But back to Cajamarca, which has received an official seal of approval from the national government but is also getting the same flat rejection from Cajamarca locals, perhaps not all the locals or even a majority, but enough of the ones with political clout to make a difference. The ball is now in Ollanta Humala’s court and it will be interesting to see whether he goes for the more talk route or more direct action route. The way things look, he’s likely to want to negotiate with local protest leaders at least one more time (or better said, attempted time) but there will come a time when this Humala government loses patience and goes for the direct, authoritarian route. That much was implied in Saturday’s speech when Humala told Peru that it has to respect current agreements and cannot rescind on deals without suffering grave consequences that natural resource investments are a vital part of Peru’s future growth and prosperity and that Peru would abide by the rule of law, come what may. Therefore, the likelihood is that the Conga/Cajamarca protests will drag on a while longer, at roughly the same noise level as we have today, but as we’ve already noted in previous editions there will come a time when Humala bangs a few heads together if necessary. Sadly, I think it’s going to be necessary and if pushed for a timeline, I’d best guess that at some point in October or November the government will get more active, as that’s the time when Cajamarca region’s non-city dwellers (the core of the Santos protest groups) need to tend their land, plant crops etc. There’s also one more thing worth noting, which is that Gregorio Santos has the clock ticking on his regional presidency as his term finishes in mid 2014. He’ll be around to make lots of noise in 2013 for sure, but it’s a near certainty that he’s voted out the year after.
IKN back and some thoughts to update that passage from two-and-a-bit weeks ago:
a) As considered, the local anti-mine people rejected his move that week out of hand (again)
b) As considered, between then and end of last week he moved to open talks one more time and nothing came of it
c) And here we are, the time has come and this week President
NadineOllanta Humala has decided to do that head-cracking
d) though it has come earlier than my best guess in the piece of October/November, though more because the Celendín mob attack yesterday seems to have overplayed the anti-mining hand and the government took advantage by slapping a State of Emergency on the region.
e) So to today's events and the arrest today of anti-mine leader Marco Arana was done in such a heavy-handed manner and at a time/place when the police officers knew they'd have their every move on video, that it seems as though a deliberate decision to be heavy handed was made further up the chain of command. I can't help but think that Humala is making a sacrificial lamb of his Prime Minister, Oscar Valdés, on this issue as there were already plenty of rumours swirling around Lima that he's on his way out before the end of the month. If some sort of shock-horror show is laid on and Valdés gets the chop, Humala gets to play the KingOf Democracy, getting his way in Conga while throwing a bone to the shocked and horrified.
UPDATE: Another protest death reported, now bringing it to four for the day in the Cajamarca region. This time in disturbances in the nearby town of Bambamarca. Those of you long Sulliden (SUE.to) will be able to find that one on a map quickly, won't you?