Peru's cabinet in bid to save Conga project

Peru's government is seeking to restart talks with opponents of the $5 billion Minas Conga copper and gold mining project in the northern region of Cajamarca, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal Nov. 14. Pulgar Vidal said in a TV interview that Catholic priests Miguel Cabrejos and Gastón Garatea will resturn to dialogue, and called upon Cajamarca's regional president Gregorio Santos, to participate. "He has to be there,"  Pulgar Vidal said when asked if Santos, a harsh opponent of the project, would join the talks. As Pulgar Vidal spoke, campesino mine opponents from Cajamarca and their local supporters were maintaining a plantón (open-ended protest vigil) in front of the Lima offices of Newmont Mining, the US company that is the major investor in the Conga project.

ICJ opens hearings in Chile-Peru maritime dispute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) began hearings on Dec. 3 regarding a longtime border dispute between Chile and Peru. Peru first filed its  application  with the ICJ in 2008 alleging that Chile refused to enter into negotiations over the disputed maritime border and requesting that the ICJ resolve the dispute. At issue is a 15,000 square mile triangle of the Pacific Ocean, which Chile currently controls. Bolivia also plans to send a delegation to the ICJ and plans its own lawsuit against Chile. A decision by the 15-judge panel is not expected until mid-2013 at the earliest, and it cannot be appealed once issued.

Peru: Amazonian leaders press land demarcation

The Inter-ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) on Nov. 22 issued an open letter to President Ollanta Humala, the national congress, and local and regional authorities, demanding that funds for the continued demarcation of indigenous lands in the Amazon Basin be included in the 2013 budget bill now being debated. The letter called for 100 million soles ($38 million) be earmarked for "recognition, titling and territorial expansion of Amazonian communities." The statement asserted that there are 988 identified communities in the rainforest currently awaiting demarcation and titling.

Peru: campesino alliance with 'illegal' miners

On Nov. 11, the Second National Congress of Artisanal Miners was held at Juliaca, in Peru's southern region of Puno, presided over by Hernán de la Cruz Enciso, AKA Tankar Rau Rau Amaru, outspoken president of the National Confederation of Artisanal Miners and Small Producers (CONAMI), pledging to launch new road occupations if the government does not rescind decrees mandating the "legalization" of informal mining operations. A surprise guest was Walter Aduviri, leader of the Aymara campesino struggle in Puno, who has led strikes and protests against mining projects. De la Cruz and Aduviri shared a public abrazo (embrace) and hailed the meeting as "a step towards the consolidation of objectives" of their respective movements. De la Cruz said Aduviri "is against big mining and supports small mining." Peru's pro-business website eeé (for Economy & Energy with Ethics [sic]) on reporting the meeting, added: "Peruvians are now notified of this new alliance of terror and violence, between Tankar Rau Rau Amaru (Hernán de la Cruz) and Walter Aduviri."

Peru: Water Tribunal indicts Conga project

On Nov. 9, the Costa Rica-based Latin American Water Tribunal, an oversight body on environmental justice formed by jurists and specialists from across the hemisphere in 1998, issued a judgment calling on Peru to cancel the controversial Conga mining project in northern Cajamarca region, finding numerous irregularities in its approval. The ruling, issued in a public hearing in Buenos Aires, questioned the objectivity of Peru's Environment Ministry (MINAM) and Naitonal Water Authority (ANA) in the case; condemned the criminalization and repression of social movements in Cajamarca; and called upon Peru to uphold access to water as an internationally recognized human right. (Celendín Libre, GRUFIDES, Nov. 9)

Peru: threats against Cajamarca movement

In a sign of community divisions in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, campesinos from the "influence zone" of the proposed Conga mineral project demonstrated in the regional capital Nov. 1, where they threatened to evict the "Guardians of the Lagunas"—campesinos who oppose the mine, and have established an encampment near the concession bloc to assure that the Yanacocha mining company does not begin work that would impact the zone's highland lakes. "We don't want violence, but they are ursurping our lands and we are reaching an agreement to expel them," said Felipe Palma López, leader of the ronda campesina (peasant self-defense patrol) in the community of Quengorio Alto. Demonstrators accused the Guardians of being "manipulated by politicians."

Peru: land, water conflicts grow in Cajamarca

Local campesinos reported Oct. 26 that thousands of young trout were found dead in the Río Llaucano, in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, and blame contamination from the ginat Yanacocha gold mine that sits atop the watersahed. The campesinos held a press conference in the town of Bambamarca to announce  thier grave fears for the safety of the region's waters. The Llaucano is a tributary of the Marañon, one of the main rivers that drains into the Amazon. The fish were found washed up near the communities of Santa Rosa in Bambamarca province and La Paccha in Chota province. (Servindi, Oct. 26)

Riots rock Lima —in footsteps of Hillary Clinton

Two were killed and over 100 injured—including 50 police officers—in riots that caused damage worth millions of dollars in the Peruvian capital Lima Oct. 25. The riots broke out when police blocked the entry of delivery trucks into the city's giant wholesale market, La Parada, which was ordered closed by the administration of Mayor Susana Villarán for not meeting safety and hygiene standards. Violence spread to the nearby industrial zone of Gamarra, where a police post was attacked with Molotov cocktails and ransacked, and shops and factories quickly closed their gates and halted operations. Some 5,000 police have flooded the district.

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