Latin American Update / Minera amenaza a defensores del medio ambiente

Members of the Group of Formation and Intervention for Sustainable Development (GRUFIDES), an organization dedicated to the defense of human rights and environment in Cajamarca, have been subjected to death threats. Although it has not been determined exactly who is behind these intimidations, those affected point to the mining company Yanacocha as responsible.

Three months ago, members of GRUFIDES began to recieve threatening telephone calls. Additionally, they have noticed persons watching their houses and offices, filming and photographing them. Some have been followed by men in cars and motorcycles. “Beginning with the crisis in Combayo we have received many death threats, and throughout these months we have been victims of threats, persecution at our homes, photographed, etc.,” said the Father Marco Arana, GRUFIDES coordinator. This past August the residents of the region of Combayo protested against Yanacocha, as the mining company’s operations are affecting the environmental health of the area.

Without directly accusing the company, Arana says that by the way that the terror tactics are being carried out, all indications point to Yanacocha behind these acts against the members of GRUFIDES. “Many people who know the manner in wich they have attacked us through the local media believe this is the work of Yanacocha. Certainly the disproportionate use of the media, as much in personnel as in the use of high technology, indicates that there are large amounts of economic resources behind them,” said the priest. It is also considered that these types of actions are intended to terrorize the workers of the organization and thusly prevent them from continuing their struggle in defense of human rights and the environment.

The Association for Human Rights of Perú (APRODEH) expressed, through a press release, its “deep opposition” to these aggressions, which, according to them, have been carried out for three months now “in a permanent mode,” and which have also included threats and followings of families of members of the NGO