New Internationalist

Sign now: an open letter to Peru’s President

The Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme (LAMMP) has released a video showing the violence against environmental protesters who gathered at the Minas Congos mine near Yanacocha in late November. LAMMP is now calling on President Humala to guarantee the safety of protesters and to properly address their concerns.

Conga Shootings from Michael Watts on Vimeo.

An open letter to President Humala:

President Ollanta Humala Tasso
Despacho Presidential
Jiron de la Union s/n 1 cdra
Lima
Peru

We, the undersigned individuals and institutions of several continents, committed to the movements for world justice, environmental protection and sustainable development, write to express to our deepest concern regarding events currently unfolding at the Yanacocha mine in Peru, owned by US company Newmont, with participation of the World Bank.

On 24 November tens of thousands of Peruvian citizens initiated a protest against the development of the Yanacocha mine at the Conga site. The protesters claim current plans for the mine will destroy the surrounding environment and fresh water supplies affecting a population of approximately 100,000.

On 27 November a report produced by the environment minister Mr Ricardo Giesecke identified severe failings in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the previous administration in relation to the Conga site. We understand Mr Ramiro del Pino, responsible for the government department which approved the EIA, was a former executive of the Yanacocha mining company. Despite these shortcomings and appearance of impropriety, the government of Mr Humala has not sought to review the mine plans and has dispatched security forces to the Conga site.

On 29 November the security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters approaching mine installations. Up to 18 protesters reportedly received gun shot wounds. Between 8 and 30 policemen were injured. The government has so far failed to admit the extent of the civilian casualties and the use of live ammunition. Following the shooting the Yanacocha mine announced it would suspend its operations.

On 4 December the government declared sixty days of martial law or ‘state of emergency’ in the region of Cajamarca. This measure suspends civil liberties and allows security forces to break up meetings and arrest protesters at will. On 6 December Mr Wilfredo Saavedra and five other protest leaders were detained without warrant or charges being laid. Protesters have vowed to pursue peaceful opposition to the mine.

The above situation has created an imminent risk of large scale violence. The circumstances bear a distressing resemblance to the string of recent incidents surrounding extractive industry protests, including the Bagua shootings of June 2006 in which at least 34 protesters and police officers were killed. Such conflicts ultimately entrench antagonisms and frustrate the interests of all concerned.

As the world follows the events at the Yanacocha mine in the following days, we respectfully urge you Mr Humala to consider the following measures: 1) to honor Peru’s commitments to the rule of law and human rights by recognizing and compensating the victims of the 29 November shootings 2) to guarantee the ongoing physical safety of protesters in the Cajamarca region including the right to justice and humane treatment upon detention 3) to properly address environmental concerns raised by the Conga mine and enforce corresponding requirements on the Yanacocha company.

To sign this letter, please go to http://vimeo.com/33217767 or email [email protected]

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  1. #1 Movimiento Micaela Bastidas-UK 08 Dec 11

    Nos oponemos rotundamente contra el proyecto Conga y cualquier Minera que no respete las regulaciones en proteccion del medio ambiente y la voluntad de los pueblos afectados por las mineras. Asimismo, rechazamos la politica represiva que el gobierno de Ollanta Humala esta aplicando contra el pueblo de Cajamarca que se encuentra en pie de lucha para defender sus lagunas, medio ambiente, ecosistemas, biodiversidad, flora, fauna, tierra, agua, sistema de regadios, entre otros.
    Atentamente,
    Movimiento Micaela Bastidas-UK

  2. #2 Emma Brown 09 Dec 11

    Dear President Ollanta Humala Tasso,

    Please don't allow even more suffering of your country's people. Please continue to take some positive action on Peruvian mining laws for your people. I don't think it's right to be holding a ’Making Money’ conference when your people are being injured in violent clashes with the police, and I know I'm not alone.

    This is an appalling situation reeking of the same old governmental and corporate corruption and greed, and it makes me feel ill. That whole watershed is at risk, the Environmental Impact Assessment was approved by a former employee of the company, your government will get $3 billion in related tax dollars while 'eight million Peruvians [are] living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day...' how can you convince yourself for even a second that this is right?

    Please at least reverse your decision to enact a state of emergency, because it enables your police forces to injure their fellow citizens, and overall make some good changes.

    Thank you for your time,
    Emma Brown

  3. #3 Walter Lingan 09 Dec 11

    Conga no va!

  4. #4 Cesar Garcia 09 Dec 11

    Solamente pedimos que cumplan sus promesas pre electorales. Ya que gracias a ello el pueblo los ha elegido para defender sus derechos de ciudadanos libres.

  5. #5 Daryl Smith 09 Dec 11

    Do the right thing for people. Don't sell your soul to big corporation. Thank you.

  6. #6 delio david farfan cruz 11 Dec 11

    Senhor persidente, no se deje gobernar por el banco mundial y la economi­a internacional. Ella esta¡ en plena destruccion.

  7. #7 Luca 12 Dec 11

    dear president, listen to your people requests, please..big corporations are consuming this planet!
    thank you!

  8. #8 Selina Griesser 12 Dec 11

    respeta los derechos humanos!

  9. #9 Theresa Stuetz 12 Dec 11

    Señor Presidente,
    en Cajamarca hay tanta gente que lucha por algo que es un derecho humano existencial y en si tan obvio: el agua. Como es tan existencial para vivir, para lavar, cocinar, crecer plantas etc. no puedo entender si alguien permite que se contamine todo esto. Por ese motivo me parece solo justo si la gente de Cajamarca lucha por algo que necesita tanto: agua y un medio ambiente sano.
    Le pido entonces a Usted que busque el dialogo con esas personas antes de reaccionar con violencia. Estoy en precupación por los derechos humanos de la población de Cajamarca, sobre todo por aquellas personas que quieren protestar pacíficamente. Espero que Usted considera las preocupaciones de muchas personas que le escribe en este momento. Y espero que haga lo que se pueda para cumplir con los derechos humanos - también en un estado de emergencia.
    Muchas gracias!

    Saludos cordiales de Alemania,
    Theresa Stuetz

  10. #10 Janneke Bruil 27 Dec 11

    Large scale open pit mining is destructive, as the past decades have shown. Communities have repeatedly expressed that what they need is dignity, justice and access to their water and land. It is time they be heard.

  11. #11 Paul Fraser 29 Dec 11

    Stop the violence!

  12. #12 Eric 17 Jan 12

    To sign this letter, please go to http://vimeo.com/33217767

    doesn't work -- nothing to sign

  13. #13 J Dekker 28 Jul 15

    President,

    This is your peoples - respect human rights and water...they are the heart and soul of that land and have kept that for the future....this is murder over and over and many generations of life suffer ...for gold ....its a sickness ...its greed...evil greed.

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Jo Lateu a New Internationalist contributor

Having joined New Internationalist in 1998 as distribution manager, Jo moved into the editorial team in 2008, where she tries to keep her colleagues in order. Failing that, she edits, proofs and commissions pieces for the magazine and website and waters the plants when she remembers.

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