Peru: mineral company evicts campesino family

Peru's Yanacocha mining company is implicated in another forced eviction of a campesino family in the northern Cajamarca region. Campesino Segundo Lindorfo Bolaños Atalaya said that on Jan. 19, a mixed force of National Police and Yanacocha security personnel ejected him from his plot within a predio (collective land holding) at Tragadero Grande, Sorochuco district, Celendín province. Bolaños insisted that, contrary to company claims, his plot of six hectares had never been sold to Yanacocha. The plot lies near Laguna Azul, which Yanacocha hopes to convert into a waste pit for the pending Conga project, a new expansion of its massive gold operations in the area. Bolaños charged that Yanacocha's exploration activities on the Conga site had contaminated his plot, which he has long worked with his family. (Celendín Libre, Jan. 23) 

Peru: no sterilization abuse charges for Fujimori

A state prosecutor on Jan. 24 cleared Peru's imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori of charges that he was responsible for the forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous peasant women in the 1990s. Marco Guzmán Baca of Lima's Second Subprovinicial Penal Prosecutor also announced that no charges will be brought against former health ministers Alejandro Aguinaga, Marino Costa Bauer and Eduardo Yong Motta. Speaking to Comercio newspaper, he said his investigation failed to find a "hierarchical and rigidly vertical power structure" in the Health Ministry such as exists in the military. He also said that while the "physical integrity" of women had sometimes been improperly threatened, in no cases were sterilizations actually forced. The only charges will be brought against six doctors implicated in the death of a woman who was sterilized in Cajamarca. (Peru This Week, Jan. 25; Comercio, La Republica,, Jan. 24)

Peru: new confrontation at Conga mine site

In a new mobilization on the contested Conga mine site in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, hundreds of local campesinos on Jan. 16 again marched to the shores of the alpine lakes that would be destroyed by the project. National daily La Republica, citing unnamed sources, said the marchers pushed past security guards, and caused "disturbances" and "material damage" to equipment of the Yanacocha mining company. One protester was reported arrested by National Police troops. However, Cajamarca-baed popular organization Tierra y Libertad in a statement on Facebook said only that some 2,000 ronderos (members of the peasant self-defense patrols) from the local provinces of Bambamarca and Celendín marched on the site, taking a six-hour roundabout way through mountain paths to avoid the roadblocks "illegally maintained" by National Police and Yanacocha security.

Cajamarca: Conga occupation not moved

Campesinos from some 40 pueblos across Celendín province, in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, held a meeting at Huasmín village Oct. 23 to announce a cross-country march that would arrive in mid-November at the planned site of the Conga gold mine, where marchers would join the encampment that has been established there. Campesinos have occupied the site for months to protect alpine lakes slated be destroyed to make way for open-pit operations. By Nov. 24, which will mark the two-year anniversary of the start of the protest action, the ​Celendín campesinos hope to have a "Casa Rondera" built on private land adjacent to the Conga site which has been volunteered for the cause by local residents. The casa will be a communal residence for the protesters, who are organized in rondas, peasant self-defense patrols. (Servindi, Oct. 25; Celendin Libre, Oct. 23)

Peru: Conga protest camp fired on

On Sept. 20, a group of workers and security guards from the Yanacocha mining company attacked the protest encampment established by local  campesinos at the Conga site, where the company seeks to expand operations of Peru's biggest open-pit gold mine. The tents and bivouacs were torn down and burned, and the protesters evicted from the site. Three days later, protesters returned to re-establish the encampment—some 500 strong, and headed by the movement's most visible leaders, Jorge Rimarachín, Gregorio Santos and Marco Arana. But that night, a group of some 10 men, hidden by darkness on the hills overlooking the new camp, fired shots at the protesters. A detachment of DINOES, the special anti-riot force of the National Police, looked on and did not interfere.

Peru: police fire on Cajamarca campesinos —again

National Police troops in Peru's northern Cajamarca province on Sept. 17 clashed with residents of Quishuar Corral hamlet who were conducting reconassiance of mountain trails on their communal lands, which they suspected the Yanacocha mining company of illegally closing to facilitate expansion of its operations. Four of the villagers were injured, and two hospitalized. Witnesses said the police troops opened fire without warning with rubber bullets and tear-gas cannisters. (RPP, Sept. 17)

Day of mining protests throughout Andean nations

July 22 was declared a Global Day of Action Against Mega-Mining, with protests held throughout the Andean nations under the banner "No to mining, yes to life." Among the most significant actions was a mobilization by local campesinos on the site of the Conga gold mining project in Peru's Cajamarca region, which was occupied by protesters carrying their giant green-woven Mother Earth flag. In Argentina, protests were reported from the mining-impacted regions of Chubut, Catamarca and Mendoza, with a solidarity march in Buenos Aires. (La Republica, Lima, Terra, Argentina, July 22) In the far south of Chile, the local Austral Defense Front marched in Punta Arenas to protest open-pit coal mining on nearby Riesco Island. (Radio Popular, Punta Arenas, July 22) In Maipú, on the outskirts of Santiago, residents marched to demand closure of the open-pit mine at Quebrada de la Plata they say is contaminating local drinking water. (Diario UChile, July 24)

Peru: police fire on Cajamarca protesters —again

National Police troops in Peru's Cajamarca region opened fire July 6 on campesinos attempting to attend the public presentation of an environmental impact statement on the Chadín II hydro-electric project at the highland town of Celendín, witnesses said. According to a statement from the group Tierra y Libertad, nine were wounded when the troops fired on the opponents of the project who were trying to gain access to the public building where the meeting was being held. Marle Libaque Tasilla, a leader of the local ronda, or peasant self-defense patrol, and an organizer for Tierra y Libertad, said that among the injured is the noted Peruvian environmentalist Nicanor Alvarado Carrasco.

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