Peru: land, water conflicts grow in Cajamarca

Local campesinos reported Oct. 26 that thousands of young trout were found dead in the Río Llaucano, in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, and blame contamination from the ginat Yanacocha gold mine that sits atop the watersahed. The campesinos held a press conference in the town of Bambamarca to announce  thier grave fears for the safety of the region's waters. The Llaucano is a tributary of the Marañon, one of the main rivers that drains into the Amazon. The fish were found washed up near the communities of Santa Rosa in Bambamarca province and La Paccha in Chota province. (Servindi, Oct. 26)

The movement opposed to the Yanacocha mine is currently mobilizing in support of the Chapue-Lozano family of Sorochuco, a campesino community in Celendín province, who will face sentecing this week from the Celendín Penal Court in a case stemming from a land dispute with the mining company.

The family had been working the lands in question since 1994 as a predio (private collective holding) named "Tragadero Grande," and were surpirsed by the arrival of Yanacocha's earth-moving equipment at the site in May of last year. A fracas ensued, in which bulldozers destroyed the choza (hut) the family had established on the land. When the community mobilized in the family's defense, the company retreated, and the campesinos remained in possession of the land. Legal action ensued, in which the family accused the the company of illegal invasion of their lands, and the company filed counter-charges accusing the family of the same thing—claiming to have purchased the lands from the community of Sorochuco in 2001. The family's case was thrown out by the court, while the company won a legal victory. A sentence is expected this week, and family members could face up to four years in prison and fines of up to 4,000 soles (nearly $1,500). (Celendín Libre, Oct. 26)