Peru: march for water rights arrives in Lima

A procession of some 1,000 cross-country marchers entered Lima Feb. 9, holding a massive rally joined by thousands more in Plaza San Martín to oppose the Conga mining project in Cajamarca region, and like projects across Peru’s sierras. Having marched nine days from Cajamarca, the protesters filled the square with cries of “¡Conga no va!” Speakers included Cajamarca protest leaders Wilfredo Saavedra and Marco Arana, who asserted: “This is the voice of the people, and it must be complied with.” They were followed by Cajamarcs’s elected president Gregorio Santos, who warned the government of President Ollanta Humala not to “underestimate” the movement’s power. Participants later attempted to march on the Congress of the Republic, but were barred by a thick cordon of riot police. They were prevented from meeting at the intersection outside the Congress building with a delegation of dissident lawmakers from Humala’s Nationalist Party, led by Natali Condori.

The following days in Lima are to see a Tribunal on Hydraulic Justice convened by the Cajamarca leaders and activists from Arequipa, Puno, Ayacucho, Áncash, Cuzco, Huancavelica and elsewhere throughout Peru’s Andean regions. The activist summit comes as Peru’s rights ombudsman, the Defensoría del Pueblo, released a report noting the emergence of 10 new social conflicts in the country over the past year, the majority pertaining to environmental issues. Puno and Áncash lead the country, with 21 registered social conflicts each, mostly concerning mining. (La Republica, Servindi, Indian Country Today, Feb. 11; Política Sociedad blog, Lima, Feb. 10; Andina, Feb. 9)

See our last posts on Peru and regional struggles for water and minerals.