Environmentalists Begin National Water March

Environmentalists and civil society groups in three Peruvian regions began on Wednesday a national water march, aimed mainly at rejecting Newmont Mining’s Minas Conga project.  The marchers plan to converge in Lima by next week.

In Cajamarca region, where Conga is located, about 500 people began the march at the Cortada lake, Ideeleradio reported.

Supporters of the march also participated in Peru’s southern Arequipa region, which has also seen a number of conflicts over plans by mining companies to use water, and in the country’s central Junin region. Participants plan to arrive in Lima around February 9 or February 10.

Participants in the march are calling for Conga, and other projects located in the headwater basins, to be rejected. Conga was suspended in November over concerns that it will affect water supplies for farmers.

Idelso Hernandez, the head of a civil society group that helped lead protests against Conga, said that despite government efforts to resolve the dispute, the project will not go ahead.

Marco Arana, a former priest and the head of the Tierra y Libertad party, said that the march will be peaceful. Arana is one of the main organizers of the protest and an opponent of Conga.

Cajamarca governor Ever Hernandez said that the march isn’t expected to affect local businesses. “The business activities won’t be affected because the demonstrators will arrive in the city at night,” daily El Comercio reported Hernandez as saying.

Cajamarca Regional President Gregorio Santos, who has been a key figure in the protests against the Conga project, is not participating in the march, El Comercio said.

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  1. Peru is being very short-sighted about its water & power needs along the undeveloped Pacific Coast. The 2 most symbiotic industries on earth are nuclear power and seawater desalination; Peru has thousands of kilometers of seismic-free sites along the Pacific to do this, away from large cities that could still get the electric power remotely, but close to areas where the water would make the desert bloom. There’d be no need for any overland refueling, which could all be accomplished from the sea from foreign sources. You just make power and desalinate seawater for vast, global agri-business.

    Peru, you’re not thinking clearly about the tremendous resource you have here.

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