Tag Archives: Peru

How Gold Mining Companies Stifle Opposition in Peru

Police line up during a massive protest against the extractive economic model in Lima, 2015 (Photo by Michael Wilson Becerril)

Multinational mining corporations in northern Peru have devised a number of strategies for suppressing environmental activism and protest, from strategic investment to media relations to outright intimidation and repression.

It is not hard to find examples of many of the same tactics being used in Papua New Guinea.

Michael Wilson Becerril | NACLA | August 7, 2018

The glitter of gold conceals ugly realities in Peru, one of the world’s largest gold producers. While the treasured commodity promises to bring jobs and economic development to extraction sites, its production involves exorbitant water consumption, leaves behind massive amounts of toxic waste, and has led to deadly social conflicts. Harassment and intimidation, propaganda, criminalization, and targeted assassinations of environmental activists characterize everyday life across the world’s mining regions.

Peru’s economy is heavily dependent on mineral extraction, which represents about two-thirds of its national export income. The world price of gold peaked at $1,800 an ounce in 2011 after a 12-year period of rapid growth—enticing the state and mining companies to increase investment and expand mining operations. As the mining business expanded, so did conflicts. Peru’s human rights commission recorded well over 200 active conflicts each year between 2008 and 2017—most of which were related to mining.

Beyond health and environmental risks, extractive projects are often also linked to corruption and underdevelopment. People around the mining sites I’ve studied contest the companies’ false promises, their deception, their arrogance, and the unequal distribution of the benefits and burdens of mining.

For these reasons and more, conflicts around mining often escalate into violence. However, most analyses of these situations tend to focus on explosive conflict eventsrather than what leads to them. Particularly, the tactics that transnational companies use to stoke the fires of these conflicts are often left out. Activists involved in these conflicts want others to understand how corporate representatives gain support and suppress dissent among communities near mining projects, including through corporate social responsibility programs, media partnerships, and repression.

Corporate Social (Ir)responsibility

Extractive industries in Peru have pacified the public and specific groups who oppose mining projects through the adoption and promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which refers to the development of a philanthropic or charitable arm of a for-profit business. CSR is at once a public demand, a marketing strategy, and a byproduct of the diminished role of the state in the provision of public services.

CSR often takes the form of short-term philanthropy, such as handing out petty gifts to gain support for mining projects. CSR also appears as long-term investments in local development, for example through sponsoring scholarships or alternative industries like agriculture. Investment in development projects, like education, reforestation, and agricultural projects, is newer and less common than philanthropic gifts, but its results may be more enduring. The Johannesburg-based company Gold Fields, for example, has funded scholarships as well as dairy pasteurization training and infrastructure around its Cerro Corona mine in the Hualgayoc district of Cajamarca, Peru.

Like other corporate strategies, CSR has become more sophisticated over time. For example, around 2001, a Vancouver-based mining company, then called the Manhattan Minerals Corporation, offered kitchen and school supplies to crowds in downtown Tambogrande, according to local interviewees. More recently, the Toronto-based Barrick Gold set up a so-called “medical campaign” in towns around its Lagunas Norte mine, although one municipal official described this effort as nothing more than “a tent and two doctors pitched downtown for a week.” The U.S.-Peruvian joint venture La Zanja, owned by Newmont Mining, similarly sponsored an optometry campaign in 2011 and has offered basic medical services in nearby districts. Other companies have sponsored town fairs, given away free hot chocolate, and arranged other low-cost compensation activities. La Zanja has also sponsored local organizations, such as by providing t-shirts and hats, emblazoned with the company’s logo, to a local soccer club and an elders’ association.

Barrick Gold, the largest gold company in the world, is partly funding this hospital in Santiago de Chuco, La Libertad, the provincial capital nearest to its Lagunas Norte mine (Photo by Michael Wilson Becerril).

In some cases, companies fund local development projects under the banner of CSR, which may involve reaching agreements with individuals or groups, including people who are outspoken company opponents and present a risk to the company, due to their institutional authority, their organizing power, or both. In addition to financing their preferred candidates’ electoral campaigns, companies have offered cash handouts, construction equipment, contracts for basic services like food and sanitation, and employment—to mining supporters as well as to their opponents and their family members.

Such increasingly sophisticated strategies are on display in the case of the La Zanja mine. Tensions there escalated since the project proposal and construction stage, between 1998 to 2004, when locals burned down the company’s compound. La Zanja left the area and laid low for a few years, but they were not deterred. In 2007, the company returned with a new strategy, involving heavy CSR including hiring sociologists, contracting local opponents into seasonal work, and funding a development-oriented NGO.

These tactics help explain the opposition’s slow demobilization and the company’s successful installation into the community by 2008. In a province where over 60% of the population was classified as impoverished in 2007, the company presented powerful incentives. According to one interviewee who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons, the opposition was essentially bribed into silence. Many in town blamed the movement leaders, accusing them of being merely self-interested or corrupt.

Critics of CSR broadly agree that the practice is a voluntary and insufficient substitute for strict regulations and adequate corporate practices, such as respecting public referenda on the projects, addressing their environmental risks, or truly redistributing the benefits of mining activities to locals. In some of its most common forms, CSR entails companies working with local authorities to fund public infrastructure en lieu of paying some corporate taxes. For example, companies fund the construction of electrical lines and roads—which mining companies need anyway—as well as water reservoirs and treatment facilities, stadiums, parks, and look-out points. Gold Fields, La Zanja, and Barrick tout their contributions to these kinds of construction and infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, residents and local government authorities in mining areas complain that these gifts attract positive attention to distract from corporate tax evasion and environmental degradation.

The Two Faces of Corporate Media Tactics

Gold mining companies collaborate extensively with local and national media to contain opposition to mining projects. Peru’s mining companies work with sophisticated, industry-specific public relations firms and advertising contractors to build strong online presences, open their own news outlets, and build personal relationships with journalists and news editors. These partnerships serve both to promote the firms’ brand and to discredit their opponents.

On the one hand, they curry positive public opinion, highlight their excellent rapport with local communities, and exploit photo opportunities. On the other hand, their publications and statements smear and delegitimize any opposition by portraying it as ignorant, backwards, corrupt, violent and even terroristic, and as an unrepresentativeradical fringe. In Peru, the use of criminalizing frames against “antiminers” and loose accusations of terrorism are particularly salient, given the country’s recent history of internal armed conflict. Words such as terrorism weigh heavily on those who survived the 20-year war, only partially resolved with a return to democracy in 2001.

These discourses have contributed to the pervasive perspective that mining represents an unquestionable path to development and widespread prosperity, that mining companies are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable, and that people who protest mining projects are either misinformed or purposely manipulating the public for self-gain. Such narratives are diffused through official rhetoric, established media, and even social media—for example, Facebook pages operated by mining companies, public relations firms, independent journalists, and other mining supporters—and they are latent in everyday conversations and public debates.

For example, in 2007, former Peruvian president Alan García published two essays that portrayed Indigenous populations—who were organizing a mass movement against extractive projects in their territories, at the time—as “prairie dogs” who were culturally backwards and opposed to “national” progress. In 2015, police detained and beat Antonio Coasaca Mamani, a farmer from Arequipa, for participating in a protest against the proposed Tía María copper mine, owned by the conglomerate Grupo México. During his capture at a protest, the Special Operations Division of the national police attempted to plant weapons on and incriminate Coasaca as a violent “antiminer,” and with the full complicity of the nationwide daily newspaper El Correo, as an investigation and videos of the event revealed. The state-sponsored attempt to frame Coasaca as violent, with the help of a national newspaper, is just one of countless examples of the state and mainstream media’s common practice of framing protest as illegitimate and dangerous.

Repression and Intimidation

The most coercive forms of quelling opposition to mining projects involve repressing and criminalizing opposition through state armed forces and the judicial system, and even intimidating them privately. Criminalizing dissent to protect extractive projects is well-documented in Latin America, where it is known to disproportionately harm womenIndigenous peoples, and Afro-descendent peoples. In each of the cases I studied, I heard countless stories of activists detained or otherwise processed through the court system, and about the distrust and trauma sowed by the armed forces, “always arriving to harm protesters and protect companies,” even during peaceful rallies, as a young activist in La Libertad told me. In Cajamarca alone—Peru’s top gold producing region alongside La Libertad—there were more than 300 protesters with open court cases as of mid-2016, according to Grufides, a regional human rights and environmental NGO.

Most companies often try to put down protests by working with the police, who they call for backup protection during demonstrations, assuming that the police will protect private property and restore order. Indeed, numerous companies have signed private protection contracts with the Peruvian National Police. On the other hand, a manager at the Cerro Corona mine claimed in our conversations that when his company called for police assistance, his supervisors instructed police chiefs to avoid using violence on peaceful protesters. Indeed, there has not been evidence of violence taking place at Cerro Corona. But this is not representative of the majority of cases. Mining companies are likely well aware of the widespread abuses committed by the state armed forces in the country. In assigning the work of quelling protest to the police, extractive companies are effectively transferring responsibility for any violent acts of repression that may occur.

Powerful and well-established mining corporations have ample influence over the state’s own actions, both through formal lobbying and in subtler ways. Yet companies tend to wash their hands from any responsibility when violence breaks out at mining-related protests with police presence.

Outside the realm of protests, dozens of activists I interviewed alleged that companies have also relied on private harassment and intimidation. Activists reported intimidation in the form of threatening phone calls, stalking, or surveillance by private security. Others spoke of physical damages to their homes or workplaces, or attacks on family members. A lawyer who leads the social movement against mining in La Libertad said he received threatening phone calls from a company manager, and claimed to local media that assailants showed up at his house and cut his sister’s face to intimidate him and dissuade his leadership. (He remains anonymous for safety precautions.)

An elected official I interviewed, who strongly opposes a large mining company in Cajamarca, said he could not even answer the phone anymore, given the frequency of the death threats he received, which he said have caused him psychological distress. Several mining company managers at one firm, who asked to remain anonymous, told me they had deeply infiltrated and “kept intelligence” about activist organizations. As one said to me, “In Tía María, protest leaders were recorded accepting bribes, then blackmailed and exposed by companies. The same thing happened here in town. We had to show their true face.” For most activists who reported these kinds of experiences, such tactics have strengthened their resolve to fight the companies. But others have seen the threats as a good reason to demobilize and keep quiet.

Activists have also blamed company actors of plotting the murders of environmental protesters in Piura and Cajamarca. Human rights activists claim that the frequent murder of environmental activists in Latin America cannot be considered coincidental or isolated. More than 270 people were killed in Peru’s social conflicts between 2006 and 2016, with about 70% of these conflicts related to extractive industries, according to the country’s human rights commission. However, in the majority of cases, deaths occurred at the hands of police and military forces, not private actors.

When I asked company representatives and police about assassinations of local leaders, many of them said execution orders are not corporate decisions, but that these actions are generally perpetrated by people with vested interests in silencing detractors. In some extreme cases, however, company managers and employees have directly armed their local supporters and their private security. For example, in the case of the Vale Do Rio Doce company’s Miski Mayo project in Cajamarca, the company formed and armed “defense groups.” The practice has also been documented in other parts of the Americas.

Channeling Conflict

These methods serve to suppress conflict, as opposed to resolving or transforming it. Moreover, even forms of community engagement strategies that purport some benefit, such as CSR investments, usually go hand-in-hand with cooptation, repression, and delegitimation strategies. While such strategies allow companies and the state to keep conflict at bay, they merely create a smokescreen of peace. Ultimately, they postpone and may exacerbate the tensions that underlie company-community relations. This often can lead to a boiling point, when affected peoples can resort to increased militancy. As such, eruptions of violent conflicts are merely symptomatic of underlying everyday tensions.

Though the majority of residents I talked to in mining districts said they were offended by the arrogance and impunity of mining operations in their towns, most claimed that they are not anti-mining or anti-development. Rather, they wanted results from the promise of development: they wanted companies to tighten their environmental standards, expand community participation, and invest more in sustainable economic activities like agriculture. Moreover, they demanded that companies stop cheating the population with inflated-valued buildings or free hot chocolate.

If they want to do more than create a façade of peace, companies must provide communities with meaningful consultation. They should be required to gain informed consent by a democratic majority, as verified by the state and independent monitors. They should promote participatory monitoring opportunities for the communities that accede to their projects. And finally, they should be ready to pay their hosts: for example, through paying higher taxes aimed at promoting local wellbeing, sustainable resource management, and alternative development.

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‘World Class’ U.S. Mining Company Defends Deploying Hired Thugs Against Indigenous Farmers in Peru

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Similar attacks on environmental defenders are mounting throughout Central and South America.

Sarah Lazare / AlterNet | September 26, 2016

The Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation was hit with negative press last week following reports that its Peruvian subsidiary sent security forces to attack the prominent indigenous environmental defender Máxima Acuña de Chaupe at her remote farm in the northern Andean highlands. Now, the mining giant’s latest public relations campaign to defend its use of force against the Chaupe family, including the destruction of their crops, is provoking fresh outcry from human rights and environmental organizations.

Máxima attracted international acclaim—and a Goldman Environmental Prize — for her years-long resistance against the Yanacocha mining company, which is 51.35 percent owned by Newmont and has waged a relentless campaign to transform her plot into the open-pit Conga gold and copper mine. In retaliation for her refusal to sell her land to Yanacocha in 2011, Máxima says she has endured a steady stream of intimidation, harassment and surveillance, alongside an ongoing legal campaign to drive her family from their home of more than 20 years. The mine is widely opposed by peasants and workers in the region, who have staged mass protests and general strikes to resist the project.

The dispute came to a head on the morning of September 18, when Chaupe family members report they were again attacked, this time by roughly 20 private security forces hired by Yanacocha. According to a statement emailed to AlterNet by EarthRights International, the Chaupe family reports the following:

Yesterday morning, at 9:30 am, personnel and security forces working on behalf of Minera Yanacocha, forcibly entered the Tragadero Grande property where the Chaupe family reside and used farm tools to aggressively alter the crops that the Chaupe family had planted on the land. The security forces then formed columns to block Máxima Acuña and her husband Jaime Chaupe from approaching the men who were uprooting their crops. When Máxima and her husband attempted to approach the men to interrupt the invasion and the destruction of their crops, the security forces attacked Máxima and Jaime with their shields and the butts of their firearms. When Jaime went into the house to retrieve his camera to document the abuses, the security forces severely injured Máxima by blows to her head and body.

In the wake of the attack, Máxima and Jaime did not have access to a working cell phone and were unable to call the police to report the attack. Some hours later, a police delegation arrived from Huasmín around midday as a part of a regularly scheduled visit. The Huasmín police delegation lent the Chaupes a cell phone, which Chaupes alerted their family members. Máxima was then taken in a car to Cajamarca where she was treated in the hospital.

Ysidora Chaupe, Máxima’s oldest daughter, confirmed these injuries to Amnesty International.

Human rights and environmental organizations immediately condemned the alleged attack. “Minera Yanacocha must immediately stop their harassment of Máxima and her family, denounce attacks like this one, and call on its employees, agents and all others to ensure her safety,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director for Earthworks, in a press statement.

In response to the resultant outcry, Newmont appears to be doing damage control. On September 20, the company released a statement  claiming that, “Yanacocha conducted a lawful possessory defense to remove the crops from the parcel owned by Yanacocha as required by law to protect their land rights, and replanted the area with native grass.”

Newmont spokesperson Omar Jabara told AlterNet, “This was incursion into Newmont property. Her family is moving into areas not under dispute to take advantage of Peru’s squatter laws.”

But Marco Simons, general counsel at EarthRights International, told AlterNet that Newmont officials “decided to take the law into their own hands.”

“This is a family that sincerely believes that this is its property and is fighting this out in court,” said Simons. “So far, no court has disagreed with them. So, what would you do if you were on your property, and suddenly over a dozen people dressed like stormtroopers poured through a hole in the fence and start surrounding you? Newmont says that landowners are legally justified in using force to defend their property. That’s the position that they put Máxima and her family in, but it’s not a fair fight.”

In an attempt to clear the company’s name, Newmont’s communications department released a video which it claims proves that “at no time did any member of the security team or Yanacocha retaliate or attempt to strike the Chaupes.” The footage can be viewed below.

Yet the video seems questionable at best. The footage shows roughly 20 armed forces donning riot gear and shields, breaking through a fence and descending on the isolated home and farm of the Chaupe family. Contrary to Newmont’s claims that they were unarmed, the men can be seen carrying batons. Jabara confirmed this, calling the weapons “purely defensive.”

Remarking on the video, Simons observed: “The security personnel had to pass through a Newmont fence to get to the area where the confrontation took place. Newmont built that fence to keep Maxima and her family off of their property. The company’s claim that this area is somehow indisputably Newmont property is belied by the notion that this is inside the fence that they built.”

In the confrontations shown in the footage, Jaime and Máxima are vastly outnumbered and seemingly powerless to stop the individuals shown destroying their crops. But perhaps most troubling are the stretches of time in which Máxima cannot be seen onscreen.

“What we see on camera is a large number of men in riot gear surrounding the home of the Chaupe family and pulling out crops,” Payal Sampat, mining program director at Earthworks, told AlterNet. “We see and hear the Chaupe family’s terror, and then there is a lengthy period of time in which you cannot see Máxima on the screen but can hear her cries of despair. That is extremely alarming, and if anything, the video demonstrates the heavy-handed approach of Yanacocha towards this campesino family.”

Sampat called it a “David-and-Goliath” scenario, noting that the company “has its security guards stationed outside of their home and land 24/7. They are subject to constant surveillance and intimidation.”

Asked how the video provides definitive proof, as the company claims, that Máxima was not injured, Jabara replied:

“You can’t assume that the fact that they went off-screen proves that they were struck.”

He instructed AlterNet that “multiple stories” in the Peruvian press exonerate the company and also claimed that “police released a statement that she [Máxima] did not sustain any serious injuries, despite claims from NGOs.”

Yet, according to Simons, police are under contract with Yanacocha, raising questions about their impartiality. He added:

“Yanacocha and Newmont’s influence throughout this region is so pervasive that any number of officials and administrators might be reluctant to cross Newmont.”

This is not the first time Máxima says her family was attacked. She reported in January 2014 that she received an anonymous death threat over the phone, as well as a home visit from police ordering her to stop farming her land. Since then, she says there were at least three incidents in which police and/or private security forces have either destroyed her crops, damaged the infrastructure of her home or physically intimidated her and her family.

Máxima’s allegations are particularly disturbing in light of mounting attacks on environmental defenders throughout Central and South America. According to a report released in April 2015 by the advocacy organization Global Witness, the killing of activists is on the rise, with 116 environmental defenders murdered in 2014 alone. “A shocking 40 percent of victims were indigenous, with most people dying amid disputes over hydropower, mining and agri-business,” the study states. “Nearly three-quarters of the deaths we found information on were in Central and South America.”

In March, Honduran environmental defender Berta Cáceres was assassinated while opposing massive hydropower projects in the Gualcarque river basin, provoking international outcry. Máxima’s global supporters are determined to prevent her from suffering a similar fate. In April, 21 prominent environmental and human rights organizations, including Amazon Watch and Global Witness, wrote an open letter to Gary Goldberg, the president and CEO of Newmont Mining Corporation, to ask “that your company end its ongoing harassment of the Chaupe family.”

That letter came just two months after Newmont claimed to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it no longer plans to build the mine, stating on page 22 of its filing: “Under the current social and political environment, the Company does not anticipate being able to develop [the] Conga [mine] for the foreseeable future. Given recent expiration of operating and construction permits and the related uncertainty around the renewal of those permits, as well as the deferral of the project, the Company has removed Conga from its Reserves statement.”

In light of the company’s claims that it is deferring the mining project, it is unclear why it continues to deploy security forces to the Chaupe family farm. According to Simons, “Either they are lying in their SEC filing, or they care so much about not letting this family win that they will continue fighting them and intimidating them even if they don’t have any business interest in doing so, to send message to anyone else who might stand up against their actions.”

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All that glitters is not gold: Indigenous communities in Peru protest mining

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High up in the Andes of Peru, a battle is raging between foreign mining businesses eying gold, and indigenous communities who want to protect their clean water and way of life.

Deutsche Welle

The Andean highlands of Peru have long drawn those in search of fortune. Centuries ago, Spanish conquistadors arrived to plunder the rough, jagged landscape of its gold and silver, effectively ending the Incan Empire. Today, multinational mining companies cut into the earth to extract its abundant resources.

For the past 20 years, Yanacocha – the world’s second-largest gold mine – has been operating in the dizzying heights of the mountain region. Heavy machinery cuts deep ridges into the ground, leaving unmistakable scars behind. Trucks laden with ore snake down roads from the mine.

The operators, U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corporation and Peruvian company Minas Buenaventura, say it has boosted the economy of what is Peru’s poorest province. But some locals in its region of Cajamarca disagree.

They say they haven’t gotten a fair share of the area’s spoils, and that the sprawling open-pit mine pollutes their rivers and irrigation canals through nitrates used in explosives, chemicals used for processing the ore and fuel residues. Even worse, some say they have been repeatedly threatened and when they demonstrate to draw attention to their cause, they face police brutality.

“I’ve been beaten twice just for a peaceful protest against one project that would drain our lake,” says Eduardo Ramirez (not his real name*), a local activist who says runoff from the mine has already contaminated the waters he uses for farming. “We don’t know who to trust, since Yanacocha has contracts with the police.”

The mining company has built a water reservoir to supply drinking water year-round. However, it also drains natural lakes in the area

The mining company has built a water reservoir to supply drinking water year-round. However, it also drains natural lakes in the area

Precious water

In the area around Cajamarca, water is a particularly critical resource. That’s because mining is a thirsty business that consumes massive amounts of that liquid of life, stripping soil and vegetation that help to replenish underground aquifers.

The population in the region is growing and in its capital city of the same name, water supply is already insufficient to meet need, says Robert Moran, a Colorado-based hydrogeology consultant who did an independent analysis of water in the region in 2012.

At the time of his visit, municipal water was available only a few times a day in many sections of Cajamarca. The other issue, he says, is the danger of contamination from chemicals released by mining and mineral processing.

“Roughly 70 percent of the city’s water is supplied by the El Milagro facilities, which take water from the Rio Grande below the Yanacocha operation,” wrote Moran.

That water is at risk of contamination from mining operations – some insist that mining activities have already polluted it. Moran says “the city has inadequate resources (analytical, financial, etc.) to strongly support these allegations.”

Newmont: ‘We are trying to help’

For its part, Newmont says it does what it can to mitigate the environmental impact of the Yanacocha mine. It says it invested more than $1 billion in environmental and social responsibility projects in the region between 1993 and 2012, such as health care, community infrastructure and facilities, agricultural support, and education. The local community also has better access to water, thanks to the company’s efforts, says spokesman Omar Jabara.

A recently constructed water reservoir provides year-round water to a handful of smaller communities near the city of Cajamarca, even during the six-month dry season.

“Cajamarca’s regional government doesn’t have any water storage capacity, and that’s why we’re trying to help,” says Jabara.

The region received more than 418 million soles (111.2 million euros) in mining royalties from 1996 to 2011, according to a 2014 report, co-authored by the Columbia University Law School Human Rights Clinic and local nonprofits – much of which goes to the local and regional government.

But that same report also notes that over half of Cajamarca residents still live in poverty. “Mining has not lifted the region out of poverty, and instead has produced social and environmental conflict for our communities,” the report says.

Open pit mining involves stripping soil and vegetation which can cause soil erosion and affect water supply

Open pit mining involves stripping soil and vegetation which can cause soil erosion and affect water supply

Dangerous protests

That conflict often plays out in the form of protests against the operations, particularly around lakes facing drainage for mining purposes. One such protest is being led by subsistence farmer Máxima Acuña, who has been resisting alleged attempts to force her off her land for years. Acuña and her family say they have withstood violent eviction attempts, including beatings that left her and one of her daughter’s unconscious. The mining company denies any involvement.

Yanacocha claims it bought the land in 1997 from the local community, and that Acuña, who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016, is illegally occupying it. A court case contesting her ownership is still pending. The joint venture that owns the Yanacocha mine wanted to set up a new project, the Conga gold mine, in the region but the project has been on hold since 2011, according to Newmont.

It’s a dangerous time for environmental activists in the region. In 2012, four deaths in the nearby town of Celendin were linked to protests against the Conga project, says Maryum Jordan, a lawyer with the NGO Earthrights International in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

One farmer, Elmer Campos, is still seeking compensation for medical costs for when he was shot in the back while protesting expansion of the Yanacocha mine in 2011, according to Jordan.

But a law passed in 2014 freeing police from criminal responsibility if they kill or injure someone in the line of duty means protesters in the future would have no legal avenue to challenge police brutality.

Some heavy duty machinery at a goldmine

Some heavy duty machinery at a goldmine

Jordan added that she’s also heard reports about activists facing criminal charges when they hadn’t done anything, as retaliation for their activism. Some of them face up to 65 charges each, including things like kidnapping and public obstruction of roads, she says.

Still, as protests continue, the mining company is yielding to some of the demands from Cajamarca residents. It recently announced it would not forge ahead with the Conga project “for the foreseeable future.” It’s one small victory for communities there.

“When you stand up to mining interests, it feels like David battling Goliath,” says Ramirez. “But Máxima [Acuña] shows us that the fight is not hopeless.”

*Out of fear for reprisal, the interviewee requested his real name not be used

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Hearing in London High Court in claim by Peruvians against mining firm

Peruvian community take one of the world’s leading mining companies to the High Court in London claiming it is responsible for the killing and injuring of protesters near a mine in Peru in 2012 

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Leigh Day | 24 February 2016

Members of a local community in Peru are taking one of the world’s leading mining companies to the High Court in London claiming it is responsible for the killing, injury and unlawful detention of protestors demonstrating near the Tintaya mine in the Espinar Province of Peru during a disturbance there in May 2012.

At the time the mine was owned by Xstrata Tintaya S.A. (renamed Companía Minera Antapaccay) a subsidiary of the London-based Xstrata Limited, which became part of Glencore Xstrata plc in 2013.

Xstrata denies responsibility, saying in a statement at the time that it “deeply regretted the violent events that resulted in the loss of human lives”, and is robustly defending the legal action. In its Defence it states that whilst it paid a large fee to the Peruvian National Police (‘PNP’) and gave accommodation, food and drink to some of the 1,500 officers who were policing the protests, it nevertheless bears no responsibility for the actions of the PNP.

A preliminary hearing will take place on 25 February. The three-week trial, due to take place in June 2016, will hear claims that on 28 May 2012 following days of protest the PNP shot at protestors, killing and injuring many of them as they legally demonstrated near the mine. The Claimants say that the PNP were operating under the instruction and control of the mine company’s management, a claim denied by the company, Those injured, and the families of those killed, claim the police were paid almost half a million dollars by the company to protect the mine.

Many protestors, who were opposing the environmental impacts and social effects of the mine, claim they were also assaulted, abused and unlawfully detained inside the mine compound. The company denies that any violence took place within the compound itself.

The Tintaya mine was an open pit copper mining and processing operation located in the Yauri district of Espinar Province, Cusco region, Southern Peru.  It has recently been decommissioned and production has moved to the Antapaccay mine, which is located a few miles away.

Those injured, killed or imprisoned by the police include human rights activists, students, mine workers and farmers from the rural population living in Espinar Province.

Three demonstrators were killed. The injured and relatives of those killed are represented by Leigh Day.

Clinicians from the US-based organisation ‘Physicians for Human Rights’ have assessed a number of the claimants and found that they sustained serious life-changing physical and psychiatric injuries and have significant ongoing care needs.

One of the claimants, Mr Yohel Colqque, was hospitalised for 16 months after being shot in the head. He is now unable to walk and is confined to a wheelchair.

He was a student at the time of the protests and was shot while filming a woman being abused by a police officer on his mobile telephone. Yohel is now unable to continue his studies, work, or live independently due to the severity of his injuries.

According to Physicians for Human Rights, the injured man’s family do not have the means to support him. He urgently requires rehabilitation and equipment, including a wheelchair, as well as access to medication for the epilepsy that he has developed since he was shot and for the pain that he experiences on a daily basis.

Xstrata says it conforms to international guidelines on the risk of human rights abuses such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

According to the Voluntary Principles: “The primary role of public security should be to maintain the rule of law, including safeguarding human rights and deterring acts that threaten Company personnel and facilities. The type and number of public security forces deployed should be competent, appropriate and proportional to the threat.”

Gene Matthews a partner within the International and Group Claims Team at Leigh Day, who is representing the Peruvians, said:

“The population of Espinar had longstanding concerns about the environmental impact of the Tintaya mine.

“This company, whose headquarters are in the UK, must take full responsibility not only for the actions of its staff and private security forces but also for the direction and control the Claimants allege it exerted over the Peruvian National Police.

“Multinational companies must be held to account, and do more than pay lip service to international human rights principles and guidelines. Lawful protest should never result in deaths and serious injury”.

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Global mining companies never stop bullying indigenous peoples

After losing in court, a giant mining corporation is bullying a indigenous Peruvian farmer in a fight to turn her land into an open-pit gold mine

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This is the women who scares a $10 billion corporation. Máxima, an indigenous Peruvian farmer, has been fighting against corporate bully Newmont Mining for months.

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The world’s second biggest gold mining corporation is at war with an indigenous Peruvian farmer.

Máxima Acuña de Chaupe has been fighting for years to save her land and her community. Newmont Mining is determined to destroy both for a massive, open-pit gold mine — which would drain four mountain lakes in an arid farming region.

Newmont Mining has already lost in court to Máxima, and her land should be safe. But now Newmont-backed security officers have invaded Máxima’s house and destroyed part of it.

Máxima is strong, but she needs our support to win against Newmont’s aggressive bullying tactics. If hundreds of thousands of us speak out now and tell the mining giant that we are watching Máxima’s back, the corporate bully may finally back off. Will you send a message to ensure Máxima’s safety?

Tell Newmont to stop its attacks against this indigenous female farmer and respect the court’s ruling.

This isn’t an isolated incident with this corporate bully. With operations on five continents, Newmont been accused of polluting the environment, damaging natural habitats, impacting the health of local communities, corruption, and bribery in locations around the world from Nevada to Indonesia.

These unethical business practices can’t continue. The courts have already called for an end to this harassment, and by standing behind Máxima we can finally make Newmont listen. We are teaming up with our friends at Earthworks to speak out against this corporate bully. This strategy has worked before — together with Earthworks, we convinced another multinational mining company, Rio Tinto, to drop its investment in what would have been the biggest gold mine on earth — a mine that would have destroyed half of the world’s sockeye salmon population.

Máxima has been fighting against this corporate bully for months. Let’s speak out now to let her know that she is not alone in this fight.

Sign the petition to Newmont Mining, demanding that the corporation leave Máxima and her neighbors in peace!

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Mine construction