Monday, July 14, 2014

"Peru’s mining money: Something isn’t working"

We're planning more in-depth posts on the multifaceted problems of mining in Peru. In the meantime, check out this recent piece from Keith Slack, Global Program Manager of Oxfam America's Extractive Industries team. It paints the picture of Peruvian ambivalence well.
Peru’s problems stem from a complex mix of history, discrimination, corruption, and lack of government capacity. Mining – and the problems it engenders – is therefore woven into the national culture. Peru’s modern economic elite evolved around mining — originally the mining of guano (petrified bird crap), but later evolving into industrial production of gold and copper. It’s worth remembering that Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro, who famously brought down the Inca Empire in an epic battle in Cajamarca, went to Peru in search of El Dorado – the lost city of gold.

Why wouldn’t Peruvians develop a deep sense of fatalism about how thing are? A Peruvian anthropologist friend of mine cited the current situation in Madre de Dios as an example, where the pristine Amazon rainforest there has been utterly devastated by informal miners. The government has only belatedly tried to do something about it, because according to my friend, everyone in upper reaches of government is getting money from these illegal mining operations. Even President Humala himself was accused of financing his presidential campaign with funds from illegal mining two weeks ago. The Humala administration’s proposal of measures to weaken the authority of Peru’s environmental ministry to enforce mining regulations last week has raised further doubts about the Peruvian government’s commitment to making positive changes in the mining sector
(Keith Slack, "Peru's mining money: Something isn't working," June 24, 2014) 

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