What Does the Brutal Crackdown on Protestors in Peru Have to Do With the World Bank Meetings in Lima Next Week?

by Carla Garcia Zendejas on July 20, 2016

Originally posted at the Center for International Environmental Law on September 30, 2015.

Just days before hundreds of world leaders and human rights defenders will convene in Lima, Peru to attend the Annual Meetings of the World Bank, the world is watching the country as a violent confrontation with police over a copper mining project in the Apurimac region has left at least 4 protestors dead and dozens injured. Police allegedly used tear gas and fired shots upon a crowd of 300. In response, the Peruvian state has declared a 60-day state of emergency in 6 provinces that have been actively protesting against changes in an environmental impact assessment and construction of mining infrastructure in their region. This order means the military is in charge of security in the region and civil liberties are suspended, including the rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, and protection from warrantless searches.

As stated by most development banks, their goal is to eradicate poverty and offer opportunities for community development. Yet social conflict and violent crackdowns by security forcesare ever more frequent when projects fail to properly involve communities in that development.

The official World Bank/ IMF meetings in Lima next week are meant to offer civil society from around the world an opportunity to engage directly with Bank representatives to advocate for improved transparency, accountability, and remedy for communities who have been harmed by development projects. During these discussions, community leaders are invited to voice the reality of the harms and impacts that development projects sometimes have on their land and wellbeing.

As a way of highlighting the real community impacts of the Bank’s development policies in Lima, regional networks have organized an Alternative Event to highlight the dangers of the current development model and the consequences to people on the ground. During this event CIEL and IAP will present a revamped version of our Early Warning System, a tool that allows communities to learn about the potential impacts of development projects before they are approved and implemented. The Early Warning System has the goal of supporting the work of communities – and the CSOs that support them – to have a say in development projects that directly impact their lives.

While our reasons for attending these meetings in Lima have not changed, the violent confrontation and the deaths of the Peruvian protestors serves as a tragic reminder and a desperate call to action about the critical need for full engagement, acknowledgement, and respect for people’s land, environmental, and human rights.

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