Ollanta Humala was sworn in as Peru’s president on July 28, 2011, promising to foment dialogue to resolve the social conflicts prevalent throughout the country. In his inaugural speech, he said that “the excessive increase of conflicts, many of them absurdly violent, show us every day that it is imperative to redress injustices, correct the course and restore dialogue in our society.”
The new administration inherited 214 social conflicts, of which 118 were socio-environmental, primarily against mining projects, according to the Defensoría del Pueblo, or National Ombudsman. During the government of former President Alan García (2006-2011), 195 people lost their lives as a result of violence unleashed during conflicts.
But after only four months in power, Humala abandoned that dialogue to use an “iron fist” to control social protests against mining activities. The major trigger for the administration’s shift was the Conga project, a US$4.8 billion venture to extract gold and copper from beneath four lagoons in the southeastern part of the mountainous northern department of Cajamarca and developed by Minera Yanacocha, which is owned by US company Newmont Mining, Peru’s Buenaventura, and the International Finance Corporation, or IFC, member of the World Bank.
LMN member group the Society of St Columban has written to the Peruvian Government SSC urging it to reject the Conga mine: see http://www.columbans.co.uk/news/columbans-support-opposition-to-a-new-gold-mine-in-peru/.
Newmont is a US company with British investment: among investors in Newmont are UK-based Blackrock World Mining Trust and AXA Investment Managers UK. See http://moneytometal.org/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&button=&search=newmont.