Peru's Leader Shakes up his Cabinet Amid Protests


LIMA, Peru (AP) - President Alan Garcia shuffled his Cabinet on
Saturday following months of protests, replacing seven of 16
ministers and naming a new chief - the third person to hold the
post in nine months.

Javier Velasquez, a lawyer who has served as a congressman for
14 years for Garcia's APRA party, was sworn in as Cabinet secretary
to replace Yehude Simon, who resigned Wednesday.

Simon had drawn strong criticism for the government's handling
of months of protests by Indians over moves to open the Amazon to
oil and other development. A police crackdown on a protest
roadblock triggered violence that killed at least 33 people on June

Simon's predecessor, Jorge del Castillo, quit in October, along
with all other Cabinet members, after tapes surfaced that allegedly
revealed members of his party discussing bribes to steer business
to the Norwegian oil company Discover Petroleum.

"I hope that this Cabinet will be the last team to complete the
difficult work" of the government, said Garcia, who has seen the
Indian unrest spread to other disenchanted groups in the strongest
protests against his policies since he assumed the presidency in
July 2006.

Recent polls have shown less than one-fourth of Peruvians in
favor of Garcia's handling of his office.

The president named new ministers of defense, interior, justice,
agriculture, labor, foreign trade and tourism, and production. He
retained the home secretary and the ministers of the economy,
foreign relations, education, women, health, energy and mines,
transportation, and environment.

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