On 14 August, Puno Governor Walter Aduviri, well known for his participation in the protests against the Santa Ana mine in southern Puno in 2011, was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay 2 million soles in civil reparations to the Peruvian state, having been found guilty of inciting public disturbances. The sentence was passed down by the local court in Puno by judge Jackeline Luza Cáceres, who ordered his immediate arrest.
Also known as the ‘Aymarazo’, the 2011 protests were against the proposed Santa Ana mine, a concession awarded to the Canadian mining company Bear Creek. Following the protests, the then García government withdrew the concession.
The judicial process surrounding the Aymarazo began in 2011, when 49 people faced criminal charges for their alleged role in the burning and pillage of state buildings. By 2017, when the case got to the stage of oral hearings, this number had been reduced to 19, including Aduviri. He was at that point sentenced to seven years in prison, but the Supreme Court later annulled the sentence for errors in the typification of the crime. A new trial was ordered, and this got under way last year. The remaining 18 were absolved.
In October 2018, Aduviri was elected governor on the first round of regional elections in a landslide victory. His supporters feared that the case against him had been influenced by political lobbies and other influential regional actors who dislike his strong stand against foreign investment in mining.
Earlier this month, the judiciary ordered that Aduviri be placed in preventive detention, arguing that he had failed to comply with the rulings established by the court. Aduviri has since gone into hiding. However, in an interview with the newspaper La República, he broke his silence on 16 August blaming what he referred to as a criminal group known as the ‘Cuellos Blancos’ of being behind the judicial sentence; he claimed that it was no more than a political vendetta.
Aduviri maintains that this criminal group, involving judges and public prosecutors, has close ties with Confiep (Confederación Nacional de Instituciones Empresariales Privadas), the private business confederation, which he says has been plotting against him for several years. Describing himself as a victim of political persecution, he has announced that he will appeal the court’s ruling and will resort to an international judicial forum if necessary.