A CONCRETE PROPOSAL
Costly Freedom in Afghanistan
Opposition to Charter Schools
Fight for Water
Ronald j. Morgan
Health Care Crisis Will Continue
Occupying a House Auction
Race, Gender, & Occupy
Occupied Higher Ed
Unpredicatable Life of the Occupy Movement
Zuccotti Park Press
STATE OF THE U.S.
Investing in Obama
Nicolas J.S. Davies
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Peru's Fight For Water
Peru’s 13-year economic expansion is attributed largely to the country’s mining resources. High prices for precious metals have sent export earnings soaring and pushed growth rates to historic highs. Over the next decade, $50 billion in new mining investments are planned. So far, only 10 to 12 percent of the potential mining area has been explored. The inflow of multi-billion dollar investments has given transnational mining companies a huge influence over the country’s future. But the rewards from mining are not permanent as most mines last only about 20 years.
Mining has also become a threat to Peru’s water sources and may threaten future agricultural development and permanently damage life in the Andes.
Increasingly, Peru’s social organizations are saying that water must take precedence over mining. In the last year, their protests have temporarily halted a number of mining projects because of the negative effects on water availability, including Southern Copper’s $1 billion Tia Maria copper mine project near Arequipa; Bear Creek Mining Corp. of Canada’s Santa Ana $51 million silver mine, Puno; and Southern Copper’s $800 million expansion of the Toquepala copper mine, Tacna.
The February 9 March of the Water protest—mostly peasant farmers from the Andes region—wrapped up a month-long march from the mining region of Cajamarca to Lima where they presented a legal project aimed at banning mining in water source areas. Peru’s pro-water movement is also demanding tougher government control over mining and the implementation of effective public consultation procedures. A new public consultation law, passed last year, has yet to be implemented and protesters want new mine activities to wait until the law is in force. They also want a review of current mining concessions.
Over the years, the rights of local Andean communities have been trampled by centralized project approval and less than adequate environmental enforcement. Those living in Peru’s mining areas are among Peru’s poorest. After 20 years of unregulated mining growth there has been little change in the rates of poverty, nutrition and illiteracy in mining areas where the local population must also suffer the health effects from cyanide and mercury pollution.
During a recent Congressional Forum titled “Water, Biodiversity and Mining,” Congressperson Jorge Rimarachin Cabrera, representing Cajamarca, called for a reorientation of Peru’s economy away from raw material exports. In 2011, mineral exports totaled $27.4 billion, accounting for 59 percent of Peru’s total export earnings of $46.3 billion.
President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) privatized Peru’s mining industry in the early 1990s, opening the way for new mining concessions under extremely favorable conditions. Companies pay a 30 percent income tax on their profits, but because of tax deductions, the resulting income is meager. And tax stabilization accords allow corporations to block future government tax increases for periods of 10 to 15 years. (The tax breaks are guaranteed by the Peruvian constitution.)
Fujimori-Era Mining Laws Under Attack
The Fujimori-era mining program soon put Peru on the mining investment hot list. Mines now cover 25 million hectares (61.7 million acres) of land in Peru and projects have expanded out of the Andean mountains to Peru’s coast and into the Amazon jungle. Critics say the growth of the mining industry has been chaotic and disorganized, while government regulation has been weak. Sergio Sanchez of the nongovernmental organization GRUFIDES, which has been analyzing the mining situation in Peru for many years, stresses that changes are long overdue: “If you realize what’s going on in Peru, the legal framework has been overwhelmed. It can’t continue. The mining law can’t continue, the water resource law can’t continue.”
Plans to put Peru’s largest foreign investment ever—the $4.8 billion Conga gold and copper mine, in northern Peru’s Cajamarca region—has brought the mining conflict to Peru’s new president, Ollanta Humala, who campaigned as a leftist likely to take on mining interests once elected, but compromised his policies by agreeing to a more neoliberal road map.
Anger at Humala’s flip-flop on mining has become a factor in rising tensions in Cajamarca Department, a historically conflicted mining region of 1.4 million. Some 47 percent of Cajamarca area has been concessioned for mining development.
Communities in Cajamarca have a history of disputes with area mining projects. In 2004, a protest by area peasant farmers and students halted a similar project by the same corporations at Cerro Quilish, which would have affected the water supply for the city of Cajamarca.
The Conga open pit mine will destroy four high altitude Andean lakes and replace them with reservoirs. Earth from the mine project will be dumped into two of the destroyed natural lakes. Critics of the project contend the mine will have effects on the entire water system in the area. The project is located in the headwaters region of five rivers.
Social organizations mobilizing to oppose Conga vow that it will never go forward. The first protests broke out in November 2011. On November 29, 19 persons were shot and injured. The government ordered a temporary halt to construction of the mine, but efforts to halt the protest through dialogue failed.
Peru’s Left Confronts The President They Elected
The inability of the Humala cabinet to agree on whether to impose a state of emergency led to the resignation of half the president’s cabinet in December 2011. Humala accepted the resignation of his former campaign manager and head of the cabinet, Solomon Lerner, and quickly appointed former Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Valdes, who was serving as Interior Minister.
The dispute resulted in the ejection of leftist participants in the cabinet. Participation by Alejandro Toledo’s moderate Peru Possible Party also ended. Toledo then criticized the increased influence of former military people in the new cabinet.
Without a doubt Peru’s left feels betrayed by a president they worked to elect. Gonzales stressed that tensions in the cabinet were evident from the first days of the new government. Conservative business and media sectors were pressing to maintain continuity in economic and investment policies. “Conga was the trigger that caused the conservative sectors to gain power and as a consequence those that supported change lost.”
Humala imposed a state of emergency and sent in troops in December, which ended the protest. He then announced a plan to have international experts study the water and ecological impact of the project and ways to implement it with changes aimed at reducing any negative impacts. A team of three international geological and mining experts from Spain and Portugal had until early April to complete a study of the project.
Cajamarca’s regional governor, Gregorio Santos, is at the head of efforts to have Conga halted. He has issued an ordinance, passed by the regional council on December 5, which bans all mining in Cajamarca water source areas. Santos, area mayors, and other protest groups fighting Conga have rejected the central government’s international study as just another means of justifying the mine, citing two independent reports as having found the project flawed and likely to damage the region.
The dispute has centered on whether the Newmont Corporation’s environmental impact report accurately assessed the impacts of the mine on surface and underground water sources.
Conga Environmental Impact Report Slammed
Soon after protests broke out in November, members of the Environmental Ministry pulled Newmont’s environmental impact statement from the pile and reviewed it—the impact report had been submitted in January 2010 and approved in October 2010 by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. This was a faster timeline than the usual two-and-a-half years for most impact statements.
The review of the environmental impact report was carried out by Assistant Environmental Minister Jose de Echave, who had joined the new government after working for the environmental non-governmental organization COOPACCION. The analysis termed Newmont’s environmental report highly “subjective” and called for further study. The Conga environmental report said the impact of the project would be “very low to moderate,” but the review said that the size of the project, its location at the head of a water basin, and the fragile ecosystem make it “very unlikely that the environmental impact could be classified in the range of very low to moderate.”
A study released in March by the non-governmental organization GRUFIDES and the University of Cajamarca, which was prepared by American Geologist Robert E. Moran, went even farther in criticizing the Conga Environmental Impact report.
“The Conga EIA (Environmental Impact Report) is a surprisingly poor and disingenuous document given the scale of the investment—$4.8 Billion—and the involvement of several major corporations,” Moran said. Moran stressed that the report failed to provide technical information necessary for the public and regulators to make adequately informed decisions. “In many ways,” Moran said, “it is an insult to the public and regulators.”
The government dismissed Moran’s report as politicized. Newmont Regional Vice President for South America, Carlos Santa Cruz, said at a recent press conference that the company would expend its “last drop of sweat” to put the mine into operation. Newmont contends its design will produce more water for agriculture than the existing natural lakes. It said it has consulted 13,000 Cajamarca residents regarding the project. It defends its environmental report as meeting the government’s requirements.
Those opposing the mine are confident that the Moran and De Echave reports prove Conga is not viable. As the date of release of the government’s study approached, Cajamarca mobilized new protests. At the March 9 protest in Cajamarca. Santos told the crowd that the president’s conservative policies had let down those who had backed his original political project. “Because now that he has given himself over into the arms of the Right, Ollanta Humala is doing very well in the polls. Now he has 80 percent support in Miraflores, in San Borja,” Santos said, mentioning Lima’s rich neighborhoods.
Valdes has called the protesters “pseudo environmentalists” and the central government is challenging Cajamarca’s regional ordinance before Peru’s Constitutional Court. It has sent a team of prosecutors to investigate the finances of the regional government hoping to prove that Santos used government funds to finance recent protests.
Avoiding a serious confrontation over Conga will not be easy. “If Conga goes ahead no matter what, it’s going to require that the national government impose it with force through the military,” Sanchez said. “There won’t be any other way. Because the population of Cajamarca will go into the streets and reject the project. The position of Cajamarca is clear, the mobilizations have clearly been against this project. Conga really doesn’t have social support. It may have approval on paper, but it doesn’t have social approval.”
Ronald J. Morgan is a journalist.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
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MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
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MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
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Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
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LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
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CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
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LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
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CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
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ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
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LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
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WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
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SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
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WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.