Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And it continues

Last night, due to ongoing pressure and final acceptance from the bosses in Chiclayo, ICPNA decided to close its doors for the safety of students and teachers alike, some of whom had to walk for an hour or more through unsafe streets to arrive there. My walk was half an hour which isn´t bad and we weren´t threatened at any time, luckily I don´t live in one of the dangerous parts of the city. I even went to the main square yesterday and everything was calm, loads of people lying around, the anthem of Cajamarca playing and not much else. Obviously I went to work in jeans, on Monday one of my collegues asked why so many of us weren´t wearing suits and I reminded him that the strikers don´t want anyone working, and walking through the streets with a suit and a laptop case like he was is a bit obvious. Yesterday, he came to work in street clothes, haha. So now, I have no idea what to do, I mean I could study and prepare classes etc for Saturday but really I want to work and go to my classes, how frustrating. So far today, only one group of protesters has passed our house. They were shouting that the president is gay. I think that should give you an idea of the kind of ignorance we are talking about. And they want Humala (the president) to come here. As if he would come, they´d probably kill him!
Somebody called César with a job, so he has gone to work. I told him to be careful.
Meat has become scarce, and if you find it the price is ridiculous!
César went exploring yesterday to see what was happening while I was working. He found that at one of the exits to the city, some of the protesters had offered to let people leave for a small fee. Some of the other protesters found out and came and forced everybody out of their cars. He says there is a line of about 20 cars with smashed windsreens and punctured tires. This is not on the news. The news claims that the protest is passive, except for the fire in Celendin yesterday and the few people who were rushed to hospital as a result of a confrontation at one of the lakes.
The army has arrived in Cajamarca.
The mine was using ambulances to deliver food to its workers. Now, the protesters have found out and are stopping all ambulances to check inside.
The mine has temporarily suspended the Conga Project, much to the dismay of many of my geologist friends who work there, one of whom just bought a new car and owes $15,000 on it. Whoops.
The protesters say temporarily is not enough, they want it cancelled for ever.
And so, the strike continues. There is no work. Food is running out, and tempers flare.
The issue is very delicate. While nobody denies that water is important, there are ways to go about expressing your voice. I might add, that one of the leaders of the protest is an ex-convicted terrorist. Stealing from the shopping mall, which is now closed and forcing working people to join the strike, and acts of violence are not some of them.
Meanwhile, the usually exquisite main square is being trampled on by thousands of feet.
If the mine goes, thousands of people will be without work. And massive job loss causes poverty, which in turn causes crime. Like it or not, Cajamarca is MINE DEPENDENT. Yes, we need to protect the water. Yes, we need to find ways to treat it, make artificial lakes and yes, the mine must invert hugely in the community. But do these people really understand what would happen to Cajamarca if the mine should disappear? Of that, I am not sure.
Meanwhile, every day the province of Cajamarca loses millions of dollars. Children miss their classes, and adults can´t work.

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