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UPDATE: Our mining justice solidarity heard in Plaza San Martin in Lima

Plaza San Martin in Lima, Peru

Plaza San Martin in Lima, Peru

Reuters reports, “Left-wing activists and provincial politicians frustrated by President Ollanta Humala’s move to the political center marched into Lima on Thursday to protest billions of dollars in government-backed mining projects proposed by foreign firms. At least 1,000 people participating in a nine-day walk across the countryside arrived in the capital to pressure the government to withdraw support for the projects, which include (Colorado-based) Newmont Mining’s $4.8 billion Conga mine and two projects by (Arizona-based) Southern Copper worth $1.8 billion.” In Lima the marchers were joined by an estimated 20,000 people in the Plaza San Martin.

Arana: “Mining or water”
“‘We have to make a choice between mining and water,’ said Marco Arana, a former Roman Catholic priest and leader of the left-wing party Tierra y Libertad. He supported Humala in last year’s presidential election but is now a fierce critic.” Americas Quarterly reports, “Arana, one of the leaders of the protest, said ‘we are demanding that all mining activities at the source of water basins be prohibited.'” Prensa Latina has noted, “The march is demanding a ban on the use of mercury and arsenic in mining, to stop mining in the basin headwaters and the declaration of the access to water as a basic human right.”

Council of Canadians message of solidarity read to the March for Water
Last Wednesday, Ottawa-based Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena sent a message of solidarity to the participants in The March for Water, which was backed by more than 70 Peruvian civil society groups. The statement (in English) says, “The Council of Canadians stands with the more than 200 communities and civil society organizations in Peru who are demanding an end to mining injustice and calling for water to be recognized as a human right within the Peruvian constitution.”

On Friday, Karunananthan received this message, “Best regards, we have received the message of solidarity from the Council of Canadians. It will be read at a demonstration today at the closing of the march to be held in the Plaza San Martin in Lima, with an estimated 20,000 people expected to attend. On behalf of the convening organizations for the National March, thank you to the Council of Canadians for solidarity with our struggle.”

Toronto-based company in Chumbivilcas, Peru
The AQ article also notes, “Peru has 200 outstanding social conflicts, the majority of which relate to fears of environmental damage caused by the country’s mining industry–estimated to represent $50 million in investment in coming years. The anti-mining movement has united leaders from disparate mining regions who have distanced themselves from President Ollanta Humala in their ‘war for water’.”

Bloomberg reports, “(Due to public pressure), Peru’s government said it will ask mining companies including (UK-based) Hochschild Mining Plc and (Toronto-based) HudBay Minerals Inc. to suspend operations in the southern Andes during a 30-day environmental review. Villagers from the highland area of Chumbivilcas, who say the companies are polluting the area, called off environmental protests while a commission prepares an environmental impact report on operations at Hochschild’s Minera Ares SAC unit and Hudbay’s Constancia copper deposit… Hudbay will continue engineering work at the Constancia project, (according to a company spokesperson).”

Shout Out for Mining Justice
The Council of Canadians will be organizing a ‘Shout Out for Mining Justice’ this June 1-3 in Vancouver. More details on this conference will be available soon. For more on ‘Water and mining in Latin America’, please see our campaign web-page at http://canadians.org/mining.