Cajamarca: police attack campesino community

Some dozen National Police troops on July 9 attacked the community of El Lirio in Celendín province of Peru's Cajamarca region—the scene of ongoing protests over the pending Conga gold-mining project. The attack came after El Lirio's comuneros blocked vehicles from the Yanacocha mining company that attempted to enter their lands. Police troops used tear-gas to break up the blockades, and Milton Sánchez, leader of the Celendín Interinstitutional Platform, said the community's children were among those affected. One woman was seriously hurt in the attack, he said. The vehicles were reportedly attempting to bring "gifts" to the local communities, but were backed up by an escort of police troops. (Servindi, July 9)

Peru: prison for regional leader who opposed mine

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for "preventative" imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru's Public Ministry for "illicit association" and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos' support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Peru: OAS rights body rules in Conga case

Peru's Ministry of Justice said in a statement May 8 that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body of the Organization of American States (OAS), has rejected a request from activists to recommend revoking the license for the controversial Conga open-pit gold mine in Cajamarca region. But the ministry's statement was immediately refuted by Zulma Villa Vílchez, attorney for the activists. Villa Vílchez asserted that the IACHR had not ruled on the Conga license, but had only issued a determination on another matter related to the conflict around the project—ordering Peru's government to provide protection for local residents, including the Chaupe family, which is in a land conflict with the mining company and facing threats. Said Villa Vílchez: "This injunction must not be confused with the petition we have made before the IACHR to stop the Conga project; they are two different things. On the latter, there has still not been a pronouncement." The case was brought by the Central Única Nacional de Rondas Campesinas (CUNARC), a body representing Peru's peasant self-defense patrols, which have emerged as the backbone of resistance movements to mineral development projects. (La Republica, May 9; Reuters, Caballero Verde, Cajamarca, May 8)

Peru: Cajamarca repression sparks protests

Spontaneous protests broke out in the town of Celendín, in the highlands of Peru's Cajamarca region, after the April 8 arrest at a National Police road checkpoint of six members of the "Guardians of the Lagunas," the campesino vigilance committee that has established an encampement to protect lakes threatened by the Conga gold mine project. The six, stopped on their way to the encampement, were charged with "crimes against the public peace" and illegal bearing of arms. They were removed from the region to the coastal city of Chiclayo, where they continue to be held. Among the detained is Fredy García Becerra, mayoral candidate for the local municipal district of Huasmín with the Frente Amplio party. (Celendin Libre, April 11; La Republica, April 10; Celendin Libre, April 9; Celendin Libre, April 8)

Peru to loosen oversight on energy projects

Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Eleodoro Mayorga said March 25 that the government is working on a package of reforms to speed up permitting for investments, including exempting some oil exploration projects from environmental impact studies. Mayorga, a former World Bank petroleum economist who became President Ollanta Humala's third energy minister in a cabinet reshuffle last month, said: "An environmental impact study makes sense when there's a serious impact and we're working in a delicate region. But there's no need to do an environmental impact study for everything. That's the problem. At this time there is the need to review this through a new regulation." He added: "Very few countries demand environmental impact studies for seismic activities." (Reuters, El Comercio, March 26)

Peru: new repression at Conga mine site

Leaders of the peasant protest encampment at the planned Conga mine project in Cajamarca, Peru, report a new attack by the National Police detachment assigned to protect the site. Protest leader Marco Arana said that as a procession of protesters marched to the threatened Laguna Cocodrilo on March 18, police agents and security personnel of the Yanacocha mining company closely followed it, taunting the marchers with insults and provoking a fracas. Police reportedly used tear-gas and fired shotguns, and detained several protesters. Protest leaders issued an appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for action in the case. (La Republica, March 19; CNDH, March 18)

Peru: mine engineer held by indigenous protesters

An engineer for the Águila Dorada mining company was on Feb. 11 detained by members of an Awajún indigenous community near the company's concession area in Peru's northern Cajamarca region. The engineer, Jaime Núñez Fernández, is being held on the orders of local apus (traditional leaders) of the Awajún community of Supayacu, San José district, San Ignacio province, on the edge of the Amazon basin. The community says it rejects mineral exploration within its traditional territories, and is demanding a meeting with representatives of the Council of Ministers, Peru's cabinet. San Ignacio municipal authorities are attempting to mediate. (RPP, Feb. 12; Correo, Feb. 11)

Peru: US court action over Cajamarca repression

EarthRights International (ERI) on Jan. 24 filed an action in federal court in Denver on behalf of a protestor left paralyzed by police violence at the site of Colorado-based Newmont Mining's Conga mine project in Peru. ERI is seeking documents and information from Newmont to assist in pending legal proceedings in Peru related to the police repression of protestors against the Conga project. Elmer Eduardo Campos Álvarez, a 32-year-old resident of the Cajamarca department, where the Conga project is planned, lost a kidney and his spleen and was paralyzed from the waist down on Nov. 29, 2011, when National Police officers shot him in the back while he was peacefully protesting. Campos was among at least 24 protestors injured by police that day. The Yanacocha mining company, Newmont's local subsidiary, contracted with the National Police of Peru to provide security services at the planned mine site. Officers involved in the repression of November 2011 have told local prosecutors that they were providing security to the company. The proposed Conga mine has generated strong community opposition; the project would mean the destruction of lakes held sacred by local people, who also depend on them as a water source.

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