In 2011, the mining company Minera Yanacocha eyed the land of Máxima Acuña Chaupe, an indigenous farmer whose property was located near the Blue Lagoon lake (Laguna Azul) in the Peruvians highlands of Cajamarca.
Access to this lake was crucial for Yanacocha’s proposed Conga mine, but Máxima refused to sell her property. So Yanacocha, which is owned by US-based mining giant Newmont, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Peruvian company Buenaventura, sued Maxima for ownership of the land. The company ultimately lost when an appeals court ruled in Máxima Acuña’s favor.
Máxima’s life has not been easy in the past few years. She and her family have been beaten, robbed and even sentenced to prison. Perhaps what is most troubling is that this harassment continues even after the court ruling in her favor.
Just over a week ago, on February 3rd, police and security officers backed by the company invaded the farmer's home to prevent her from making repairs to her house. Officers even destroyed parts of her home. This was the third such invasion of her land in 2015 itself. We ask you to take action against Newmont for sanctioning this violence.
Newmont, a multinational mining behemoth, backs the Voluntary Principles, international standards to address the dismal record of human rights violations caused by security forces working for extractives industries. Yet these recent events reflect business as usual – the use of excessive force against communities, backed by both the company and the state.
Under Peruvian law, police officers are allowed to work for other companies when off-duty. As a result, Máxima and other farmers have been harassed by police officers protecting the interests of Newmont rather than Peruvian citizens. And Newmont and Mineral Yanacocha continue to assert their rights to her land even after the court decision.
Thursday, February 12th has been declared as the International Day of Solidarity for Máxima Acuña. We stand with Maxima, and with the people of Cajamarca who are confronting Yanacocha’s aggressive and intimidating tactics.
Newmont talks about their commitments to community engagement and community consent. No community should have to face beatings and home invasion. We call on Newmont to respect the ruling and to immediately ensure that Máxima and her property are no longer harassed. We also ask Newmont to denounce the intimidation of communities and ensure that they are not complicit in such actions.