Peru: Campesina leader Maxima Acuña wins Goldman Environmental Prize; she had opposed mining firms including Newmont & Buenaventura taking over her community's lands

Author: Goldman Prize, Published on: 21 April 2016

A subsistence farmer in Peru’s northern highlands, Máxima Acuña stood up for her right to peacefully live off her own property, a plot of land sought by Newmont and Buenaventura Mining to develop the Conga gold and copper mine…Over the past two decades, the mining industry in Peru has been growing at breakneck speed. With promises of jobs and economic prosperity, the Peruvian government awarded mining licenses across the country. Despite these promises, rural campesinos…largely continue to live in poverty. In many communities, mining waste has polluted the local waterways, affecting local people’s drinking water and irrigation needs…In 1994, Máxima Acuña and her husband bought a plot of land in a remote corner of Peru’s northern highlands known as Tragadero Grande. They built a small house on the property and lived a peaceful life raising their children…One day in 2011, the mining company came to the Acuñas’ door, demanding that she leave her land. When Acuña refused, she was met with brutality. Armed forces came and destroyed her house and possessions, and beat her and one of her daughters unconscious…The persecution continued. The company sued the family in a provincial court, which found them guilty of illegally squatting on their own land. Acuña was sentenced to a suspended prison term of almost three years, and fined [with] a huge sum for a subsistence farmer in Peru…

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Related companies: Compañia de Minas Buenaventura Minas Conga (joint venture Buenaventura & Newmont) Minera Yanacocha (joint venture Newmont, Sumitomo & Compañía de Minas Buenaventura) Newmont Goldcorp