Don’t Suspend Civil Liberties In Peru

Target: Peruvian Government

Goal: Lift the state of emergency that has stripped protesters of mining in the Espinar province of Peru of their rights.

Recently, President Ollanta Humala declared Peru in a state of emergency because of violent clashes between protesters and police forces in the province of Espinar.  Espinar is home to a large copper mine owned by Swiss company Xstrata and locals there have been protesting in response to pollution in their water sources.  Tell President Humala that the protesters have a right to be heard and that diplomatic negotiations that involve the government, the protesters and the mining company are the only fair way to resolve the issues.

Protesters in Espinar have taken issue with Swiss mining company Xstrata, which has been mining in the region for copper.  Locals say that there are high amounts of mercury and copper in their water supply.  Xstrata denies any wrongdoing and maintains that their mine does not pollute the water.  The Peruvian government has responded to ongoing protests by sending police forces to the province and this past week, things began to get violent.  Mine workers who were striking began clashing with the security forces and police began opening fire.  While the government claims that dozens of police officers were injured, it was two protesters who were left dead when the violence ended.  One protester claimed that the police beat them with rocks and kicked them.

This is the second time within a year that civil liberties have been suspended over mining protests.  Civil liberties were suspended in Cajamarca province for sixty days over the proposed Conga mining project.  Humala claims that the protesters are too radical and are unwilling to negotiate.  The protesters are demanding that Xstrata pay local authorities 30% of profits instead of the current 3% and demand more information about pollution to water supplies and local lands.  By denying the protesters the right to assemble, Humala is only making matters worse and showing that he favors Xstrata over his own people.  The state of emergency should be lifted to restore faith and proper negotiations should begin.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Humala,

Your recent decision to declare a state of emergency because of violence between protesters and police forces in Espinar province may have seemed like the right thing to do to ensure safety, but suspending the protesters’ right to assemble will only make them angrier.  You can’t expect them to be very optimistic when you consider the fact that you suspended civil liberties for 60 days over a mining protest in December.  However radical their demands may be, they deserve a voice in whatever negotiations take place.

The protesters believe that the Swiss mining company in the region, Xstrata, is polluting their water sources with mercury and copper.  They want a higher kickback from the mining as well as more information about pollution of their local lands.  Shouldn’t the people who live there be allowed to know what could possibly be getting into their water and soil?  It is time for you to stand with the people of Peru, not with the Swiss profiteers.  Lift the state of emergency as a sign of goodwill and give the protesters a voice in whatever negotiations take place.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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