Prize for Maxima Acuna de Chaupe

24 April 2016

The Peruvian farmer and grassroots leader, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, was one of six people honoured this week with the world’s most prestigious prize for environmental activism, the Goldman Environmental Prize for 2016. The other winners came from across the world: Cambodia, Czechoslovakia, Puerto Rico, Tanzania and the USA. She is the third Peruvian to receive the award, which was established in 1989. It is notable that all three are women.

Máxima has been leading the local community in Cajamarca for years in its opposition to the Conga mine, owned by Newmont. Mine construction was halted in 2011 following huge protests, but the company continued pressure to gain control of the terrain it needs to take the project forward, and there have been numerous instances of violence. In 2014 Máxima was finally able to prove her ownership of the land the company was trying to control in order to carry out its planned mine development.

The NGO Earthworks notes that after much resistance and a massive mobilisation of international support for the communities, Newmont announced (before the prize was made known) that “under the current social and political environment, the Company does not anticipate being able to develop Conga for the foreseeable future.” In the company filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the deposit is no longer listed. See https://www.earthworksaction.org/media/detail/
peruvian_farmer_wins_2016_goldman_environmental_prize_for_fighting_worlds_2#.VxnjG4-cGUk
.

Máxima is happy with the outcome. She is quoted as saying: "...our way of life, and the clean water we need to sustain it, is more important to us than Newmont’s new gold mine ever could be. We know from Newmont’s Yanacocha mine that, no matter what their promises, we can’t have both the mine and our way of life.”

Máxima travelled to San Francisco to receive the prize in the company of her daughter and grandson, and the lawyer working for the NGO Grufides, Mirtha Vásquez. Grufides has given Máxima support throughout. http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/760843-maxima-acuna-recibe-el-premio-goldman-por-defensa-del-ambiente

Two important events have thus come together and will have an impact on key issues for Peruvian communities and the development of mining. However, it appears that neither the lawsuits threatening the community nor the security presence in the area have ceased, so this should in no way be seen as the end of the story.

And as a poignant final note: one of last year’s winners was Berta Cáceres, the Honduran human rights activist. She was assassinated in March of this year.

All news

  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

  • Why join the PSG?

    • Keep up to date with latest news and developments in Peru
    • Learn about key issues of poverty, development and human rights in Peru
    • Support the work of the Peru Support Group

    Become a member