Peru: new anti-mining struggle in Cajamarca

National Police troops attacked hundreds of campesinos in the Valle de Condebamba of Peru’s northern Cajamarca region in a March 11 protest against the mineral operations of Canadian-owned Sulliden Gold Corporation. Cajamarca’s regional government issued a statement saying the march was peaceful and had been attacked arbitrarily, leaving eight campesinos injured, including a pregnant woman. The protest, in Cachachi district, was organized by the rondas (self-defense patrols) of Cajabamba province.

Regional president Gregorio Santos Guerrero accused the central government and especially Interior Ministry of using the National Police to punish communities that reject mineral operations on their lands. “Every project that attacks the life and the health of the people, attacks the natural resources, is unviable,” Santos said.

paro (civil strike) against the mineral project is now underway in the Valle de Condebamba, with two key bridges blocked. Sulliden Gold Corporation recently acquired new lands adjacent to its current mine at Shahuindo by buying out the neighboring concession of Peruvian-owned Vikingo. It is now seeking approval to expand operations at the site, which straddles the border of Cajabamba and Cajamarca provinces. (See map.) (Andina, March 13; Cajamarca Regional Government press release via CelendĂ­n Libre, March 11)

This marks a second stand-off over mineral development in Cajamarca region, following the long struggle over Newmont Mining’s Conga project.

 

  1. Peru: rights worker detained in Cajamarca
    On March 27, human rights worker Mirtha Vásquez ChuquilĂ­n, of the citizens’ group GRUFIDES, was detained by a police patrol near her home in the northern Peruvian city of Cajamarca. Vásquez was on her way to make inquiries in various cases at the Cajamarca provincial office of the FĂ­scalia, Peru’s attorney general, when she was arrested on the pretext that her vehicle had been implicated in an assault and robbery case in Lima seven years ago. Afrter six hours in detention, she was released due to the intervention of Peru’s human rights office, the DefensorĂ­a del Pueblo, which found that there was no warrant for her arrest and that the police had no authority to act without an order from a judge in Lima, where the crime was committed. GRUFIDES issued a statement protesting the detention as an act of “harassment.” (GRUFIDES, March 27)