Archive for the ‘miners strike’ Category
I was asked if I have any pictures..
Well… it was totally crowded and darkish and I had no one to climb on and get a good look… so I just post what I have… no Photoshop or anything to make it look better either… it is what it is J
Policemen are dancing together with miners in the main square of Puerto Maldonado.
Viva the national Peruvian police! the man with the mike shouts and the crowd answers.
Both sides have reached an agreement, in Lima, according to which the Decree would be put on hold for 6 month.
In this time the two sides would sit together and work together on the content of the decree.
Puerto Maldonado is celebrating to the music of the police orchestra.
and I can move on, to a village that was cheated out of its land by a petrol company… stay tuned
I would stop saying I would translate, because I, most likely, would not.
and I would not send you to Babelfish either, as who knows what you would come up with.
but here is the Law it is all about
DECRETO DE URGENCIA Nº 012-2010
and if God takes it offline (as God sometimes do), you would find the same here
According to the biggest newpaper “El Comercio”
“Delegates of both groups (Federation of Miners in Madre de Dios, and National Federation of Miners) will arrive Wednesday to Lima to participate in the formation of a high Commission that would look for a solution for the social crisis that came about following the measures of force being used by the informal miners.
Another situation exists in kilometer 620 of the Pan-American South Road, where more than 6000 miners are blocking this route. The miners in KM 620 are saying that they will continue with this form of protest, because their reclamations differ from those of their colleagues of Madre de Dios. “
The leaders are leaving Puerto Maldonado today for the talks that would start tonight and last for 2 days.
Groups of miners are scattered around town. Enough shops are open for survival. There are still local meet and chickens and the prices are still the same.
Another quiet day in the life of a golden town.
Not sure whether there are any ethical rules against linking to a blog that has just been liking to your blog. But here I do it. Because the life experience and nature love of Lou Gold, are second to none.
I have mentioned before people leaving tones of garbage behind, and also people collecting bottles. What I did not know, and I am sure you would love to find out together with me, is that nowhere in Puerto Maldonado do they recycle bottles… but…
One man (he did not tell me where he comes from) came to Puerto for the strike and with him a machine that cuts bottles (into stripes? cubes? I did not see the final product). He pays people 16 cents (US cents) per kilo empty bottles (have to take well care that bottles are well empties) and cuts the plastic with his unique/ monopoled (ok, this word does not actually exist, but it should have) machine. He then sells the cut bottles in Lima. For how much?
Or shall I just report about the horrors of the of the mining?
I wish all mining to stop.
And petrol drilling.
And genetic soya..
I would be the first one to celebrate
But is it OK not to give people a voice?
And is it not all a theatre here… would the mining stop or would it be bbig rich companies who pay directly into Alan’s pocket?
Can just laws come from above?
Helicopters are flying in the direction of the square.
I do not know
A leader in the Federation of Miners of Madre de Dios (FEDEMIN) is saying (in an exclusive… ) that Brack has never consulted the miners while working on the new law, and the new map.
Brack is talking about 8 months of work together.
The leader told us that Brack spoke to 15 miners, which were not representing anyone but themselves. The 15 miners than formed an association, which is now getting benefits.
The source is also saying that the new Law would eliminate ALL mining. He says the restrictions upon the machinery they would be allowed to use would stop all Peruvian mining, The land would then be sold to foreign companies, and the money the foreign companies would pay for their rights would be pocketed… Just like the situation is with Petrol in Peru!
I got a document called “The five big lies of Antonio Brack”, with counter information of the one Brack is giving out.
I have to say the numbers Brack (and all the media behind him) are not backed by any institute, and he in never referring to where they come from. He is speaking of all miners as if they were drug dealers and prostitutes dealers, and so do all other journalists (I swear, I met some really nice miners).
While I am trying to translate the document or, better still, find it translated. Here is a link in Spanish
Another document is the answer of the miners to the law, and I found a short extract of it in http://elecochasqui.wordpress.com/actualidad/2010/febrero/paro-indefinido-desde-el-4-de-abril-en-madre-de-dios/
Electricity is going down. Shouts in the streets. I would try to translate these documents soon, but you never know. If any one can help I would be delighted.
6 dead in violence between police and wildcat miners in Peru
A protest against new Peruvian government regulations aimed at curtailing pollution by artisanal miners turned deadly Sunday as police clashed with hundreds of protestors who were blocking Peru’s main highway.
Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Tuesday , 06 Apr 2010
RENO, NV –
The head of Peru’s Council of Ministers stressed Monday the government is not against artisanal mining after protests by wildcat miners, who blocked the country’s main Pan American highway erupted into violence Sunday, killing six people including two bystanders.
The miners were protesting new government regulations imposing strict environmental controls on their operations.
The strike had been called by the Federation of Informal Miners, which oppose emergency decree 012-2010, which mandates they must legally register with the government and reduce the pollution their activities generate. The measures would limit dredging and mercury usage in rivers and ban mining in the Madre de Dios forests, which the miners fear will leave them jobless. Illegal gold mining occurs mainly in the Madre de Dios and Puno regions.
It is estimated that small-scale, independent miners produce 10 to 20% of the gold in Peru. It is believed a minimum of 40,000 persons are illegally mining in the nation. The miners fear the government is planning to put them out of business in order to give mining rights to large mining companies.
The violence erupted in the town of Chala in the southern province of Arequipa after police tried to remove 40 vehicles and 400 protestors who blocked Peru’s main highway Sunday. Peru’s Defense Minister Rafael Ray said the roadblock was impeding the movement of people and goods.
At least 25 were injured and 28 were arrested during the altercation state news agency Andina reported. Among the dead was a taxi driver who was not involved in the protest, but was hit in the head by a bullet near the site. An elderly woman died of a heart attack when she was riding in one of the buses blocked by the protestors.
President Alan Garcia Monday said, “How can we be signing projects to obtain wind-powered energy, which is clean, and allow at the same time the pollution of the Peruvian Amazon?” Environmental Minister Antonio Brack estimated more than 44,000 acres of Amazon forest have disappeared and an additional 998,000 acres are at risk due to illegal mining.
However, the head of the Council of Ministries, Javier Veláquez Quesquén, said Monday the government is willing to gradually formalize informal miners.
These facts are now confirmed by the authorities. 5 of the dead are men and one is a woman (one report was saying the 5 were attacking the police, the other that they refused to stop blocking the road).
The law in question, only concerns Madre de Dios but as unformal miners elsewhere fear they are next, they have joined the protest in Arequipa and Ica.
Madre de Dios, Arequipa and Ica were declared “under State of Emergency”, and the police are acting accordingly.
To every story there are many sides, and it seems like not many of the sides are very pretty… but that is not totally true. I met beautiful people on this journey, who shared their hearts and life stories with me.
And they are beautiful.
I would love to sit and print down interviews and makes some colourful entries about
The lives of the miners, how they come from afar to the mining towns, carrying their dreams in their hearts (35,000 miners, working 0600-2000, no rights, many die in collapsing mines, find 150-250 gram gold pr month but get only 1500-2000US per month, the rest is for the machine owner. They say they were never asked about the maps, minster Brack say the maps are a result of 8 months of work in cooperation with the miners)
The prostitutes (really rape trade, as they are brought there with false promises and are usually not paid for sex but are forced to get drank)
The children who are exploited (50,000 exploited children, at least 900 for sex. “Our children are without education”, said one of the speakers, “if you stop the mining there would be nothing else they could work in”)
The water (Minister Brack is talking of 24 liters of Mercury washed into the rivers each month. All water and fish in Puerto Maldonado are contaminated. Some workers only look for gold in the water.)
But as I am soon running out of Avocadoes my energy/time/computer level would just not enable me to materialize these projects. Surely you can find something online somewhere… (If there are any questions- Ask! I would answer)
Never have I seen Media so one sided. ALL newspapers and TV stations sound like one long quote of the environment minister. Not that I like deforestation, contamination and rape trade but there are people on the other side, and not a single one is telling their story. Behind close eyes I see flashback from another “free press” from another “holy land” in another desert in another time.
On TV, between a report from Arequipa and an interview with the minister, there was a commercial for a shaman. He had feathers, a rattle and a cushma, and would heal you from all illness and promises you luck and love.
(Brack was talking about the contamination of the rivers and the word Ecotourism slipped his tongue. Obviously there were not many ecotourist visiting Bagua or Andoas. He said there would be no talks with people who make illegal roads and use dunamite, and laughed)
So, just a few details from the city under curfew… It took time before I understood the obvious- Puerto Maldonado is under curfew! Some shops might open. Even the market would open tomorrow from 0400 to 0900, but nothing enters Puerto. Soon there would be no food to sell cheap. Soon there would be no money to buy expensive (80 % of the economy in town is based upon gold mines’ money… this number is now as confirmed, as anything can ever be in Peru) and soon after that there would neither be food nor money. And the miners have no intension to give up.
Streets are empty. Groups of miners are parading around town all day long (hot hot hot). Stopping, giving speeches, and going on. The Hostel ended up being in a very strategic spot, where they stop and give speeches in the sun (not too far from the river port, which is blocked by the police) while waiting for the water to arrive; a great spot to speak to the exhausted protesters.
Some groups are peaceful and some are not. They are accompanies by a few policemen, which, in case the temper gets hotter, has no way of stopping them apart from shooting them dead, and it seems like that is what they are intending to do. The massive police force that is supposed to be in town is not visible. A few big groups (the one I have seen was about 250 people) manage to run around town with neither police permission nor police escort, but with bats, and create allot of discomfort and unease (so far not much more than that… some burnt tires).
And massive amounts of garbage and pee everywhere. In some places children (and adults) are cleaning the orphaned empty bottles that are scattered everywhere (for the refund, of course).
I have heard, but I did not see, so I traslate the article from http://peru21.pe/noticia/457019/arequipa-mineros-informales-hablan-seis-muertos-varios-desaparecidos while I am writing down some interviews and events from today.
In this link you would also find a video of the protest in Arequipa.
From Peru21 this morning
Arequipa: informal miners speak of six dead and several disappearing
They demand that a high commision would be form in order to take care of the situation, that is opposing the decree that formalizes this activity.
The deaths are of 6 informal miners in Chala (Arequipa), occurred during the “indefinite strike”, a number that could increase. According to the same demonstrators at least 6 others have disappeared.
ok, the article is much longer but I have to go out. so more, later.
Told me a young police officer (that is surely not the best source of information but the head of the police department is busy and not giving interviews). 800 police men are coming from Lima and the rest from other districts.
The town at the moment is safe and normal. All roads are open, about 15 % of the shops are open (some blocks are totally open and I have not been to the market), mostly food shops but also electronics, cameras, clothes… considering the fact it is anyhow a Sunday, and on top of it la semana santa that is quite allot of activity.
The police are talking about 1500 and a starting hour, so far not a single miner is to be seen.
At the corners of the squares are a few policemen (others I have seen sitting in some offices) with shields and weapon and sand bags. I could have taken a few pictures; some of them are young and the uniforms are sitting quite neatly, but I have realized that they look exactly like any Israeli officer in Gaza and of them there are quite allot of pictures.
No police by the NGOs offices, though they might all be at the swimming pool of the nearest hotel.
Shouts the crowd (mainly women lead voices and the rest answer).
Around 1000 miners and their family are occupying the Plaza de Armas (the Square of Arms). The police are standing at the corners of the Square and the roads are kept open.
“The miners are together forever” was one of the signs. Many other banners spoke positively of the idea of formalizing mining and protecting the Jungle, but against the closing of the unformal mines and the unemployment that is bound to follow such action.
“NO to the mining exclusion, minister, YES to the formalization”
After a peaceful walking around, shouting, waving banners and shaking plastic bottles with soil, most of the miners settled in the plaza on the Grass. The grass is covered with colourful men, women and children, with new union T shirts, ice cream, news papers, pop corn and free passion fruit Juice.
As the feast is going on a speaker is talking and once in a while there is a wave of waving in respond though the majority cannot hear him.
In the near area there is also a wave of miners and relations going to find a place to pee (at least), some of which enter back yard but the most make it to the “one block away” river bank.
Speaking of “one block away” , that is where my hostel is, and though I was disappointed there are no windows from which to watch the event, we can surely hear… so I can sit in, upload pictures and write, while I am listening to the state of things in the Square.
So far so good.
I always wanted to be Kat, and now she is helping me to be me (don´t miss her MUST READ http://katfountain.wordpress.com/).
I am not too sure how moral it is to take someone´s email and turn it into an open one but here it is- (from Kat´s email)
“I have been crazy busy setting up my mosquito traps and working out transects. Tambopata Research Center is amazing!!! I’ve been working a lot, but every time I look around I realize that this is one of the most incredible forests I have ever been in. To stay here for free is such a gift.
The strike has gotten closer, and a lot more information has come out. Fact: there will be over 3,000 miner families taking to the street with almost all of them carrying illegal firearms. There will only be 100 police men and some Marines present in Puerto. The mining companies are funding the strike efforts and have paid for vast amounts of food provisions for the miners so they can continue the strike and try to “starve out” Puerto. They have said that the strike will be indefinite until the government repeals the law, and the government has already said they will not drop the law. Once a couple weeks go by and no food is able to reach Puerto, inflation will take over and people will have to pay exorbitant prices just to eat and drink clean water. This is a very serious situation. I know the miners are allowing tourists to leave via airport because in their words this is “not their fight””
And a few words in reply-
People in Puerto are reporting of major police forces coming from other districts. The television was reporting something similar… I still did not see them.
I have seen a miner putting a 1.2 meters metal pipe inside a canvas sack, which might be an old miners´tradition I am not aware of.
The food is being not only supplied by the mining companies but also by the road company. Past experience from such demonstrations is telling that people in the heads of the big companies took the money and the food never reached the demonstrator. Left to see. I might move today into a miners` hostel (it is full, but I might be able to squeeze in).
Shops are opening when you knock on the door, in case they know you.
Inflation is already.
The street of the hostel is full of cars from early morning hours. I guess it is a path of bypassing. Going out. Would report in a moment.
PS I love you.
As you remember, I’ve been to the Market on Friday, And it was a totally normal market with Veggies bread and olives (Jorge wanted some meet and chicken but there were none).
I´ve been to the market again today, Saturday. My friends went early in the morning and have told me that it is totally crowded with heaps of police clearing roads and preparing for the big moment (midnight). So I went around 10 am to take pictures of the police (and but some more olives as they were really good). I found a calm almost empty market, heaps of fruits and vegetables and 2 bored police cars at the petrol station, inside their barred cars thousands of plastic picnic plates.
It felt like a normal market and not like a war zone and I went instead to take a picture of the office of AKA that everyone I spoke to (miners or not) agreed should be burnt down. (Sorry Kat, people are telling terrible stories about them… they might of course only be stories).
In the night, while some hostel were locking themselves in with fear (and others totally crowded with miners) the town was a weekend busy town. Discos and bars and shops. 2340 I could only find a few policemen at each corner of the main square (plaza de Armas, of course) and apart from that all normal (a bit tense, mind you),
Leaving my friends dancing to disco I went back to the hostel where a few important facts were revealed to me.
1. The market was mad from 5 in the morning until…
2. … well, until very early, which was the time the meet and chicken finished
3. It is a disaster
4. All are panicking that there is nothing to eat
5. If you´re a vegetarian don´t try to report about markets
6. Eat meat!
Another night and the internet connection is not even working.
Parades of light and devotion are marking Good Friday in the streets of Puerto Maldonado, Peru. At the same time, calmly and mostly without much panic, people are getting prepared.
I went today to the market in order to stock up for the hostel in which I am staying. The hostel owner has told us to think about 4 days of isolation, but it was just a bet. No one knows. Other people I have met were on their way out of Puerto Maldonado (do not want to see people dead in the streets). Others are sticking to the version of “nothing is going to happen”.
What is the new law about?
I did not manage to get a copy of the law and neither did anyone I have spoken to. Both miners and passer bys have the same ideas about it. The law would force the mining into designated areas. Miners would have to gather together in co operative and have control over the ways they are mining. They would have to perform certain tasks in order to restore the environment they have destroyed (“replant trees after they finish mining” I was told by a local writer, whose brother is a miner), and of course… they would have to pay taxes. No more unofficial mining. No more small independent activities everywhere, and by that I mean that whole villages, placed on the “wrong” part of the map would be left without a source of an income)
None of the 47 people I spoke to disagreed with the idea behind the law, but there is also an agreement that the government cannot drop a law from above and destroy the livelihood of people without changes from the roots.
… and the NGOs… well… “They should have died out long ago” …“They all are corrupt”(said a man who worked independently with NGOs in Madre de Dios for 15 years).. “90% of the money for the projects go to salaries.. Of course everyone is tired of them”
It is 3 AM and the internet is not connecting, there is also no running water. A beautiful lizard is watching me from the window. Big black eyes. Without me seeing it coming she all of a sudden has a fly in her mouth. If I would have been more dedicated to the life of Lizards I would have taken a picture. I am dedicated to the lives of lies though (and ants, of course).