Struggle for land and water in the Andes

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March 22, 2012 World Water Day protest march by local campesinos at the site of the proposed Conga gold mine, which would destroy pristine alpine lakes in Peru’s northern Cajamarca region. A year later, the struggle against the Conga project has cost the lives of five campesinos, after National Police opened fire on protesters in July. Newmont Mining of Colorado has declared the project suspended due to the unrest, but the government of President Ollanta Humala is intent on saving it. As related conflicts over mining projects proliferate throughout Peru’s sierras, the government is militarizing rural communities with an ever heavier National Police presence. Campesino leaders say that a new “industrial oligarchy” is coming to dominate Peru’s highlands. And similar conflicts are also growing in neighboring Bolivia and Ecuador, under ostensibly leftist governments.

Photo: Bill Weinberg

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