Alliance for Global Justice Statement on the Detention of Gregorio “Goyo” Santos, President of the Region of Cajamarca, Peru
The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) condemns the preventive incarceration of Gregorio “Goyo” Santos Guerrero, President of the Region of Cajamarca, Peru (analogous to a US governor). Goyo’s election in 2010 was the result of a mass mobilization of the region’s voters. It reflected a popular struggle against the proposed Conga gold mine involving an alliance of miners, teachers, farmers, unionists and indigenous communities. These maintain the gold mine will export not only gold but mega-profits, with little social investment or sustainable economic development. They also point out that the mine’s best jobs are being given to outsiders, while there are few local financial benefits. Cajamarca is the second poorest region in Peru. The Conga mine is a collaboration between the Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation, Buenaventura (Peru) and the International Monetary Fund. Newmont holds a 51.35% controlling interest.
The Conga mine is an expansion of the twenty year old Yanacocha mine, Latin America’s largest gold mine. That mine has already had devastating consequences for the local ecosystem and residents. The Yanacocha mine completely dried up an ancient lake and decimated and polluted the main water supply leading into the capital city of Cajamarca. In 2000 the spill of more than 330 pounds of mercury being carried by Yanacocha trucks poisoned over 900 residents of Choropampa, leaving behind a legacy of death, sickness and deformity. The Conga project would be three times the size of Yanacocha and threatens the system of highland lakes and waterways that are the area’s main source of irrigation for local farms and drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents.
Goyo was elected because of his outspoken opposition to the Conga project, and because of his proposals in favor of diversified economic development and funding human needs. Since assuming office, he has not wavered in these priorities and has used his position to strengthen the struggle in the streets. This struggle has caused repeated setbacks for Conga and has impeded the mine’s construction. As an alternative, Goyo has proposed investment in sustainable farming and aquaculture, agro-industrial capabilities, and eco-tourism. For this he has been the victim of a steady stream of slanders and attacks on the part of the national government, Newmont and its partners, and the corporate media. Since 2011, Goyo has been the target of 38 prosecution cases. Of these, 35 have already been dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Goyo is now being charged with taking bribes in exchange for 11 public works contracts. No evidence for this has been made public by prosecutors. Meanwhile, Goyo is in the midst of his reelection campaign. The assertion that Goyo represents a flight risk is ridiculous. This detention is clearly a political ploy to stop his campaign and undermine the will of the people.
As a US based organization, AfGJ has serious questions about the activity of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID in Peru, especially in Cajamarca. Cajamarca is home to significant projects involving the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE, associated with the US Chambers of Commerce). Both IRI and CIPE are core-institutes of NED and receive USAID funding. The partnership of US-based corporate interests backed by these agencies are the kind of combination we have seen in electoral destabilization efforts from Honduras to Venezuela to Haiti to Ukraine. We demand a clear and detailed accounting of all NED and USAID activities in the Cajamarca region.
The preventive incarceration of Goyo has nothing to do with the due process of law. It
is a bald-faced effort to get Goyo and the popular movement he represents out of the way. Polls commissioned in 2012 by Ipsos-Apyo show 78% of Cajamarcans oppose the Conga project, with only 15% expressing support. Jailing Goyo is a brazen effort aimed at obtaining a regional government that will be friendly to Newmont, its partners, and the US favored neoliberal model of private development–communities and ecosystems be damned.
In April, 2013, AfGJ’s James Jordan visited the Cajamarca region, including the Yanacocha and Conga sites. According to Jordan,
From the moment I arrived, I saw a community united in opposition to Conga. That morning when I got off the bus, there were already hundreds of unionists marching against the development. The businesses and houses were full of anti-Conga signs and placards. Even on one of the mountainsides, giant letters had been arranged to tell the city: “No a Conga!” For the entire duration of my visit, every where I went, I saw public signs of opposition. When I met with the regional government, they expressed their strong unity with the people against Conga. And when I went into the mountains, into the lake country, there I saw the guardians of the lakes, campesinos and indigenous maintaining a 24 hour a day, seven days a week vigil to watch over the waters and intervene to stop any development by Newmont. It’s so clear to me that the people of Cajamarca don’t want the Conga mine. That’s why Newmont and the US-favored political powers are doing everything they can to subvert the people’s wishes.
The Alliance for Global Justice calls on Newmont Mining Corporation to end the Conga project and to leave the region. Cajamarca does not want you. We call on the NED, IRI and CIPE to leave as well, since the only reason these organizations exist is to manipulate international elections. As NED co-founder Alan Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” We call on USAID to end any and all activities related to political advocacy and the funding and advising of Peruvian political parties and movements, especially in Cajamarca.
Most of all, we call on the Peruvian national government, the Ministry of the Interior and the prosecutor’s office in Cajamarca to release Goyo from so-called preventive incarceration and respect the will of the Peruvian people and stop sabotaging the region’s elections.