Peru: Uchuraccay massacre recalled

The Peruvian Press Association on Jan. 26 noted the 30th anniversary of the massacre of eight journalists and their local guide at the village of Uchurachay, Ayacucho department, where they themselves had been investigating reports of massacres. But a commentary in the left-leaning Lima daily El Popular decried that the violence against Uchurachay's campesinos was "more invisible." Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) found that in the months around the slaying of the journalists, 135 members of the community of 470 were killed—hanged, hacked or stoned to death, their bodies thrown into canyons to be eaten by dogs. Most of the killings seem to have been ordered by village authorities in an effort to purge sympathizers of the Shining Path guerillas. (La Republica, Feb. 1; La Republica, La Republica, Jan. 29; El Comercio, Jan. 26; El Popular, Jan. 21)

Peru: new mobilization against Conga project

Jan. 12 saw a new mobilization in the northern Peruvian city of Cajamarca against the pending Conga mining project, with some 1,000 local campesinos and their supporters filling the Plaza de Armas with music, banners and slogans. Participants accused the Yanacocha mining company of "intending to privatize" the region's water resources, and of being complicit in the "criminalization of protest." Residents of the community of Baños del Inca proclaimed their readiness to occupy La Shacsa, a nearby mountain within Yanacocha's active concession area, if the Conga project moves ahead. The march was convened by Wilfredo Saavedra, leader of the Cajamarca Environmental Defense Front. (Servindi, Jan. 15)

Peru: new incident at Bagua

In an incident that remains unclear Jan. 10, a commando of the Peruvian army's 6th Jungle Brigade at El Milagro base in Amazonas region fired on local civilian residents who had been employed by the base to build a vigilance post, leaving two injured. The two were evacuated by helicopter to the nearest town—Bagua, the site of the "Amazon's Tiananmen Square Massacre," when troops fired on indigenous protesters in June 1989. (La RepublicaRPP, Jan. 10) The massacre, known in Peru as the "Baguazo," remains the subject of an investigation by Peruvian judicial authorities. The Bagua office of the Fiscalía, Peru's attorney general, announced Jan. 24 that it will seek life imprisonment for indigenous leader Alberto Pizango, who is accused of firing a rifle blast at police during the incident. Also facing a life term is Joel Shimpukat, brother-in-law of congress member Eduardo Nayap. A total of 53 indigenous activists face charges in the "Baguazo." (Perú.comAIDESEP, Jan. 24)

Peru: Conga project to advance in 2013?

Peru's Minister of Mines and Energy, Jorge Merino, assured international investors Dec. 21 that his government will make every effort to see the controversial Conga and Tía María mining projects move forward in 2013. The two projects, in Cajamarca and Arequipa region, respectivamente, have both been suspended after campesino protests.  The pledge is part of the Ollanta Humala government's plan to attract $10 million in mining investment in 2013, $10 million more than this year. Merino also vowed to build new compression plants to expand the capacity of the trans-Andean Camisea gas pipeline from 1,200 cubic feet to 1,600. (El Comercio, Dec. 21)

Peru: protest over mine's water diversion

On Dec. 19, some 6,000 campesinos and their supporters filled the streets of Chiclayo, capital of Peru's northern Lambayeque region, demanding the repeal of the National Water Authority's resolutions  089-2012 and 090-2012, which authoritize La Zanja mining company to begin dumping waste water in the canyons of La Pampa and El Cedro, inland across the border in Cajamarca region. These canyons empty into the Río Chancay, which flows back into Lambayeque (where it joins with the Río Reque to meet the sea near Chiclayo). The rally concluded at the Lambayeque regional government headquaters, where representatives of different organizations making up the Lambayeque Unitary Struggle Command (CULL) delivered a message to regional president Humberto Acuña Peralta, demanding that he take immediate action to protect the waters of the Río Chancay.

Peru's Congress marks Putis massacre

A ceremony was held on the floor of Peru's Congress Dec. 13 to commemorate the 1984 massacre of over 100 campesinos by army troops at the village of Putis, in south-central Ayacucho region. A full Congress honored the presence of Aurelio Condoray Curo, vice president of the Putis Political Violence Survivors Association, and families from the village. That same day, a Caravan for the Reconstruction of Putis left for the village with trucks of material aid from the Ayacucho city of Huamanga. The efforts were promoted by lawmaker María Soledad Pérez Tello, president of the Congressional Human Rights Commission. The local municipality of Huanta is still in the process of identifying bodies that have been unearthed from more than 40 mass graves in and around Putis.

Peru: Conga mine opponents threatened

On Dec. 15 in the city of Cajamarca, Peru, unknown persons broke into the house of attorney Mirtha Vásquez, a director of the NGO Grufides, a leading voice in the struggle against the controversial Conga mine project. One day earlier, the truck of Sergio Sánchez, a member of the Grufides team, was vandalized; five weeks earlier, the home of another Grufides activist, Ivett Sánchez, was similarly broken into. The incidents follow a report in Revista Caretas after Arana was assaulted by police during protests in July that the National Police had dispatched units of the Intelligence Directorate (DIRIN) to tail him. (GRUFIDES, Dec. 17)

Peru: suit launched to stop Camisea expansion

Peru's Amazonian organizations AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU and COMARU last week announced plans to sue both the government and oil companies over proposals to expand the huge Camisea gas project into land inhabited by "uncontacted" or isolated tribes. A consortium of companies in charge of the bloc—including Hunt Oil of Texas, Spain's Repsol and Argentina's Pluspetrol—plans to cut hundreds of testing tracks through the forest, detonate thousands of explosive charges, and drill exploratory wells. Some 75% of Block 88 lies inside the Nahua-Nanti Territorial Reserve, created to protect uncontacted and isolated peoples who are extremely vulnerable to disease and development projects on their land.

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