Cajamarca, Peru: Caution Advised - Ongoing Protests against the Minas Conga Project
by Michelle Dinos
Cajamarca sign: "Yanacocha Pollutes You and Kills You - Be Aware"
Cajamarca, a region in northern Peru, has made headlines around the world for ongoing protests concerning an expansion of the Yanacocha mine, which is run by the Newmont Mining Corporation.
Injuries and deaths have been reported on several occasions.
Last year, Newmont enthusiastically launched the Minas Conga project, one of the largest gold mining operations to take place in Cajamarca, Peru.
However, this billion-dollar project has led to major unrest among the locals, who have rallied together to protest the start of Minas Conga.
Dismayed by Peruvian president Ollanta Humala’s public support of the project, residents have taken it upon themselves to launch consecutive anti-mining demonstrations, with no end in sight.
For over half a year, protesters in Cajamarca have taken to the streets to insist that the new mining project will contaminate and eliminate their central water supply.
As it stands, Minas Conga is set to destroy four natural lakes, which are vital to agriculture in the region.
Even though Newmont plans to spend millions on water reservoirs, the locals insist that this is not a viable solution.
Their heartfelt cries express their certainty that the water reservoirs will become polluted by the mines and eventually dry up, as has occurred with other water reservoirs around the world.
Civilians Killed in Protests
The locals sincerely feel that this project threatens their very existence and many have decided that they are willing to give their lives to protest Minas Conga.
These decisions are becoming a reality as five civilians have been killed in protests within the past month, amidst fire rampages, building attacks, injuries, and arrests.
State of Emergency - Travel Cautions
The death of these civilians has led to a state of emergency in Cajamarca, causing tourism in the region to become virtually nonexistent.
The U.S. embassy in Lima is constantly issuing warnings about demonstrations and roadblocks which could hinder travel or cause concern for the safety of tourists in the area. Given the intensity of current protests, travelers are advised to inform themselves of the latest news before considering travel to Cajamarca. Michelle Dinos, Contributing Writer - Inside-Peru.com