Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
On 28 February at 7.17 pm, the Second Provincial Corporate Criminal Prosecutor of Celendín (la Segunda Fiscalía Provincial Penal Corporativa de Celendín), represented by Doctors Gloria Torres Diaz and Marco Terán Arribasplata, noted the denunciation of the unlawful act of disrupting means of transportation and communication on public roads – allegedly committed by the mining company Minera Yanacocha-Conga.
The denunciation was made by environmental advocate and President of the Inter-institutional Platform of Celendin (PIC) – Milton Sanchez Cubas.
In the public prosecutor’s record it was noted that the mining company, through the personnel of the security company Securitas (Ex Forza), and with collaboration from the DINOES (Special Unit of the National Police) have put a gate of iron tubes that prevents free transit on the public road leading to the Town Centre of Lower Santa Rosa, District of Huasmín, Celendín province.
At the time of discovery the security official Paul Sagástegui Alvarez, identified by DNI 09450949 (Peruvian National Identity Number), was present on behalf of the mining company Yanacocha.
The record noted that the gate, which prevents the free transit to the Huasmín district, is located near the Blue Lagoon (Laguna Azul). The community members present at the time of the finding noted in the denunciation that the road has an approximate age of 30 years – which is ten years before the mining company came to Cajamarca. This supports their claim that the Blue Lagoon is a water resource of the state and, as provided for by Peruvian law, is a public resource that should be freely accessible to the public.
However, the company Securitas, which provides security services to Yanacocha, has imposed a padlocked gate of iron pipes alongside a surveillance checkpoint that only allows access by vehicles of the mining company or the national police (who are contracted to work for the mining company). Meanwhile, the free movement of people who are opposed to the imposition of the Conga mining project is prevented. They are prevented from passing, they are filmed, and with the help of the DINOES, they are required to identify themselves and their details registered – a definite violation of the right of free transit.
The engineer Paul Sagástegui from the security firm of Yanacocha, signed the report arguing “that the gate is there because it is the property of his client”. Milton Sanchez for his part claims that the gate, which violates the right of free transit, has been installed for a year without the legal authority to have been constructed.
On Saturday, 2nd March at 10 am, prosecutors in the Office of the Special Crime Prevention of Cajamarca, Doctors Sandra Flores and Johny Diaz took record of complaints by ‘Ronderos’ (members of the social justice organisation) detailing police abuses and calling for an investigation into the dismantling of the camp of the Guardians of the Waters in private land of the Chaupe family which occurred on 10th January 2013. The also requested an investigation into the alleged crimes of Yanacocha concerning the installation of two gates and control sheds which prevent the free movement of the townspeople and the Guardians of the Water along the road to Huasmín.
The installation of gates that prevent free passage on public roads, arbitrarily aided by the national police, aims to intimidate people who are fighting to defend their water, or to deter those who wish to visit the lagoons that will be destroyed by the Conga mine – as has happened with national or foreign journalists or academic researchers. The severity of this illegal situation was demonstrated when the free movement of health personnel from Santa Rosa was prevented – as happened on the afternoon of the 1st March 2013, , and also when transit rights were denied to Rondero Elmer Campos, who struggles with his disabilities since a police shootout caused paraplegia.