Peru: protest over mine’s water diversion

On Dec. 19, some 6,000 campesinos and their supporters filled the streets of Chiclayo, capital of Peru’s northern Lambayeque region, demanding the repeal of the National Water Authority‘s resolutions  089-2012 and 090-2012, which authoritize La Zanja mining company to begin dumping waste water in the canyons of La Pampa and El Cedro, inland across the border in Cajamarca region. These canyons empty into the Río Chancay, which flows back into Lambayeque (where it joins with the Río Reque to meet the sea near Chiclayo). The rally concluded at the Lambayeque regional government headquaters, where representatives of different organizations making up the Lambayeque Unitary Struggle Command (CULL) delivered a message to regional president Humberto Acuña Peralta, demanding that he take immediate action to protect the waters of the Río Chancay.

The protest, dubbed the March for Defense of Water and Life, also supported the demands of Kañaris campeisino community for cancellation of mine that the Candente Copper Corporation seeks to develop on village lands. The Kañaris residents say the government’s approval of the mine violates the Law of Prior Consultation.

The march’s most visible leader was Genaro Vera Roalcaba, president of the Chancay-Lambayeque Irrigation District, but the CULL also brings together Lambayeque’s rondas campesinas (peasant self-defense patrols) and urban trade union leaders in Chiclayo. (Celendin Libre, Dec. 22)

La Zanja company is owned by Peru’s largest mining group, Buenaventura, which is also a major investor in Cajamarca’s controversial Conga mine project, which has resulted in months of strikes and protests.