MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Anti-mining protesters occupy downtown Cusco

Published by MAC on 2016-01-20
Source: Peru Reports, Peru This Week

Anti-mining protesters occupy downtown Cusco

Peru Reports

20 January 2016

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Cusco’s downtown plaza to demand the repeal of dozens of mining licenses in a sacred region of the Quispicanchi province.

Protest leaders say that gold-mining licenses granted in 2013 infringe on part of the sacred grounds of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti sanctuary.

The religious festival, observed by residents from throughout Cusco state, sees thousands make the pilgrimage to the area for celebrations, including indigenous dances which were recognized by the national government as cultural heritage in 2004.

“If they do not void the mining licenses granted in the area of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti sanctuary, we are going to hold an indefinite strike,” celebrations board secretary Norberto Vega told El Comercio.

Protest leaders say that the small mining operations legally sanctioned by the state encourage illegal gold mining in the province, which harms the environment and threatens the Lord of Qoyylur Riti lands.

Cusco governor Edwin Licona called on the Cusco office of Peru’s mining and energy ministry to revise the 85 gold-mining licenses awarded in Quispicanchi province.

Over 100,000 residents of Cusco and greater Peru flock to the Sinakhara valley before Holy Week every year to camp in freezing temperatures in celebration the Lord of Qoyllur Riti.

The tradition with roots in pre-colonial times was Hispanicized into a Catholic tradition in the 18th century.

In October 2015, demonstrations paralyzed the city of Cusco and prevented thousands of tourists from reaching Machu Picchu, Peru’s top tourist attraction, in protests which ultimately led to the repeal of an archaeology privatization law passed by the national government.

Cusco: Qoyllur Riti pilgrims protest against mining concessions

Hillary Ojeda

Peru This Week

19 January 2016

Thousands of people from all over the world every year make their way to take part and witness the Señor de Qoyllur Riti celebration in Cusco.

The tradition was named Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2004 and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011, and therefore has great significance to local Cusco residents and Peruvians alike.

Despite its great value, illegal gold mining in the Cusco province of Quispicanchi is threatening its existence. Pilgrims of the tradition and Cusco residents are demanding the annulment of mining concessions that affect the celebration.

“If in three months they don’t annul the mining concessions in the area of the intangible sanctuary of Qoyllur Riti, we will conduct an indefinite strike,” said Norberto Vega Cutipa, secretary of the Nations Council of Señor de Qoyllur Riti, reports El Comercio.

Yesterday, thousands of pilgrims from Señor de Qoyllur Riti marched through the streets of Cusco to declare their protest of the illegal mining concessions.

Following the march, the protest ended in the installation of a dialogue table where in leaders of the congregation demanded that the concessions for gold mining leave the territory of the annual celebration.

El Comercio had access to a document of a Land Registry Office in Cusco, where in it details that the Ministry of Energy and Mines awarded the title of a mining concession named Noé 2013 located in the Ocongate district in Quispicanchi.

This is located “partially on the delimitation of the cultural landscape of the sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti,” reads the statement according to the daily news agency.

They report that this concession is one of 85 that are located in Quispicanchi.

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