Saturday, 15 December 2007

PADRE ARANA INTERVIEW



At first instances Father Marco Arana, 43, comes across as a mild mannered man. It’s hard to picture him as the outspoken figure he is associated with. He is courteous and open about all the contentious events surrounding mining company Newmont/Buenventura, and of the stories which inadvertently involve him and of the NGO he founded GRUFIDES.

Concerning Newmont/Buenaventura, owners Yanacocha and of many other mining ventures across Cajamarca, he directly implicated them on several wrongdoings of which the most violent are three murders:

1. Lingal Edmundo, Nov 04, killed in the province of Santa Cruz, a peasant standing up to water contamination caused by the mine La Sanja. Arana asserts he was killed by a group of peasants contracted by Newmont/B. There is apparent proof the rifles were given by the company.
2. Isidro Llanos Chevarria, Aug 06, killed at the manifestations of Combayo, by three contracted police men. Chevaria had been standing up to an expansion of Maqui Maqui Carachugo 2 sought by Newmont/B. The REPUBLICA has investigated this matter.
3. Esmundo Becerra Cotrina, Nov 06, shot 17 times by ‘sicarios’ (assassins) in the area of Yanacanchilla Baja. He had been given several death threats months before, for his stance against the digging of the San Cirilo Hill. It is an area from where several lake pockets would be depleted. Cotrina -a prestigious community leader- was the only one in his community to have gone to university. The project was by Newmont/B.




Arana then went on to add that from November 2006, for four months, there was a whole series of espionage tactics carried out by N/B on his person and of the personnel at GRUFIDES. He says he was followed everywhere, from the country to Lima. Calls were made to female employees threatening rape, as well as death threats to GRUFIDES employees’ family members. LA REPUBLICA has largely investigated this, from where a conclusion was made that a certain figure Aldo Schwarz, an ex Marine Commander, (pseudonym Pato!) was paid by FORZA, the cooperative security firm contracted by N/B.

There are said to 600-700 FORZA security guards at Yanacocha alone. The information is reserved but has been divulged by the guards themselves. In times of civil unrest mine companies are allowed to contract police to defend their interests. Police are gathered from other states which have no involvement with such provinces. Up to 400 policemen can be brought in. Their orders are often to repel -by whatever means- the disturbances which most often are in the form of road blocks. Added to this there are certain laws of impunity where it is hard to accuse a policeman for having carried out an action while on duty.

Arana says many in the community are wary of the press as often it has been through these means that many have been identified and then victimized.

There still has not been a systematic study of the current water contamination taking place in the several provinces of Cajamarca. In 2003 an external body was brought in, STRATUS, paid by N/B to make a study. Not much progress has been made since.
Trout are still dying, the waters are still poisoned. The problems between the mines and the communities are deteriorating.

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