Conga, the planned gold mine in the northern Andes of Peru, has created considerable turmoil since the fall of 2011. It has become the national symbol of the problems of large-scale mining in Peru itself and, by extension, in all of Latin America.
The Conga project is an extension of the Yanacocha goldmine, the largest in Latin America. Peasant organizations and other social movements, supported by the regional authorities of Cajamarca and the broad civil society of Peru, are insisting that the Conga project be cancelled. After almost twenty years of mining operations in the region, they have lost confidence in the mining company that bears the same name. The company has repeatedly been discredited for violations of human rights and environmental damage.
So, Conga no va! – ‘Conga is unviable’, is the message of the protest action. There seems to be very little support among the local population for a new gold mine. Since October 2011 numerous strikes and demonstrations have taken place. The government responds with violence and seems determined to push the project with armed police if necessary. This resulted in 5 deaths in July 2012. The protests continue and no solution of the conflict is in sight as yet.
What are the protest movement’s demands?
- A ban on all mining activity in vulnerable water source areas of the Andes, like the Conga region, since these are crucial to the water supply of neighbouring communities, villages and towns.
- Respect of the protesters’ right to pre-consultation, serious dialogue with the central government and a halt to criminalizing the protest actions.
- Investment in sustainable economic alternatives such as agriculture, stock breeding and eco-tourism.
CATAPA fully supports the demands of the Cajamarca protest movement to cancel the Conga project and is prepared to be an international partner in order to put the mining problems on the public agenda.