Discover more from Latin America Daily Briefing
Illegal mining sparks another protest in Peru
August 29, 2022
A confrontation between protestors and police in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios in Peru resulted in at least one dead and 13 injured, reports Reuters. The country’s Interoceanic Highway was blocked by the protestors for a significant period of time, delaying some of the country’s mining operations. Previous protests, such as the one at the Las Bambas mine (see 4/29/22 LADB), have even halted work, as police, Indigenous communities, and mining companies attempted to reach an agreement. This protest comes as indigenous communities object to the operations of mining companies on their historical land and to the lack of compliance by mining companies with previous agreements, among other complaints.
The Guardian reports an estimated 46,000 people mining in the Madre de Dios region, a “gold-rush town and hub for organized crime.” Locals criticize lack of police enforcement or efforts to deter violence related to illegal mining. According to Peru’s human rights coordinator, 29 people have been killed in mining-related incidents since 2020, with rates increasing following the considerable rise in the price of gold in recent months. Other mining-related criminal activity has also surged.
Peru is the world’s second-largest copper producer, and delays in mining can have a significant impact on the country’s exports and economy. Last week, the country’s finance minister announced that the country’s economic growth forecast was lowered to 3.3% this year, after falling metal prices, high inflation, and political instability forced the government to discard its previous plan to increase taxes on the mining industry, says Reuters. Copper production fell by 10% so far this year due to community protests that disrupted or even shut down mining operations. Peru also exports gold, though an estimated 10-15% of the metal’s production is conducted illegally.
A Washington Post article examines the impact of narcotrafficking on Indigenous communities in Peru, with community leaders oftentimes having to flee or hide after rejecting offers to cooperate with drug traffickers.
AP details the six current investigations into President Pedro Castillo, citing the Peruvian constitution’s basis for investigations on current government officials.
A case in the city of Huaraz has the potential to impact future climate-related cases, as “success in Huaraz would mean that major polluters anywhere may be liable for the increasingly disastrous consequences of greenhouse gas emissions,” says the Washington Post.
Argentina lost roughly USD $20 billion due to the war in Ukraine, says Sergio Massa, the country’s Minister of the Economy, reports Infobae. Massa maintains that the country is doing everything possible to comply with IMF requirements.
A report from Argentina's National Mining Secretariat notes that lithium exports in July of 2022 reached US$ 291 million, a 15% increase from the previous year, according to MercoPress. The country has reached over $2,000 billion in lithium exports so far this year.
Ex-president Evo Morales led an organized pro-democracy rally last Thursday alongside current President Luis Arce and other legislators from the ruling MAS party, says La Prensa Latina.
Following last night’s presidential debate, undecided voters rated Simone Tebet (MDB, currently polling between 3-4%) best, rating President Jair Bolsonaro’s performance the worst of the six candidates on the stage, according to Folha.
At Poder360, Thomas Traumann argues that the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur César Pereira de Lira, “is currently the most powerful politician in the country.”
“Despite da Silva’s lead in the polls, a dozen farmers, cattle ranchers and rodeo fans in Barretos told The Associated Press that Bolsonaro doesn’t need to reach out to many moderate voters,” instead believing that the polls are inaccurate. (AP)
The draft of Chile’s proposed new constitution includes the word “plurinational,” gaining support from Indigenous communities and sparking criticism from opponents who worry the term could cause future political instability, writes Nick Burns for Americas Quarterly.
Gustavo Petro’s ambitious tax plan aims to implement income-based taxes and reduce tax benefits for the country’s richest population, with the funds to be put towards social programs, says The Guardian.
Colombia’s Arauca department, known for its oil reserves, has found itself “yet again at the center of a deadly conflict involving left-wing guerrillas, paramilitaries, multinational corporations, and the U.S. government,” writes Evan King at NACLA.
Petro has yet to name new heads of Migración Colombia and the Secretariat of Inclusion (once known as the Border Manager’s Office), reports El Espectador.
Experts from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Cuban Ministry of Science and Technology met last week to exchange experiences and knowledge following the recent oil tanker fire in Cuba, reports El Nuevo Herald.
With a new MOU on Tourism Cooperation with China, “Cuba aims to double its Chinese tourist arrivals by strengthening its ecotourism, cultural, health, and nautical tourism industries, among other options,” writes Bruce Zagaris at Global Americans.
Trafigura Group is exporting Russian diesel to Ecuador and expanding its Latin American market as a ban from the European Union looms, reports Bloomberg.
“A man sent a Tweet questioning why the family of El Salvador’s president needed a huge security detail at the beach. Hours later, he was tracked down and arrested,” reports Vice.
Rolling Stone covers El Salvador’s bitcoin experiment, economic troubles, and rising authoritarianism under the Bukele government, asking if the country will default due to its bet on cryptocurrencies.
Haiti’s gangs are committing mass sexual violence, with impunity for sexual violence on the rise in the country, reports InSight Crime.
“Six of the 43 (Ayotzinapa) college students “disappeared” in 2014 were allegedly kept alive in a warehouse for days then turned over to the local army commander who ordered them killed, the Mexican government official leading a Truth Commission said Friday,” reports AP.
Lithium experts believe that Mexico’s new state-run Lithium company will take time to find success, with one analyst estimating “it could take Mexico's state firm at least seven years to begin production,” reports Reuters.
Mexico City residents have filed a complaint with the city’s human rights commission over the construction of new National Guard barracks in Xochimilco and Azcapotzalco, arguing that it is occurring “without consultation and violating various rights, like the right to be consulted, the right to the city, and the non-interference of the armed forces in Indigenous communities,” writes Pie de Página.
AMLO’s flagship project, the Maya Train, “is wildly over budget, may not bolster the economy like it was promised to, and will be subsidized by taxpayers for years to come,” reports the New York Times.
Despite the supposed success of prison reforms, much of Venezuela’s penitentiary system is controlled by prison bosses and gangs, reports InSight Crime.
“The Nicolás Maduro government’s crackdown on dissent continues, without justice for victims. Now is not the time for the international community to reduce scrutiny of the Maduro government. In fact, several upcoming events including a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council make outside pressure as important as ever,” writes Tamara Taraciuk Broner at Americas Quarterly.
A weakening exchange rate may increase inflation in Venezuela, reports Reuters.