For earlier stories on anti-mining protests around the world, see here.
Getting away from the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference means turning to one of the other crucial issues this blog is highlighting: Anti-mining protests. There were a number of new and ongoing anti-mining protests around the world (New Zealand, Australia [and at later protests, they sent in the clowns], Greece, and others). In addition, repression and violence against anti-mining protesters was a common feature.
However, one case exemplified these dual issues of anti-mining protests and state repression over the past two months: Peru. Here is a quick run-down about what has happened over the past months in Peru.
May 24, 2012- Anti-mining protests in the Espinar Province. These protestors clashed with police and a the result was two deaths and over 40 injuries.
Afterward- The government responded by declaring a state of emergency: suspending freedom of assembly and giving the military and national police new powers to detain people. The protests are opposed to a copper mine expansion operated by the Swiss company Xstrata (if you need additional proof that corporate sustainability reporting is not working currently, see their sustainability report). At least 25 people were arrested, including Herbert Huaman who was one of the leaders of the protests. The mayor of Espinar went into hiding to avoid detention initially.
Oscar Mollohuanca, mayor of Espinar, was arrested June 2, 2012 and detained for 11 days of “Preventative” detention. He was arrested and ordered for 5 months of detention when a judge found that “it was he who called on the people to enter the installations of the mining camp of the company Xstrata Tintaya.” The mayor was released after large outcry on June 11, 2012. Mollohuanca defined his arrest as arbitrary led by a government that is keen to support mining interests.
June 19, 2012. Elsewhere in Peru, the U.S. owned Newmont Gold mine saw protests in the North of the Country entering their 20th day of activity. Police had been unable to break up the protests and so used a ridiculous tactic: threatening to arrest pregnant women.
Ana Jara, Peru’s minister of women and vulnerable populations, said pregnant protesters would be putting their unborn babies at risk by going to a rally against the mine US-based Newmont plans to build in the northern region of Cajamarca. She accused organisers of using pregnant women as shields to prevent police from breaking up protests now stretching into their 20th day. “The participation of pregnant women in public protests is intolerable and cannot be justified … this puts the body and the health of the fetus at risk,” Jara said. She said the penal code carries a sanction of three years in prison for people who mistreat an unborn baby. “We aren’t going to sit here and do nothing … we have coordinated with the attorney general’s office to guarantee the integrity of the babies,” she said.
Peru is at a boiling point, some negotiations have reportedly started and everyone should hope there will be no more deaths over mining in Peru.
If you are involved in the protests in Peru, I would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org and get a better picture of this.
I’m working on the global anti-mining protest database still (Rio+20 delayed efforts), but I’ll publish it here when that is available.