Peru: Puno protests resumed, government prepares dialogue

After a temporary suspension to allow for Peru’s presidential elections to take place in the southern Puno region, local Aymara activists announced June 10 that they will resume their strike civil strike indefinitely, and thousands immediately joined roadblocks on the main highway to Bolivia near the border town of Desaguadero. The protesters are no longer just demanding cancellation of Bear Creek Mining’s concession at the local Santa Ana Mining Camp and repeal of President Alan García’s Supreme Decree 083-2007 of Nov. 29, 2007 which approved the project, but also the dropping of charges against numerous community leaders that have been brought following last month’s unrest in the region. Aymara leader Walter Aduvirii pledged that the protest campaign will radicalize unless demands are met. The national government has agreed to open talks with the protesters, and 58 community leaders have been chosen from the Puno provinces of Chucuito and El Collao to travel to Lima this week to meet with members of the Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The government has agreed to a 14-month suspension of the Santa Ana project while talks proceed. (Mariátegui blog, June 11; RPP, La Republica, AFP, Global Voices, June 10; Los Andes, May 26)

A separate paro (civil strike) has meanwhile been called in the northern lowland Puno provinces of Carabaya and Azángaro, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, to demand cancellation of the planned Inambari hydro-electric project in neighboring Made de Dios region. Protesters blocked the bridge over the Río Ramis through the area, halting traffic, and likewise said the paro would be maintained until their demands are met. The protest, centered around the town of Juliaca, is also demanding government action on the contamination of local water sources by small-scale mining operations in the area. (RPP, Peru21, June 11)

See our last posts on Peru and the mineral cartel in Latin America.

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