LIMA, Peru – Peru’s government canceled a Canadian-owned silver mine in the southern highlands Friday after six people were killed and at least 30 wounded when police fired on mostly indigenous protesters opposing the project.
Protesters also attacked a police station and a state bank in a second city.
The bloodshed occurred when police turned back protesters who tried to take over an airport near the city of Juliaca in Puno state, an area they have paralyzed with road blockades since May 9 in a bid to cancel the Santa Ana mine as well as a proposed hydroelectric project on the Inambari river.
The outgoing government of President Alan Garcia announced after leftist military man Ollanta Humala won the presidential election June 5 that it was scrapping the Inambari project. In April, it canceled a huge copper mining project in another southern state after three protesters died in clashes with police.
Mining accounts for two-thirds of Peru’s export earnings and has been the underpinning of a decade of robust economic growth, but the rural poor have benefited little from mining and complain it contaminates their water and crops.
Dr. Percy Casaperalta, who directed the evacuation of wounded after Friday’s clash at Manco Capac airport, said at least 4,000 protesters were involved. He provided the toll of six dead and at least 30 wounded by telephone from the local Hospital Carlos Monge Medrano.
Hours after the violence, Deputy Mining Minister Fernando Gala announced that the government had revoked a 2007 decree granting approval to Bear Creek Mining Corp. of Victoria, B.C., to mine silver at Santa Ana in Puno. The decree was required because the mine site is within 50 miles of an international border, in this case with Bolivia.