Protests by unions resumed this week over the continued closure of the Doe Run smelter at La Oroya, on grounds of its severe pollution record. Following the closure, the company declared bankruptcy last year and negotiations are under way with creditors.
Distress at the loss of jobs led to protest, which became violent two weeks ago and led to one death and over 60 injured. The government’s institution of a ‘mesa técnica’, or round table discussion of technical issues, appeared to reassure miners’ leaders, with the third meeting of the group due to happen on 27 August. But on 28 August protests resumed along the Central Highway that passes through the town, reputedly one of the world’s pollution black spots.
The workers want a relaxation of environmental controls to enable the smelter to resume operations and allow them to resume their jobs – a sad instance of conflict of self-interests given the damage done over years to the city’s families by the pollution itself.