Peru Support Group UK (PSG) has launched an academic case study examining human rights violations and community resistance to a mining project in northern Peru.
The Río Blanco copper mine project, planned for Piura in northern Peru, has long proved contentious. Noticeable tensions between local communities on the one hand, and state officials and the extractive firm on the other, have been evident since around 2003 when then UK-owned firm Monterrico Metals took over the project.
At this stage, locals – later backed by the Peruvian Human Rights Ombudsman – argued the firm had never gained the correct permissions to operate on community territory. Monterrico denied this and an acrimonious debate ensued.
In the context of deteriorating relations, from 2004 nearby communities organised a series of protest marches against the mine. Clashes between demonstrators and police resulted in numerous injuries and occasionally even fatalities. Following one confrontation in August 2005, a group of protestors were detained for a period of several days and tortured by police, and allegedly also by the firm’s private security.
In 2006 PSG organised for an independent delegation of parliamentarians, academics and journalists to visit Piura and discuss the project with local groups and experts. Their conclusions were published in the report ‘Mining and Development in Peru, With Special Reference to the Río Blanco Project, Piura’ (March 2007).
This new academic case study aims to supplement earlier work on the dispute and to update on developments in the region since the last publication. It differs from previous analyses in that it explains events in Piura, and subsequent efforts to obtain justice for the victims, principally through primary source material, including court documents, diplomatic cables, videos, photos and victim testimony. In so doing, it seeks to explain why many in Piura continue to oppose the project to date, and to highlight the potential for future conflict over the issue.
This new initiative was developed as a contribution to the State Crime Testimony Project (SCTP), an e-learning project led by King’s College London and a number of other universities. The material will be embedded in human rights and state crime modules within a host of universities over the coming months. It is also accompanied by group exercises for students which aim to help promote critical inquiry and engagement during seminars.
To view the case study please click here.