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Lima, Peru — On Tuesday, Nov 23, Indigenous Peoples from across Latin America released The Lima Declaration , a unified position calling for an end to large-scale surface mining by transnational companies on Indigenous Peoples’ lands. Indigenous representatives from the Andes, the Amazon, and Central America drafted the Declaration after a three-day Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Mining, Climate Change, and Well-being. EARTHWORKS, a US-based organization that works to protect communities and the environment from destructive mining impacts, attended the meeting at the invitation of an Indigenous Peoples’ coordinating group in Latin America.

In a clear indication of Indigenous Peoples’ growing frustration with the mining sector, the Declaration states: “Our territories full of life and harmony have been converted into territories of contamination and toxicity, territories of militarization and criminalization of struggles, territories of plunder and poverty because of pro-extractive policies guided by governments.” The Lima Declaration also calls for governments to revoke mining titles and concessions granted without proper consultation of Indigenous Peoples.

The Forum was attended by 376 Indigenous and allied participants from seventeen countries, and illustrated the impacts of large-scale mining on human rights, culture, livelihoods, and the environment in Latin America. In many countries such as Peru, governments have criminalized and repressed protests against mining. As the representatives launched The Lima Declaration, tensions continued in southern Peru, where community members sought to block roads in protest of the Southern Copper Company’s Tia Maria mine project. Protesters were injured by police using batons and tear gas at those protests in Arequipa Department earlier in the week.

The Lima Declaration also presents an alternative model for achieving human well-being without incurring the destructive impacts of large-scale mining. The Forum attendees see Well-being, or Buen Vivir, as a way of life in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with traditional Indigenous ways that contrasts with a way of life that promotes destructive mining and exacerbates climate change.

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Scott Cardiff, EARTHWORKS, 202-887-1872

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