Las Bambas: canon sows inter-communal conflict

20 March 2016

In 2015, the region of Apurímac received nothing from the canon, the system that distributes over 50% of mining royalties and tax receipts to regional and local governments, plus local universities. But Apurímac hosts Las Bambas, so as the giant mine comes on stream this year, the canon will begin to generate significant income, right down to the district level. By 2018, Apurímac as a whole will be receiving around 10% of the national figure distributed under the canon.

It is hardly a surprise, then, that on top of all the conflicts we have been reporting, last week inter-community conflict once again erupted.

The mine is situated in the district of Cotabambas (population some 4,000) and within the province of the same name (population some 53,000). Within the province there are six districts. Six small population centres (some 60 families apiece, say 360 families) within the district of Cotabambas are fighting to be classified as a district in their own right and thereby eligible to rceive canon money in their own right. However, the neighbouring district of Coyllurqui is mustering to oppose this move, since it would reduce the amount coming to them.

On 14 March, the argument turned violent and 25 people were reported injured, including the mayor of Coyllurqui.

The body responsible for territorial classification is the Presidency of the Consejo de Ministros. It has been considering the issue for Apurímac, but so far has not pronounced. Last week, it was unable to undertake the necessary fieldwork needed to reach a decision due to the confrontation.

This may sound like a small event, but it typifies the way the canon system leads to conflict, often violent, diverting the attention of the authorities from the major policy dimensions that need attention. Hopefully, this will not throw off course the first meeting of the Dialogue Table (programmed for 21 March, see PSG article).

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