Cotabambans' request for dialogue: a delegation in Lima
5 November 2017
Readers will remember the long conflict at Las Bambas, the mine owned by the Chinese firm MMG. The conflict was sparked by the company’s failure to consult over an extension of the environmental impact agreement negotiated with the government and the resulting deaths and injuries. Following that, a Development Plan for the region was agreed in August of this year between the government, local leaders and the company. (For the limitations of the Plan, see PSG article.)
At the end of October, community leaders felt they had to travel to Lima, where they have been making a highly relevant case. Important dimensions of the conflict were not referred to in the Plan. The leaders see corruption growing apace. They argue that they are at the beginning of a mining boom, and are anxious that events should not follow the path of other boom regions. They cite Ancash, Espinar and Cajamarca. They are intensely aware of the way corruption tends to grow in the context of a mining boom, as evidenced in these cases. They cite the environmental damage in Espinar. They are also aware of what was never included in the Plan, in particular both support for the families of those killed in the protests and justice in relation to those distressing events.
Their proposed solution is a resumption of the Dialogue Table as a means of following up on the various commitments made, with the participation of all. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights appears to have responded in a positive manner, promising follow-up of the judicial processes and offering the possibility of a diagnosis of the situation of the families of those killed. However, the request for a restoration of the Dialogue Table appears to have fallen on deaf ears, with the then Vice Minister of 'Gobernanza Territorial' (territorial governance) asserting there was no need, since all that was required was to get on with what has been agreed. A few days before the delegation arrived in Lima, the government extended the state of emergency in three districts of Cotabamba.
These events serve to underline the need for follow-up of any Dialogue Table, and in a participatory manner. The Cotabamban leaders are making a crucial point, and their sensitivity to the danger of an increase in corruption is particularly interesting.