But back to Cajamarca, which
has received an official seal of approval from the national government but is
also getting the same flat rejection from Cajamarca locals, perhaps not all the
locals or even a majority, but enough of the ones with political clout to make
a difference. The ball is now in Ollanta Humala’s court and it will be
interesting to see whether he goes for the more talk route or more direct
action route. The way things look, he’s likely to want to negotiate with local
protest leaders at least one more time (or
better said, attempted time) but there will come a time when this Humala
government loses patience and goes for the direct, authoritarian route. That
much was implied in Saturday’s speech when Humala told Peru that it has to
respect current agreements and cannot rescind on deals without suffering grave
consequences that natural resource investments are a vital part of Peru’s
future growth and prosperity and that Peru would abide by the rule of law, come
what may. Therefore, the likelihood is that the Conga/Cajamarca protests will
drag on a while longer, at roughly the same noise level as we have today, but
as we’ve already noted in previous editions there will come a time when Humala
bangs a few heads together if necessary. Sadly, I think it’s going to be necessary
and if pushed for a timeline, I’d best guess that at some point in October or
November the government will get more active, as that’s the time when Cajamarca
region’s non-city dwellers (the core of
the Santos protest groups) need to tend their land, plant crops etc.
There’s also one more thing worth noting, which is that Gregorio Santos has the
clock ticking on his regional presidency as his term finishes in mid 2014.
He’ll be around to make lots of noise in 2013 for sure, but it’s a near
certainty that he’s voted out the year after.
IKN back and some thoughts to update that passage from two-and-a-bit weeks ago:
a) As considered, the local anti-mine people rejected his move that week out of hand (again)
b) As considered, between then and end of last week he moved to open talks one more time and nothing came of it
c) And here we are, the time has come and this week President
NadineOllanta Humala has decided to do that head-cracking
d) though it has come earlier than my best guess in the piece
of October/November, though more because the Celendín mob attack
yesterday seems to have overplayed the anti-mining hand and the
government took advantage by slapping a State of Emergency on the region.
e) So to today’s events and the arrest today of anti-mine leader Marco Arana was done in such a heavy-handed manner and at a time/place when the police officers knew they’d have their every move on video, that it seems as though a deliberate decision to be heavy handed was made further up the chain of command. I can’t help but think that Humala is making a sacrificial lamb of his Prime Minister, Oscar Valdés, on this issue as there were already plenty of rumours swirling around Lima that he’s on his way out before the end of the month. If some sort of shock-horror show is laid on and Valdés gets the chop, Humala gets to play the KingOf Democracy, getting his way in Conga while throwing a bone to the shocked and horrified.
UPDATE: Another protest death reported,
now bringing it to four for the day in the Cajamarca region. This time
in disturbances in the nearby town of Bambamarca. Those of you long
Sulliden (SUE.to) will be able to find that one on a map quickly, won’t