By Mauricio Quiroz Torres
In Peru, it is verified that the Large Mining companies continue with impunity in their policy of devastating the headwaters of the basin, the towns and the wealth, leaving environmental degradation and poverty as direct consequences. In this way, the area is depopulated to avoid the activity of those who defend the ecosystems and it is easier to later sue the Mining Concession in territories of their “property”.
In Peru, it is verified that the Large Mining companies continue with impunity in their policy of destroying the headwaters of the basin, the towns and the wealth (the profits are transferred en masse abroad), leaving environmental degradation and poverty, as direct consequences of said presence of imperialist capital.
Although thanks to the struggles of the peoples it has been possible to partially contain these consequences, in the XXI century a serious danger looms for the peoples as the Major Mining is consolidating a more active and predatory presence in our territory (1) with the complacency of the old Peruvian State.
Currently one of these forms is the aggravation of the direct purchase of land by large-scale mining. Land has been bought from individual peasants.
Many of the farmers who sell their land to them are co-opted to present themselves as small business providers of certain services, being used to strengthen the mining presence, stop protests against environmental pollution, develop welfare in populated centers (2), among others.
This way it is easier to sue the Mining Concession later because its predatory activity will be carried out within its "property". In this way, the area is rapidly depopulated, cleaning a mining area of civilians to avoid protests, marches, clashes and the activity of environmental fighters and those who defend ecosystems damaged by mining.
This depopulation is the policy proposed today by the Fujimori congressman and Vice President of Peru Luis Gampietri to confront insurgencies in the VRAE zone in Peru, since he states that "civilians interfere" in the demolitions.
As the Canadian ANTAMINA has done in Ancash -which has caused a confrontation with the surrounding communities- MINERA YANACOCHA has just bought the Chaupirume Alto area of the Province of San Pablo, in the Cajamarca Region.
Dangers of agro-energy activities
This area is not just anywhere. No.
According to the complaint from the Association of San Pablinos resident in Cajamarca (See Annex), it is the birthplace of the tributaries of the Rejo River, head of the basin, where there are 3 important irrigation channels (Sillarume, Pucará-Chili fruit and the Chorro Blanco) that irrigate thousands of hectares of the lower part of the area.
If we do mining in this area, we would practically be poisoning the Jequetepeque valley, which feeds the Sierra and Costa with its waters and would suppress the continuity of the traditional agricultural activities of the peasantry and others such as electricity generation.
How much of the 400.4 million m3 of volume of water stored by the Gallito Ciego Dam will suffer the consequences of the control and depredation of the head of the basin that the aforementioned company would do? How the activity of the Gallito Ciego Hydroelectric Power Plant, which has a power of 34,000 Kw, would be affected. And what is generated with the waters stored in said Dam?
And the big buyer of land in the Chaupirume Alto area, which is the capitalist Minera Yanacocha, has a powerful history of plunder. There are the serious complaints of undervalued purchase of land (S /. 100 new soles per hectare) and of environmental contamination that includes the proliferation of heavy metals in the rivers where the mining activity is located.
Thousands of pages have been written on the latter and there are immense judicial records ... which condense the cases of spills of hydroline, oil, lime and mercury (toxic substances) in San Juan, Magdalena and San Sebastián de Choropampa on 2 June 2000 in the Cajamarca Region.
Likewise, mining activity is directly responsible for the massive death of trout in the basin of the LLaucano River and in the headwaters of the Rejo River, in Bambamarca, in Río Grande and in the Purhuay inn and finally in the Porcón Farm itself; the closing of the Ramada canal. Today, even the mining company Gold Fields La Cima S.A. in the Province of Hualgayoc-Bambamarca sabotages the process of monitoring the waters of the rivers in that area.
To this is added, as happens in the Province of Hualgayoc, in the area of Chugur, Bambamarca and the district of Hualgayoc the existence of millions of untreated environmental liabilities - which in said Province are close to 2,000 - and which are proof of the predatory and degrading activity of the mining companies and the complicity of the State in the looting of wealth and the lack of environmental protection.
Can land be sold to mining companies or not?
Can an owner of the headwaters or agricultural lands freely sell his lands? What does the international and local legal system say?
If we assume the notion of indigenous peoples as opposed to mining, the peasantry has a greater ancestry than this and it is what should guide our position on the issue.
International legislation on these peoples, especially Convention 169 -juridically superior to local provisions of the country- of the International Labor Organization-ILO prevents the free individual transfer of land because it prevents first deciding on them -in this case the seller and buyer himself - and at the same time forces to make decisions subject to regulations such as not selling to anyone -art. 17 of the limited Agreement (2) - that is not a member of themselves and in consultation with their Authorities.
What does the local legislation say? Are there specific rules to guide decision-making on ancestrally peasant lands that you want to sell to mining companies?
In the local order, as a result of the fourth restructuring of the Peruvian State in the 20th century, the corporate Fujimontesinist Constitution of 1993 -following the same orientations of imperialist capital, that is, of the bourgeois order- presents private property as inviolable but subject to a harmonious exercise with the "common good" and limited by "law".
Could it be said that the properties located in the headwaters of the basin where mining activity takes place will harm their direct zone of influence and indirect areas? Yes.
Everything indicates that developing traditional agriculture, as peasants have done for hundreds or thousands of years, is not the same as developing mining activity.
The latter degrades soils, water and air and if it is located in the headwaters of the basin, the damage will be considerable, affecting the lives of the surrounding populations and the middle and lower part where these basins are spread. In other words, the common good is affected directly or indirectly.
We believe that the bourgeois legal system in Peru has to respond to this challenge and put barriers to the free sale of land in the headwaters of the basin, following what is already established in ILO Convention 169.
Corollary: develop popular protest
A new scenario opens, then, that should mobilize the peoples and environmental NGOs to prevent the free transfer of land-territories in favor of mining companies, otherwise they will seek the protection of private property to develop their activity to sight and patience of all, with total impunity because they will do it "within" their property.
They will not only defend themselves with the mining concession granted but with their ownership of the territory.
In San Pablo, Cajamarca Region, the crusade has already begun to defend itself from environmental pollution and to protect ecosystems.
The Association of San Pablinos in Cajamarca and the Provincial Municipality of San Pablo have taken the lead.
Mauricio Quiroz Torres - Sociologist - Vice President of the Instituto Pueblo Continente.
1. We use the term territory in the manner indicated in art. 13.2 of ILO Convention 169: 2. The use of the term "lands" in articles 15 and 16 must include the concept of territories, which covers the entire habitat of the regions that the peoples concerned occupy or use of some other way.
2. In the Province of Hualgayoc-Cajamarca Region there is the case of Hernán Vásquez, frustrated candidate of the Aprista Party for the municipal seat in the 2006 municipal elections; who sold family land and with the money from said sale is today a prosperous vehicle service provider to the South African mining company Gold Fields La Cima S.A.
3. Vásquez is like a Santa Claus who gives coins and goods to the resident in the Province but does not say anything about the mining contamination that his Province is object of.
4. In art. 17.3 of Convention 169 reads: 3. It must be prevented that people strangers to those peoples can take advantage of the customs of those peoples or ignorance of the laws by their members to take over the property, possession or use of the lands belonging to them. to them.
Minera Yanacocha wants to do what the Chileans did in the province of San Pablo
As the saying goes, "WHERE YOU EAT, DO NOT GET DIRTY", I really do not understand how it is that one of the companies of such prestige in Peru and internationally, has to be exercising an unpleasant behavior against the Province of San Pablo, who is shaking his hand so that he can carry out his mining activities.
Minera Yanacocha, in a clumsy and abusive way, carries out very malicious actions against the heroic Province of San Pablo, trying with its evil actions to disappear the flora and fauna of the area. For example, in 2005 he wanted to transfer the waters of the 280 lagoons, with Resolution 618, of 06-01-2005, granted by bad irrigation authorities of Jequetepeque, based in San Pedro de Lloc.
In this same year, a document was circulated where the 4 mayors and the Regional Prefect of that time, compromised the waters and lands of the Province, receiving each authority, the sum of five hundred thousand dollars, a case that went unnoticed by the inspection authorities and control of the Cajamarca Region.
In February 2007, the Provincial Municipality of San Pablo, issued a Municipal Ordinance in defense of the lagoons, reserving an area of 2960 hectares for an ecological zone, protecting the water resource, native species and promoting tourism.
On May 25, Minera Yanacocha filed a claim for protection in the judicial branch of Lima, arguing that the municipal ordinance violates the freedom of business, industry and work; but happily, the Judicial Power has agreed twice with the Province of San Pablo.
When she was frustrated in her actions, she went before the Constitutional Court, who saw the case in the city of Arequipa, on April 27, pte. year, the same that is frustrated to date and without solution.
Currently, this company is building a highway, which by name Kunturwasi has placed, which passes through the entire territory of the province and through places where there are no inhabitants, with the story that it is the alternative route to provide a solution to transport.
Now, before completing this route, and without solving its problems with the province, it is once again seeking to convince the poor peasants of the Chaupirume Alto hamlet with a series of tricks, to whom it offers a series of bargains, in exchange for giving their money. land for mining.
Chaupirume Alto, is located in the birthplace of the tributaries of the Rejo River, head of the basin, where there are 3 important irrigation channels (Sillarume, Pucará-Chili fruit and the Chorro Blanco) that irrigate thousands of hectares, from the lower part of the area. If we do mining in this area, we would practically be poisoning the Jequetepeque valley.
In other words, this company has been causing serious economic, ecological and social damage to the entire Province of San Pablo and its surroundings, with the complacency of its authorities and a people who cry out for justice.
I consider that all companies have the right to produce, but they have no right to pollute our environment. Pollution is a crime penalized by human and natural laws.
What we do wrong has its consequences on future generations and we are already paying for the lack of foresight and planning.