Tuesday, February 8, 2011
(Translated by Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer editor.)
According to Wikileaks Cable 38881 (dated August 19, 2005), the ambassadors of the United States and Canada met in Peru on August 11, 2005, with representatives of the US multinational Newmont [Mining], the Anglo American Quevalleco, the Australian BHP Billiton, the Canadian Barrick, Antamina* company, a Swiss negotiator, the new Australian Consul General, and a British embassy official for investment and trade. The purpose of the meeting: to take steps, only a few days after serious incidents in the Majaz mine were reported, against the NGOs and groups who oppose mining.
Operated by the Anglo-Chinese Monterrico Metals, Majaz Mine, between August 1 and 3 of 2005, was the scene of the torture of 29 persons and the assassination of a campesino by security agents. Because of this, in 2009, a British court ordered that 5 million pounds of the company’s assets be frozen to compensate its victims.
At that time, the representatives of the multinational mining companies and the US and Canadian ambassadors to Peru feared that the protest against Majaz might affect the economic interests of their respective countries. Notes the US ambassador: “The goal of the demonstrations in Majaz is to kill the project while it is in the exploration phase before, presumably, an electoral district in favor of the mines may be developed in that zone.”
In spite of the evident human rights violations committed by the Monterrico Metals security forces, the ambassador expresses in a cable his intent to reinforce security in the mines, to avoid the closing of the highways by the demonstrators and to try to have them prosecuted.
According to the cable, the representative of the Quevalleco company directed his barbs against the NGOs Oxfam, America and Friends of the Earth. The representative of Antamina recommended that they negotiate with the government and the Church to secure job transfers[out of the mining area] for professors and bishops opposed to mining. And in general he tried to associate anti-mining interests with radical groups and drug traffickers.
Jose de Echave, executive director of the Peruvian NGO CooperAccion [Cooperative Action], comments: “There is evidence that after addressing the issues mentioned above, several of those present moved onto actions: operations against the priest Marco Arana, recording conversations and mail of NGO officials, biased treatment by government ministers, campaigns in the communications media of the government and the National Mining Association, harassing teachers and transferring them from their current jobs, hauling hundreds of organizers into court [under] laws criminalizing demonstrations, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”
Jose de Echave adds: “The information disseminated confirms that these gentlemen feel that they own Peru. Moreover, the cables reveal, with blinding clarity, the central strategy that these companies use to face their conflicts: the objective is to get rid of inconvenient activists who get in their way.”
In order to carry out these activities, the ambassadors and representatives of the companies counted on the help of one high-ranking member of the Peruvian government. The US ambassador writes: “A group of representatives of the countries (USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, and South Africa) is disposed to join with the party in power, the Catholic Church, and political party leaders. With the naming of the new Prime Minister, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, we have an influential ally in the government who is ready to deal with the problem of the illegal activities in mining communities. His recent statements on putting the government’s house in order and establishing control over commercial transportation routes are encouraging.”
From the cable, one can conclude that the representatives of multinationals and ambassadors hold a winning card in their secret negotiations on mining policy with the Peruvian government. This is happening behind the people’s back, and, I repeat, in spite of the obvious and extremely serious human rights violations. There are so many millions of dollars in play that the ambassadors and corporations do not hesitate to manipulate our countries, just as in the times of the banana companies. This influence constitutes an insult to democracy, the environment and human lives.
It is quite probable that this dynamic is being repeated in other Latin America countries and we should be forewarned.
*The Antimina company is comprised of the Australian BHP Billiton (33.75%), the Swiss Xstrata (33.75%), the Canadian Teck (22.5%) and the Japonese Mitsubishi Corporation (10%).
The Guardian: US Embassy Cables: Mining Companies Worried About Security. The Guardian: US Embassy Cables: Peru Rocked by Violent Anti-mining Protests. El Comercio [Peruvian Newspaper]: Wikileaks: PPK [Pedro Pablo Kuczynski] Was “Essential” in Reining in Those Opposed to Mining. Correo: WikiLeaks: PPK Was Essential Against Anti-mining Organizations. La Republica [Peruvian Newspaper]: Wikileaks: They Blame the Church, NGOs and Leftist Parties in the Majaz Case. La Republica: Wikileaks: USA Considered PPK an Essential Ally on Mining Issues. Lists of Mining Companies that Operate in Peru: Peru University and InfoMine.
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