Peru Beefs Up Security In Illegal Mine Protests

Peru’s national police have increased security in the city of Puerto Maldonado, the capital of the south-east jungle region of Madre de Dios, during the third day of protests by informal miners, local media reported.

Peru’s largest circulation newspaper, El Comercio, said Wednesday that an extra 100 police officers were sent to the city. By Monday, the government had sent about 700 police officers to Madre de Dios to provide security during the start of the protests.

“They are providing necessary protection,” state news agency Andina reported the region’s governor, Gilberto Galindo, as saying. “They are also working with police  from Arequipa so residents can breath more easily.”

Galindo said that the protests, which are being organized by the Madre de Dios Federation of Mining, or Fedemin, has been peaceful.

Local business groups have said, however, that commercial activity has been affected and that the protests put in jeopardy about 1.5 million soles of business a day.

Protesting miners are calling on the government to revoke new decrees that hit their activity with tougher penalties, including 10 years in prison for mining in unauthorized areas and polluting the environment.

Illegal mining has led to the deforestation of large swaths of Madre de Dios’ Amazon forests and the mercury-contamination of rivers in the region, a highly biodiverse part of Peru.

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