Lucha Indígena


Lucha Indígena 64′s Editorial: The Conga Project


The disconnection between the people’s needs and the government of Peru’s position lies in its development model. The government adheres to an extractive model in the interests of the world’s true rulers, the big multinational companies. The rulers’ sole interest is in maximizing profit as rapidly as possible, regardless of how it may degrade the environment and impoverish the people. The greater part of the world’s heads of state are no more than servants of the multinationals. This has been the case in Peru with Presidents Fujimori, Toledo, García and now Ollanta Humala, each with his own style serving the same masters.

Peru, thanks to its diverse ecological zones, for ten thousand years enjoyed a highly developed agriculture and an economy aimed toward the populace’s well-being, despite the existence of privileged castes in the later period. This came to an end with the European conquest, giving way to an economy whose goal is to satisfy the demands of the ruling class in Spain, no matter its effects on our people and environment, and the disintegration of our agricultural systems.

This has been the kind of development of all Peruvian governments up to today. We went from being a colony of Spain to being a colony of the multinational companies. This continues regardless of what it does to the environment and how it impoverishes the people. The sole aim of this economic system is the financial gain of our masters through their servants in government.

The prioritization of mining for the benefit of the ruling class began already in the time of Pizarro. What is needed is a return to an economy in the service of public well-being. We must first ensure that all people can eat well and have decent housing. This is to be achieved through a return to our roots, with priority given to ecosystem-friendly food production for domestic consumption.

Open-pit mining is much more destructive than tunnel mining. In order to extract a modest amount of metal, it becomes necessary to destroy an entire mountain, robbing water that should be for agriculture and for people to drink and poisoning the ground water. This latter is of course especially detrimental when it occurs in the headwaters of our rivers.

The great transformation

As many comrades have already noted, a “great transformation” has already taken place. They refer to the rapid change of candidate Humala standing with the poor (see into President Humala governing on behalf of the big multinational corporations.

The Yanacocha-Newmont Company’s Conga Project threatens the destruction of headwaters and the disappearance of entire lakes. And Ollanta Humala, who stood against gold mining for the protection of our waters, now defends the mining company’s trampling on our rights to clean water supplies. He has dispatched repressive forces against the peaceful mobilization of Cajamarca province in defense of water.

Yanacocha (now Newmont) has a history in Peru

Montesinos — Newmont, the proprietor of Conga, gave money to Montesinos and then succeeded in getting the tribunal to decide in its favor against the rival (French) Blue Ridge Management Group. The US ambassador and the CIA also intervened in this matter.

Lake Yanacocha — Mining activity caused it to disappear.

Choropampa — A vehicle under contract to the Yanacocha Company dumped mercury, which sickened almost 100 farmers and brought about the death of the mayor.

Implementation of the Conga Project would even compromise existing legislation

Ministry of Environment — On the afternoon of Thursday 24 November, Minister of Environment Ricardo Giesecke delivered to Prime Minister Salomón Lerner his ministry’s observations on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Conga Project. With respect to “water and utilization of four lakes”, it was noted that this “gives rise to controversy and protest in Cajamarca against the project”. The ministry’s report further underlines that the project “will significantly and irreversibly transform the headwaters, causing the disappearance of some ecosystems and the fragmentation of others in such a way that their processes, functions and ecosystem services will be permanently affected.”

Another legal irregularity — The mining company does not have a Water Use License for the Conga Project in Cajamarca, in line with the Law on Water Resources no. 29338. The National Water Authority (ANA) did not grant such license, without which the company has no right to extract water.

Mining also affects the health of the urban population

Urban areas such as Tacna and Moquegua are already directly affected by the contamination of drinking water. This is also taking place in Lima, although to a lesser extent and generally overlooked up to now. If mining, hydroelectric plants and agroindustry rob small farmers of water and thereby drive them from the land, city dwellers are forced to feed themselves with industrial food products. These come from companies that make use of science and technology to reap greater profits, rather than for the benefit of consumers. As an example, there is a hormone that increases milk production in cows but at the same time makes the mild carcinogenic. To a livestock corporation, the increased risk of cancer is of no importance against the increase in earnings.

Export-directed agroindustry takes away water than the small farmer could use to feed us. It also floods the country with transgenic organisms and pollutants. For these reasons, it is in the urban populace’s interest to oppose mining and other corporations that stand in the way of small farmers who can feed us in a healthy manner. In Chile, a mass mobilization in Santiago, Concepción and Valparaíso, among other locales, succeeded in stopping the construction of four hydroelectric centers and the southern end of the country.

A promising development is the organization of the Water and Life Defense Group (Grupo Defensa Agua y Vida;, the moving force behind the 24 November mobilization in support of the people of Cajamarca.

Coordination and unity

Fortunately, the rural populations now struggling in defense of water and life are well aware of the need for unity and coordination among them. This is of course the same sentiment that we see in the solidarity group that has arisen in Lima. We can be confident, then, that they will soon find themselves acting in concert, in spite of the obstacles of distance and economy. In this way, the militant voice of all partisans of water and life in both country and city will be clearly heard.

Say yes to life, no to mining!

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