Day of mining protests throughout Andean nations
July 22 was declared a Global Day of Action Against Mega-Mining, with protests held throughout the Andean nations under the banner "No to mining, yes to life." Among the most significant actions was a mobilization by local campesinos on the site of the Conga gold mining project in Peru's Cajamarca region, which was occupied by protesters carrying their giant green-woven Mother Earth flag. In Argentina, protests were reported from the mining-impacted regions of Chubut, Catamarca and Mendoza, with a solidarity march in Buenos Aires. (La Republica, Lima, Terra, Argentina, July 22) In the far south of Chile, the local Austral Defense Front marched in Punta Arenas to protest open-pit coal mining on nearby Riesco Island. (Radio Popular, Punta Arenas, July 22) In Maipú, on the outskirts of Santiago, residents marched to demand closure of the open-pit mine at Quebrada de la Plata they say is contaminating local drinking water. (Diario UChile, July 24)
In Cajamarca, Conga opponents are now awaiting an imminent decision from the regional Superior Court of Justice in the case of campesina Máxima Acuña and her family who are challenging the Yanacocha mining company's claim to the lands of their homestead at Tragadero Grande, Sorochuco district, where they have been living since 1994. A lower court has already decided for the company in the title dispute, and the family's supporters are calling for international pressure on Peru's national authorities to intervene in the case. (Celendin Libre, July 23; Amnesty International, July 18)
July 16 saw tension in the regional capital of Cajamarca, as a march against the Conga project was confronted by a rare march in favor of the project, with the two groups separated by riot police on opposite ends of the Plaza de Armas, the city's central square. The march in favor of the project was organized by the Colectivo por Cajamarca, a pro-business grouping. (RPP, July 16) The Collective's leader, Jorge Vergara, was last year sanctioned by Cajamarca regional authorities for not paying pensions and insurance at the large clinic he operates in the city, among other labor abuses. (Caballero Verde, May 28, 2012)
A week before the international actions, a Refoundational Congress of the Andean Pueblos and Nationalities of Peru was held in Lima, where 200 delegates from 16 regions of the country announced the formation of a new national body, the Andean Indigenous Council of Peru (CIAP). The founding statement pledged to resist "capitalist neoliberal domination" and advance an alternative economic model rooted in "ancestral practices" and "the exercise of our rights." CIAP is to affiliate with the international Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI). (CNR, July 15; CAOI, July 14)
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