Conflict on all sides: HudBay, the Constancia mine and promised dialogue.

1 February 2016

The Canadian-owned Constancia mine in Chumbivilcano, near Cusco, is once again in the news. A 72-hour strike was called this week by FUDIV, the Frente Unico de Defensa de los Intereses de Velille, in protest at what they see as the company's failure, over two years, to hold serious talks over its environmental and social responsibilities. The company, HudBay, has now agreed to talks and the strike has been suspended (http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Peru-Mining-Company-Cedes-to-Protesters-Demand-Within-Hours-20160126-0002.html).

The background is what makes this story particularly significant. First, as is well known, the company is still being challenged in the court over abuses in Guatemala. Second, there is significant internal disagreement in the local community about the protest. A number of leaders, including an ex-member of the FUDIV, disagreed with the strike. Some communities, on the point of signing agreements with the company, refused to take part. (http://www.diariodelcusco.com/2016/01/19/comunidades-de-velille-rechazan-convocatoria-a-paralizacion-que-se-promueve-contra-el-desarrollo/).

And thirdly, the mine is the one reported on by us in December 2015 for an interesting social experiment in preparation for dialogue. The Global Indigenous Trust, a Canadian indigenous organisation, is bringing representatives from communities affected by the Constancia mine to Timmins in Canada, to observe the relations between the city and the Goldcorp mine which is central to the city's operations and wellbeing. The second such visit occurred last year and another three are planned (http://www.perusupportgroup.org.uk/news-article-994.html).

Quite how efforts at dialogue can now play out in this lively context is unclear but will surely form a highly important part of the on-going saga of extractives and community relations in Peru.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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