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.
The camp, maintained under the name of Guardians of the Lagunas, remains for the moment. The Guardians empahsize that the encampment is not on Yanacocha company land, but an adjacent parcel belonging to a local campesino of El Tambo pueblo. (Celendin Libre, Celendin Libre, Sept. 24)
On Sept. 12, Milton Sánchez, another leading opponent of the Conga project, spoke before representatives of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, at an event organized France Libertés, a French group dedicated to defending the right water. Sánchez spoke about rights violations related to the Conga project and the associated Chadin 2 hydro-electric project. Peru’s representative to the Human Rights Council was on hand to defend the government’s position. (Celendin Libre, Sept. 17; Celendin Libre, Sept. 12)
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Yanacocha denies involvement in protest camp eviction
In a Sept. 25 press release, received by e-mail, the Yanacocha mining company said: “Yanacocha did not take part in the eviction of the so-called ‘Lake Guardians’. It has been said that company contractors disguised as local townspeople carried out the eviction. It’s not true: Yanacocha has not been involved in said event. According to police statements, members of neighboring communities took part in the eviction because they reject the presence of people from other places who do not live in the area…”