MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Press release by GRUFIDES

Published by MAC on 2004-09-03

Press release by GRUFIDES

3 September 2004

Yesterday morning about 2,500 peasants took Quilish, the hill that Minera Yanacocha (51,35% Newmont Mining Corporation’s capital) is now exploring. At Quilish rise two rivers: Grande and Porcón which supply water to Cajamarca.

Two weeks ago, about 1,500 peasants went to Cajamarca and took part in a demonstration in the city centre. As a consequence of that demonstration, the local authorities compromised to form an evaluation committee. The committee went to Quilish in order to evaluate whether mining exploration was causing environmental damage. After that, they agreed to have a new meeting with affected peasants, Local, Regional and National (Energy and Mining Ministry) authorities and civil society on Thursday 26 August. But it did not happen as the local authorities didn’t go to the meeting, and so the national authorities didn’t go either, and the peasants felt they had been deceived.

In that desperate situation, yesterday, they decided to act. They met at the side of Quilish and began to climb the hill to check if Yanacocha’s machinery was still in there, when suddenly many police appeared and started the fight.

The peasants reached the Quilish mining area and the police left after the tear gas bombs, that they were throwing, were finished. A few hours later the police returned with some helicopters which started to throw more tear gas. When the peasants were going down the hill, the police started to arrest everyone who was in the area and to give them a terrible beating (most of these people were women and old people, as well as two children).

There are wounded police and peasants (one of the peasants with gunshot wounds). 27 people were arrested.

Today the peasants have organized themselves and they are now 4 km from the town, at the water works plant level. With them are workers and students from the National University of Cajamarca (UNC). All of them have taken the road between the town and the mine at different point.

What will happen now? We don’t know. It would depend on the local and national authorities’ attitude, as well as Minera Yanacocha’s attitude, to face up their responsibilities and their intention of resolving this situation.

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