Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
On 17th July the Superior Court of Justice of Cajamarca (la Corte Superior de Justicia de Cajamarca) held their final hearing in the case of the Chaupe family vs Yanacocha mining coorporation.
After two years of violent intimidation – which failed against the courage and determination of Maxima Acuña de Chaupe and her family, Yanacocha changed tact and took them to court. The Public Prosecutor of Celendin, whom many accuse of corruption and partialization, ruled in favour of the mining company sentencing the family to a three year suspended jail sentence, ordering them to leave their land within 30 days, and pay a fine out of reach of a family who live by subsistance farming.
The Chaupe family, represented by Mirtha Vasquez of human rights organisation GRUFIDES, appealed this decision and the public hearing of 17th July was their chance to protest this injustice. The family emotionally appealed to the three judges to protect their right to live in peace on the land they purchased in 1994 – a fact the judges pointed out to Yanacocha as they claimed the land was vacant when they entered in 2001. The mega mining company claimed the mother, father and four children entered the land by force – when asked what proof they have of this Yanacocha`s lawyer answered because Yanacocha and their security guards said so.
Contrastingly, the Chaupes do have proof – videos, photos, police reports, that the mining company – along with over a hundred DINOES (members of the special unit of the national police), forcefully entered their land, aggressively assaulted the family, killed their animals, and destroyed their abode. They are also living under constant police surveillance and visitors to their house are regularly harrassed.
The judges of the Superior Court of Justice of Cajamarca heard these testimonies, along with Jaime Chaupe`s account of police indifference and refusal to receive his report after he walked 8 hours to denounce the assault on his family. They set the date of 2nd July at 9.30am for the final decision on the appeal.
See the video below of lawyer Mirtha Vasquez as she leaves the hearing with the Chaupe family.