LIMA (Reuters) – For most of this year, Walter Aduviri, the governor-elect of Peru’s Andean region of Puno, had been a fugitive. The indigenous activist, 38, went into hiding after losing a sedition trial last year over deadly protests he led against Canadian mining company Bear Creek in 2011.
All that changed in October. His 7-year sentence was annulled and he was elected governor of Puno, home to deep deposits of gold, silver, uranium and lithium that miners plan to excavate through $2 billion of proposed projects.
In his first interview with foreign media since his victory, Aduviri – who will take office in January – said he would continue to oppose mining that lacks clear benefits to communities in Puno, one of Peru’s poorest and most lawless regions, near the border with Bolivia.
A trained accountant and an admirer of Bolivian President Evo Morales, the fellow Aymara Indian said he and other Peruvian activists have been unfairly prosecuted for opposing mining.
“There’s shameless pillaging taking place,” Aduviri told Reuters late on Tuesday during his visit to the capital Lima, where he said the country’s elites treat him with suspicion. “As a country with immense natural resources, unfortunately, we aren’t seeing the benefits.”
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