By Cintia Garcia
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
LIMA, PERU—On Friday, a farmer, Quintino Cerceda Huilca, was shot in the head and killed by police during a clash in the highland region of Apurimac. Congressman Richard Arce, who represents the region, confirmed the death caused by police officers attempting to clear the road.
An estimated 200 villagers protested the Chinese company, MMG Ltd’s $10-billion Las Bambas copper mine, for changing its environmental plan. The protestors had been blocking the road leading to Las Bambas copper mine for nearly a week. They were met by police dressed in riot gear. A community lawyer stated that about 21 to 34 local community members were injured, including some with bullet wounds. In addition to the injured, 12 protestors were arrested. Peru’s interior ministry released a statement claiming that they lamented the death of the farmer. The office also stated that 20 policemen were injured during the clash and the matter is under investigation. This was the first death related to a mining protest.
A community spokesman stated, “The community has never disagreed with the project. They are not anti-mining. The issue is that they cheated us, they lied to use. The ore was going to go through a pipeline, not trucks that are polluting the fields.” The remote community claims that an estimated 300 trucks pass through the area every day affecting their way of life, including their livestock. In addition, some of the demonstrators have stated that some of their communal land had been used without permission to construct a paved road leading to the mine.
Peru’s economy has grown within the past year due to copper production. La Bamba mine is expected to make Peru the second largest copper producer in the world. La Bamba alone produced 35,000 tonnes of copper in August.