MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Máxima Acuña Attacked Again by Minera Yanacocha Guards

Published by MAC on 2016-09-19
Source: Telesur, Conga Conflict Blog (2016-09-18)

Campesino activist refuses to leave her land in the Peruvian highlands

Campesino activist Máxima Acuña de Chaupe refuses to leave her farm in the Peruvian highlands, despite the many threats she has faced for opposing the Conga gold project.

On 18 September, guards hired by Minera Yanacocha entered the Chaupe family land without permission. When Maxima and her husband Jaime called for a stop to the disruption to their land, security personnel violently attacked them. They hit Maxima on the head and body with a weapon and left her seriously injured.

Servindi has posted a short video testimony of Maxima hospitalized in Cajamarca (by Víctor Liza Jaramillo): https://youtu.be/d5KoFZvO5ng

Earthworks have created an urgent action alert: bit.ly/1Uk0Hl0 and Amnesty International Canada have produced one here: http://www.amnesty.ca/get-involved/take-action-now/peru-dont-let-corporations-attack-and-harass-people

Previous article on MAC:

2016-04-19 Peru: Máxima Acuña wins the Goldman Prize
2015-03-19 State and mining company collusion challenged in Peru

Peru: Maxima Acuña and Partner Attacked by Mining Firm's Guards

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Peru-Maxima-Acuna-and-Partner-Attacked-by-Mining-Firms-Guards-20160918-0018.html

18 September 2016

Peru's internationally-renowned environmentalist Maxima Acuña and her partner were severely hurt Sunday morning in an attack by alleged hitmen hired by the mining company they are fighting against, reported Acuña's daughter.

At around 9.30 a.m. local time, “people hired by mining firm Yanacocha illegally broke into the property and started damaging the lot with various tools,” said Ysidora Chaupe, daughter of Acuña and Jaime Chaupe.

“When Maxima and Jaime approached them and demanded they stop invading the property, the mining firm's security staff violently attacked Maxima and Jaime, hitting Maxima in the head and body with a weapon, leaving her seriously hurt,” she added.

Acuña's husband, who was badly injured, managed to report the attack to the police at around 12 p.m. But the police did a routine check, leaving both campesinos in critical condition and in urgent need of medical attention.

Acuña won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for stopping Yanococha, a subsidiary of U.S.-based mining giant Newmont, from constructing an open-pit gold mine that threatened to contaminate the water supply and cause water shortages for thousands of people living in this agricultural and cattle-rearing region.

Acuña was one of the few campesinos who refused to sell her land in 2011 in the northern region of Cajamarca as Yanacocha was setting up the largest gold-mining project in South America called Minas Conga. The International Finance Corporation, the lending arm of the World Bank, owns a 5 percent stake in the project.

She is still fighting in court for the property rights for her piece of land, although a December 2014 appeals court decision overturned an earlier sentence of three years in prison for her and her husband for allegedly invading Yanacocha's property.

In April, Acuña told teleSUR about the daily fear she and others were forced to live under, saying the mining company kept intimidating any campesinos leaders who dared to protest for the right of land and water.

Foreign mining companies operating in Peru often hire police as security guards, while the Peruvian government often deploys police, military and intelligence personnel on behalf of mining, gas and oil companies to crush any dissent and local resistance.

On March 3, Berta Caceres, one of last year’s winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, was assassinated in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Latin America is the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists. In Peru alone, 61 activists were killed in the past 10 years, according to the human rights organization Global Witness.


URGENT: Maxima Acuña and her husband Jaime Chaupe attacked by Yanacocha mining company

Conga Conflict Blog - https://congaconflict.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/urgent-maxima-acuna-and-her-husband-jaime-chaupe-attacked-by-yanacocha-mining-company/

18 September, 2016

Ysidora Chaupe, daughter of Maxima Acuña and Jaime Chaupe, has just informed us:

Today, at 9.30am. workers hired by the Yanacocha mining company entered the Chaupe family land without permission and began to disturb their land using various tools. When Maxima and her husband Jaime came to denounce the invasion and to call for a stop to the disruption to their land, security personnel of the mining company prevented that the family advance to talk with the invaders. It was at this moment that they violently attacked Maxima and Jaime. They hit Maxima on the head and body with a weapon and left her seriously injured.

Jaime’s mobile phone was not working so they were unable to report the attack, thus left alone and wounded until 12 pm. when a police delegation from the district of Huasmín arrived, who were carrying out a routine inspection. At this time they were able to communicate with their daughter Ysidora to make the complaint. Maxima and Jaime are in urgent need of medical attention.


Latin American environmental defender attacked, hospitalized

Joint press release (EARTHWORKS * ASOCIACIÓN INTERAMERICANA PARA LA DEFENSA DEL AMBIENTE (AIDA) EARTHJUSTICE * EARTHRIGHTS INTERNATIONAL * GAIA FOUNDATION * GLOBAL WITNESS * LONDON MINING NETWORK * MININGWATCH CANADA * SUMOFUS)

20 September 2016

Goldman Prize winner Máxima Acuña de Chaupe reportedly attacked by mining company security guards

Washington, D.C. -- 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Máxima Acuña de Chaupe was hospitalized after being attacked, allegedly by security forces hired by Minera Yanacocha, a subsidiary of Denver-based Newmont Mining, according to information provided by the Chaupe family. The attack took place on Máxima’s property in northern Peru that the mining company has been trying to obtain for its Conga gold mine project.

“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 Earthworks’ Executive Director Jennifer Krill.

The attack against Máxima is an alarming reminder of the murder earlier this year of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres. Berta was the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner from South and Central America. Both Berta and Máxima put their lives at risk by publicly denouncing multinational corporations threatening their communities.

“Environmental defenders like Máxima, and the late Berta Cáceres before her, should not have to risk their lives to protect their homes and communities,” said Martin Wagner, managing attorney at Earthjustice.

Máxima, who has lived in Tragadero Grande since the early 1990s, has been beaten, intimidated, and even sued by Minera Yanacocha. In 2014, Peruvian courts ruled in Máxima’s favor in an ongoing criminal complaint by the company.

In April, prominent civil society groups including Global Witness, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Earthworks, SumOfUs and others wrote to Newmont calling on the company to drop its lawsuits against the Chaupe family and end their harassment. The company failed to respond.

"The Chaupe family has been harassed and beaten by Yanacocha for years," said Katie Redford, Founder and Director at EarthRights International, which has been supporting and advising the Chaupe family. "They are prepared to pursue all legal options to obtain justice."

This most recent attack highlights the failures of both Newmont and the Peruvian government to uphold security, human rights and the consent of local communities. Newmont has ignored multiple calls from civil society to stop the physical and legal harassment of the Chaupe family, and the Peruvian government has failed to provide security for the Chaupe family as ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Everyone involved in the mine project – the companies, the government, the security forces – is responsible for ensuring Máxima’s safety,” said Martin Wagner of Earthjustice. “By failing to speak and act against it, they are condoning this kind of attack and creating further risk to Máxima, not to mention their own reputations.”

In February, Newmont filed a statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that they were no longer pursuing the proposed Conga mine that threatens the Chaupe home.

“Newmont needs to immediately address the alleged involvement of its subsidiary Yanacocha in the criminal harassment of Máxima and her husband. Newmont has reported to investors that it isn’t pursuing the Conga mine, but these attacks on poor subsistence farmers indicate that further plans are in development. What's happened is shocking, and shareholders need to know the potential risk of such an unethical venture,” said Glen Berman, Interim Executive Director of SumOfUs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Goldman Prize profile of Máxima Acuña de Chaupe: http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/maxima-acuna/
Blog about the Conga project cancellation: https://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/conga_no_va
Civil society letter to Newmont, April 2016: https://www.earthworksaction.org/library/detail/letter_to_newmont_re_maxima_acuna
Grufides website: http://www.grufides.org


Chaupe Land Case Information Update: September 20, 2016

Newmont Statement

Background

As outlined in our previous updates regarding the ongoing land dispute between the Chaupe family and Yanacocha, we believe it is important to be truthful and transparent about the facts surrounding this case and recent reported events.

Since our last update in April 2016 regarding the false allegations of a shooting, we have attempted to engage in good-faith dialogue with the Chaupe family and their representatives. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in establishing dialogue or measures to reduce tensions and are committed to continuing those efforts.

The following information expands on previous updates and supplements information currently available on the Newmont and Yanacocha websites and specifically addresses recent events.

Recent Events

On September 6, 2016 the Chaupes cultivated a small plot (8 x 10 meters) on land clearly owned by Yanacocha – company land that is not part of the property under dispute in the courts. According to Peruvian law, structures or crops planted on private property must be removed by the owner within 15 days using a legal process known as “possessory defense.”

On September 18, 2016 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. The possessory defense lasted approximately 18 minutes from start to finish and the entire video was released by Yanacocha on September 19. The video illustrates an unarmed private security contingent wearing protective gear being attacked by both Maxima Acuna de Chaupe and Jamie Chaupe while shielding workers replanting the cropped area with native grasses. As evidenced in the video, at no time did any member of the security team or Yanacocha retaliate or attempt to strike the Chaupes.

Immediately following the event, there were numerous and broad statements and media alleging the Chaupes were attacked, beaten and hospitalized during the possessory defense on September 18. These claims are false and misrepresent the facts as evidenced in the video.

As factual information and video footage was released the following day, allegations by the Chaupes continue even though the video clearly demonstrates the restraint of the security detail. At no time did anyone hit or strike the Chaupes during the incident.

At the time of this report, we were notified that the Chaupes have once again illegally occupied two additional parcels of land owned by Yanacocha in the same area where the possessory defense occurred on Sunday, September 19, 2016. To protect its existing property rights on these parcels that are not in dispute, the company will have to conduct another, lawful possessory defense, within 15 days, under the auspices of Peruvian law.

Summary

Our goal is to always to be respectful of our neighbors, while lawfully protecting our property rights and avoiding confrontation.

We prefer to resolve differences through direct, good-faith dialogue, and remain open and willing to doing so. In the meantime, Yanacocha must rely on legal avenues provided under the judicial process to protect its established property rights. This includes making every effort to reduce tensions and minimize conflict by not disturbing the house the Chaupe family built on Yanacocha land in 2011 until the judicial process is complete. Similarly, while Yanacocha manages entry and access onto its privately held lands, it has committed to ensure the Chaupe family and visitors have safe access to the disputed lands.

It is important to note that Peruvian courts have repeatedly confirmed Yanacocha’s ownership of the land in question. In a separate matter, the Cajamarca Criminal Court of Appeals ruled in December 2014 that there was insufficient evidence of “acts of violence” by the Chaupe family at the beginning of their illegal occupation to warrant criminal charges. Yanacocha respected the court’s decision and appealed that decision as part of the effort to maintain its property rights.

We will continue to update our stakeholders on new developments. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

CONTACTS:
Alan Septoff, Earthworks, (202) 271-2355, aseptoff@earthworksaction.org
Payal Sampat, Earthworks Mining Program Director, (202) 247-1180, psampat@earthworksaction.org

 

 

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