Declaration of state of emergency causes alarm
13 January 2018
The 11 January issue of El Peruano, the official gazette, contained the alarming news that a state of emergency had been declared for the 500km mining corridor that runs through Apurímac, Cuzco and Arequipa regions and contains key mining concerns. These include Las Bambas (owned by the Chinese company MMG), Constancia (owned by Hudbay) and Antapaccay-Tintaya (owned by Glencore). No particular instance was cited for precipitating the declaration.
While there have undoubtedly been cases of protest and violence over the past several years in this whole area and states of emergency imposed in certain districts since August, there has been nothing in the last few months to come near to justifying this sort of action. El Peruano said the state of emergency was triggered by police reports.
A state of emergency restricts the fundamental human rights of the population and authorises the police, with the support of the armed forces, to maintain order. It is clearly intended under Peruvian law as an exceptional measure. According to José de Echave, former vice minister of the environment and spokesperson for the Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros, "that which should be an exceptional state is becoming a customary thing" cutting into people's fundamental rights.
With 2018 being declared the ‘year of dialogue and national reconciliation’ gets under way, upping the ante in this way across much of southern Peru seems singularly inappropriate.