MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Summary Of The Majaz Case And Community Arguments For The Suspension Of Minign Activities

Published by MAC on 2001-05-15
Source: CooperAccion


Summary of the Majaz Case and the arguments of the local communities for the suspension of the mining activities in Northern Peru

by Ximena Warnaars

The delegation of community and indigenous leaders arrived in Lima on July 11, with three basic arguments underlying their demand to the present government, for the immediate suspention of mining activities in Piura.

In addition, this peaceful march has served to give a message to the new government of Alan Garcia, which clearly supports mining activities, that the local population will not accept mining activities on their lands.

The first argument refers to the illegal presence of the mining company due to the fact that the Peruvian Constitution states absolutely clearly that NO mining activity can take place within 50 kilometres of the national borders. The Rio Blanco Project is within the 50 kilomtres of the border. The State has given this concession illegally to the mining company - another example of the lack of observation of criteria used by the state when aproving mining concessions.

The second argument deals with the human rights abuses. The community and indigenous farming populations will not accept a mining company in their area that has a violent character. The company has, on several occasions, caused unrest in the region - including physical abuse of various people in the area, not to mention the deaths of two community leaders.

The third argument points to the positive outlook that the local communities have of their future and their right to determine their own model for development. The local community and indigenous communities chooses to continue their agricultural activities as their main livelihood and principal means of income. Piura is recognized worlwide for its high quality organic coffee, banana, and other agricultural products. Should the mine operate, the international recognition of these organic products will be taken away.

The delegation that has arrived in Lima demands the State reinitate dialogue with them in order to resolve this sensitive situation. The State retired from the dialogue in March with the argument that the community did not agree to the conditions that the State propposed. This condition was that the mining company be included in the Dialogue Round Table. The communities reject this request since, if they agree to allow the company to the Round Table it would unjustly acknowledge their presence as legitimate.
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