Informal Miners Temporarily Suspend Protests in Madre de Dios

Informal miners in Peru’s south-eastern Madre de Dios department agreed on Thursday to temporarily lift protests that turned deadly on Wednesday, daily El Comercio reported.

The head of the Madre de Dios Mining Federation, Luis Otzuka, said that illegal and informal miners will suspend protests until Monday, when they plan to come to Lima to hold talks with the government.    The Minister of the Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, expects to begin part of the talks this Saturday, although only with miners who accept to work within the mining corridor delimitations drawn up by the ministry.

“The truce will last while dialogue is ongoing. If we enter into real formalization, a real understanding, we will definitively suspend the protest,” Otzuka said.

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.

On Wednesday, the protests turned deadly when three people were killed and numerous injured. Local authorities have called on the government to declare a state-of-emergency. Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said Thursday that the measure would be a possibility if other measures failed to end the protests.

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. In several areas, miners are encroaching on buffer zones and wildlife reserves in this megadiverse region that has begun to build sustainable development for indigenous communities through a successful and growing eco-tourism industry.

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