Social conflict under debate at the Defensoría: the second panel

29 September 2018

As we reported last week, the Defensoría held a seminar on 17 September on extractive industries and socio-environmental conflict. We reported on the first panel last week; now we comment on the second, entitled "Transformando conflictos sociales en desarrollo para todos".

The speakers were Javier Caravedo Chocano, director of the Asociación Civil Prodiálogo; Yamila Osorio Delgado, regional governor of Arequipa; Ketty Marcelo López, president of the Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andínas y Amazónicas del Perú, and (attending only at the very end) the vice-president of territorial governance, Raúl Molina Martínez. The event was closed by the Ombudsman, Walter Gutiérrez.

Little was said about actual transformation but much about the obstacles to dialogue to take forward the transformation. Caravedo was the only speaker to emphasise the damage done by corruption, especially at the local level among mayors, in leading to broken promises. He and others also stressed the damage wrought through the failure of mining companies to fulfil their promises to communities.

Many speakers called for better coordination between the national and the local levels of government. Yamila Osorio, the regional governor of Arequipa, was eloquent on this. She saw the quality of public sector management as the key differentiating factor between the divergent experiences of regions such as Arequipa and Cajamarca, emphasising that both sides needed to take steps to relate well to the other.

She also made clear the need for greater transparency: only two regions, Moquegua and Arequipa, have gathered stakeholders together to discuss how resources are to be used and who benefits. She was the only speaker to mention the issue of the bad distribution of the canon (see PSG article) and the waste of resources it implies.

Raúl Molina saw many reasons why dialogue is difficult in his responsibility for land governance. Communities, he said, have no patience to wait for the resolution of the often complex issues at stake, adding that the fragmentation among actors made dialogue and agreement even more difficult to achieve.

The only indigenous participant in the event, Ketty Marcelo talked with feeling about the deepest qualities needed for good dialogue: respect for the other, “thinking of the other”. This was taken up by the Ombudsman as the heart of his closing remarks. Echoing Marcelo, he said “we need to recognise ourselves in the other”. In her pleas for serious use of consulta previa, Marcelo stressed the danger of machismo within communities. In his both opening and final comments, Gutiérrez made clear that women needed to be included in the dialogue, offering a different and healthy perspective that would contribute much to peace-building.

As we noted last time, absent from the discussion were the issue of use of the police by private companies and plans for consultation with those community actors most affected.

Two-thirds of the way through the presentations, it was announced that the President Martín Vizcarra would arrive to close the event. However, Molina brought the message directly from the Palace that “the difficult political conjuncture was preventing him, much as he had hoped to be with them”.

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