State of emergency in Peru, civil rights suspended

Peru declares a state of emergency in Islay province after the death of a man during protest against Tia Maria copper mine project

Photo by: TRTWorld
Photo by: TRTWorld

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Peru declared a state of emergency in the province of Islay on Friday and called in the military, hours after clashes between the police and protesters resisting a proposed copper mine left a 55-year old man dead.

This is the fourth death in the last two months in the southern coastal valley in the Arequipa region. Three being civilians, the fourth a police officer who suffered a skull fracture.

Pedro Cateriano, the chief of the Ministerial Cabinet, told the press that the right to mobilization, transportation, and meetings would be suspended for 60 days.

The $1.4 million Tia Maria copper mine project owned by Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, is backed by the Peruvian government led by Ollanta Humala.

Southern Copper, which on March 23 announced its cancellation of the Tia Maria copper mine project and later retracted its statement, proposed a two-month break last week to address doubts about the project.

Protesters backed by local mayors, however, are not seeking modifications but an outright cancellation of the project.

TeleSUR reports that since May 2013, the Peruvian government had issued four separate sets of laws favoring extractive industries, making environmental and social standards more flexible.

Since the beginning of 2009, the residents of the 40,000 population valley have been vocal about their concerns, fearing potential environmental damage and agricultural contamination from the open pit mine.

The locals claim decreased water availability would limit the production of rice, sugar cane and paprika in the Tambo River valley.

Southern Copper insists it will use desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean which will be piped back after processing the copper.

The 120,000 ton per year project is scheduled to start operating in 2017 provided there are no delays.

After Chile and China, Peru is the world’s No. 3 copper producer. Sixty two percent of its export revenues come from mining, the Associated Press reports.

TRTWorld and agencies