Pasco

Peruvian left bids farewell to Genaro Ledesma

Genaro Ledesma Izquieta, a campesino leader and later congressmember who was one of the most respected figures on Peru's political left, died April 1 at the age of 86. Born in Cajabamba, Cajamarca region, he moved in his youth to the mining town of Cerro de Pasco in the Central Andes, where he founded the Popular Worker-Student-Peasant Front (FOCEP), uniting campesinos and mine workers to fight for land and labor rights. In 1960, he was elected mayor of Cerro de Pasco province. But he was imprisoned later that year in connection with a May Day campesino mobilization at the hamlet of San Antonio de Rancas. Three were killed when police fired on the protest, but Ledesma was charged with provoking the violence. With the military coup of Gen. Ricardo Pérez Godoy in 1963, Ledesma was imprisoned a second time—now in the notoriously harsh island prison of El Frontón. But the workers and peasants of Cerro de Pasco launched a sucessful campaign to have him elected to Peru's Congress, and authorities were forced to free him to allow him to take his seat.

Peru: new violence over La Oroya metal complex

Residents in of Simón Bolívar, in Peru's Pasco region, clashed with National Police in a highway confrontation Sept. 23, as they were returning from a cross-country march to La Oroya ​metal-smelting complex in neighboring Junín region. One protester was injured with a blow to the head in the fracas, which apparently began when an officer made a death threat to the passing demonstrators. The marchers intend to continue to Lima, and an officer reportedly told them that if they attempted to advance towards the capital they would "die like dogs." The protesters are demanding health and environmental remediation measures to address contamination of the area's waters with heavy metals from the Oroya complex. (RPP)

Peru: jungle shoot-out as narco-flight intercepted

Peru's National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO) claimed a blow against the resurgent Sendero Luminoso guerillas after intercepting a plane loaded with 350 kilograms (770 pounds) of cocaine in plastic-wrapped bricks when it landed at a clandestine airstrip in a jungle area of Oxapampa province, Pasco region, Sept. 18. The crew of the Bolivian-registered Cessna put up armed resistance before fleeing into the jungle. A manhunt to apprehend them is now underway. DIRANDRO said the cocaine  originated in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a jungle zone just south of Oxapampa where the "narcosenderista" brothers Víctor, Jorge and Martín Quispe Palomino—known by the respective code-names  "José," "'Raúl" and "Gabriel"—are said to control coca production. The cocaine was believed to have been brought to Oxapampa by back-pack along jungle trails, and was to be flown to Bolivia for re-export to Brazil in an operation overseen by wanted Bolivian kingpin William Rosales. (RIA-Novosti, La Republica, InfoSur Hoy, Peruvian TimesReuters, Sept. 18)

Peru: mine tailing spill contaminates Río Huallaga

Authorities in Peru said Sept. 1 wastewater laced with heavy metals from a giant zinc mine last week spilled into the Río Huallaga, a major tributary of the Amazon. The supervisory body for investment in energy and mining (Osinergmin) reported that a dam at a tailings containment pond gave way at the Atacocha facility in Chicrín province, Pasco region. The mine, at some 4,000 meters above sea level in the high Andes, is majority-owned by the Brazilian company Votorantim. At least seven kilometers of the river are severely contaminated, according to the National Water Authority, which has dispatched brigades to the scene. Local campesino communities that depend on the water are holding emergency meetings to decide how to react to the disaster. (AP, Sept. 4; Perú21, Sept. 3; RPP, Sept. 1)
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