by Weekly News Update on the Americas

On the evening of Nov. 16, some 2,000 campesinos took over the Buenaventura mining company’s La Zanja camp in the Pulan district of Santa Cruz province, Cajamarca department, in northwestern Peru. The Front for the Defense of the Environment–a previously unknown group, according to governor Segundo Amado Linares–apparently organized the takeover of the camp in order to press a community demand for an end to mining explorations in the zone. Local campesinos fear mining will bring contamination to the area, harming their health and the agriculture they rely on for survival. The campesinos–many of them members of the organized defense groups known as rondas–burned the camp’s buildings and vehicles as the 200 workers based there fled. Police intervened with tear gas but were unable to regain control. Campesino Juan Montenegro Lingan was killed by a bullet, and several people were wounded. Police finally retook the camp on Nov. 17 and arrested 18 people, who were all released later in the day after appearing before a judge. Judge Adolfo Arribasplata also ordered the arrest of 23 other people believed to be involved in the attack on the camp, including the mayor of the village of Tongod, Roberto Becerra Mondragon. (La Republica, Lima, Nov. 19, 25; AFP Nov. 17)

On Nov. 22, residents of Santa Cruz province began a 48-hour civic strike to press their demand for an end to mining exploration. Santa Cruz mayor Cruz Anacario Diaz Mego said area mayors and other local authorities are supporting the communities’ demands, though he said they also condemn the attack on the mining camp. More than 1,000 campesinos marched in Santa Cruz on the first day of the strike, which shut down virtually all activity in the province. On the second day of the strike some 5,000 campesinos marched in Pulan, while Diaz Mego announced in Lima that the strike would be extended indefinitely because Buenaventura officials had rebuffed attempts at dialogue. Diaz Mego said he and other leaders are demanding the temporary suspension of the company’s explorations until local concerns about contamination and the reinvestment of mining profits into the community are addressed. Buenaventura finance manager Carlos Galvez was defiant, saying the company would not cede to any type of pressure and would continue its explorations. A new contingent of 200 riot police arrived from Chiclayo to defend the mining camp against any further attack. (La Republica, Lima, Nov. 22-5)


Some 13,000 doctors carried out a 48-hour strike at 143 state hospitals throughout Peru on Nov. 25 and 26 to demand government compliance with an accord on salary increases signed last May 1. Wearing their white coats, the doctors marched to the Congress building in Lima on Nov. 25, where they presented their list of demands. Hundreds of obstetricians marched to the Congress on Nov. 24, the first day of their own 48-hour strike against layoffs and to demand better benefits. Among other complaints, obstetricians say they are fired if they take maternity leave. Public health support staff meanwhile began their own open-ended strike. (La Republica, Nov. 25, 27; wire services, Nov. 25)

Teachers, workers and campesinos from the leftist General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP) marched in Lima on Nov. 25 to protest the government’s neoliberal economic policies and demand greater social spending. The CGTP is calling for a constituent assembly to write a new constitution with a new labor code to replace the one promulgated in 1993 by then-president Alberto Fujimori. Protesters also blocked several main avenues in Lima to reject a planned "free trade treaty" (TLC) with the US. (La Hora, Quito, Nov. 26, wire services)

Sugar producers in Chiclayo blocked the Panamerican highway on Nov. 25 to demand government help in improving production. (La Hora, Nov, 26) On Nov. 24 and 25, residents of the northern Ancash region held a civic strike to demand construction of a highway. (AFP, Reuters, Nov, 25) In Ayacucho, residents held a 24-hour strike on Nov. 24 to demand solutions to a conflict over water use. (LR, Nov. 25) In the southern department of Puno, hundreds of people blockaded a main road in Juliaca to protest electricity rate hikes, while residents of Ilave staged a 48-hour strike to protest the rate hikes and high fuel prices and to demand the resignation of Puno governor David Jimenez Sardon, who is accused of corruption. (LR, wire services, Nov. 25)

On Nov. 24, two people were killed and four others wounded during an attack on squatters in Alto Unine, 80 kilometers from the city of Satipo in Junin department. Two of the wounded have disappeared. Police arrested 13 people in connection with the attack. Survivors say the attack was led by Dionisio Maldonado, husband of the president of the Juan Santos Atahualpa Housing Association. The Association, which claims ownership of the disputed land, had recently won a court ruling against the squatters and had previously evicted the 30 families living there and destroyed their homes and property. The squatters had then returned to the land. (LR, Nov. 26, 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 28


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, Dec. 10, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution