Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 26, 2023

United Nations Failed Indigenous in Peru: Copper Mining and Electric Vehicles Mean Death

In southern Peru, Indigenous protest the granting of an open-pit copper mine permit to Southern Copper, based in Phoenix, Arizona.

United Nations Failed Indigenous in Peru Where Copper Mining and Electric Vehicles Mean Death

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News

Indigenous mothers from the Amazon in Peru told the United Nations that they were being shot by the army from helicopters, their children were being murdered, and they were being stalked home from protests to defend their land from mining.

The United Nations failed them, refused to make them a priority, reduced their pleas to a series of numbers in their report, and failed to tell the world that the United States government sent its military in June to bolster the illegal regime that was killing them.

An Indigenous from Peru told the United Nations Human Rights Committee in October that the people were disappointed that the murder of their leaders was not included in the United Nations report.

Indigenous from Peru described "systematic violations of human rights." The military is attacking, torturing, and killing, those who are isolated and have marched against the current government.

More than 80 people, including Indigenous children, have been killed, and more than 1,000 injured since protests began in Peru in December.

U.S. military forces were approved for deployment to Peru in June, to be used against the movement led by Indigenous women. United States special forces, airforce and space force (satellites) were authorized for use in Peru, to serve the coup.

Quechua and Aymara from Peru told the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that the president had ordered the army to shoot Indigenous from helicopters. Indigenous are marching to protect their lands, and the roads are being blocked by tanks. They are struggling to protect the earth, protect their water, and protect the minerals, and the president is labeling them "terrorists."

Their testimony was given to the UN Expert Mechanism in Geneva in July. But there is no mention of it in the Expert Mechanism's final report on militarization to the UN Human Rights Commission. The words Peru, Quechua or Aymara do not appear in the UN report.

The United Nations has failed to hold the mining companies responsible for the ongoing assassinations and torture of land defenders. The majority of the mining corporations linked to assassinations and torture globally are based in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. 

Southern Copper’s Toquepala mine in Peru is the world’s fifth-biggest copper mine. (Image courtesy of Southern Copper.)

Located 150 miles south of Cusco, Espinar has disproportionate levels of cancers and other illnesses linked to heavy metal exposure, the Nation reports.

Peru has one of the world’s largest reserves of precious metals, including copper, silver, and gold, which are the subject of significant international attention as the demand for electric vehicle batteries surges.

“The water is contaminated with toxic metals there, and everyone drinks the water, including the animals. This makes everyone sick."

Peru's government declared a state of emergency in Peru's southern regions of Apurimac, Cusco and Arequipa, which are home to a southern mining corridor. It was placed under the control of the army and police, US News reported in July.

The mining corridor is key for transporting copper from some of the country's most important mines, including Las Bambas, which is one of the world's largest copper mines and is owned by China's MMG Ltd.Copper mining threatens the water in southeast Peru.

Southern Copper in Peru, is owned by Grupo Mexico and its headquarters are in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Financial Times reports:

Anti-mining activist Miguel Meza grabbed widespread attention late last month when he called out Peru’s president in a street protest during the country’s principal mining conclave in the city of Arequipa. “We came to tell Dina Boluarte to deliver on her campaign promise of canceling the Tía María project,” Meza said, referring to the $1.4bn Tía María greenfield copper mine, which is owned by Southern Copper and sits by the Tambo valley in the Arequipa region’s Islay province. Work on the planned mine was first halted more than a decade ago, with farming communities saying it would deplete water supplies.

“Tía María no va” (“Tía María is a no-go”) reads faded graffiti in Cocachacra. “Tía María is paralyzed; we are in a continuous fight against it,” says Meza, who is the leader of an anti-mining group of farmers in Cocachacra, south-east Peru. “There’s willingness from the government to impose themselves so this mine will activate. But they know they will find conflict here.”

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