Fierce Infrastructure Battles in Peru

 Indigenous protesters march against Minas Conga mine in defense of their water and lands8th November Indigenous protesters march against Minas Conga mine in defense of their water and lands

Cajamarca: Conga occupation not moved

Campesinos from some 40 pueblos across Celendín province, in Peru’s northern region of Cajamarca, held a meeting at Huasmín village Oct. 23 to announce a cross-country march that would arrive in mid-November at the planned site of the Conga gold mine, where marchers would join the encampment that has been established there [for almost two years]. … (Servindi, Oct. 25; Celendin Libre, Oct. 23)

Comuneros (communal peasants) in Celendín’s Yagén pueblo, Cortegana district, weeks earlier announced their readiness to resist the Chadín II hydro-electric project, to be built by Brazilian firm Odebrecht in the headwaters of the Río Marañón, a major tributary of the Amazon—with much of of the energy generated slated for local mining operations. In a statement, the Defense Front for the Interests of Pueblo Yagén said they would reject thecanonof funds offered to local communities for development of the project in their area. The statement also rejected offers of new roads for local communities, saying they would only facilitate  the despoiling of their lands by Odebrecht’s heavy equipment. … The statement closed with the slogan: “Neither Conga nor Chadín! Respect the people!” (Celendin Libre, Sept. 30)

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Cuzco: unrest over water mega-diversion

In a popular assembly Nov. 6, residents of Espinar village in Peru’s Cuzco region declared themselves on a “war footing,” pledigng to resist imminent construction of the Majes Siguas II irrigation mega-project, which would divert water from indigenous communities in the highlands to agribusiness interests on the coast. … Later that day, Espinar’s mayor Oscar Mollohuanca announced that some 100 police troops had attacked local villagers at Urinsaya in Coporaque district, beating five. The whereabouts of one villager has been unknown since the attack. … (Radio Universal, RPP, Nov. 6)

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Peru: government ultimatum to illegal miners

Peru’s government has issued an “ultimatum” to small-scale artisanal miners in southern Puno region, saying that if they do not remove their dredges and other equipment from the watersheds of the Ramis and Suches rivers (which both flow into Lake Titicaca), they will be dynamited. …

The statement follows weeks of protests by informal miners in several regions of the country, demanding “formalization” of their claims. A clash with National Police troops was reported Oct. 2 from a miner roadblock at Huamachuco, La Libertad region. The Regional Federation of Artisanal Miners and Small Producers of La Liberatd (FREMARLIB) said two miners were killed in the confrontation, and several wounded and detained.

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