Ombudsman’s Office Calls for Social Conflict Strategy

Peru’s national ombudsman’s office has called for a technical debate to discuss social conflicts in the Andean nation, state news agency Andina reported.

Rolando Luque, deputy ombudsman for Social Conflict Resolution,  said that Peru should debate strategies to resolve social conflicts that will undoubtedly arise in the coming year.

“The government should initiate a discussion among specialists regarding the best strategy that the state could develop to deal with social conflicts,” Luque said. “We have to take into account that there are investment projects pending that are worth $40 billion and we need to be prepared now.”

Social conflicts have already stalled numerous projects, mainly in the mining and energy sectors. They have also led to violent confrontations between police and protesters. Opponents of the projects are most often concerned about the environmental impact on their communities.

The latest project to be halted is Newmont Mining’s $4.8 billion Minas Conga copper and gold deposit. Premier Oscar Valdes has invited opponents of the project to meet Tuesday, but one of the main opponents, Cajamarca Regional president Gregorio Santos, has said he will not attend the talks.

Santos wants Valdes, a retired military officer, to be replaced at the negotiating table. Only two weeks ago, former Premier Salomon Lerner Ghitis, lost his job when he was unable to get Santos and other regional leaders to lift their strike before going back to their constituents for approval of an agreement.

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