Peru: unrest mounts in Cajamarca

A mass mobilization was held in Peru's northern city of Cajamarca Nov. 4 to protest the police slaying of local mechanic Fidel Flores in an eviction five days earlier. National Police troops used tear-gas to break up the protest amid street clashes in which a local police post was besieged and two police motorcycles were doused with petrol and burned. Students occupied the National University of Cajamarca as part of the protest mobilization, and the city's intermediary school San Ramón was also shut down by students who walked out of class to join the campaign. Protest organizers resolved not to permit any visible presence at the demonstrations by Cajamarca's ruling left-populist Social Affirmation Movement (MAS), saying that the death of Fidel Flores should not be exploited by political parties.

The Fiscalía, Peru's general prosecutor, has opened an investigation into the slaying. Ten officers have been suspended pending an investigation, and the commander of the unit involved in the incident has been called to Lima to meet with Interior Ministry brass. (El Popular, La Republica, Nov. 5; RPP, RPPPeru21, Nov. 4; RPP, Nov. 3; RPP, Nov. 2)

Cajamarca city has also seen ongoing protests over the arrest of six ronderos, members of a neighborhood self-defense patrol, in an incident Oct. 21 in which they attempted to shut down a "clandestine" discotheque. The ronderos are being charged with disturbing the peace and resisting authority. President of the Cajamarca Decentralized Committee of Urban Rondas, Fernando Chuquilín, said the men were acting within the law, and that protests will continue until they are released. (RPP, Oct. 23; El Comercio, Oct. 21)

On Oct. 30 National Police clashed with ronderos in the rural town Chota, after the ronderos attempted to occupy the municipal building and arrest Mayor Jeiner Julón Díaz, who they accuse of pocketing public funds and other corruption. The region-wide Cajamarca Defense Front and Cajamarca Federation of Rondas are backing protests to press local demands that Julón Díaz open the municipality's books to provide clarity on the accusations. (El Comersio, Oct. 30)

The ongoing dispute over the Conga mega-mining project has made Cajamarca a focus of campesino and ecological opposition movements in Peru. Oct. 24 saw a People's Summit on Climate Change, hosted in the rural hamlet of El Lirio, Celendín municipality, near the contested mining site. Local Cajamarca social leaders such as Marco Arana and Milton Sánchez were joined by national campesino leaders such as Hugo Blanco in pledging to build a mobilization for the UN's COP 20 climate summit to be held in Lima next month. (Celendin Libre, Oct. 26) The People's Summit builds on an International Meeting of Guardians of Water and Mother Earth held in Cajamarca in August.

The People's Summit came just as Peru's Mines & Energy Ministry approved a concession to the firm AC Energía to move ahead with the Chadín II hydro-electric complex, which would dam the Río Marañón near its headwaters to provide power for the Conga project and other mineral exploitation in Cajamarca.  (Andina via Celendin Libre, Oct. 28)