Social conflicts up by 150 percent since 2008

Social conflicts in Peru have shot up from 93 in March 2008 to 238 this past month, reported daily El Comercio on Tuesday.

Of the 238 social conflicts tracked last month, more than half were related to environmental concerns.

To tackle some of the ongoing conflicts, the state-sponsored Ombudsman’s Office – in charge of protecting the basic and constitutional rights of Peruvians – will launch a nationwide training program for government employees. Specialized classes will be provided in the cities of Piura, Cajamarca, Junín, Arequipa and Cuzco – where most of the conflicts have sparked.

According to Ronaldo Luque, a spokesperson for the Ombudsman’s Office, most of the social conflicts associated to environmental concerns have spurred from the unyielding distrust communities have toward mining companies and the government.

“We thought that with the creation of the Environment Ministry this situation would improve, but the Ministry has yet to meet people’s expectations,” said Luque.

Approximately 2,000 members of Kichua and Arabela indigenous communities blocked off river traffic on Peru’s Curacay and Napo Rivers in northeastern department of Loreto last week, to protest the contamination of their ancestral lands by mining companies, and to demand the repeal of a series of laws they say are promoting unrestricted oil exploration.

According to El Comercio, this is Peru’s most recent social conflict.

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