MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Residents of Condorwain Range Demand Withdrawal of Barrick Gold

Published by MAC on 2007-07-23

Residents of Condorwain Range Demand Withdrawal of Barrick Gold

23th July 2007

www.minkandina.org

The last few weeks have witnessed widespread marches and demonstrations of farmerworker unions, campesinos and communities affected by mining throughout Peru. All of them are demanding that the Central Government comply with their electoral promises and NO to the Free Trade Agreement; to this date, the government has not responded and has ignored the demands of this important social sector, meanwhile the social conflict continues to brew.

The region of Ancash, following the National Agenda of Struggle and National Agrarian Strike on 11 and 12 July, carried out their own regional actions, urging as a central point the NO EXPLORATION AND NO OPERATIONS of mining in the Condorwain Range, source of water for thousands of residents of the region.

In this context, this past July 10, over three thousand campesinos of Condorwain marched into the very center of operations of mining firm Barrick Gold to demand their withdrawal from mining operations in the territory. Arriving at the location, they found the encampment vacated, without any machinery nor personnel in charge. This suspicious situation has generated mistrust in the population. Some local media outlets reported that the Canadian mining firm had concluded the exploration stage and would probably withdraw.

However, the retreat of Barrick Gold has been understood by local residents as yet another strategy to confuse public opinion, in order to later return and insert themselves forcefully against the communities and their leaders. For this reason, the communeros have decided to organize themselves in a committee of permanent vigilence with the goal of maintaining alert over any intention of the intransigent mining firm to return, in this way, the committee will gauranteeing the defense of the over 81 freshwater springs.

The conflict between the mining firm Barrick Misquichilca and the campesino communities of the Condorwain Range surged in 2005, when Barrick Gold initiated negotiations to proceed with exploration and mining activities in the Condorwain area. This drew the immediate response of rejection from the community.

Utilizing irregular documentation, pressure campaigns against community leaders and through legal and administrative procedures in the national Minister of Mining and Energy, the mining company managed to gain approval of their Project of Exploration of Condorwain, which generated a great discontent, indignity, and opposition of the population, who vowed to resist the mining firm from taking their lands, and more than anything, which would destroy the only sources of water they had.

The current situation of the conflict in Huaraz is delicate, being that in a few days, the time frame to present a lawsuit against Barrick and initiate the process of administrative protest for the irregularities in the approval of the Ministerial Resolutaion which supported Barrick in their project of exploration on Condorwain. Meanwhile, the campesinos of the Cordillera Negra are uniting forces to fight against the political and economic power of Barrick Gold, as the campesino leaders and the population in general will not give up, remaining firm in their struggle for the defense of water in Condorwain.

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