Archivos para 26 febrero, 2012


Fue acusado de matar a tres policías y estuvo a punto de ser condenado a muerte. La solidaridad internacional lo libró del paredón. Más tarde, en el exilio, fue el candidato a la Constituyente más votado por la izquierda. Llegaría a ser diputado y senador. Hoy ya no cree en el marxismo ni en sus pequeños partidos, se declara ecologista y partidario del movimiento indígena. Vive en el Cusco y los sábados compra cañihua en el mercado de San Jerónimo.
 
Por Flor Huilca

Era el 24 de noviembre del 2011. La Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP) esperaba al presidente Ollanta Humala para la clausura de su último congreso sindical. Días antes Humala había declarado en emergencia Cajamarca para frenar las protestas contra el proyecto Conga. El presidente ingresó al local por la misma puerta por donde un minuto antes Hugo Blanco había salido de prisa y molesto con la presencia del jefe del Estado. “No puedo estar al lado del presidente que manda tropas a enfrentar la lucha por el agua”, explicó el líder campesino ante el auditorio. Su protesta fue más allá y renunció a la presidencia del congreso campesino.

“No soy estúpido”, dice ahora el histórico líder campesino, recordando ese incidente. Estamos en la sala de reuniones de la CCP, en la Plaza Bolognesi, y Hugo se ha quitado el enorme sombrero que deja ver el blanco de sus cabellos. Recuerda que ese no fue el único gesto de solidaridad con los campesinos. Dos días antes el ministro de Agricultura, Luis Ginocchio, llegó para inaugurar el mismo congreso y Blanco también se fue. “No puedo compartir la mesa con el representante de un gobierno represivo”, protestó y se bajó de la mesa de honor.

“He sido consecuente con lo que pienso”, explica ahora mientras muestra su polo con el lema: ‘Perú no es minero’. “Claro que un ministro puede asistir a un congreso de la CCP, pero no cuando los hermanos de Cajamarca estaban en plena lucha”, argumenta.

Ese tipo de gestos abundan en la vida de este hombre que a sus 77 años ha sabido reinventarse y persistir. Hace más de una década dejó de predicar el marxismo. Hoy se define como un indígena quechua y un defensor del medio ambiente. “Antes luchaba por la justicia social, ahora lucho por la supervivencia de nuestra especie amenazada por la explotación indiscriminada de la naturaleza”, dice.

Salvado de la muerte

A Hugo Blanco hay que hablarle fuerte para que escuche claro. No recuerda cuántos años pasó en prisión, pero sí el periodo más largo y duro; fue a raíz de la toma de tierras en La Convención (Cusco) en 1960, lo que casi le cuesta la vida. Entonces lideró una revuelta contra los hacendados que terminó con tres policías muertos, la detención de los levantiscos y el reparto de tierras solo para el Cusco, en lo que fue un ensayo de reforma agraria.

Dice que llegó a La Convención por una “afortunada casualidad”. Militaba en el trotskista Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR) y sus dirigentes lo enviaron al Cusco tras una protesta por la visita de Richard Nixon al Perú. Blanco pensaba que la clase obrera era el motor del cambio social. Tanto lo creía que fue obrero en las fábricas donde se debía fortalecer los sindicatos. En el Cusco, Blanco fue detenido cuando hacía colectas para carnetizar a los niños canillitas y fue confinado en una celda al lado de Andrés Gonzales, dirigente campesino de Chaupimayo, la convulsionada zona donde se inició la toma de tierras. “Me dijo: ‘a ti te soltarán en tres días pero a mí me mandarán a la cárcel; ya somos tres los dirigentes presos y tememos que retrocedan en la lucha’. Yo me voy, les dije, y preparamos mi partida”, cuenta.

Con sus dirigentes presos, los campesinos se declararon en huelga durante nueve meses para negociar con los hacendados nuevas condiciones de arriendo de las tierras. Algunos aceptaban pero otros amenazaban a los huelguistas con armas de fuego. Estos formaron autodefensas armadas para protegerse. La revuelta se desató luego de que un niño perdiera la vida de un balazo. La policía, recuerda Blanco, nada hizo frente al ataque de los hacendados. El sindicato le ordenó a la autodefensa ir a pedir cuentas. En el camino tomaron una comisaría para apoderarse de las armas pero se encontraron con un policía que resistió el ataque. “Aun cuando le dijimos que no le iba a pasar nada, él sacó su arma y tuve que disparar. Él también me disparó; un segundo más y el muerto era yo”, dice.

Los otros dos policías murieron en una emboscada posterior. Hugo Blanco no disparó, pero se atribuyó la responsabilidad. Por estas muertes fue procesado en Tacna. Cuenta que el gobierno le envió un emisario con el mensaje: “Usted se declara enfermo, nosotros constatamos que está enfermo y lo enviamos al país que usted elija”. La respuesta fue: “No, gracias. Estoy muy bien de salud”.

Uno de los magistrados del tribunal militar pidió pena de muerte para él. El país entero vivió pendiente del caso. “Dije que si la lucha por la tierra merece la muerte aceptaba la condena, pero que sea este –señalando al magistrado que pidió su ejecución– quien me dispare”, respondió. Jean Paul Sartre se solidarizó con él. La presión internacional fue tan intensa que lo salvó de la muerte. Fue sentenciado a 25 años de cárcel. En 1969, tras el golpe militar, Blanco fue liberado y expulsado a México.

La izquierda
La toma de tierras proyectó el liderazgo de Blanco en la izquierda peruana. Con Morales Bermúdez en el gobierno, participó en las elecciones para la Asamblea Constituyente de 1978 y obtuvo la votación más alta del electorado de izquierda, sólo que no podía asumir su curul porque estaba en el exilio. Blanco volvió al país tras una campaña internacional. Fue Constituyente sin brillo, al igual que sus camaradas de izquierda. En 1980 fue uno de los protagonistas de las disputas internas que terminaron con la ruptura de la Alianza Revolucionaria de Izquierda (ARI), una suerte de frente electoral de izquierda. Hugo fue uno de los cinco candidatos presidenciales (postuló por el Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores) y sacó apenas el 4% de votos.

Hugo Blanco habla poco de esta parte de su vida. Dice que el verticalismo y los reacomodos son hasta ahora los defectos más comunes de la izquierda y cita como ejemplo a la ex ministra de la Mujer Aída García Naranjo (Partido Socialista), hoy embajadora del Perú en Uruguay. Reconoce que fue un error la ruptura del ARI. Será por eso que ahora no le entusiasma mucho la recomposición de la izquierda. “No tengo relación con ellos. Creo que por allí ya no pasan las cosas; a mí me interesan los movimientos sociales”, argumenta.

Con los zapatistas

En su tránsito de troskista a indígena ecologista, fue fundamental su visita a los zapatistas en Chiapas. Cuando habla de esta visita, otra vez el brillo de la convicción vuelve a su voz y a su mirada. Cuenta que tuvo una reunión con el subcomandante Marcos y vio de cerca la experiencia de autogestión de los indígenas en su territorio. “Allí, dice, hay un gobierno profundamente democrático, donde manda el pueblo”. En la CCP ya son las siete de la noche y la secretaria dice que debe retirarse pero Blanco está lleno de optimismo contando su participación en la Marcha Nacional del Agua. Esa es ahora la bandera que enarbola Hugo Blanco en su camino. Ya no es troskista, aunque el fondo, admite, le ha quedado como aprendizaje “escuchar a la gente y participar en sus luchas”. Su única filosofía ahora es el buen vivir, el allin kausay en el idioma de los suyos, los indios.

Vivencias cusqueñas

Todos los sábados Hugo Blanco hace sus compras en las ferias de San Jerónimo, en el Cusco, donde vive con una de sus hijos. Compra sólo alimentos que traen los campesinos como harina de cañihua, harina de kiwicha y tarwi, porque no son transgénicos. Desde el 2006 es director del periódico Lucha Indígena, que se distribuye a nivel nacional. El resto de su tiempo lo dedica a la edición de folletos, a responder el correo electrónico y a revisar páginas web. Cinco de sus seis hijos viven fuera del país. Su última pareja, una activista del movimiento campesino, está en México y vendrá en mayo. “Como no me gusta tener cachos, hemos acordado que cada uno es dueño de su cuerpo”, dice.

 
Fuente: La Republica
Foto: Jonas Hulsens – CATAPA

 A procession of some 1,000 cross-country marchers entered Lima Feb. 9, holding a massive rally joined by thousands more in Plaza San Martín to oppose the Conga mining project in Cajamarca region, and like projects across Peru’s sierras. Having marched nine days from Cajamarca, the protesters filled the square with cries of “¡Conga no va!” Speakers included Cajamarca protest leaders Wilfredo Saavedra and Marco Arana, who asserted: “This is the voice of the people, and it must be complied with.” They were followed by Cajamarcs’s elected president Gregorio Santos, who warned the government of President Ollanta Humala not to “underestimate” the movement’s power. Participants later attempted to march on the Congress of the Republic, but were barred by a thick cordon of riot police. They were prevented from meeting at the intersection outside the Congress building with a delegation of dissident lawmakers from Humala’s Nationalist Party, led by Natali Condori.

The following days in Lima are to see a Tribunal on Hydraulic Justice convened by the Cajamarca leaders and activists from Arequipa, Puno, Ayacucho, Áncash, Cuzco, Huancavelica and elsewhere throughout Peru’s Andean regions. The activist summit comes as Peru’s rights ombudsman, the Defensoría del Pueblo, released a report noting the emergence of 10 new social conflicts in the country over the past year, the majority pertaining to environmental issues. Puno and Áncash lead the country, with 21 registered social conflicts each, mostly concerning mining. (La Republica, Servindi, Indian Country Today, Feb. 11; Política Sociedad blog, Lima, Feb. 10; Andina, Feb. 9)

Fuente: http://ww4report.com/node/10827



Protests in Peru’s north-central region of Cajamarca resumed on Jan. 2, with a thousand gathering in the city square to demonstrate against the Conga gold mining project. “We will mobilize in a peaceful protest in Cajamarca, in Hualgayoc, and in Celendín,” said Wilfredo Saavedra, head of Cajamarca’s Environmental Defense Front, referring to the municipalities to be impacted by the project. Canal N television reported that regional leaders are expected to decide whether to launch a new indefinite strike in the coming days. With negotiations with the administration of President Ollanta Humala at a stalemate, Cajamarca’s regional council in the closing days of 2011 voted to declare the Conga project to be “unviable.” The declaration stated the project “could cause irreversible damage to fragile ecosystems, in turn generating economic and social damage of incalculable magnitude, which clash directly with the fundamental rights of people living in these jurisdictions…” (Peru This Week, Jan. 3)

The regional president of Cajamarca, Gregorio Santos, accused the Lima government of negotiating in bad faith and attempting to divide the populace by seeking a deal approving the mine with community leaders outside the affected areas. He said that the people of Cajamarca would never accept the mining project. He also implied that the national government had limited moral authority on the question because the project would impact local water sources as well as mineral resources: “The resources belong to all Peruvians, but the water of Cajamarca belongs to the cajamarquinos.” (Perú21, Jan. 3; Generacion.com, Peru, El Comercio, Lima, Jan. 2)

Conservatives meanwhile raised pressure for a crackdown in Cajamarca. Martha Hildebrandt, an outspoken former lawmaker in the coalition of imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori, told TV talk show “Abre los Ojos” (Open the Eyes), characteristically peppering her language with peruanismos: “If Humala gives thecajamarquinos a good smack [buena ajustada], I will become a humalista. They are letting these poor devils do whatever they want in Cajamarca… We have to find some way of wiping them out [buscar la forma para una tacha] or something.”

She also implied that Gregorio Santos and Wilfredo Saavedra are preparing a guerilla insurgency, noting the latter’s one-time involvement in the now-crushed Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA): “They are manipulated by Marco Arana. There is a future guerilla manipulated by people who are more intelligent than the regional president. They are ex-terrorists but not ex-idiots [extontos]. They are alive, but they are not intelligent.”

(Marco Arana is the founder of Cajamarca environmental group Grufides, which advocates on behalf of communities affected by mining. He was honored as one ofTime magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment” in 2009)

Hildebrandt said that if Humala dealt strongly with the Cajamarca movement, she would reconsider having dismissed him in his 2006 presidential run as a “mediocrecachaco”—a derogatory slang word for a soldier. (Perú21, Jan. 3)

See our last posts on Peru, the struggle in Cajamarca, and the global mineral cartel.

 

Peru’s President Ollanta Humala called off the state of emergency in four provinces of Cajamarca region Dec. 16 after local leaders agreed to suspend their civil strike against Newmont Mining Corp.’s $4.8 billion Conga gold project. Prime Minister Oscar Valdés will lead a “high-level committee” to Cajamarca Dec. 19 to meet with regional officials and community leaders. Cajamarca’s regional president Gregorio Santos announced suspension of the paro in the face of growing pressure; the state of emergency had blocked bank accounts and other financial services in the region. Village mayors and community leaders have agreed to comply with the suspension pending the outcome of talks.

Colorado-based Newmont suspended work at its Minas Conga mine, Peru’s biggest investment project, on Nov. 30 after villagers launched protests over impacts on local water sources. The Lima government said Dec. 11 it will conduct a further review of the project’s environmental impact. “This marks a new phase in the debate,” Santos told Lima’s Canal N. “It’s important they admitted the mining company’s environmental study has major limitations.”

A Newmont spokesman said the company is “willing to play a constructive role in the dialogue sponsored by the government, and we will participate as directed by them. The company pointed out that its 13-year environmental study was approved by the Energy & Mines Ministry last year.

Peru’s government is looking to Newmont to stop a decline in mineral output from aging and depleted mines. Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Gold Fields and China Minmetals Corp. have cut back investment in copper and gold mining projects in Cajamarca because of the protests, central bank president Julio Velarde warned. “There’s a slowdown in the projects located in Cajamarca,” Velarde told reporters in Lima. “What could be the most exceptional decade in terms of mining investment, might not be so because of the fears of some investors.”

Newmont stock, which had fallen by 9.5% since the protests began, gained 1.2% to $62.47 on news of the strike suspension in Cajamarca. (La Republica, Los Andes, Bloomberg, Dec. 16)

See our last posts on Peru and the mineral cartel.


  Peru’s Prime Minister Salomón Lerner resigned Dec. 10 after less than five months in the post—immediately after his failed attempts to negotiate an end to protests that have blocked the $4.8 billion Conga gold mining project in Cajamarca region. His resignation letter, posted online by the newspaper La Republica, does not make direct reference to the conflict but suggests Lerner was unhappy with the government’s handling of it. The letter states that “our direct mandate has been dialogue and the seeking of consensus to avoid confrontation between Peruvians.” But it charges that this aim “requires an adjustment of the general conduct of the government.”

The decision brings down the government, as under law the entire cabinet must follow suit and step down. President Ollanta Humala must now form a new cabinet. Reports say Lerner, who had been Humala’s campaign manager, has been replaced by the interior minister, Oscar Valdés, a former military officer who served as Humala’s instructor in the army in the 1980s. The Interior Ministry controls Peru’s militarized National Police force, which has been augmented in Cajamarca in response to the protests there.

The fate of the Conga project is considered key to prospects for other mining investments in Peru, which gets 61% of export income from the sector. Lerner played a leading role in brokering industry acceptance of a new windfall tax that Humala says will help underwrite his promised social programs. (AP, BBC News, La Republica, Dec. 10)

See our last post on the struggle in Peru.

 

President Ollanta Humala of Peru went on national TV the night of Dec. 4 to announce that he has imposed a state of emergency in four provinces of Cajamarcaregion, which has been the scene of a general strike for the past 11 days in opposition to the mega-scale Conga mining project that residents say threatens local water resources. The 60-day state emergency affects the provinces of Cajamarca, Celendín, Hualgayoc and Contumazá. In his address, Humala said the government “has exhausted all paths to establish dialogue as a point of departure to resolve the conflict democratically” and blamed “the intransigence of a sector of local and regional leaders.”
On Nov. 29, five comuneros (communal peasants) received bullet wounds in clashes with the National Police at different locales around Cajamarca region—including the at Yanacocha mine site in Cajamarca province and the Conga mine site in Celendín province. The National Police said three officers also suffered bruises and fractures. In the wake of that day’s violence, the Yanacocha consortium announced a suspension of the Conga project. The consortium, led by Colorado-based Newmont Mining, said in a statement that the suspension was “required” by the government “for the sake of re-establishing tranquility and social peace.”
But strike leaders have not called off their action. Cajamarca’s regional president, Gregorio Santos, told the AP that opponents want “a legal document that definitively eliminates” the project. At a Lima press conference, Prime Minister Salomón Lerner did not answer a reporter’s question of whether the suspension was temporary or definitive.
Lerner, appearing at the press conference with Newmont vice president Carlos Santa Cruz, said the government is forging “a new relation between communities and mining, a relation that was historically marked by mistrust.” He pledged to nvolve the local populace in decisions to “dispel all doubts and guarantee, as a priority, water for human consumption.”
But Cajamarca strike leader Milton Sánchez was not appeased. “We regret that the government’s reaction came after the spilling of blood in which today we have 17 wounded,” he told the AP by phone the night after the latest violence. “We peasants of Cajamarca feel tremendously defrauded by Ollanta Humala and really consider him a traitor.” (AP, CNN, Dec. 5; RPP, Dec. 4; AP, Dec. 1; La Republica, Nov. 30; TeleSUR, Nov. 29)
Humala meanwhile was able to secure a pledge by strike leaders elsewhere in the country to call off their actions while talks ensue. Strike leaders from Andahuaylas and Chincheros provinces in Apurímac region, as well as the two provincial mayors, met with Humala in the presidential palace in Lima Dec. 2. Protest leader Pelayo Hurtado, president of the Andahuaylas Irrigation District Users Board (JUDRA), as well as the mayors of several villages in the affected provinces, agreed to hear government proposals for roads, electrification, potable water and other development projects for the impoverished mining region.
Salomón Lerner also met in Lima with the regional president of Madre de Dios, Luis Aguirre, and Aquiles Velásquez, leader of the Madre de Dios Mining Federation (FEDEMIN), to announce an accord suspending the general strike in the lowland rainforest region. FEDEMIN, made up of small-scale independent miners, called the strike to demand legalization of their claims and resist government efforts to shut them down. (Con Nuestro Peru, Andina, Dec. 2)
See our last post on the struggle in Peru.

Some 400 protesters on Nov. 28 clashed with police as they attempted to occupy the site of the planned Conga gold and copper mine at Celendín municipality in Peru’s highland region of Cajamarca. National Police troops fired tear-gas and shot-gun blasts, and protesters hurled stones as they tried to take over a work camp at the site. The airport at Cajamarca city, the regional capital, was closed and flights cancelled as another 500 protesters gathered and pledged to occupy the facility. The police force securing the airport was massively outnumbered. Protesters also blockaded surrounding roads. It was the fifth consecutive day of a civil strike to demand a halt to the mining project. Two were arrested at the mine site, and one protester wounded in the leg. Protesters are demanding that PresidentOllanta Humala come to Cajamarca to hold a town meeting or consulta on the project, and pledged to escalate their tactics if he does not comply within 24 hours.

Wilfredo Saavedra, president of Cajamarca’s Environmental Defense Front which is coordinating the strike, said protests would go on until the government declared the Conga project “unfeasible.” Gregorio Santos, the regional president of Cajamarca, has thrown his support behind the strike. Alfonso Valderrama, leader of the Union of Regional Fronts of Peru (UFREP), said that municipalities and popular organizations elsewhere in Peru’s north were ready to join Cajamarca in the strike.

Prime Minister Salomón Lerner Ghitis said the government is in dialogue with the protesters, but that no representative of the executive branch would be travelling to Cajamarca. “We have the responsibility to continue to be firm in resolving conflicts using dialogue, and seeking consensus, but we can’t fall into the trap that some small interest groups have in creating chaos and violence, hurting the image that Peru has gained,” Lerner said.

But the Environment Ministry’s vice-mister for environmental management José de Echave submitted his resignation over the affair, charing that the government “lacks an adequate strategy for dealing with social conflict.” A former director of one of Peru’s leading environmental groups, CooperAccion, de Echave had been a key figure in negotiations with the Cajamarca protesters.

The open-pit project, located at 3,700 meters (12,140 feet) above the sea level, would entail draining the water from four alpine lakes into new reservoirs the company has pledged to build. Locals say the reservoirs would not adequately protect the waters. The lakes now feed groundwater for agriculture and livestock. A drought in Cajamarca has forced water rationing for the past three months. (AP, AFP, Dow Jones, Peru This Week, La Republica, La Republica, Lima, Cinabrioblog, Peru, Nov. 28; RPP, Nov. 26; Fox News Latino, Peru This Week, Nov. 25; Reuters, Nov. 25; BBC News, Nov, 24)

See our last posts on Peru and the Cajamarca struggle.

 

 
Residents in Cajamarca, Peru, held a 24-hour general strike Nov. 11, with protestors erecting roadblocks to halt traffic on the Cajamarca-Bambamarca highway. Students from the National University of Cajamarca took over the campus, and almost all urban transport unions, teachers and shops joined the strike. The action was called to demand that the Yanacocha Mining Corp. abandon its development of a giant gold mine at the community of Conga, which residents say will threaten vital water sources. The mine project will destroy four mountain lakes. The company has pledged to replace them with reservoirs—an offer rejected by local residents and municipal governments.

The Yanacocha company runs several other mines in the Cajamarca region, the flagship mine at at Yanacocha community being Latin America’s largest. The company is 51.4% owned by US-based Newmont Mining Corp., while Compania de Minas Buenaventura has a 43.7% stake and the International Finance Corp.owns the remainder. President Ollanta Humala called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute, and pledged to review the Conga mine’s environmental impact study which was approved last year. Gregorio Santos, the leftist regional president of Cajamarca, supported the strike, which was called by the Cajamarca Environmental Defense Front. Residents of the communities to be directly affected by the mine—Piedra Redonda-El Ámaro, El Tambo, Huasmín and Sorochuco—said they would begin an open-ended civil strike on Nov 24 if development is not halted by then. Campesinos from these communities rallied in Cajamarca’s central plaza with a banner reading, “YANACOCHA, LISTEN: RETURN OUR WATERS OR WE WILL STRUGGLE UNTIL DEATH.” (La Republica, Nov. 11; Peru This Week, Reuters, Nov. 9; Dow Jones, Nov. 8; Earth Blog, Nov. 7)

Mining protests have also erupted for the first time since Humala took office earlier this year in the regions of Áncash and Apurímac. In the Áncash municipalities of Huari and Recuay, an open-ended strike was launched Nov. 11 to protest the activities of the mining companies Antamina (owned by a consortium including BHP Billiton of Australia and Mitsubishi) and Huallanca (Peruvian owned). At Andahuaylas, Apurímac, angry protests continue by local campesinos demanding a ban on mining in the region, despite a pact the regional government signed with the Andahuaylas Irrigation District Users Board (JUDRA), pledging a dialogue. On Nov. 11, some 40 were wounded when thousands of protesters attempted to seize government offices in Andahuaylas, and set fire to one public building. (AP, Nov. 12;DPA, Nov. 11)

See our last posts on Peru, the global mineral cartel, and regional struggles for control of water.