Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Peru: Ongoing Mining Strike

On Sunday, April 4th, a Peruvian Twitter user, Jhon Cornejo (@ionCornejo) wrote angrily and sarcastically about the tribute made by President Alan García to the recently deceased Peruvian singer Jesús Vásquez:

Alan canta en velorio de Jesús Vásquez (lamentable perdida para el Perú). Ojalá tambien cante en el velorio de los muertos en Chala.

Alan sings at the wake for Jesús Vásquez (unfortunate loss for Peru). Hopefully he sings at the wake for the dead in Chala.

This reference to the dead in Chala was for those who died in the clashes between the police and miners, who had been blockading [es] the South Panamerican Highway near the community of Chala in the Arequipa region. This blockade was part of the National Miner's Strike organized by the Mining Federation of Madre de Dios (FEDEMIN for its initials in Spanish) and the Artisan Miners of Peru (FENAMARPE for its initials in Spanish). The blog La Vanguardia [es] writes about the strike's demands:

La comunidad minera exige la derogatoria del Decreto de Urgencia N° 012 – 2010, del Decreto Supremo Nº 019-2009, que la hidroeléctrica de Inambari no sea construida y la destitución del Ministro del Ambiente, Antonio Brack Egg.

The mining community demands the repeal of Urgent Decree N° 012 – 2010, Supreme Decree Nº 019-2009, that the Inambari hydro-electrical project not be constructed and for the removal of the Environmental Minister, Antonio Brack Egg.

The blogger adds the context of the protest and the reasons:

es necesario que se informe a la población sobre futuros proyectos en territorio peruano … la población jamás va a estar tranquila con la idea de que un amplio tramo de la Carretera Interoceánica … sea inundado. Tampoco aceptaría el desplazamiento de las poblaciones cercanas al proyecto y la deforestación … La población sentirá los efectos negativos en sus actividades agrícolas a menos que, se vean frente a la oportunidad de una verdadera mejora en la calidad de vida.

en tanto a la derogatoria del Decreto de Urgencia 012 – 2010, … intenta formalizar la pequeña minería y la minería artesanal en el departamento de Madre de Dios; … plantea la recuperación de zonas degradadas por la minería informal. De esta manera, se crea el establecimiento de zonas de exclusión minera y zonas donde sí se puede realizar esta actividad.

El Decreto de Urgencia 012-2010, al igual que el Supremo 019-2009, buscan la protección de nuestras áreas naturales. Sin embargo, mientras tanto ¿Qué van a hacer los trabajadores mineros de este departamento?

It is necessary that the population is informed about the future projects on Peruvian territory … the population will never agree with the idea that a large stretch of the Inter-ocean Highway … end up flooded. In addition, they will not accept the displacement of the population living near the project and deforestation … The population will feel the negative effects in their agricultural activities unless they see an opportunity for a truly better quality of life.

Regarding the repeal of Urgent Decree 012 – 2010, … it attempts to formalize small-scale mining and artisan mining in the Madre de Dios department; … it proposes the recuperation of the zones degraded by informal mining. In this manner, areas of mining exclusion and areas where this type of activity will be created.

Urgent Decree 012-2010, as well as Supreme Decree 019-2009, searches for the protection of our natural areas. However, what will the miners in this department do in the meantime?

Martín Soto Florián from the blog SNm [es], writes that he was recently in the city of Puerto Maldonado where he could see some of the aspects of this strike:

1. Existe gran temor entre la población, esto alcanza a tirios y troyanos, incluídos funcionarios públicos (se recuerdan los antecedentes de 2008, quema del Gobierno Regional, y 2002, quema de la sede del Ministerio de Agricultura).

2. Se estima un Paro de grandes dimensiones, constituyendo puntos críticos los siguientes: Inambari, Puerto Maldonado y el Aeropuerto, también fue mencionada la posibilidad de toma de edificios públicos y de quema del Poder Judicial de Puerto Maldonado.

He estado allí, donde verdaderamente impera la ley del más fuerte …He visto y escuchado las historias, he observado los movimientos de alimentos, de utensilios, y también de gente. Los mineros habitan en pueblos fantasmas, que me recuerdan las pelas del lejano oeste y los sueños dorados, operan con gran maquinaria, contaminan y tienen un gran poder adquisitivo: se juegan la vida por su oro. Pretender retirarlos de la minería sin tentar otras puertas, es una sincera invitación a la violencia. Creo que no estamos preparados para lo que se viene, y creo que no nos importa porque –seamos honesto- esto va a suceder harto lejos de aquí.

1. There is a lot of fear among the population, reaching Tyres and Trojans, including public workers (remember the antecedents of 2008, the burning of the Regional Government, and 2002, the burning of the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture).

2. It is estimated that the Strike is on a large scale, including critical points in the following areas: Inambarí, Puerto Maldonado, and the Airport, there was also mention of the possibility of the taking of public buildings and the burning of the Judicial offices in Puerto Maldonado.

I was there, where survival of the strongest prevails … I have seen and heard the stories, I have observed the movement of food, utensils, and also of people. The miners live in ghost towns, that remind me of the fights in the old West and the golden dreams, where large machinery operates, contaminates, and have great purchasing power: they risk their lives for their gold. They try to take them out of mining without opening other doors, it is a sincere invitation to violence. I think we are not prepared for what is coming, and I don't think it is important to us because – let's be hones – this will take place a long way away from here.

There were some Twitter reports by those who were passing through the city of Puerto Maldonado:

Etni Flores Barriga (@etnof):

Hoy hubo inusitado transito aereo en Puerto Maldonado, al parecer esta llegando contigente policial, para cautelar el orden en esta ciudad.

Today there was unusual air traffic in Puerto Maldonado, apparently a police contingent is arriving to maintain order in this city.

Fauna Forever (@faunaforever):

Emeterio Nuñoncca (CICRA): Pasaron 17 embarcaciones llenos de personas a Puerto Maldonado (por el paro minero).

Emeterio Nuñoncca (ICRC): 17 boats passed by full of people to Puerto Maldonado (for the miner's strike).

Enso A. Pita Mejia (@ensopita):

me llamaron de puerto maldonado, los mineros se estan reuniendo en la feria agropecuaria, y al parecer son mas de 10 mil.

They called me from Puerto Maldonado, the miners are gathering in the Agricultural Fair, and it appears that there are more than 10,000 (miners).

RPP News (@RPPNoticias):

Reportan que miles de mineros informales marchan por calles de Puerto Maldonado

There are reports that thousands of informal miners are marching through the streets of Puerto Maldonado.

Then came the news via traditional media regarding the miner's march in Puerto Maldonado, as had been reported by RPP [es], that despited the feared violence, it did not take place in the city. It was also reported that the strike began in the cities of Apurímac and Arequipa [es]. Unfortunately in the town of Chala, there were reported deaths, as alluded to at the beginning of this article- 3 miners and 1 motorcycle taxi driver, possibly due to the police actions for attempting to remove the blockades on the South Panamerican Highway [es].

El Comercio newspaper reported that the miners in Puerto Maldonado had organized themselves for the protest by financing it with contributions in gold [es] that had totaled US$60,000 in value. The newspaper La República reported that even though President García did not want to talk about the deaths in Chala, he defended the measures of force that were taken [es], “We want for there to be work for the miners but it should be formalized, what is happening in Madre de Dios is an atrocity: the rivers are the color of mercury, of arsenic, it is dramatic … those truly guilty are the midsize miners who allow for dredge mining. What we are trying to do is show that the State has the backbone and seize these dredges.

Another newspaper, Perú 21 reported that in addition to the 4 deaths, there were at least 17 wounded in Chala, Arequipa [es]. They also cited Peruvian Prime Minister Javier Velásquez who stated that: “Russian and Brasilian businessmen are financing the strike (…) in order to leave the decree that orders the mining activity without effect … these people will be located, they will be impeded from entering the country and judicial proceedings will begin.

In a new report published by the newspaper La República, chronicling the events of Chala, it appears that the situation is far from resolved [es], since “the protesters said they will not lay down their protest actions until the State formalizes their work. They also said they would “charge for each of the deaths.”

Translation by Eduardo Ávila

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site