A campaign from YLNM member group CATAPA.
In Peru, residents of Cajamarca, Celendín and Bambamarca have been protesting for years against ‘Conga’, a gold-mining project set up by mining company Yanacocha. This protest continues, with thousands of participants, due to the resoluteness of one family living in the heart of the mine site: the Acuña – Chaupes. We want to support this family in recognition of their years of struggle and resistance.
The Acuña – Chaupes have had to sell their cattle to pay court and travel fees to continue their struggle. Right now what the family really need are cows to support their traditional farming livelihoods.
The Conga Mine would bring an immense devastation to a huge natural area; hundreds of hectares of protected wetlands would disappear together with five mountain lakes, which act as the headwaters of five rivers basins. This area would be turned into a large open pit mine two kilometers wide and one kilometer deep. The mine, together with its waste disposals and mine tailings, would occupy a total footprint of thousands of hectares. Furthermore it would be impossible to continue agricultural activities in the region, which is famous for its milk production. The surrounding area will suffer water scarceness and high contamination. The mine would extract gold for about ten years, and then leave a ruined and used-up land behind, which will not be useable for further economic activities.
Máxima Acuna-Chaupe and her family received worldwide attention for their resistance against the project. They live in the middle of the concession and keep saying ‘NO’ to Conga, in spite of the millions they have been offered to sell their land, in spite of the assaults, the threats and the permanent surveillance by Yanacocha’s hired policeman who set up a camp next to their house. Máxima, a humble farmer, not only had the will to refuse to sell her land, she had the guts to go into court against Yanacocha. After a 5-year case, she won.
The price the family had to pay is huge, because Yanacocha wants the family off their own land at all costs. For years they have been living in terror; Yanacocha has used violence on several occasions by invading their territory with groups of armed policemen. They bully the family with disturbances at night, surveillance during the day, and attempts to divide the protest and even the family with favoritism and highly unethical tactics. Now they even have to pay with their freedom of movement. This month Yanacocha built an iron fence around their terrain to imprison them in the wide landscape they are living in. They are denying them access to the nearest market by not letting them pass the roadblocks they manage on the only road leading from Cajamarca to Santa Rosa.
The family is going through hard times; they can’t sow anything on their land because Yanacocha demanded a break in physical activities for both part in court. Nonetheless the family has to stay put to claim the use of their land. Since they are farmers, they have nothing to live on at the moment. The cattle they once had had to be sold to pay for the court costs and the frequent travels to Cajamarca and Celendin.
We want to support this brave family that is living day to day in the eye of the Yanacocha-storm, a company that won’t step back despite the strong opposition to the project and the fact that they cannot obtain a social license from the communities living in the area. We want to support them for their admirable resistance, for their capability to keep fighting for a broader cause; the right to water, the conservation of a vulnerable ecosystem, for the common good of all farmers living in the direct and indirect zone of the project, and for the generations to come.
At this moment food is being collected locally in Peru to send to the family. In the long-term, some cattle would give them the opportunity to regain their autonomy. With some cows the family could start up their traditional agricultural practices again; cows will give them milk and the ability to make cheese. A horse would give the family the possibility to make independent travels to the market, as a way to avoid the roadblock from Yanacocha. In this way we seek to give hope to the family, to make them feel that they are not alone, but that solidarity can overcome the capitalist greed of a mining multinational.
- CATAPA’s support to the Conga-resistance: http://catapa.be/en/cases/peru/conga
- An Assessment of the Conga Mining Project in Light of World Bank Standards: http://www.conganova.com/
- A timeline about the Conga-conflict; a struggle to defend land and water from being exploited by mining multinacional Yanacoha, a struggle of a brave family: http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/363060/Caso-Familia-Chaupe/
- Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru: https://congaconflict.wordpress.com/tag/conga-no-va/