Peruvian Authorities Detain Conga Mine Opponent

Peruvian authorities have detained Wilfredo Saavedra, the head of the Environmental Defense Front in Cajamarca region and one of the main opponents of a massive gold and copper project, state news agency Andina reported.

Saavedra was detained in the southern Peruvian city of Tacna, reportedly for not attending an appointment as part of an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s office.

The investigation is related to violent protests last year against Newmont Mining’s Minas Conga project, located in Cajamarca. Saavedra helped lead those protests, along with other civil society groups as well as Cajamarca Regional president Gregorio Santos. The investigation on the protests includes blocking highways, civil disturbances and damage to private property.

Saavedra, who had served a jail sentence for being a member of the leftist insurgents MRTA, was called to meet a state attorney but failed to show up to the appointment, according to Cajamarca governor, Ever Hernandez.

Saavedra said that his detention “came as a surprise,” adding that he hadn’t been appropriately notified of the appointment.

“I understand that this should be solved in the next few hours in the Judicial Police, where I am currently being held,” he said.

In December, shortly after the protests led to the suspension of the Conga project, Saavedra was detained by authorities along with other opponents of the mining project.

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