Partial success in Peru: Government lifts state of emergency in Cajamarca

Cajamarcan infront of a fallen down hut

Dec 19, 2011

The Peruvian government has lifted the state of emergency in four provinces in the region of Cajamarca in northern Peru. Thus, the government has responded to the numerous national and international protests criticising the declaration of the state of emergency and the suspension of fundamental rights associated with it.

On December 16th, the Peruvian government has lifted the state of emergency in four provinces in the region of Cajamarca in northern Peru. Thus, the government has responded to the numerous national and international protests criticising the declaration of the state of emergency and the suspension of fundamental rights associated with it. On December 4th, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala put the provinces under military control in order to suppress the peaceful demonstrations against the giant mining project “Conga”.

The lifting of the state of emergency and the release of the regional administration’s frozen funds were preconditions for the resumption of the negotiations. Now, talks between representatives of the regional and the national government are scheduled for the next few days. On Monday, the newly appointed Prime Minister Oscar Valdés is going to travel to Cajamarca. Meanwhile, the regional president of Cajamarca, Gregorio Santos, has announced that the strike action will be abandoned for a period of ten days in order to await the outcome of the negotiations scheduled.

However, the conflict is not resolved. Our local partners report that leading representatives of the regional government as well as environmental groups who speak out against the Conga project are still denounced. In addition to this, mining companies and the central government make efforts to disperse the protesters and the insurgent villagers and their communities.

The conflict surrounding the Conga project led to a crisis in the new Peruvian government of Ollanta Humala. After negotiations had failed to produce a resolution, Prime Minister Salomón Lerner Ghitis and another ten ministers took their leave. Following the negative experiences with the Yanacocha mine, the majority of the population and regional political representatives reject further expansion of the mining industry. During the past 18 years, the largest gold mine in Latin America did not bring about prosperity and development for the people of Cajamarca, but environmental degradation and water shortages instead. Being an important agricultural region in Peru, Cajamarca is absolutely dependent on sufficient amounts of clean water. 70 per cent of the population subsist on agriculture.

Rainforest Rescue supports the people of Cajamarca in their protest: We have started a petition. On our Spanish and our German website, more than 20.000 people have already participated.