Lima in stalemate with towns blocking road to copper mine – by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino (Reuters U.S. – October 19, 2016)

Peru’s government failed to restart talks with residents of remote Andean towns blocking a road to one of the country’s biggest copper mines on Wednesday, as protesters demanded a meeting with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Kuczynski, who took office July 28, said when he was a candidate that he would travel to far-flung towns to personally resolve disputes over mining in the world’s third biggest copper producer. But Prime Minister Fernando Zavala said Kuczynski would not travel to the highland region of Apurimac while residents continued occupying a road leading to MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas mine.

“We’re open to dialogue, what we can’t have is dialogue threatened by forceful actions,” Zavala told a news conference.

A 42-year-old farmer was shot dead on Friday in clashes with police who were trying to end a weeklong blockage of the road by locals speaking in the indigenous language Quechua who say trucks transporting copper concentrates from the Chinese-owned mine are polluting their lands.

Peru’s Interior Ministry has said two colonels ordered last week’s crackdown without authorization days before officials were scheduled to meet with protesters. Police and public prosecutors are investigating the protester’s death.

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