“I don't think that this week they’ll resolve the license review request. It now forces us to confront the police.”
Local labor unions in the Peruvian region of Arequipa have voted to join an indefinite strike in solidarity with Indigenous communities in Valle de Tambo, in protest against a mining project set to cause huge environmental damage.
Campesinos in Valle de Tambo have already been on strike for 18 days against the ‘Tia Maria’ mining project, which gives ‘Southern Copper’ the right to begin mining operations in the area.
Campesinos point to studies saying the pollution from the mine will cause serious health problems and damage local farming. Protesters accuse neoliberal President Martin Vizcarra of being in the pocket of big mining corporations.
On Wednesday, labor unions across the whole Arequipa region announced they will now join the Campesinos. “I don't think that this week they’ll resolve the license review request. It now forces us to confront the police,” Jose Luis Chapa, leader of the Departmental Federation of Workers in Arequipa said speaking to La Republica newspapers.
The workers' participation in the strike will begin on Monday. teleSUR correspondent Jaime Herrera reports the strike will shut down markets, public transport and schools across the entire region.
The strike is also set to affect lorries carrying agricultural produce to the country’s big cities, which will worry the government as the Andean region is one of the main centers of farming.
Campesinos in the affected area have been on strike and protesting daily for over two weeks, often met with heavy police violence. They say the mine will pollute the River Tambo, which provides water to much of the local farmers in the area, furthermore, there is evidence that harmful gases will infect the area, such as Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide, adversely affecting public health and local crops.
A recent World Air Quality Report by the UN’s World Health Organization showed that Peru is already the worst in Latin America for air quality, and the 5th most contaminated globally.