret," said Interior
Minister Rubén Vargas. He called on protesters to clear the
Lawmakers on Wednesday said they would debate changing, or
even scrapping all together, the agriculture promotion law
contested by the farm workers.
The legislation is widely seen as having helped spur
investment and the sector's development. But workers say the
gains have come at their expense, leaving them with too-low
wages and paltry benefits.
Agro-exports have become the second largest generator of
foreign exchange in Peru in recent years, after mining,
according to the Association of Agricultural Producers Guilds of
Peru, a tropical country in the southern hemisphere, is the
world's leading exporter of blueberries, but also ships fresh
grapes and avocados to China, the United States and Europe.
The sector went largely unscathed during the coronavirus
outbreak, largely because it was exempted from restrictions that
hobbled mining and fishing, among other industries.
(Reporting by Maria Cervantes, writing by Dave Sherwood
Editing by Marguerita Choy)