Peru Sends 2,000 Police as Copper Project Protests Spread – by John Quigley (Bloomberg News – April 8, 2015)

Peru sent police reinforcements to the Islay province as protests against Southern Copper Corp.’s Tia Maria mine project spread to more towns.

About 2,000 officers are being transferred to the coastal province in southern Peru as street protests against the project entered a 47th day, Interior Minister Jose Perez told reporters.

Southern Copper’s plans to build the $1.4 billion mine in the mountains above Islay’s Tambo Valley, about 780 kilometers (485 miles) south of Lima, are opposed by local farmers concerned that water and air pollution will damage their crops. One person died and four police officers were injured in clashes this week as the unrest spread to the seaside town of Mollendo.

President Ollanta Humala weighed options for declaring a state of emergency in Islay at a meeting Thursday. “We don’t rule out any decision that needs to be taken,” Perez said. “We’re prepared for this decision. More police are arriving at this moment.”

Police used a loader to clear boulders and rocks strewn across the highway between the port town of Matarani and Mollendo, where demonstrators set fire to buses Thursday, according to Canal N. Images broadcast by the Lima-based television station showed protesters blockading a highway Friday as tires burned along the side of the road.

Reinforcements, Allegations

The police deployment adds to 2,000 officers sent to the area in March. More than six weeks of clashes have left 166 police injured, 10 of them hospitalized, while 80 civilians have also been hurt, Perez said from a hospital. Two of the officers injured this week are in critical condition, he said.

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