The Andes
antamina

Protests shut down Peru’s largest copper mine

Peru’s massive Antamina copper mine had to halt operations due to protest blockades on an access road by local campesinos. The company, owned by multinationals BHP Billiton and Glencore, urged the government “to restore order” and open dialogue with the protesters, stating that as long as “these conditions are not met, we cannot continue to operate.” Residents of the local communities charge that Antamina “usurped” campesino lands for the project, which bring no benefit to the community. After a week of blocking the access roads, the campesinos agreed to lift the protest following intercession by the Ministry of Energy & Mines. However, they pledged to maintain the blockades until Antamina signs a formal agreement recognizing them as dialogue partners. (Photo via MercoPress)

The Andes
castillo

Peru: populist president prevails amid polarization

Proclaiming that “change is coming,” Pedro Castillo, a left-populist former school teacher, was sworn in as Peru’s new president on the bicentennial of the country’s independence. He pledged to redraft the constitution, raise taxes on mines, and form a “Binational Cabinet” with neighboring left-led Bolivia. But Castillo assumes office amid a profound political crisis and growing polarization—as well as the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world. His far-right opponent Keiko Fujimori, who challenged his victory with baseless claims of voter-fraud, has a formidable bloc in Congress and promises to obstruct his agenda. (Photo: Diario Uno)

The Andes
antikeiko

Peru: mass mobilization against neo-fujimorismo

Under the slogans “Fujimori nunca más” and “Keiko No Va,” many thousands of Peruvians filled the streets of Lima and cities across the country to repudiate the presidential candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, contender of the far-right Fuerza Popular party and daughter of imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori. The lead contingent in the rally that filled downtown Lima’s Plaza San Martín was composed of survivors of the reign of terror during the 1992-2000 Fujimori dictatorship. Large mobilizations were also held in Arequipa, Cuzco, Huancayo, Ayacucho, Huánuco, Tacna, and other cities. Two weeks ahead of a run-off vote, despite far greater campaign and media resources, Fujimori is trailing her rival Pedro Castillo of Perú Libre, a left-populist former teacher and union leader from a rural area of northern Cajamarca region—far from the center of power in Lima. (Photo via Twitter)

The Andes
castillo

Peru: electoral upset portends polarization

Peru seems poised for polarization following surprise results in first-round presidential elections that saw a previously unknown leftist candidate, Pedro Castillo, taking 19% of the vote in a very crowded field—more than any of his rivals. In a June run-off, he will face his runner-up—hard-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, who took 13%. The two candidates represent the extremes of Peru’s electoral spectrum. Fujimori is the daughter of imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori—and had herself been imprisoned as corruption charges were pending against her last year. Her Fuerza Popular party is the paradoxical populist vehicle of the most reactionary sectors of the country’s elites, and has actually been assailed as a “mafia organization.” Castillo, in vivid contrast, is a former school-teacher and trade unionist of campesino background from the poor and rural Andean region of Cajamarca. His successful grassroots campaign is seen an upsurge from such forgotten parts of the country, in rejection of the Lima-based political class. (Photo of Pedro Castillo in Lima via Twitter)

The Andes

Peru: Fujimori pardon revoked; struggle continues

Peru’s Supreme Court revoked the pardon of ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, ordering him back to prison. His supporters in Congress are drafting a law to make the pardon permanent, but this is on dubious constitutional grounds and violates international human rights treaties. Meanwhile, survivors of the Fujimori-era “dirty war” continue to seek justice for the crimes of that period. One campaign is to block right-wing candidate Daniel Urresti, accused in the assassination of journalist Hugo Bustíos, from running for mayor of Lima. (Photo: Diario Uno)

The Andes

Peru: ex-Senderistas transferred to house arrest

Two imprisoned leaders of the Sendero Luminoso guerilla movement were released from military prison to house arrest by authorities in Peru, sparking outrage and debate in the country's media. Osmán Morote and Margot Liendo were arrested by anti-terrorist police in Lima in 1988. They completed their 25-year terms in 2013, but remained in detention as new charges were brought against them, concerning attacks in which some 150 were killed. The transfers from the detention facility at Callao Naval Base were ordered by the National Penal Chamber of Peru. Both Morote and Liendo were required to pay a bond of 10,000 soles ($3,100), and will be guarded at their homes in the Lima area by National Police agents. They have both declared a hunger strike in protest of the police presence and house arrest order, saying they should have absolute freedom after serving their terms. But President Martín Vizcarra called upon the judges to reverse their decision, and keep the pair behind bars while the new charges are pending against them. (Photo: Infobae)

The Andes

Plunging potato prices provoke protests in Peru

Potato farmers across Peru's sierras blocked roads with their tractors and trucks for weeks, demanding a subsidized distribution system for the staple crop in the face of plummeting prices. The National Commission of Potato Producers (Conapropa) struck a deal with the government, but wildcat protests continued in Huancavelica, Huánuco, Junín, Ayacucho and Arequipa regions. Finally, farmers advanced on Lima in a cross-country motorcade. This forced Conapropa leader Fernando Gutiérrez back to the table, meeting with Agriculture Minister José Arista to strike a better deal. Huancavelica regional governor Glodoaldo Álvarez denied government claims of over-production by farmers, and pointed to massive imports since the 2009 Free Trade Agreement with the US. Farmers at the roadblocks carried banners with slogans such as "¡Abajo el TLC!" (Down with the FTA!). (Photo:  La República)

The Andes

Peru: massacre victims exhumed in Ayacucho

Investigators exhumed 21 bodies at a remote hamlet in Peru's Andes—believed to be those of peasants massacred on suspicion of being guerilla collaborators in 1984.

The Andes

Peru: Lucanamarca massacre remembered

Peru's President Ollanta Humala oversaw a ceremony at Lucanamarca village, delivering a "symbolic" package of reparations for the massacre there in April 1983. 

The Andes

Peru: Uchuraccay massacre recalled

Peru’s Press Association recalled the 1983 massacre of eight journalists at the Andean village of Uchuraccay, where they themselves were investigating reports of massacres.