MAC: Mines and Communities

Suyo District Firms Opposition To Big Mining: If The Big Companies Enter, The People Will Blockade

Published by MAC on 2006-05-15
Source: El Regional de Piura

Suyo District Firms Opposition to Big Mining: If the Big Companies Enter, the People Will Blockade the Routes PERÚ

12th May 2006 - El Regional de Piura

The Peruvian district of Cuyo was clear in its position towards mining: "NO" to the big mining companies and "YES" to the artesanal mining in the area, but if and only if it is organized and it is verified that there will not be environmental contamination. If this decision is not respected, or in the case that big companies or foreign mining companies want to enter, responses on the part of the community will include popular uprisings and the occupation of the highways. The decision was taken this past Wednesday in an assembly facilitated by the Father Eduardo Peña Rivera, President of the Roundtable for Coordination and Struggle Against Poverty in the District of Suyo. "The proposal is that there be an appropriate decision-making process, to see the advantages and disadvantages. If we do opt for mining projects, then we will opt for them, but without contamination. We cannot harm the artesanal miners of our community, but we cannot put the people at risk. There is a lack of investigation to see if the artesanal miners are contaminating, and for this, we want the research done by experts. We don't want to have bread today but poverty in the future," said Peña.

For the parish, the danger is that Suyo will be converted into "no-man's land, Suyo losing its identity, its customs, already we see that morals are decaying, with the appearance of cantinas and prostitution." He said that social disorganization is a problem in artesanal mining: "There is mineral all over Suyo, and there are pits all over the place, clearcutting of trees, possible contaminations, and, well, what will it be like in 5 to 8 years? The situation will just be more complicated if big mining companies, be they national or transnational, enter. The people have a right to live like children of god," said the priest.

The mayor of Suyo, Elizabeth Sánchez Infante, says that the residents of the district are opposed to the big mining companies. "The community rejects the big miners, because they contaminate, because they will take everything, the people are afraid that the "hacendado" (hacienda system) will return. Furthermore we want to formalize the companies, we want to know who are the miners here, for the are saying that mining companies are attempting through third parties to infiltrate the communities, we want to know more about this," she concluded.

Carlos Vega Aguilera, Vice President of the Committee for the Defense of the Interests of Suyo, said that the big mining companies are using some artesanal miners as "straw men, in order to enter and gain social license." To this respect, Carmen Amelia Morán, of the Campesino Community of Pampalarga, presented a documentation of thirty-nine complaints against miners in the community. According to the community leader, these complaints cover the entire communal area: "100 percent of the community lands have mining complaints -- that is, 40,000 hectacres of our community, where there is a dry forest, where our cows and animals are, and where there are two headwaters systems, El Calvas and the Quiroz. For this, the campesino community of Pampalarga is never going to grant social license to the big mining companies."

Some relevant facts

On February 27, 2006, community members took over the mining encampment of Tomapampa del Quiroz, saying that the Duarco company, which operates in the area, does not want to dialoge with the Campesino Community of the area. The encampment remains in the control of the community.

According to the community members of Pampalarga, Carmen Ameila Madrid Morán was reelected President of the community; but a group of community members who work for the mining companies have declared themselves to be leaders of the community. The case was brought to the courts, and for the community members it is a case which shows to what lengths the companies will go to try to obtain social license: supporting the creation of parallel leaders and laws.

On May 14, 2006, members of the Campesino Community of Pampalarga-Suyo prevented a small sector of the "leaders" from trying to sign agreements with companies who have been denounced. At the blockaded meeting were representatives of the regional Commission of Mining and Energy.

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