Peru: peasant leader killed in Cajamarca

A campesino leader in Peru’s Cajamarca region, the scene of ongoing protests over mining operations, was assassinated June 26. Carlos Vásquez Becerra, vice president of the Provincial Federation of Rondas Campesinas (peasant self-defense patrols) was found beaten to death in Chiramayo Canyon in his native Santa Cruz province. The day before, he had led a meeting of comuneros in nearby Ninabamba district to plan protests against the operations of La Zanja mining company.  The National Unitary Center of Rondas Campesinas of Peru (CUNARC) is demanding an investigation. (Caballero Verde, La Nueva Prensa, Cajamarca, RPP, June 26) One campeisno was killed in protests over La Zanja’s local operations in 2004.

Struggle against mine-waste incinerator
In La Libertad region, bordering Cajamarca, the Central Committee for the Defense and Development of the Jequetepeque Watershed issued a statement rejecting as “fraudulent” an inspection carried out by congressional deputy José León of a mine-waste incinerator under construction at Pampa Chilco, San Pedro de Lloc district, and protesting his position in approval of the project. The installation, being built by the Peruvian subsidiary of Spanish firm Befesa, would burn toxic waste from the operations of Yanacocha mining company in Cajamarca and Barrick Gold in La Libertad. The Jequetepeque is the principal river that drains the Cajamarca highlands to the Pacific, and its valley supports much peasant agriculture. (CCCJ statement via Caballero Verde, June 25; El Comercio, Feb. 3, 2012)

New agro-mining alliance announced
An alliance of the agricultural and mining sectors will boost the development of southern Peru through a new fund announced by the Agriculture Ministry (MINAG) June 23. Minister Milton Von Hesse said the Candarave Development Plan will first target Tacna region, with the Southern Peru Copper Corporation offering a fund of some $16 million for local farmers. At the ceremony in Candarave town, Von Hesse also signed a cooperation agreement among Southern Peru Copper, MINAG, the National Water Authority (ANA), local governments and Candarave’s Board of Irrigation Users for conducting hydro-geological studies of the Locumba river basin. (Andina, June 23)

Crackdown on informal mining
Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said he would work with judicial authorities to have a special team of judges and prosecutors sent from Lima to Madre de Dios to crackdown on official corruption that he said is allowing illegal mining to continue in the rainforest region. He estimated that there are some 100,000 involved in illegal mining nationwide, with 77,000 in a process of “formalizing” their operations with the government. He pledged to step up “interdiction actions” against outlaw miners. (InfoRegión, June 26)

  1. Mining protests spread in Cajamarca
    The communities of San Antonio de Ojos and Pampa, Llapa district, San Miguel province, issued a formal protest over the contamination of the Río Yanahuamga with wastes from the operations of the Ares (formerly Sipan) mining company. The communities are demanding indemnification for the damage to their waters, and threatening to launch a paro indefinido (open-ended civil strike) unless their demands are met. (Caballero Verde, June 28)