On Friday, Peruvian authorities released Gregorio Rojas, the leader of an indigenous community that has blocked roads to a major copper mine for two months. Hours after releasing Rojas from custody, police arrested his second-in-command, claiming he assaulted police.
The release of Gregorio Rojas, the leader of the Quechua-speaking community Fuerabamba, was a key demand of the villagers who cut off access to the copper mine with a blockade, effectively halting exports. A state of emergency has been declared and the government has authorized the use of the military in the region.
The community continues to demand appropriate compensation for massive trucks coming to and from the mine by crossing their farmland. They vow to continue holding blockades until the community’s three lawyers are released from police custody.
Police accused Gregorio Rojas of organized crime and trying to extort the massive copper mine. A week after his arrest, Rojas was freed without charge. The Las Bambas copper mine is operated by MMG, controlled by Chinese state-owned China Minmetals. Las Bambas produces about 440,000 tons of copper every year, roughly 2 percent of the world’s output of the metal.
Fuerabamba was once a herding and farming community and was relocated to make way for the Las Bambas mine earlier this decade. The community has said that MMG has failed to fulfill its commitments to Fuerabamba since opening the mine.
Image: screenshot from video on Twitter