Government Declares State of Emergency To Quell Tintaya Mine Protests

Two dead and dozens of people injured led Peru’s government to declare a 30-day state of emergency in southern Cusco’s Espinar province on Monday, to quell protests against Xstrata’s Tintaya copper mine.

On Monday, week-long protests escalated against Tintaya leading to the kidnapping of a prosecutor, and the death of at least two protesters during clashes with police, daily El Comercio reported.  Protesters released the prosecutor late in the night but had set fire to the state attorney vehicle and forced the prosecutor to walk barefoot. The same night, protesters also set fire to the Xstrata Foundation office in the town. Peru’s police also said in a statement that they recovered Molotov cocktails from protesters.

The state of emergency provides the national police a more stringent control over the area and suspends constitutional rights, including the freedom of assembly and the need for warrants for searches and arrests.

Residents in Espinar started protests last week against Xstrata’s operations of the Tintaya-Antipaccay mine. Protesters say the mine has polluted the Salado and Cañipía rivers and want the company to increase its contribution to a local development fund to 30 percent of its operating profit from the current contribution of 3 percent.

Xstrata said in a statement that it is open to holding talks with protest leaders, while Prime Minister Oscar Valdes urged protesters to resume dialogue.

The protests are the latest by community groups against a mining project or operation in Peru. Other projects that have been impacted included those owned by Newmont Mining and Anglo American.

The government has claimed that opposition to Tintaya, which has been in operation for more than 25 years,  is linked to the opponents of Newmont’s new Minas Conga project, located in northern Cajamarca region.  The link would ostensibly be through the political movement led by former priest Marco Arana, one of the leaders of the Cajamarca protests, of which the mayor of Espinar, Oscar Mollohuanca, is a member.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *