On Aug. 1, Peru's President Ollanta Humala signed a decree extending for another 60 days the state of emergency in the remote jungle area called the VRAE, for the Apurímac-Ene River Valley, where a remnant faction of the Shining Path guerilla movement remains active. However, as we have repeatedly noted, the acronym "VRAE" is becoming an elastic term defined by areas where the Shining Path is active rather than by geography. The state of emergency includes Echarate district, in La Convención province, Cuzco region—in the valley of the Urubamba, the next river basin to the east of the Apurímac-Ene. Similarly, districts of Tayacaja province in Huancavelica region are also affected—in the watershed of the Río Mantaro, to the west of the Apurímac-Ene, and on the edge of the central Andean section of the country. Affected districts in Ayacucho and Junín regions constitute the VRAE "proper"—actually within the Apurímac-Ene watershed. Most of the affected districts have been under a repeatedly extended state of emergency since May 2003, but Echarate only came under the decree in April after guerillas took scores of oil pipeline construction workers hostage.
The president of Peru's Cajamarca region, Gregorio Santos, said Aug. 9 that he sees no purpose in continuing talks with two Roman Catholic priests trying to mediate a peaceful solution to the dispute over the proposed Conga gold-mining project. "The facilitators have already completed their tasks," Santos said. "The facilitators aren't going to make any decisions. The executive branch already knows the position of the people of Cajamarca." The statement came the day after facilitators, Trujillo Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos and dissident priest Gaston Garatea (suspended from the ministry by the Archdiocese of Lima for his populist positions), met with Prime Minister Juan Jiménez and other members of President Ollanta Humala's cabinet. The facilitators issued a statement calling on the central government to lift the state of emergency that was imposed on much of Cajamarca region in early July following an escalations of protests against the Conga project. (Dow Jones, Aug. 9; Andina, Aug. 8; CNA, July 24)
Ecuador will use the pipeline that links Peru's northern Amazon oil zone to the Pacific coast to transport crude under a deal reached this week. Quito's Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Wilson Pastor hailed the bi-national accord as "true energy integration, in which two countries, Ecuador and Peru, are joining forces and needs." He said Ecuador will pay a fee of $10 per barrel of crude extracted from the southern zone of the Ecuadoran Amazon. A 100-kilometer feeder pipeline will be built from Ecuador's border to the Oleoducto NorPeruano, which runs to Bayovar port in Puira region. The deal could facilitate a major industrial thrust into Ecuador's southern Amazonian region. Most of Ecuador's exported oil currently comes from the northern part of its Amazon region, via the SOTE and OCP pipelines. (EFE, Aug. 9; RPP, Aug. 8; A Barrel Full website)
More than 100 local residents were sickened by a spill of toxic copper concentrate at one of Peru's biggest mines Aug. 3. The Áncash regional health office said 140 people were treated for "irritative symptoms caused by the inhalation of toxins" after a pipeline carrying the concentrate under high pressure burst open in the village of Santa Rosa de Cajacay. Most of those affected had joined in efforts to prevent liquid copper slurry from reaching the nearby Río Fortaleza after the pipe linking the Antamina copper mine to the coast ruptured last week, said village mayor Hilario Morán. "Without taking into account the consequences, we pitched in to help," Morán told the Associated Press by phone. The people used absorbent fabric provided by the mine but were not given gloves or protective masks, admitted the mine's environmental director Antonio Mendoza. Shortly afterward, people became ill, vomiting, suffering headaches and nose bleeds.