251,287 cables indexed
Reference ID: 05LIMA3571
Subject: MAJAZ ANTI-MINING VIOLENCE ON ECUADOR BORDER
Origin: Embassy Lima, Peru Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Created:17 Aug 2005 Released:01 Feb 2011
Tags: ASEC, EINV, EMIN, ENRG, PE, PGOV, SNAR

This is the cable as released by WikiLeaks, compared to the unredacted source.

This cable has been published by El Comercio (Peru) and The Guardian (UK).

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C able dated:2005-08-17T21:24:00]C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003571SIPDISEB FOR A/S WAYNE; WHA FOR MONSERRATE; INL FOR AGUILERAE.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2015TAGS: EMIN, PGOV, SNAR, ASEC, EINV, ENRG, PESUBJECT: MAJAZ ANTI-MINING VIOLENCE ON ECUADOR BORDERREF: A. LIMA 1432B. 04 LIMA 5874

Classified By: Ambassador J. Curtis Struble. Reason: 1.4 (b,d)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Violent protests against British firm
Majaz,s exploration for copper near the Ecuador border have
resulted in three deaths and several kidnappings. An unusual combination of anti-mining NGOs, the Catholic Church,
leftist groups and narcotraffickers have marshaled protesters
from the surrounding provinces, inaccurately claiming that
Majaz is contaminating water. (In fact, only exploratory
drilling of core samples has occurred.)
XXXXXXXXXXXX The Mission
continues its work with other Embassies and mining investors
to promote conflict resolution. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Sporadic protests began a year ago in the Minera Majaz
exploration zone along the Rio Blanco, on the Ecuadorian
border in northern Piura. In July, local radio stations,
several Catholic priests and rondero groups claimed that
Majaz was contaminating rivers while extracting minerals; the
claims were not substantiated, as Majaz has only been
test-drilling.
XXXXXXXXXXXX On 7/28 protesters began road blockages and
confrontations with the Peruvian National Police (PNP). The
GOP sent a negotiating team to the zone to lower tensions,
but Vice Minister of Mines (MEM) Romulo Mucho was injured by
a protester as he left a negotiating session in Cajamarca.
Despite claims that police killed many protesters, only one
death (gunshot from an unknown assailant) was confirmed
during demonstrations. The PNP reported also that two locals
died in their home when their explosive device detonated.

3. (SBU) On 8/6 Ronderos kidnapped two Majaz employees and
took them to villages where they were beaten. The two were
released, but on 8/14 ronderos kidnapped ten other employees,
releasing them only after the employees signed agreements not
to work for Majaz. Ronderos have announced plans for more
demonstrations on 8/18.

4. (C) Conversations between Mission officers, MEM VM Mucho,
Majaz executives, NGO representatives and PNP officials
yielded a common theme that the protesters have no negotiable
complaints, but rather want to keep outsiders away. The
forces overtly arrayed against Majaz are the local ronderos,
mayors, several Catholic priests and some NGOs. Working
behind the scene are a combination of the Peruvian Communist
Party/Patria Roja, national teachers, union SUTEP and
perhaps opium poppy traffickers.

5. (SBU) The Peruvian National Police have said publicly that
they believe opium traffickers have also played a role in
stoking the violence -- an assertion the police have
amplified in private conversations with Emboffs. Police
report that they have destroyed over 70,000 opium poppy
plants in Northern Peru since June 2005. Company
representatives have also asserted that the Majaz exploration
site lies along a foot track used by couriers who convey
opium latex to Ecuador.

6. (C) Comment: This area of northern Peru is in fact a
priority target of our efforts to collect intelligence on
poppy cultivation and opium trafficking. We are working with
both the police and company representatives to further
develop the information they have. So far, however, the
information is general. There have been past instances when
non-U.S. mining companies have claimed unconvincingly that
narco-traffickers were behind opposition to their operations
in an effort to enlist our assistance. End Comment.

7. (C) NGO Oxfam AmericaXXXXXXXXXXXX has become aXXXXXXXXXXXX frustrated actorXXXXXXXXXXXX in
the Majaz community negotiations. Javier Aroca (Protect),
Oxfam representative, was present for negotiations from 7/28
to 7/31. Previously critical of GOP and mining industry
conciliation efforts elsewhere in Peru, Aroca
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that
Majaz and MEM VM Mucho were making reasonable efforts to
mediate; here, heXXXXXXXXXXXX said, the ronderos refused to negotiate and
simply wanted Majaz to leave. ArocaXXXXXXXXXXXX noted that other
mediating NGOs, such as Catholic University and the National
Commission of Communities Affected by Mining (CONCAMI)
XXXXXXXXXXXX were
experiencing the same frustration with the ronderos.

8. (U) Minera Majaz is the Peruvian subsidiary of British
firm Monterrico Metals. Majaz has spent $20 million
exploring for copper for over a year, building roads and
providing services and employment to area residents.
Exploratory drilling has finished; surveying of a planned
copper concentrate pipeline (the last step for Majaz,s
feasibility study) ceased during protests but resumed on
8/11. Militants still deny access to most of the pipeline
route. The planned $800 million investment in a deposit of
1.3 billion metric tons (MT) of copper ore could produce
220,000 MT of copper concentrate and 500 MT of molybdenum per
year.

9. (U) Embassy Lima has recently stepped up efforts to
improve coordination with the embassies of Canada, Great
Britain, Australia, Switzerland and South Africa as well as
with major foreign mining investors with an eye to reducing
anti-mining violence (Septel/Reftels).

10. (C) Comment: The anti-mining forces in action in Majaz
represent a strange group of bedfellows indeed -- the
Catholic church, violent radical leftists, NGOs, ronderos and
perhaps narcotraffickers. These organizations are competing
for a leadership role but in some cases also cooperate. The
extent to which the church is tied into the ronderos and
radical left is both controversial and still open to
question. Unlike recent conflicts in Southern Peru (e.g. , Tintaya) the protests in Majaz are not aimed at forcing a
redistribution of royalties or more generous economic support
from a mine. Northern Peru has a reputation for being more
anti-mining than the South, where the industry is better
developed and more of the local populations see benefits from
the activity. The objective of protesters in Majaz is to
kill the project while it is in the exploration phase --
before, presumably, a pro-mine constituency can develop in
the area.
STRUBLE