Peru: Government signs Cajamarca water contract
Cajamarca water contract signed; sexual blackmail incidence increased; international criticism of president Humala
Water contract signed in Cajamarca
More than 65 regional mayors from the Cajamarca region gathered this week to meet the Peruvian president Ollanta Humala in regards of the promised clean water supply.
The threat of limited water supply, an issue provoked by the proposal of the Conga gold mine, has been debated for some months now however, it was not until last week that the government made an official promise to tackle the problem.
In addition to last week’s proposal of the Yanacocha utilities company as the named body to deal with the regional water supply once the Conga mine was commenced, this week saw contracts signed.
Thirty separate agreements were signed by the government on June 29, including ones that outlined the execution of water works, public sanitation and improved pedestrian transport links.
The minister of construction and sanitation, René Cornejo, confirmed that 67 million new soles (£16,029,788) are to be invested in this work. These recent agreements are only part of the government’s investment plan in the Cajamarca region.
Despite recent unrest in the region as a result of fears over the construction of the Conga mine and its potential negative impact on the environment and local community, mayor of the region, Ramiro Bardales, thanked the central government for its concern.
The mayor of Celendín, Mauro Arteaga García, has also declared his appreciation and faith in the new upcoming era of ‘responsible’ mining. Arteaga hopes that the combination of government and mining company investment will revive the area and reduce the currently high poverty rates.
Many residents are however unhappy with the fact that the Conga mine has received the green light. Yet due to what the government has termed ‘an open dialogue’, the state of emergency has been lifted.
Sexual blackmail and technological kidnap
Experts from Divinsec, the División de Secuestros y Extorsiones (Department of Extortion and Kidnap) released an alarming report this week, which has stirred the country, provoking much commentary and concern.
Divinsec revealed that the number of cases of sexual abuse, blackmail and kidnap has increased significantly since more Peruvians have mobile phones with internet access. It is alleged that due to advances in technology, it is easier for people to be scammed not only of money but also of their dignity.
The report revealed two common means of abuse as a result of modern phone technology. The first is of a more sexual nature, where intimate footage of couples is exposed (or at least threatened to be) to a significant third party. In order to prevent this from occurring, the victim is often obliged to either pay money into the blackmailer’s account or carry out sexual favours. A shocking 365 cases have been reported this year alone.
The ‘República’ newspaper published a selection of testimonies elaborating on such cases. It revealed that many women were compelled to pay for hotels where they were pressurised to sleep with ex-partners or men who had hacked into their phones.
The second means of abuse is more financial. It involves phone and internet accounts being hacked into in order to convince family members that one of the family have been taken hostage. By obtaining details of the family, it is possible for hackers to phone their victim and persuade them to pay out large sums of money in order to release their loved ones, who often are perfectly safe.
This is made possible by targeting families who have members working in distant cities or overseas. One reported case revealed that the hacker went as far as to throw burning parcels into a privileged household in Lima when payments were not forthcoming.
Víctor Gonzales Silva of Divinsec and police officials have recommended that people should report any unusual phone calls immediately and not take any action until the authorities have been informed. If it is possible to acquire the phone number of the blackmailer, this too should be given to the police so as to track it.
This abuse of technology to acquire personal information has become a prolific problem in Peru over the last year, especially in Lima and Callao, where most of the population have mobile phones. It has also been recommended that people step up the security measures on their internet and social networking accounts so as to avoid such problems.
The Economist criticises president Humala
‘The Economist’ has pronounced that Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, despite being the champion of last year’s general election is now having to deal with the consequences of his actions- ‘a frustrating prospect’.
The journal proclaimed that the main problems faced by the president related to the extractive industries. It emphasised the Conga mining project and Espinar in particular. The damaging strikes, protests and eight related deaths were all described and analysed in terms of the president’s campaign promises of social justice.
The report showed that only twenty of Humala’s proposed projects would consume 85 per cent of the nation’s available budget. Eleven out of these twenty projects have caused social conflict. The article raised concerns as to where the country is heading.
In no flattering terms the article concluded that: ‘it appears that the president has little idea of how to avoid social conflict or how to resolve them once they occur’. This article appears at a time when the president’s popularity ratings have dropped radically in accordance to Ipsos Mori reports.