Peru declares martial law at disputed mine site

The government of Peru on May 23 declared a two-month period of martial law in the southern region of Arequipa where residents are protesting the construction of a copper mine. Martial law allows police to enter homes without search warrants, as well as to break up protests and meetings. Southern Copper Corporation plans to build a copper mine known as Tia Maria for $1.4 billion, which residents strongly feel will contaminate the water and air in the region, and will be detrimental to the local farming economy. Protests have continued for over two months and often turn violent, even after the government approved the company's environmental study last year that claimed the company could operate a clean mine. The government had already sent in over 4,000 police officers and 1,000 soldiers to the area to control the protests, which have resulted in the deaths one police officer and three protesters. José Ramos Carrera, mayor of Punta de Bombon, stated that the martial law declaration "shows is that the government wants the mine to go ahead at all costs."

The Tia Maria project was originally put on hold in 2011 after protests occurring around the area led to three deaths. In order to revive the project, Southern Copper created a new environmental plan hoping to show that a cleaner mine was possible. The project was again suspended on May 15 due to the increasingly violent protests. The stalls have affected the nation's economy, as well as President Ollanta Humala's  approval ratings.

From Jurist, May 24. Used with permission.