Despite government promises of reforms in the way natural resource concessions are handled, another anti-mines protester has been killed in Peru. This marks the 19th person killed in a natural resource-related conflict since President Ollanta Humala took office in July 2011.
Clashes between police and protesters broke out in the Ancash region on Wednesday Sep. 19, when police tried to break up a blockade of a road leading to Barrick Gold’s Pierna mine. Locals blame the mine for contaminating their drinking water and using up their water supply.
The company temporarily shut down the mine following the killing.
The violence came even as Peru’s Congress debates reforms to the way mining concessions are handled, including the creation of a new oversight body to evaluate mining concessions, separate from the agency responsible for promoting them.
The government has also been touting its new policy of consulting with affected communities regarding oil and gas concessions in the Amazon, but communities in resistance to such projects have expressed skepticism about what such consultation will actually mean.
“Which communities will be consulted? What are the terms and conditions? Indigenous peoples need answers to these questions, because there is a great deal of mistrust,” said congressmember Verónika Mendoz.
“We think it is good that they will hold a consultation. But how can they remedy all of the damage they have done to us in the last 40 years in just a short time? They need to explain that to us first,” said Achuar indigenous leader Andrés Santi, president of the Federation of Native Communities of Corrientes.