Father Marco Arana escapes from violent ambush near Majaz Mining Concession
Friday Sept 16th, 2011
From an alert sent from Father Marco’s cell phone, translated and with additional files by Stephanie Boyd
The attack occurred on the evening of Thursday Sept 15th in the region of the Majaz mining copper concession, owned by the Chinese corporation Zijin (and formerly owned by Monterrico Metals of Britain). Father Arana was traveling to Huancabamba to participate in activities commemorating the city’s referendum, held in 2007, in which 97% of voters rejected Monterrico’s proposal to construct the Majaz mine in a fragile cloud forest.
Twenty minutes before reaching Huancabamba, in Cajas Capsol, the vehicle containing Father Marco and his companions was hit with gunshots and rocks. Thanks to the driver’s quick maneuvers, no one was injured, but the vehicle sustained damages including broken windows.
Father Marco reports that 30 minutes before the attack, their car was stopped by about 30 men in Quispampa, posing as members of the ‘rondas’, or rural self-defense groups. The men demanded the passengers’ identity documents and consulted a list printed from a computer to verify Father Arana’s identity. After speaking with the men in what Father Marco classifies as a “normal conversation”, the men said they wanted “development and work,” and reject agriculture as an option. The men then allowed the vehicle to continue on its way.
Duberlí Mauriola Labán, a radio commentator in Quispampa, has called on the ‘rondas’ of that city to prevent “strangers” who opposed “development” (ie, the mine), from passing through their zone.
This is not the first incidence of violence connected to the Majaz concession. Several conflicts have occurred, including the kidnapping and torture of 33 farmers, journalists and activists in 2005 during a peaceful march to the mine’s compound. Peruvian police joined FORZA officers in ‘protecting’ the mine’s compound. One of the victims, a farming leader, was shot and bled to death. The two women victims suffered sexual abuse. For testimonies and photos, please see the short video clip: http://youtu.be/Gmnjv9w2v0E
The Majaz copper concession is located in a fragile cloud forest containing rare and threatened species near Peru’s border with Ecuador. A report released by the Peru Support Group found that the proposed mine could have far reaching negative social and environmental consequences for the entire region. Local communities have founded a defence front to pressure the Peruvian authorities to shelve plans to build the mine and declare the area a protected zone.
Links to short videos on the 2007 referendums in Huancabamba and Ayavaca: