Just a few days before the publication of the international expert report on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Conga mining project, the Peruvian government decided to send army and National Police squads to the localities that would be affected by extractive activities.
Immediately, the population of Cajamarca rejected the measure of the government, whose objective would be to discourage protests.
Last Sunday’s military parade served to highlight the presence of more than 500 soldiers in the provinces of Cajamarca, Celendin and Bambamarca, and on Monday hundreds of policemen were sent to reinforce their colleagues in these zones.
The Environmental Defense Front and the regional government of Cajamarca called for a mobilisation against the Conga mining project on Monday the 9th of April and a strike on Wednesday 11th.
Through a public statement, the Front rejected the acts of intimidation and hostility from the part of the government and specifically criticized the president of the Council of Ministers, Óscar Valdés.
Regional president Gregorio Santos demanded the government to restart the dialogue to deal with this issue, so as to avoid to unchain violence in the region. “This report is not absolute, nor should it serve to say that Conga goes or not, but it should make the government sit with us and discuss in serenity all the reports that exist on this mining project that, we believe, would be a mistake to impose”, he told a local medium.
The Defense Front of Bambarca published a statement in which it manifests its rejection to the “militarization of our zone, because there’s no justifiable reason; in our struggle we have shown unity, courage, firmness, capacity, intelligence, and we reject any kind of violence. Therefore we demand that the necessary measures are taken to withdraw the military forces as soon as possible”.
The Front mentioned that the programmed protest actions would continue as normal. “In case the government ignores our demand, we hold it accountable for what might happen as a result of the militarization in our town, because we are faithful defenders of our lakes, rivers, wetlands, water springs and aquatic mattresses”, they pointed out.
(Source of text & photo: Servindi.org, April 9, 2012. Translation by CATAPA.)