Search

 

Cablegate: Mining Conflict, the View From Cajamarca

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #3075/01 2552200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 122200Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6814
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1803
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5067
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7582
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3095
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0761
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP 4516
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9307
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1451
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1476
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS LIMA 003075

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

INTERIOR PASS TO USGS FOR D.MENZIE/A.GURMENDI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL ECON EMIN SOCI PE
SUBJECT: MINING CONFLICT, THE VIEW FROM CAJAMARCA

1. (SBU) Conflicts between large mining companies and
surrounding communities have increased in the last five
years, with Cajamarca one of the hardest hit regions.
Cajamarca's Yanacocha gold mine, the largest open-pit gold
mine in the world, has been the most visible and
controversial example of the broader challenge to the mining
sector. Majority owned and operated by US-based Newmont
Mining, Yanacocha has been battered by protests that have
forced it to curb investment and production. Although
Newmont and other mining companies have attempted to respond
to popular demands with social and infrastructure projects,
conflicts continue. The ferment, instigated by anti-mining
NGOs and clergymen, has attracted the attention of
anti-systemic political actors like ethnocacerist leader
Antauro Humala, who are taking advantage of the discontent to
build their political bases.

Scope of the Problem: A Drag on Growth
--------------------------------------
2. (U) The Presidents Council of Ministers catalogued 71
active mining conflicts between November 2006 and May 2007;
of these, the largest concentration--19 conflicts--took place
in Cajamarca. Centered on environmental and employment
complaints, most conflicts involved protests and roadblocks
designed to extract concessions from companies or to block
new investments. Some conflicts and their leaders received
international attention through the dissemination of
anti-globalization propaganda via the internet. One of the
most celebrated cases involved clergyman and founder of the
NGO Grufides, Father Marco Arana, who in 2004 encouraged
protests that forced Newmont Mining to shelve plans to expand
the Yanacocha mine. Newmont's inability to replace its
reserves has weakened output and in early 2007 led the firm's
Vice President for Latin America to predict that production
would drop 30 percent this year. This decline has
contributed to a steady decrease in national mining output
since August 2006; according to the National Statistics and
Information Institute, Mines and Quarries GDP decreased 2.7
percent in the first half of 2007 compared to the same period
in 2006.

Mining Companies Adapt to Conflict
----------------------------------
3. (U) Mining companies have worked hard to repair relations
with local communities and prevent future conflict.
Yanacocha's security chief admitted to Poloff that the
company made mistakes in the past but stressed that it has
improved since 2002. The company has spent millions to
expand community outreach, to invest in social and road
projects, and to build two dams and a reservoir that ensure
the delivery of clean water to the community. Other mining
companies have followed suit: Yanacocha's security chief said
that the firm Anglo-American, for example, has offered local
communities $400 million in social investment. Activists
have praised Peruvian copper-zinc mining firm Antamina and
the formerly US-owned Tantaya copper mine as models for
community relations. Firms have also contributed revenue to
local and regional governments through a Mining Canon. For
Cajamarca, deposits in the Mining Canon increased from $19
million in 2003 to $108 million in 2006.

Continued Conflict and Mutual Distrust
--------------------------------------
4. (SBU) Despite the companies' efforts, social conflicts
have continued to erupt, even against the model investors.
Father Arana told poloff that companies like Newmont have
made improvements but argued that past mistakes will not be
easily forgotten. He also claimed that social pressure has
been the only effective tool in getting industry to respond
to the community's needs. Yanacocha's union leader Guillermo
Nina complained to poloff about salaries and working
conditions. Both Arana and Nina criticized Yanacocha's vast
profits as unjust in the face of widespread poverty in the
region. Yanacocha security analysts, in turn, said that
Arana is the source of most protests and that both Arana and
Nina are motivated by politics not economics. They said
Arana's ultimate goal is not to spread the wealth of mining
investment but to lead an international movement to shut down
the Andean mining industry.

Antauro Humala Seeks to Exploit Conflict
----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) Antauro Humala, the jailed brother of former
presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, and his nationalist
movement see the mining conflicts as an opportunity to build
political support. His Partido Etnocacerista Revolucionario
Unido (PERU) is actively organizing in Cajamarca--albeit from
a small base--for local and national elections (2010 and 2011
respectively) with weekly membership drives. Jenny
Cabanillas, PERU's director for Cajamarca, said that the
renegotiation of mining contracts to guarantee just
investment is a key plank in the party's agenda. Another
PERU organizer defended the approach saying that politicians
in mining areas have to attack mining companies in order to
be viable candidates. Isaac Humala, patriarch of the Humala
clan, predicted to poloff in August that the mining conflicts
would expand and eventually contribute to the collapse of the
Garcia government.

6. (SBU) Comment: Mining conflicts in Cajamarca highlight a
broader challenge to spreading the wealth from Peru's
economic boom to the hinterland. Where the government
fails--even with Mining Canon revenue--to deliver services
and jobs, protestors blame the mines, in turn threatening the
very investment needed to create wealth and employment. The
GOP and mining companies continue to promote the swift
resolution of social conflicts to enable expanded investment.
But the government is in a difficult race with anti-systemic
actors for the "hearts and minds" of the populace.
NEALON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Chemical Weapons Attack (and Response) In Syria

The past week’s headlines about the chemical attacks in Syria – and the military response by the US, France and Britain – have tended to overshadow a few of the downstream outcomes. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific Moves: China, Vanuatu And Australia

Washington’s vigilant deputy, doing rounds on the beat in the Pacific, has been irate of late. The central issue here is the continuing poking around of China in an area that would have been colloquially termed in the past “Australia’s neighbourhood”. More>>

ALSO:

Diplomatic Madness: The Expulsion of Russian Diplomats

How gloriously brave it seemed, some 23 nations coming together like a zombie collective to initiate a fairly ineffectual action in of itself: the expulsion of Russian diplomats or, as they preferred to term it, intelligence operatives. More>>

ALSO:


Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO:

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC