Mining protests grow in areas of Peru that heavily backed Castillo
Lima, Dec 14 (EFE).- Mining conflicts have risen slightly in Peru since Pedro Castillo assumed the presidency in July, mostly in Andean regions that heavily backed the leftist candidate and now are looking to him to quickly meet their demands.
That information was contained in the latest report by the Observatory of Mining Conflicts (OCM) in Peru, which said the epicenter of social tension in the Andean nation is the so-called Southern Mining Corridor, the location of large mines such as Antapaccay, Hudbay and Las Bambas.
The operators of that latter mine, which accounts for 2 percent of global copper output, threatened to suspend operations this week unless roadblocks set up by people in nearby communities are permanently lifted.
A total of 42 socio-environmental conflicts – most of them related to the mining industry – are ongoing in that southern Andes region, where Castillo obtained more than 90 percent of the vote in some districts.
The OCM says the moderate growth in mining protests in the second half of 2021 is mainly attributable to higher expectations by communities near the mines about the Castillo’s administration’s willingness to address their demands.
“The new president symbolizes everything that official Peru had turned its back on over 200 years of republican life,” the report said, adding however that the number of conflicts is lower than at the start of Alan Garcia’s 2006-2011 administration and Ollanta Humala’s 2011-2016 administration.
In remarks to Efe, Giselle Huamani of the Prime Minister’s office’s Social Management and Dialogue Secretariat said the current government is focused not only on preventing conflicts but also prioritizing dialogue and abstaining from repressing or stigmatizing citizen protests.
But according to David Velasco of the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace (Fedepaz), a policy of criminalizing social protests has remained virtually in place.
He recalled the dozens of arrests of participants in late October demonstrations against the Antamina mine in the northern Andes region of Ancash.
Referring to a new commodity supercycle that may continue over the next few years, the OCM report said copper prices have seen the biggest increase.
The price of the red metal has surged 44 percent over the past 12 months, a development that leads to a significantly higher tax take because copper accounts for 50 percent of Peru’s mining exports and 75 percent of future investments, according to that sector’s portfolio of projects. EFE