Health row concerning Cerro de Pasco

25 June 2017

Parents of sick children have been camping out in front of the health ministry in Lima, demanding proper attention to the health problems caused by mining activity at Cerro de Pasco in the central highlands. The eighth day of the protest saw press coverage of women chained to the railings outside the ministry. 

Their demand is for a regional hospital specialising in exposure to heavy metals and the declaration of a health emergency in Cerro. They also want to see proper action to nullify the damaging potential of residuals, and a serious effort at paving and ‘greening’ the city so as to reduce continuing contamination.

Mining activity at Cerro de Pasco has gone on for more than 400 years. The last mining operation closed in 2015, but the firm Volcan says it is still processing stockpiles while observing correct environmental standards. A 2012 study found that more than 40% of the area’s children had dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

A compelling report released on 21 June by the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos highlights the gravity of the situation in the province and calls on all the ministries involved to respond “without political interference and with complete and absolute respect for human rights, respecting the superiority of the rights of the child”.

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