The Bishop of Cajamarca insists on dialogue as the only solution to the mining conflict
The Augustinian Recollect Carmelo Martinez, Bishop of Cajamarca (Peru), does not give up in pursuing peace amidst the mining conflict that already cost five lives. The Prelate sustains that dialogue is the only solution. After having tried it himself without obtaining any response, Msgr. Martinez does not stop in his struggle for peace and has delegated the task of mediation to Miguel Cabrejos, Archbishop of Trujillo.
Amidst the considerable violence due to the anti-mining protests in the locality, the Bishop of Cajamarca (Peru), Msgr. Jose Carmelo Martinez Lazaro, has repeatedly expressed his intention of being the “mediator of dialogue” between the two parties: the regional authorities headed by Gregorio Santos and the state authorities of president Ollanta Moises Humala. On the one hand, the regional government opposes the exploitation of the mineral resources of Conga but, on the other hand, the national government seeks to extract gold, silver and copper, which has been happening for 15 years already in two other large mines of the same region.
In the transmission of RadioPrgoramas, a Peruvian radio station, Msgr. Martinez Lazaro said: “The Church has the better intention of intervening in this situation. For three times, I have tried to be the mediator of dialogue. For months, I try to talk with Gregorio Santos (regional president of Cajamarca and leader of the protesters) but he has not received me. I only met the regional vice-president. Since November of last year, the reality in Cajamarca in relation to the mining project of Conga was very violent, it should have never been so and hopefully it will not worsen.”
For Martinez Lazaro, both parties of the conflict have acted wrongly with regards to this crisis, and he lamented the fact that they have shown hesitancy to dialogue. The Augustinian Recollect Bishop affirmed that from this conflict must emerge the lesson that “it is necessary to learn to live together, to try to understand the other, to take the past and the present into account and to see the future with optimism and a wider perspective.”
The conflict in Cajamarca has already caused five deaths, including a 17-year-old youngster, and the burning of the city hall of Celendin. For this reason, the government of Peru has placed three provinces in state of emergency. Speaking to the news agency “Andina,” the Bishop lamented the deaths that happened during the confrontation last July 3, and said: “Dialogue leads to understanding, and with regards to this case, it must focus on development, on the water resource and responsible mining.”
The Archbishop: the mediator
The Episcopal Conference of Peru and the Bishop of Cajamarca have accepted the proposal of President Humala for Msgr. Cabrejos, Archbishop of Trujillo, to be the mediator of the conflict. The Diocese of Cajamarca is part of the ecclesiastical region of Trujillo.
Cabrejos states to the radio station Peru21 that his role will be to facilitate the dialogue between the executive officials and the promoters of the protests against mining project in Conga, headed by Gregorio Santos, the regional president of Cajamarca, Marco Arana, a former priest and Wilfredo Saavedra, a former terrorist.
“Naturally it is not that simple,” he said, after recalling his experience as mediator in other social conflicts. He further commented: “I was in Bagua, Quillabamba and Espinar. This has given me a certain perspective of what is happening in Peru.”
The Prelate concluded, uniting himself to the words of the Augustinian Recollect of Cajamarca, Jose Carmelo Martinez Lazaro: “I ask for peace, tranquility for all, for the people, for the leaders, for the police (…) violence leads to nowhere.”
In the Andina region of Northern Peru, there are other two Augustinian Recollect bishops: Fortunato Pablo Urcey in Chota and Emiliano Cisneros in Chachapoyas.
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