A new popular uprising has started in Peru at the port of Callao, crucial for international trade and the handling of the majority of the country’s seaborne cargo. After 10 months of unresolved negotiations with transnational company, APM Terminals Peruvian longshore workers from the port of Callao, west of Lima, decided to take to the streets and march. This latest demonstration follows an earlier strike against the company on May 13, with workers demanding pay rises in relation to the company's profits, full healthcare coverage, and training.
Photo: TeleSUR/Rael Mora. A three-day general strike against the Tia Maria mining project of transnational Southern Copper Corporation in the southern region of Arequipa in Peru was launched on May 12.
New information was released on October 14 at the Financing Development with Transparency annual conference about the controversial operations of US mining company Newmont. Journalist Raul Weiner and accountant Juan Torres released their investigation, claiming it proves the US transnational committed tax fraud by not paying the Peruvian state about US$137 million last year alone. Newmont owns Yanacocha in Peru, a set of five gold mines that make up the second largest gold exploration in the world. The transnational also owns an expansion project called Conga.
Peru will host the UN-sponsored Conference of Parties climate talks this December. The world’s peak climate conference, the COP is an annual event first held in Berlin in 1995, leading to provisional developments such as the Kyoto Protocol. Peru is also a country increasingly affected by the consequences of climate change. A study published by the United Nations Development Project said: “Peru has been ranked third globally in terms of risk to climate related disasters.”
El Salvador joined four other Latin American countries in recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest against Israel’s bloody attack on the Gaza Strip, International Business Times said on July 30. Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have all recalled their diplomatic representatives to Israel.
WikiLeaks cables released on June 9 shed new light on the United States' role in the Bagua Massacre in Peru on June 5, 2009. The cables suggest then-US ambassador Michael McKinley may have encouraged the Peruvian government to use force against protesters in an operation that cost 10 protesters and 24 police officers their lives. Indigenous groups in the Amazon had been blockading highways for seven weeks. They were protesting against decrees passed by Peru’s then-president Alan Garcia.
With Newmont-Buenaventura set to resume building operations at the controversial Conga mine site this year, the Peruvian government has passed a new law granting legal immunity to security personnel who injure or kill protesters. The promulgation of Law 30151, which was officially gazetted on January 14 after being signed by President Ollanta Humala, indicates the state and its transnational corporate backers are planning an expanded campaign of repression against Peruvian communities resisting their neoliberal development model.
Cusco, a city of 400,000 in south-eastern Peru, was totally paralysed on February 25. It was the first day of a 48-hour general strike initiated by trade unions and other civic groups. The strike was supported by bus, taxi and truck drivers, as well as peasant and indigenous groups in provinces throughout the Cusco region. All vehicular traffic ceased in the downtown area and citizens walked freely through the streets ― an unusual sight in a South American city.
The Peruvian government has renewed its commitment to several controversial mining mega-projects. The projects have provoked huge regional protests against the environmentally destructive expansion plans of foreign mining corporations. Speaking at a mining industry conference held in the southern city of Arequipa on September 16, Minister of Energy and Mines Jorge Merino indicated that Conga (in Cajamarca), Tia Maria (in Arequipa) and Corani (in Puno) will be developed with the backing of President Ollanta Humala's administration.
The Conga gold and copper mining project is becoming one of Latin America’s most significant environmental battlefronts. It is pitting almost the entire population of the northern Cajamarca region of Peru against the invasive forces of the multinational mining industry and its governmental puppets in Lima. In recent years, there have been many strikes and protests. This has led to hundreds of arrests, scores of injuries and several protester deaths.
Hundreds of protesters from the indigenous advocacy NGO Survival International gathered outside Peruvian consulates and embassies in London, Paris, Madrid and San Francisco on April 23. They had gathered to urge the Peruvian government to reconsider expanding the Camisea gas mega-project. Camisea’s Bloc 88, deep in the Amazonian jungles of south-eastern Peru, is thought to contain over 10 trillion cubic feet of gas.
One year has passed since the community of Cajamarc, in Peru's northern highlands, rose up against the “Conga” copper and gold mine, a US$5 billion mega-project proposed by the World Bank-backed Newmont-Buenaventura consortium. The unified cry of the protesters is still: “Conga no way!” The region bordering the mine site is home to an agricultural population that relies on the natural highland water system. Destroying this precious and fragile asset would end the viability of their existence.
The highland agricultural community of Santa Rosa de Cajacuy, in Peru’s central Ancash department, has been severely affected by a toxic spill from the BHP Billiton and Xstrata-operated Antamina mine. Antamina is one of the world’s largest sources of copper and zinc. It relies on a 300 kilometre high-pressure pipeline to pump resources from the mountains to coastal port facilities.
After a hostage crisis in which one of armed group Shining Path's (Sendero Luminoso – SL) factions abducted gas workers employed by a major multinational, a counter-insurgency operation was launched in the Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE). The stand-off was reported by the international media. But what has been largely ignored are the human rights abuses against VRAE civilian communities are being committed by the Peruvian military.
Tintaya is an open-cut copper and gold mine 4000 metres high in the district of Yauri, Espinar province, southern Peru. It is a spectacle of modern industrial devastation that contrasts jarringly with the timeless beauty of the surrounding altiplano landscape. Finally, after years of aggravated environmental abuse, the mine's owner, Swiss-based Xstrata, will be investigated by Peruvian authorities. After the discovery of large deposits, a copper mine was established at Tintaya in the mid-1980s. Extractive operations were hugely expanded when BHP bought the site in 1996.
Cajamarca, a town with tragic associations in Peruvian history, is the setting of another devastating imperialist onslaught. In 1532, a band of Spanish conquistadores ambushed the Inca king Atahualpa in the central plaza of this Andean town. The brutal spirit of conquista is alive and well in contemporary Cajamarca, in the form of the US-based Newmont mining corporation, an outfit with a slick PR machine and a very dirty environmental and human rights track record.