The Puno Department is a high plateau region of southeastern Peru, nestled on the shores of Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian border. The people of this region are primarily indigenous Quechua and Aymara people who rely on a chiefly agricultural lifestyle based on quinoa, potatoes and alpacas. The region is also incredibly rich in mineral resources. Many land concessions have been made by the Peruvian government to international mining companies to extract these minerals. Between 2002 and 2010, the amount of concessions increased by 279% in the Puno department.
In April 2006, the United States and Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which they planned to implement on 1 February 2009. The United States required that Peru make certain regulatory changes in law to allow access to the Amazon rainforest before implementing the FTA. In late 2006, President Alan García passed Law 840, known as the “Law of the Jungle,” which undermined the collective property rights of indigenous groups by giving land concessions to foreign investors.
In February 2010, U.S.-based Newmont Mining Company proposed a joint venture with the Peruvian company Mina Buenaventura to build the Conga mine, a new gold mine, in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Newmont proposed investing $4.8 billion in the project, the largest investment in Peru’s history, and the mine would become the second largest gold mine in the world. Newmont hoped to begin production in either 2014 or 2015, upon getting permission from the Peruvian government. Newmont submitted an environmental impact study for the Conga mine, which the Peruvian government approved.
On 29 September 2011 about 1,200 miners at Freeport’s Cerro Verde mining site began a 75-day strike. The participants were scheduled to walk off their jobs at 8:30 am Eastern Time. At midnight on the same day, 8,000 miners at Freeport’s Grasberg mine planned to begin a one month strike. The workers at both of these mines were part of the same miners union, all working towards the same goals.
The strikes began after wage talk attempts had failed. The union’s general secretary said, “Freeport’s offer was insufficient. There was no chance of reaching an agreement”.
Male textile factory workers at El Inca factory in Lima, Peru walked off the job in December of 1918 to protest the effects of a law that enacted an eight-hour workday requirement for women and children. The law was intended to protect the rights of children and particularly women laborers, but instead dissolved the set-up within the factories, slowing production and preventing the remaining male workers from meeting their quotas.
Today Villa El Salvador is a squatting community on the Southern outskirts of Lima, Peru, and is home to about 400,000 people. The shantytown, which was born of a small land invasion in 1971, has been recognized internationally as the largest continuously squatted area in the world.
Alberto Fujimori took office in 1990. Soon Fujimori engaged in a brutal crusade using anti-human rights measures to attempt to break down terrorist groups (Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement). And on April 5, 1992, Peruvians witnessed how their president, Alberto Fujimori, with the aid of armored tanks on the streets, unconstitutionally dissolved the Congress of the Republic. Nevertheless, 80 percent of the population still backed the president after the auto-golpe (self-coup).