US embassy cables: Peru rocked by violent anti-mining protests

From the Guardian.co.uk:

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Violent protests against British firm Majaz,s exploration for copper near the Ecuador border have resulted in three deaths and several kidnappings. An unusual combination of anti-mining NGOs, the Catholic Church, leftist groups and narcotraffickers have marshaled protesters from the surrounding provincesXXXXXXXXXXXX The Mission continues its work with other Embassies and mining investors to promote conflict resolution. END SUMMARY.

5. (SBU) The Peruvian National Police have said publicly that they believe opium traffickers have also played a role in stoking the violence — an assertion the police have amplified in private conversations with Emboffs. Police report that they have destroyed over 70,000 opium poppy plants in Northern Peru since June 2005. Company representatives have also asserted that the Majaz exploration site lies along a foot track used by couriers who convey opium latex to Ecuador.

6. (C) Comment: This area of northern Peru is in fact a priority target of our efforts to collect intelligence on poppy cultivation and opium trafficking. We are working with both the police and company representatives to further develop the information they have. So far, however, the information is general. There have been past instances when non-U.S. mining companies have claimed unconvincingly that narco-traffickers were behind opposition to their operations in an effort to enlist our assistance. End Comment.

Peru

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