Peru: three dead in Cajamarca anti-mining protests

Three people were killed—including a youth of 17 years—when security forces fired on protesters July 3 in the town of CelendĂ­n, in Peru’s northern region of Cajamarca. As hundreds of protesters marched through town, a group attacked the provincial government building, breaking windows.* A mixed force of some 500 soldiers and National Police troops attacked the group with tear-gas, and then opened fire. In addition to the three dead, some 20 were wounded. Authorities said five soldiers and two police were injured in the clash. Protest organizers, who oppose the planned Conga gold mine project, speculated that the attack on the government building was the work of agents provocateurs. Peru’s Justice Minister Juan JimĂ©nez announced that a state of emergency has been declared in the provinces of CelendĂ­n, Hualgayoc and Cajamarca, suspending basic civil rights. In an unusual move, the 16 detained were taken out of Cajamarca, to Chiclayo in Lambayeque region. (CelendĂ­n Libre, La Republica, RPP, Peru21,, TeleSUR, Sociedad PolĂ­tica blog, La Mula via, July 3)

Cajamarca’s regional president Gregorio Santos placed the blame for the deaths squarely on President Ollanta Humala. “Those principally responsible are President Humala and his cabinet… Their hands are stained with blood.” He said the deaths are “the cost for [Humala] not complying” with the promises made on the campaign trail last year—referring to his pledge to halt the Conga project. Santos added that US-based Newmont Mining, which hopes to develop the Conga mine, “should be expelled form the country.” Days earlier, protest leader Marco Arana had warned, “If they impose Conga, there will be a bloodbath.” (, Trome, Sociedad PolĂ­tica, July 3; Correo,, june 26)

* The municipal government of CelendĂ­n is one of the few in the region that support the Conga project.

See our last posts on Cajamarca and regional struggles over water and minerals.

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  1. What happened in CelendĂ­n?
    A report in La Republica citing local health authorities indicates that at least some of the casualties in CelendĂ­n have bullet wounds, and that the injured government troops were hit with some kind of improvised explosive (probably a Molotov cocktail). But Interior Minister Wilver Calle GirĂłn is also quoted saying that only “non-lethal” arms were used by government troops in CelendĂ­n—presumably meaning rubber bullets.