At least 4 wounded in Peru anti-mining clash
LIMA, Peru — At least four people were wounded Friday when police turned back several hundred peasants who were trying to enter a Canadian-owned copper mine where drilling began last month.
A local doctor told The Associated Press by phone that at least a dozen were wounded in the clash in the temperate Quechua-speaking highlands of Peru’s northern state of Lambayeque.
The doctor said one protester, 57, was shot in the back. The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.
Hermogenes Tantarico, the wounded man’s son, said his father “received a bullet in the back and a lot of shotgun pellets in the legs and elsewhere that left him unconscious.”
Regional police commander Col. Jorge Linares denied live ammunition was used. He said police only used tear gas and rubber bullets.
One of the protesters, Florentino Barrios, said 27 were hurt, a lot from shotgun pellets.
International human rights groups criticized Peru’s government last year for so readily using live ammunition against protesters after five were killed in anti-mining protests in July.
Mining drives Peru’s region-leading economy, with growth forecast at more than 6 percent this year, but the social costs have been high, with multiple mining projects facing sometimes violent opposition.
Protests began Sunday against the Caniariaco mine, with police using tear gas against them.
The mine’s owner, Candente Copper Corp. of Vancouver, says it obtained approval from more than 700 locals in July. But local officials say the community rejected the mine in a referendum.
The affected peasants of the municipalities of Canaris and Incahuasi grow potatoes, bean and mushrooms using organic methods, said Bernardino Lalopu, director of the Center of Rural Innovation and Development. “None use insecticides.”
“This has never been a mining zone,” he said. “It’s completely agricultural and they are afraid of being left without water and of having it contaminated.”
Peru is the world’s No. 2 producer of copper, silver and zinc and the sixth in gold. Minerals account for more than 60 percent of exports.
A telephone message left with Candente executives in Vancouver seeking comment was not returned.
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