“A company that is ostensibly a part of our community is responsible for the majority of the money, the investments and the actual profits of the mines that are devastating the communities and the way of life of the people of Cajamarca and their ability to actually live in their space….for us to be letting [Denver’s Newmont Mining Corporation] to get off with a free pass back home because they are simply further removed from the actual devastation that they’re causing is completely unacceptable and we have to do something about it,” were the words of Roshan Bliss, a Denver peace and social justice activist who is a part of a US delegation examining the US role in human rights violations that result from illegal mining projects in Peru.
The delegation of 15, organized by the US based peace and social justice group, Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), has focused specifically on solidarity positions and actions with civil society groups of Latin America. In addition to meetings in Cajamarca, the delegation also met with those resisting new US military bases, a major issue for AFGJ since Peru is one of the 3 top recipients of US military aid after Mexico and Colombia and also since the country still sends its soldiers to train at the notorious School of the Americas/Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation. The delegation learned that the US is committing more resources here to “convert Peru into a launching pad for the interests and activities of an Empire obsessed with Resource Wars and profit before nature,” according to AFGJ organizers but also a common complaint among those who say that the UN Climate Summit/COP 20 has ignored the contributions of the affected communities. Meetings with student, farm, and labor representatives confirmed the need for international observation as was expressed by delegates who heard stories of environmental devastation, human rights abuses and also the murder of local activists.
Bliss has just returned to Lima, Peru from Cajamarca, Peru to attend the People’s Climate Summit with other delegates. Cajamarca, located in the highland lake country of the nation is the site of gold mining projects that are majority-owned by Newmont Corporation of Greenwood Village near Denver. The delegation talked to organizations that are working to stop the environmental destruction of the land and water that is life sustaining to the locals who say that the gold mining is poisoning their land and water. Another peace and social justice organization, the Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC) through its Minewatch subcommittee has kept an eye on the activities of the corporation. The DJPC holds regular protests outside of Newmont’s corporate offices, has protested outside of the Peruvian embassy in Denver, and has also met with Newmont officials saying they wanted to open dialogue about the environmental destruction.
Roshan Bliss speaks to KGNU at the People’s Climate Summit.