Peru: prison for regional leader who opposed mine

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for "preventative" imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru's Public Ministry for "illicit association" and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos' support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Other regional presidents in Peru's mineral-rich mountain spine also face corruption probes. Last month, César Álvarez, regional president of Áncash, was ordered under preventative detention while he is investigated on charges including criminal association and homicide. In contrast to Santos in Cajamarca, Álvarez has been a vigorous proponent of corporate mineral interests in Áncash. (RPP, May 17)

  1. Jurassic Park amid Peruvian poverty

    An utterly infuriating story on Global Voices June 25 reports from the Peruvian village of Yura, in the desert of Arequipa province, where developers have built an "eco-park" dubbed Ccoritos II, filled not with actual nature but life-size fiberglass dinosaurs. Local residents are protesting the squandering of public funds on the theme park, saying they could be better spent tackling the town’s high death rates from diarrhoea and kidney-related illnesses. "It's not that the park doesn't serve for anything, but it would been better as a hospital," a member of the local resident association told La República. In addition to no hospital, the town has no running water. Locals deride the dino project as a boondoggle and facetiously call it "Yurasic Park." Arequipa's provinical mayor Alfredo Zegarra is under investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors for mis-appropriaiton of funds, possibly related to the "eco-park." But he needn't feel lonely. A full three-quarters of Peru's 26 regional presidents are currently being investigated by the authorities.

    Yura's town fathers seem to be cashing in on the good luck of Querulpa, another village in Arequipa, which built a similar park after dinosaur footprints were discovered there, El Comercio noted in December 2012. The account actually refers to "Querulpa Jurassic Park," which potentially opens up copyright questions. But while the Querulpa park actually boasts real dino prints as well as fiberglass 'saurs, the Yura project can't even claim that.

    There have been similar controversies over archaeological developments in Peru…

  2. Peru: mass mobilizations for persecuted regional leader

    Thousands of supporters of Cajamarca's imprisoned regional presdient Gregorio "Goyo" Santos marched in the region's capital and in Peru's northern coastal city of Trujillo on June 26, calling the charges against him fabricated and politically motivated. The marches were organized by Santos' new political alliance, the Social Affirmation Movement (MAS). (AFGJ, June 30; La Republica, June 26)