Peru's Congress last month, at the behest of President Pedro Castillo's government, voted to approve the entry of US military troops for participation in several weeks of anti-drug and anti-terrorism operations. But the Aug. 4 vote was protested by voices within Castillo's own Partido Perú Libre (PPL), with legislator Kelly Portalatino calling it a "sign of submission." (Prensa Latina) A previous such US troop mission in 2015 saw operations in the Valley of the Apurímac and Ene Rivers (VRAE), a key coca cultivation zone. Campesinos of the VRAE Federation of Agrarian Producers (FEPAVRAE) have just announced a region-wide indefinite paro (civil strike) to begin Oct. 5 in protest of ongoing government coca-eradication campaigns. (Sputnik)
A Venezuelan indigenous leader who fought against incursions by Colombian armed groups and outlaw gold miners into the country's southern rainforest was shot dead on June 30 in the Escondido 3 sector of Puerto Ayacucho municipality, capital of Amazonas state. Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a member of the Uwottujja indigenous people, was the leading force in the creation of the Sipapo Territorial Guards in Autana municipality, Amazonas. The Territorial Guard patrols were launched with support from the Amazonas Indigenous Peoples' Regional Organization (ORPIA).
Russian mercenaries are accused of carrying out a series of deadly attacks on artisanal miners in the lawless border zone between Sudan and the Central African Republic, in an apparent effort to establish dominance over outlaw gold mining operations with allied paramilitary factions. Dozens of local miners are said to have been killed in at least three major attacks on their encampments this year, allegedly involving mercenaries working for the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group.
Ecuador's national indigenous alliance CONAIE announced an "indefinite" paro (general strike) June 13, in response to a sudden jump in petrol prices. Things escalated the following day, when prominent CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza was arrested at Pastocalle, Cotopaxi province, where he was apparently participating in a blockade of the Panamerican highway. He was held at a military base at Latacunga, but released the next day following angry protests over his detention and a CONAIE call for "radicalization" of the campaign. Roadblocks are reported in at least 14 of the country's 24 provinces, including Pichincha, where the capital Quito is located. CONAIE has presented the government of President Guillermo Lasso with a list of 10 demands. These include, in addition to a drop in fuel prices, a moratorium on new oil and mineral leases, and reparations to communities impacted by extractive projects. (Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, EFE, El Comercio, Quito; El Universo, Guayaquil)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on June 2 released its 2021 Annual Report, revealing that Colombia only partially adopted necessary measures to prevent human rights violations both by its security forces and unofficial paramilitary groups. The report called on Colombia to: "Adopt the appropriate measures for the members of the security forces who are allegedly involved in cases of violations of human rights or IHL [international humanitarian law] to be suspended from active duty until a final decision is issued in the disciplinary or criminal proceedings in such cases." Noting "the reorganization and persistence of illegal armed groups on its territory," the report also called on Colombia to "dismantle the armed groups that emerged after the demobilization of the paramilitary organizations or that continue to pursue the same objectives." (Jurist, June 5)
Two indigenous leaders in Ecuador who successfully fought against mining on their ancestral lands were awarded the prestigious Goldman Prize for environmental activism on May 25. Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez of the Cofán indigenous people organized patrols, and used drones and camera traps to document gold mining operations within their traditional territories. Their evidence was crucial in securing a legal victory that resulted in 324 square kilometers (125 square miles) of rainforest being protected from mining.
At least two were killed May 24 as security forces clashed with protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso's western Houndé commune, Tuy province. The protesters were demanding the release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of Houndé Gold Operation, a subsidiary of the UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. (AfricaNews, AFP) Rescue workers meanwhile recovered the bodies of four miners who had gone missing after floodwaters submerged a zinc mine operated by Canada's Trevali Mining at Perkoa, in nearby Sanguié province. (CNN, BBC News Gahuza)
At least 35 people were killed May 10 when armed men raided an artisanal gold mining camp in Ituri province, in the conflicted northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local authorities at the rural commune of Mungwalu in Ituri's Djugu territory blamed the attack on the CODECO rebel militia. A four-month-old baby was among the dead. The militiamen also looted and torched homes at Camp Blanquette, and seized quantities of extracted gold. (AfricaNews) Informal mines in the eastern DRC provide much of the country's output of gold, cobalt and other minerals used in the global electronics industry.