like a beggar sitting on a gold mine

Peru is like a beggar sitting on a gold mine.
...was an analogy I heard a lot following my stay in Peru, back in 1995-6. It suggests the bitter irony of mass poverty in a resource rich country. But the choice of analogy, the gold mine, is particularly significant.

Living in Lima, I was unaware of the impact of mining and foreign mining companies on rural communities. But the environmental devastation of large scale mining, issues of worker safety and security, the human rights abuses against opponents - particularly amongst the indigenous communities, and extraction of Peru's wealth by multi-nationals, have ment Peru's mines remain a critical problem.

The Peru Support Group's latest report considers the role of British companies in Peru's mines, particularly the Rio Blanco project.
The Rio Blanco project in the Piura district has provoked a long-running and violent dispute involving the company, the Peruvian authorities, and the local Segunda y Cajas and Yanta communities on whose land the mining project lies...
The report...discusses ways in which the objectives of large mining projects can be made to mesh with those of local development. This would involve better and more economic opportunities, improving human security and empowering local populations. As PSG’s research shows, mining in Peru has not historically respected the interests of peasant communities – depriving them of their land, ignoring their rights and causing environmental and social degradation.

More details via the Peru Support Group website. I recommend PSG and similar organizations as excellent ways to keep in touch with Latin America, which tends to get less British news coverage than other regions.

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