Peru: Protests Against Mining in Videos, Part I

Recent protests against the environmental damage caused by mining in Peru have sparked plenty of audiovisual material, with both campaigns to raise awareness, and citizen videos of  protests, repression and more. This selection of videos helps explain the context of this conflict.

Large mining companies are not immune to corruption. The following video tells the story of how the Newmont Mining Corporation (which runs the Yanacocha gold mine) requested the assistance of the currently imprisoned Vladimiro Montesinos to settle a court case in their favor, with the support of the United States Department of State and the CIA. The 2005 FRONTLINE/World documentary, called ‘The Curse of the Inca Gold’ (La Maldición del oro inca), was produced by The New York Times journalist Lowell Bergman.

The story continues in this next video, which goes back to the time of the Spanish conquest to tell the story of Atahualpa, the Inca who offered the Spanish a room full of gold, precisely in Cajamarca, in exchange for his freedom; the Spanish killed him after obtaining the gold. The video also shows the Choropampa case, where a mercury spill affected the population, and the Cerro Quilish case, which caused a conflict between the people and Yanacocha.

The documentary ends briefly in a third part.

Although the current problem in Cajamarca also involves Yanacocha, it is about a different project from those described in the previous videos. The conflict revolves around the Conga mining project, which threatens to destroy various lakes on the high planes of Cajamarca. A group of Cajamarca civil society organizations produced the video ‘No to Conga’ (Conga no va), which describes the problems the ecological and hydrological systems there face.

The video ‘Lament of a people without water’ (Lamento de un Pueblo sin AGUA) documents the beginning of the protests of the people of Cajamarca a month ago, and President Ollanta Humala's change in position, from his pro-water stance during the campaign, to his recent proposal of “gold and water.”

An example of what happens to a lake that is used by a mining company is evident in this video showing the Totoracocha lake dried up by the Yanacocha mine:

Yanacocha has its own vision on the issue of water, as seen in this institutional video:

The following video is the first part of a documentary entitled ‘The Price of Gold: Human Rights Violations in the vicinity of the mine Yanacocha, Cajamarca, Peru,’ by Ralph Weihermann.

The two remaining parts of the documentary are available here [es] and here [es].

Another documentary, with a similar name, ‘Choropampa, the Price of Gold’, illustrates the problem of mercury pollution in the town of Choropampa that happened 11 years ago.

The upcoming second post in this two-part series will focus on citizen videos of the protests.

Post originally published on Juan Arellano's personal blog on December 7, 2011 [es].

Featured and thumbnail image shows bird's eye view of Yanacocha mine, Peru. Image by Flickr user elmorsa (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • 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.