The National Agrarian Confederation denounces mining officials are “taking over the government”.
In March 2018, the Peruvian government granted a concession to mining company Minquest Peru, acquired by Camino Minerals Corporation (Canada), to exploit resources in Siete Colores Mountain and the surrounding areas, in Cusco region, without consulting the people in a prior, free and informed manner.
As a consequence of the social mobilization and strong social media campaigns, the government withdrew the concession in June, but the National Agrarian Confederation (CNA) is demanding that this is formally stated in writing, since so far this has only been an expression of intent by the company and the authorities.
Antolín Huáscar, CNA Chair and coordinator of the articulation of indigenous organizations Pact of Unity talked about this in an interview with Real World Radio. He stated that the Siete Colores Mountain territory, the main tourism area in Cusco, is shared by two provinces and “belongs to two communities, which are disputing the property” over a space that is considered cultural heritage in Peru.
This mountain is also known as Winikunka and is located “in the middle of a mining concession area called Red Beds 2, covering 400 hectares”.
The area is also a source of economic activities for the communities inhabiting it, both agrarian and tourism activities. If these hectares are granted in concession to carry out mining activities, they would lose their appeal and it would cause the destruction of the environment with mineral extraction.
“The Mining Ministry disregarded the historical value of communities and did not carry out a prior, free and informed consultation”, denounced Huáscar and he added that the agreement only involved the company´s officials and Cusco´s authorities. About this, he warned that private companies have former officials now working for the Government: “They learn all the bad practices in the private sector and then go to the Agriculture, Mining or Culture Ministries to find mechanisms for mining concessions to be granted without limitations”.
In response to the social rejection against the granting of Peruvian cultural and natural heritage to corporations, the company issued a statement in which they claim to be “willing to hand over the mining concession to the corresponding entity, to safeguard the integrity both of cultural and tourism development in the area, as a cultural icon of our Peru”. The CNA is demanding the annulment of said concession to be formally recorded and for the company to leave the area.
Currently, 26.5 per cent of the Peruvian territory is in the hands of peasant communities, which produce most food supplied in the city markets, said Servindi: “Over 70 % of products come from family farming, mostly communal family farming”. Nevertheless, 35 % of the lands owned by peasant communities have been granted in concessions to Canadian and Chinese mining companies. Altogether, 14 per cent of the Peruvian territory has been granted in mining concessions, which causes attacks by the companies against peasants and indigenous people living in and defending these lands. It also brings pollution and looting in these territories.