Press release from LMN member group CATAPA
On Wednesday 2nd of December in the afternoon, a new violent confrontation between local residents and police occurred in the town of Cajas Canchaque, district of Carmen de la Frontera, in the province of Huancabamba (Piura, Northern Peru).
During the confrontation two residents died by police fire: Cástulo Correa Huayama, 39 years old, and Vicente Romero Ramírez, 52 years old. More than 17 hours after their death the corpses have not yet been removed. Further, another six residents were wounded, one of them an 18 year old adolescent with shotwounds to the head, as was reported by Radio ‘Coordinación Nacional’.
The circumstances of the tragedy are still unclear. According to the National Police, police officials who were trying to detain persons supposedly involved in the attack on the “Henry´s Hill” mining camp of mining company Río Blanco of November 1st, were ambushed and fired in self defence.
The organization OCMAL (Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America) claims that the conflict started when local residents demanded workers of the NGO “Integrando” to leave, when they were working on the road that leads to Sapalache. “Integrando” informed the National Police force, who immediately sent a contingent of police agents to the town. The NGO is supposedly linked to the mining company Río Blanco (formerly known as Majaz) and thought to be responsible for earlier confrontations between residents of Segunda y Cajas.
It must be emphasized that this is not the first time residents of Huancabamba enter in conflict with the police due to the presence of mining company Rio Blanco in the region.
CONTEXT: some facts
The presence of the mining company Rio Blanco Copper has been contested ever since its arrival in 2002. During two peaceful marches in April 2004 and July 2005 two local leaders died. Recently, in October 2009, as a consequence of the torture of 28 farmers at the mining site during the second march, the funds of the company were frozen. In November 2009, another three persons died during an attack at the mining site, the investigation is still ongoing.
It must be emphasized that during a popular referendum the 17 of September 2007, 94.8% of the inhabitants of the districts of Pacaipampa, Ayavaca, Carmen de la Frontera declared itself to be against the mining company. Some of the most important reasons for refusing the company are its (il)legality, the violation of human rights, and the socio-environmental risks.