Peru Archbishop to Mediate in Mining Conflict

Says Church Always Disposed to Contribute to Peace

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LIMA, Peru, JULY 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo, Peru, agreed Friday to mediate in the mining conflict in the region of Cajamarca, in northern Peru, where five persons died this week in confrontations with the police.

“The Church uses the word facilitator and is always disposed to contribute to peace, pacification and life. I have communicated it to the Episcopal Conference and they are totally in agreement with the request to assume this role,” said Archbishop Cabrejos on a local television station.

The archbishop pointed out that Juan Jiménez, the Minister of Justice, sent him a formal letter with the request, in addition to the request made to him by President Ollanta Humala on the same television channel.

In the letter, Jiménez points out that it is the duty of the executive “to seek the most appropriate way to solve problems, far from absurd confrontations, putting human life above all and the search for its integral development.”

“I will be very grateful if in your capacity as pastor of the Church, you would propitiate paths of understanding to attain the longed for peace that all Peruvian men and women want for Cajamarca and for our country,” the letter said.

Archbishop Cabrejos said that his mission will not be simple, but that he had experience in such tasks because “he had to take part in the localities of Bagua, Quillabamba and Espinar,” places where violent social conflicts were recorded. “That gave me a certain vision of the problems of Peru,” he said,

The prelate appealed for “serenity, peace and dialogue” and for the “calming of spirits” on both sides,” because violence does not lead to anything, he stressed.

The inhabitants of Cajamarca have been on strike for more than 30 days in protest against the Conga mining project -- of the Yanacocha enterprise, which plans to invest around $5bn -- as they fear their water reserves will be irremediably contaminated.

The provinces of Cajamarca, Hualgayoc and Celendin have been in a state of emergency for the last month.

The government expressed its agreement with Conga’s performance after Yanacocha apparently accepted the new conditions imposed by President Ollanta Humala for its functioning.

Among the requirements is the need to keep two of the four lagoons that were going to be drained to extract gold and copper, to quadruple the water reserves and to create a social fund and 10,000 jobs.