Tag Archives: ollanta humala

Community Justice vs. Minas Conga Mine

30 Jun
Local indigenous farmers on horseback form part of a protest against the Minas Conga gold mine, June 17, 2013

Local indigenous farmers on horseback form part of a protest against the Minas Conga gold mine, June 17, 2013

From Root Force:

A recent Reuters article examines the role that community justice institutions have played in the struggle against the Minas Conga mine in Peru, which would be the country’s largest gold mine. The indigenous- and peasant-led resistance movement has already led to the project being placed on hold once and the President’s cabinet being reshuffled twice.

Although the article quotes several people who are obviously deeply uncomfortable with the traditional, indigenous-influenced rondero justice model due to its failure to place all authority in the hands of the state, it obviously strives to paint a fair picture. The article seems relevant not just for its relation to the Minas Conga struggle in particular, but also for expanding our frame of reference in regard to models of community justice and organizing.

For those of you who are skimmers, don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure of the article’s concluding quote:

Ronderos in Cajamarca say they stopped carrying guns years ago. Punishments they mete out draw on traditional Andean practices, ranging from push-ups to lashings with cow whips. [NOTE:  Peruvian cow whips are thick, not thin like the “Indiana Jones”-style whip that is designed to draw blood. Not that it necessarily feels good to be hit with one. —Root Force]

One of the most severe sentences is the “rondero chain” that requires offenders to toil in fields by day and parade barefoot through frigid villages by night, some ronderos said. It can go on for days or weeks as people are handed off from one village squad to another.

Referring to Mines and Energy Minister Jorge Merino, a laughing Ponce said: “We would make Merino carry out a rondero chain for three or four months. [Peruvian President Ollanta] Humala would get six months.”

Peru peasant squads rally against U.S. firm’s $5 billion gold mine

(Reuters) – Forty years ago, peasants in rural Peru banded together as “ronderos” – Spanish for “people who make the rounds” – to curb cattle rustling.

Today, squads of these ronderos are working toward a different aim – thwarting an American mining company’s planned $5 billion gold mining project that they contend would spoil lakes vital to the local population high in the Andes.

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Protests over U.S. based Newmont mine resume in Peru

2 Jan

Andean people protest against Newmont Mining's Conga gold project during a march near the Cortada lagoon at Peru's region of Cajamarca, November 24, 2011.

About 1,000 people marched in the Andean city of Cajamarca against the gold mine proposed by the U.S. miner and its Peruvian partner, Buenaventura. The government says the largest mining investment ever in Peru would generate thousands of jobs, but opponents of the project say it would hurt water supplies by replacing a string of alpine lakes with reservoirs.

President Ollanta Humala, whose term has been tested by the bitter impasse, temporarily suspended freedom of assembly last month to break up protests against the mine that drew 5,000 people onto the streets of Cajamarca.

“Our protest will be peaceful,” Wilfredo Saavedra, head of the Environmental Defense Front of Cajamarca, told Reuters.

The government has been tried several tactics to eliminate opposition to the mine. Last week it promised to have the environmental remediation plan for the mine reviewed by international experts and committed to spend more money on infrastructure projects in towns near where the mine would be built.

It has also sought to demonize leaders of the protests. Peru’s counterterrorism police briefly detained Saavedra last month but released him without filing any charges. A lawyer, Saavedra spent a decade in jail for belonging to the Marxist insurgency group Tupac Amaru. He later reinvented himself as an environmentalist.

Peruvian public prosecutors have also filed a lawsuit against the president of the region of Cajamarca, Gregorio Santos. The government says he has assumed powers beyond his reach by decreeing a local ordinance that forbids construction of the Conga mine. Peru’s constitutional tribunal could strike down the ordinance in the coming days and rebuke Santos.

Humala, elected in June after running as a moderate leftist, shuffled his Cabinet in December to burnish his law-and-order credentials and to halt a wave of anti-mining protests that could delay $50 billion in foreign investment planned for the next decade in the sector. Critics say he has quickly drifted to the right, dashing the hopes of voters in poor provinces who expected he would usher in a period of swift change.

Newmont and Buenaventura temporarily halted work on the Conga project in early November.

Newmont has said its environment plan for the mine, which was approved a year ago by the previous government, meets the highest standards in the mining industry and would ensure year-round water supplies. It says local residents lack water during the dry season.

The standoff over Conga has challenged Humala’s five-month-old presidency. He was supported largely by the rural poor in a June election and promised to hold mining companies to better social and environmental standards in a country with a 30 percent poverty rate.

Humala’s popularity fell below 50 percent for the first time in his term, to 47 percent, a poll by Ipsos Apoyo showed last month.

(Reporting By Patricia Velez and Terry Wade; Editing by Marguerita Choy)