Peru Declares 2-Month Martial Law in Area of Disputed Copper Mine – by Robert Kozak (Wall Street Journal – May 23, 2015)

Residents have protested Southern Copper’s plans to set up Tia Maria mine

LIMA, Peru—The government of President Ollanta Humala on Saturday started a two-month period of martial law in the southern state of Arequipa, where local residents are protesting against a plan by Southern Copper Corp. to set up a copper mine known as Tia Maria.

Under the state of emergency, police can enter houses without search warrants, while meetings and marches can be broken up, as the government aims to end almost two months of often-violent protests in the region about 650 miles south of Lima.

Local residents have blocked roads and clashed with police since late March, saying the $1.4 billion Tia Maria project will contaminate water and the air. The government last year approved the company’s environmental study, and the company says it can operate a clean mine.

“In line with what is established in the constitution and the decree declaring a state of emergency, the national police with the backing of the armed forces will be charged with maintaining public order,” Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano said late Friday.

Jose Ramos Carrera, mayor of the municipality of Punta de Bombón, said many local residents will continue to oppose the Tia Maria project.

“What the state of emergency shows is that the government wants the mine to go ahead at all costs,” said Mr. Ramos Carrera in a telephone interview.

Justice Minister Gustavo Adrianzén told RPP radio Saturday that he hoped martial law can be lifted sooner than two months.

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