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Peru: Conga mine protest leaves 3 dead, state of emergency declared
Police in Celendín (ChavezWar/Peru.com)
By Nick Rosen
July 3, 2012
Three demonstrators were killed when a protest in Celendín targeting the Conga mine project turned violent on Tuesday afternoon.
A crowd numbering in the thousands gathered in the plaza of Celendín at around 1:30 p.m.. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the crowd attempted to storm the offices of the provincial government. The provincial mayor, Mauro Arteaga, had recently declared his support for the Conga mining project, drawing the wrath of many community members.
According to El Comercio, a group of protestors from the workers' union turned violent, which prompted a response from the police officers stationed in the plaza.
Union members protesting in Celendín (ChavezWar/Peru.com)
According to the Ministry of the Interior, two police officers received bullet wounds. According to a correspondent from ATV+ however, the protestors did not have firearms, and Regional President Gregorio Santos stated that none of the police or soldiers had bullet wounds.
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three civilians remained unclear on Tuesday night. While video showed police officers apparently firing weapons in the plaza of Celendín, the Ministry of the Interior said that police were only using non-lethal weapons.
The three civilians killed during the violence were Eleuterio García Rojas, José Faustino Silva Sánchez and an unidentified 17-year-old boy.
After clearing the plaza, police and soldiers could be seen patrolling the streets of Celendín, and helicopters were reported to be flying overhead.
After the violence on Tuesday afternoon, the government declared a state of emergency in three provinces of Cajamarca: Celendín, Cajamarca and Hualgayoc. The declaration suspends some constitutional liberties, such as the freedom of assembly. Reports on Twitter indicated that a large number of people had gathered in the plaza of the regional capital, Cajamarca, in solidarity with the residents of Celendín.
"My pronounement is one of repudiation and condemnation," said Prime Minister Oscar Valdés. "I don't think we Peruvians can allow some bad leaders pushing the population to commit acts of violence, with the objective of having deaths [for political gain]."
Cajamarca Regional President Gregorio Santos wrote, "This is the government we have: for the mining companies, everything. For the people, bullets."
Marco Arana, leader of Tierra y Libertad linked the protests to the resumption of work last week on the Conga mine. "Violence is never justified, but it's clear that the beginning of work on the Conga mine inflamed the people of Cajamarca," the former priest wrote.
The Conga gold and copper mine, to be operated by U.S. mining company Newmont and Peruvian mining company Buenaventura, would represent the largest mining investment in Peru's history. Nevertheless, it has faced opposition in Cajamarca from those who fear that it would disrupt or contaminate local water supplies.
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Total coments: 1
Commented By: matt
On: July 6, 2012. 4:38 pm
Poor Peru. The national government appears to care little for their concerns and would rather kill them than listen to them. Conga will trash water supplies and the local population will receive little benefit. Poor Peru.
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