Peru: mine engineer held by indigenous protesters

An engineer for the Águila Dorada mining company was on Feb. 11 detained by members of an Awajún indigenous community near the company's concession area in Peru's northern Cajamarca region. The engineer, Jaime Núñez Fernández, is being held on the orders of local apus (traditional leaders) of the Awajún community of Supayacu, San José district, San Ignacio province, on the edge of the Amazon basin. The community says it rejects mineral exploration within its traditional territories, and is demanding a meeting with representatives of the Council of Ministers, Peru's cabinet. San Ignacio municipal authorities are attempting to mediate. (RPP, Feb. 12; Correo, Feb. 11)

'Provocation' at Conga site
Campesino communities near Cajamarca's contested Conga mineral project, straddling Hualgayoc and Bambamarca provinces high in the Andes, reported last week that the Yanacocha mining company has begun blasting rock at the site, in an area they say feeds the nearby laguna of Mamacocha. The excavation has been underway since Feb. 3, and local communities that could be impacted were not consulted, according to a statement (PDF) from the Lima-based International Institute for Law and Society (IIDS). The IIDS called the move a "provocation" that cut off any opening for dialogue. (Servindi, Feb. 4)

Mayor arrested on corruption charges
The mayor of Chota province, Jeiner Ubaldo Julón Díaz, was on Feb. 12 sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges that he diverted public funds during his three terms as mayor of Tacabamba, a district within Chota. The Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime charged that Julón embezzled more than $500,000 between 2003 and 2008, investing the money in vehicles and real estate around both Cajamarca and Chiclayo regions. (TuTeve, Feb. 12)

Formal charges in the case included money-laundering, which could further fuel speculation that Cajamarca has become an important narco-corridor between the Andes and Amazon—despite that fact that there is no indication of any drug connection.