In a sign of community divisions in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, campesinos from the "influence zone" of the proposed Conga mineral project demonstrated in the regional capital Nov. 1, where they threatened to evict the "Guardians of the Lagunas"—campesinos who oppose the mine, and have established an encampment near the concession bloc to assure that the Yanacocha mining company does not begin work that would impact the zone's highland lakes. "We don't want violence, but they are ursurping our lands and we are reaching an agreement to expel them," said Felipe Palma López, leader of the ronda campesina (peasant self-defense patrol) in the community of Quengorio Alto. Demonstrators accused the Guardians of being "manipulated by politicians."
After the protest, they met with regional authorities to demand that the "canon minero"—the share of mining taxes invested locally—be put into development projects to be administered directly by Yanacocha, accusing the regional government of inefficiency and corruption. "Before, we didn't have a road and it took us two or three days to arrive in Cajamarca with our horses to sell our potatoes," said Gerardo Orrillo Chávez, representative from the comunity of Santa Rosa de Huasmín. "Now, with the road that was built by the mine, we can do it in two and a half hours." (Panoramacajamarquino, Nov. 1; Andina, Oct. 18)
On Oct. 29, a court in the Cajamarca province of Celendín handed down a sentence against the local Chapue-Lozano family, accused of "usurpation of property" in a land dispute with the Yanacocha company. Four members of the family were sentenced to three years in prison, and were ordered to pay damages of 200 soles (approximately $75) to the company. Under the judgement, the family has 30 days to abandon their predio (private collective holding) on the disputed land. The family was in tears as the sentence read, and the mother, Máxima Acuña Atalaya, was taken to Celendín's hospital after suffering a "nervous attack." (Caballero Verde, Oct. 29)
Guardians of the Lagunas encampment at Conga site
The Guardians of the Lagunas encampment at Laguna Mamacocha, just outside the Conga concession area. On-the-scene video footage from vlogger David Verstockt:
Photo: Vilma Rodríguez Chihuán, Celendín Libre