Peruvian President Ollanta Humala today declared a state of emergency in the northern Peruvian department of Cajamarca in the wake of protests last week that led to the suspension of the multi-billion-dollar Conga gold-mining project. Humala’s press office tweeted last night that the measure would take effect at midnight today and last for 60 days. This decree will affect the provinces of Cajamarca, Celendín, Contumazá, and Hualgayoc.
Last week’s clashes were biggest challenge to date of Humala’s nascent presidency and saw the resignation of his vice-minister of the environment, José de Echave. Humala has blamed the impasse on local Indigenous leaders, stating, “Every possible means has been exhausted to establish dialogue and resolve the conflict democratically, but the intransigence of local and regional leaders has been exposed.”
According to government statements, the emergency declaration is designed to mitigate violence and allow the restoration of basic public services. Police will now have the authority to issue arrests without warrants as well as to limit the right of assembly. Cajamarca’s governor and protest leader, Gregorio Santos, referred to Humala’s pronouncement as an unnecessary provocation and pledged to “continue with our fight.”
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