Seven gubernatorial candidates in Madre de Dios – one of the most biodiverse regions in Peru – allegedly have links to illegal mining, it has been revealed.
The El Comercio news outlet compared the candidates' CVs with government tax and mining records to identify relations between them and illegal mining in the area.
The most controversial case is that of former lawmaker Amado Romero Rodriguez, from the 'Siempre Unidos' (Always United) party, who was dubbed 'comeoro' (gold eater).
Romero owns at least four mining licenses and has been accused of masking informal mining activities with chestnut exploitation.
In 2011, El Comercio revealed that illegal mining groups were operating inside Romero's concessions in exchange for payments in gold. He was suspended from Congress for 120 days, but denies any responsibility and claims the accusations are political persecution.
Juan Imura Cjuno also failed to report his activities as sales manager of Kori Wasi, a company selling mining machinery, between 1997 and 2002. He has also been investigated for trafficking chemicals used in illegal mining, and owns three mining licenses in the region.
Candidate Julio Luna Perez, from the Avanza Pais Social Integration Party, failed to declare his gold mining and commerce activities to the IRS. Luna, mayor of Laberinto district until 2018, insists he declared his gold-related activities and claims to reject illegal mining in protected areas.
Karina Valdivia Ramirez, from Libertarian Peru, is running for deputy governor. She, along with her husband and the mining company Suwit, was investigated for laundering assets and transporting illegal gold.
Also running for deputy governor are Lino Aquino Tito, Fernando Arambulo and Erasmo Sumalave Perez. The first two own mining concessions in the Tambopata district, while Aquino was accused by locals of allowing illegal mining in 2012.
Sumalave, who coordinates eight mines, was accused of falsification charges and is serving a two-year suspended prison sentence.
At least other six candidates for mayor own mining licenses in the region.