PERU: Property Destruction and Intimidation of Peasant Family by Yanacocha Mining Company


foto gepubliceerd door Yanacocha

Cajamarca, Peru – 6th February 2015

Conga Conflict – https://congaconflict.wordpress.com/

On Tuesday 3rd February, in the highlands of Cajamarca, personnel from Minera Yanacocha S.R.L. along with the private security service of the mining company and 200 National Police of Peru invaded the property of Máxima Acuña de Chaupe and destroyed her house that was in construction.

Maxima and her family recently won their court case brought against them by Yanacocha which accused them of usurpation – claiming that the land the family have been living on since 1994 and for which they have proof of possession, was instead the property of Yanacocha. This land is of strategic importance to the mining company, the world’s second largest gold producer, as it resides in the heart of their planned mega-mining project – Minas Conga. However after four years, two court cases and two High Court appeals, the family was finally vindicated.

Yanacocha, composed of US-based Newmont (51%), Peruvian Buenaventura (44%) and the IFC of the World Bank (5%), owns and operates the largest gold mine in Latin-America in the province of Cajamarca and their next project would be Minas Conga, three times the size of existing operations.

Máxima, her husband Jaime, and two youths who were helping build the house, an improvement to their small earthen home so as to protect them from the intense cold, were met by this heavy contingent of police, mining personnel and SECURITAS personnel, the Swedish security multinational contracted by Yanacocha, who proceeded to destroy their new house.

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The invasion was not justified by any judicial order or police warrant nor was a public prosecutor present.  Yanacocha, in their defence, claimed that the house was being built outside the limits of the Chaupe family’s land. However, in the same press release they acknowledge that the land is within “Tragadero Grande”, the area of land identified in the court case and recognized as the family’s property.

The family’s lawyer, Dr. Mirtha Vásquez, belied the company’s assertion that they were protecting the property in a pacific manner. Primarily because the entry of 200 heavily armed police and security personnel  without authorization is a clear act of aggression. Secondly, the defendant cannot defend territory that does not belong to them. This was proven on Thursday, 5th February when the company returned once again with a heavy contingent of police, mining engineers and security personnel with the purpose of demarcation of the limits of the mining company’s property. Sergio Sánchez, Manager of the Regional Government’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, also present, testified that the result of this demarcation only demonstrated that the house in construction was in fact within the limits of the family’s terrain.

Throughout the four years of the family’s ordeal, they have been converted into a symbol of the resistance for all those fighting the mining company. This further harassment of the family despite their court victory has caused great indignation amongst the local population and indeed amongst national and international solidarity networks.

Local organizations such as the Plataforma Interinstitucional Celendina (PIC) and the NGO GRUFIDES are appealing for support in the form of actions of solidarity, accompaniment, or donations. The family remains vulnerable and isolated and fears further attacks. Thursday 12th February will be World Solidarity Day with Máxima. Each organization, group or individual can elect their own form of showing their solidarity such as organising a demonstration or march, sending a video, photo, letter etc., or hold an awareness-raising or fundraising event.  Please send information on actions of solidarity to congaconflict@gmail.com.

Amnesty International has released an urgent action directed to Interior Minister Daniel Urresti: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR46/002/2015/en/aa39845d-57a9-4bd4-a347-887da3990ff3/amr460022015en.pdf

Front Line Defenders have also released a letter that can be signed and sent to President Ollanta Humala: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/28032/action

For more information and donations: email congaconflict@gmail.com or phone 0051 996179135