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Tia Maria

Protests against Peru’s Tia Maria Mine and International Solidarity

By James Jordan - People's World, June 11, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

What does it take to stop a transnational corporate giant in its tracks when it threatens workers, farmers and communities? The people of Arequipa, Peru have an answer.

Unionists, rural workers, popular movements, and environmentalists are coming together in this region of southern Peru to halt the proposed Tia Maria copper mine. The mine project belongs to Southern Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico.

Mine opponents are demanding respect for workers rights, community democracy and involvement in development decisions and protection for the ecosystem and rural farmers. Tia Maria would be a large pit mine projected to have a 20 year life span. Protesters are concerned about the likelihood of contamination of the region's water supply.

The federal government has declared martial law and sent troops into the region. It has also called for a 60-day pause in mine development.

Police forces are under contract with Southern Copper to protect the mine, which places in question their commitment to public safety. So far three protesters have been killed in demonstrations against the mine, and more than 200 have been wounded.

Peru's Tia Maria Mining Conflict: Another Mega Imposition

By Lynda Sullivan - Upside Down World, June 10, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Peru has been rocked once again by a social conflict which pits the government, looking out for the economic interests of a multinational corporation, against its people. The Tia Maria Mine, an open-pit project of Southern Copper Corporation, controlled by Grupo Mexico, is the latest attempted imposition of a destructive mega-project by big business on rural communities in the interior of the country. To date, the conflict has claimed eight lives: four in 2011 and four more since April of this year. The affected communities have been on an indefinite strike since March 23rd and, as a response, President Ollanta Humala has called a state of emergency, permitting the Armed Forces and the National Police to violate the constitutional rights of the local population in the hope that repression will breed consent. However, the threatened farmers say that they will fight to the end, and the company, making use of the red carpet set down by the Peruvian state, also does not appear to be giving up on its 1.4 billion dollar investment anytime soon.

The conflict dates back to 2009, when the company first produced its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Tia Maria, a copper extraction project hoping to mine 120 thousand tons of copper cathodes per year during its 18 year life span. It would be situated in the district of Cocachacra, though its effects would also reach the districts of Punta del Bombón, Deán Valdivia and Mejía, regions all belonging to the province of Islay, in the department of Arequipa. The most sensitive and threatened area is the Tambo Valley, which is considered the 'larder' of the Arequipa region, and wider afield. Ninety-seven percent of its agricultural produce and eighty-eight percent of its fishing catch goes to feeding the south of the country. The valley employs more than 15 thousand families and produces a profit of around 320 million soles a year (roughly $100 million) [1].

Tia Maria would consist of two open pits; the largest of which, La Tapada, would be situated just 2.4 km from the Tambo Valley. The second, sharing the name of Tia Maria, would be just 1 km further [2]. The subterranean waters that are connected to the Tambo River would pass just 250 meters from the open pits. The communities along the Tambo Valley, on seeing the project’s dangerous proximity to their fertile lands, formed the Tambo Valley Defense Front, a platform on which to project their voice. In October 2009 the Defense Front lead a popular consultation in the districts of Cocachacra, Punta del Bombón and Deán Valdivia, resulting in an overwhelming rejection of the project with 93.4% voting against it [3].

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