Peru: two dead in miners’ protest

In the early hours of March 15, a clash broke out as troops from the elite Special Operations Directorate (DINOES) of Peru's National Police force evicted a group of informal miners from their encampment at La Bonita, in northern La Libertad region, leaving two miners dead. As the encampmen of some 500, in Retamas district, Pataz province, was set upon by a force of some 200 police agents, hundreds of other miners from the area converged on the scene to defend their comrades. In addition to the two dead, several were hurt on both sides, and two miners detained. The eviction of the camp had apparently been ordered by a local judge.

The clash came a few hours after Peru's national congress voted down a motion to censure Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza over a pattern of violent repression. According to Peru's independent Human Rights Coordinator (CNDH), 26 people have lost their lives in protests or social conflicts since President Ollanta Humala began his term in 2011. Peru's official rights ombudman, the Defensoria del Pueblo, currently registers 220 social conflicts in the Andean nation, mostly related to mineral exploitation and control of water.  (Peruvian Times, March 16; El Comercio, Prensa Latina, March 16)