Peruvian Communities Affected by Mining and Oil Make Formal Demands

By Conrado Olivera | Red Uniendo Manos Peru

Representatives of the communities most impacted by contamination from mining and oil industry activity met earlier this year with Health Minister Abel Salinas Rivas. Leaders from Espinar, La Oroya, Pasco, San Mateo, Chiriaco, Bambamarca, Puno and Cuninico were present, and they requested that the dialogue begun with the previous administration be continued.

Specifically they requested priority attention for children affected as a result of the pollution they suffer in their day to day lives. Yolanda Zurita Trujillo, representative of the Platform for the implementation of an environmental health program in La Oroya (Junín) said: “we asked the minister to prioritize health care for people affected by pollution and the liabilities left by mining and oil”.

It should be noted that these are emblematic cases, where serious environmental problems have occurred. A study by Red Muqui (of which PC(USA) global partner Red Uniendo Manos Peru is an active member) presented last year, showed that boys and girls from Pasco and La Oroya had up to 4 types of toxic metals in their blood, one of them deadly and carcinogenic, such as arsenic. Lead, another of the metals that children had in their blood, brings multiple effects on sight, stomach and problems in the level of concentration.

In the case of Espinar (region of Cusco), a report from the NGO Cooperacción (also a member of Red Muqui) collected the studies of the National Health Institute-CENSOPAS from 2010 and 2013, which indicates that people from the peasant communities have different toxic metals in their bodies such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium , cyanide. The document states that “only after the social protest of 2012, the Peruvian State undertook efforts to measure the magnitude of the risk represented by chronic exposure to heavy metals. Unfortunately, this evaluation has been deficient and to date we have no conclusive results. ”

In Cuatro Cuencas and Cuninico in the Amazon, continuous oil spills have affected the water, the soils and the health of the indigenous communities. In Cuninico, for example, in 2016 CENSOPAS took blood and urine samples from 129 people. 50.54% of the total population evaluated had levels ​​of mercury above the reference range, while 16.81% of those evaluated had values ​​over the reference range for the case of cadmium.

A follow up letter was sent from the Ministry of Health (MINSA) to the affected communities stating: “We are addressing you in order to inform you of the actions we are taking to have a multisectoral intervention to address the problem of contamination by toxic metals and its impact on human health ”

A second meeting with the Minister of Health is scheduled for March.




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