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.
David T. Rowlands
The July 20 movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado ― in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded ― is reckoned by some sources to be the 36th mass shooting to have occurred in the US in the past three decades. On top of these crazed rampages, the annual attrition of gun-related deaths accounts for about 30,000 victims across the US. It would be bad enough if the seemingly unchallengeable dogma of the US Constitution's 2nd Amendment’s “right to bear arms” contributed to the deaths of only US citizens. Yet US “gun culture” is a lethal problem for the rest of the world as well.
Adopting a centre-left reforming image, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala was narrowly elected last year on the back of widespread discontent with destructive neoliberal development policies and a widening wealth gap. His supporters were filled with the hope that real and substantive change was imminent. Other progressives welcomed the Humala victory more cautiously, arguing that it was at least the lesser of two evils. The alternative was ultra right-winger Keiko Fujimori.
A case of the unspeakable, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, in pursuit of the unsinkable? It is actually rather fitting that the multi-billionaire mining “magnate” Clive Palmer should be drawn to the idea of recreating the ghastly Titanic experience.
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.
At the insistence of the United States and Canada, Cuba was excluded from the Sixth Summit of the Americas, an intergovernmental conference held in Cartagena, Colombia, over April 14-15. As a result of opposition from many Latin American nations over Cuba's exclusion, as well as Argentina's claim to sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falklands) islands, the summit ended with no final declaration signed. The summit, involving all nations in the Americas except Cuba, is ostensibly designed to facilitate dialogue, understanding and cooperation between nations of the region.
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.
A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) motion condemning the Syrian regime's bloodshed and caling for a “transition to democracy” was vetoed on February 4 by Russia and China. United States officials condemned the move as “disgusting and shameful” and a “travesty”. The moral outrage expressed by the US was faithfully reported by the corporate Western media, which paid little attention to Washington’s own voting record in the UNSC.
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.
One of the most chilling scenes in the recent SBS mini-series The Promise depicts the plight of some Palestinian schoolgirls in Hebron. Leaving school in the afternoon, the girls are subjected to abuse and intimidation by settler youths as they walk home. At one point, a settler boy, face contorted with hatred, viciously hurls stones at the group, injuring one. Meanwhile, as the girls crouch in terror, blase Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers look on, doing nothing to stop the violence until challenged by a young foreign tourist.
It’s another statistic showing up the criminal absurdity of Plan Colombia and Washington’s “war on drugs.” Last year, according to recent United States Drug Enforcement Administration sources, Peru produced about 325 metric tonnes of pure cocaine, surpassing Colombia’s output of 275 tonnes. For the first time since the early 1990s, Peru has emerged as the world’s leading cocaine producer. Bolivian production is also reportedly up. In its traditional, folk medicinal form, coca is a blessing that dispels ailments such as indigestion and altitude sickness with remarkable efficacy.
United States Undersecretary of State James Steinberg, speaking in Bogota on October 26, claimed the future relationship between Washington and its most favoured client in Latin America, Colombia, would be based on “reciprocity and mutual respect”. The stated purpose of Steinberg’s visit was to “re-launch the agenda” of US-Colombian relations” by initiating a “High-Level Partnership Dialogue”.
In the aftermath of Ollanta Humala’s June 5 victory in the Peruvian presidential election, the “investment community” and the international business press reacted with the hysteria of thieves who think they have heard a distant siren approaching. Their first impulse was to cut and run. Peruvian stocks plunged amid fears that this “radical leftist” would put an end to the “good times”, levelling higher taxes on mining profits and perhaps nationalising key export industries.
There used to be snow On the mountain tops Now the rivers run low Nothing left for the crops Where will they go They who work the land When all the ancestral waters Have vanished in the sand? Free market policies And vanishing border lines Replacing highland pastures With open cut mines No choice but to leave A thousand years behind City lights on the horizon What will they find? Billboards by the highway Paper-thin lies Selling progress and consumerism As the land about them dies Welcome to decaying sewers And chemical smokestack plumes
At the Second Meeting of American Organisations and Movements in Tihuanacu, Bolivia, in 1983, September 5 was officially designated International Indigenous Women’s Day. Since then, September 5 has been growing in recognition as a major event in Latin America's progressive calendar. The date was chosen in honour of Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara resistance leader who was brutally executed by royalist forces in La Paz, now the capital of Bolivia, on September 5, 1782.
Fifty years have passed since Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba fell victim to a US-Belgian murder plot. The killing of the Congo's first post-independence leader set the newly-independent central African country (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on a tragic course that has led to the horrors of today. The involvement of Western imperialist interests in this resource-rich region has been disastrous for its inhabitants from the outset. Under Belgian rule, which officially ended in 1960, the Congo became a byword for crimes against humanity.