Peru to Investigate Death In Barrick Gold Protests

Cabinet chief Juan Jimenez said an investigation will be launched into the death of an individual this week during protests against Canadian mining major Barrick Gold in Peru.

“Investigate and penalize, that is what we are going to do,” state news agency Andina reported Jimenez as saying. “We’re going to find out exactly what happened.”

The announcement followed the concern of police response to recent protests. Human Rights Watch on Thursday and Amnesty International on Friday issued statements calling for Peru’s government to stop the killings.

“The growing number of social conflicts in relation to the exploitation of natural resources in Peru is extremely worrying,” said Nuria Garcia, a researcher for Amnesty International in Peru. “And even more of a concern has been the response of security forces to demonstrations that until now have left 16 dead, all allegedly by police.”

On Wednesday, a man was killed and at least four others injured when residents from the Andean village of Mareniyoc confronted police at Barrick’s Pierina gold mine in the Callejon de Huaylas, in Ancash region.

The protests, which began last week, were related to issues of the supply of water to communities, something Barrick said was “out of its control.”

Demonstrations escalated and turned violent when residents reportedly tried to enter the grounds of the Pierina mine, and were confronted by police officers guarding the entrance.

The incident is just the most recent clash between Peruvian security personnel and communities protesting water issues related to the mining sector.

Protesters have been killed in demonstrations against projects held by mining firms Newmont Mining, in the north highlands of Cajamarca, and Xstrata, in the south highlands in Cusco, in the past several months.

“This doesn’t help the country to be essentially a country with credibility, with social inclusion, respectful of human rights, which is what we all want,” said Jimenez.

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