Protestors lift blockades and Puno begins to normalize

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Originally published June 27, 2011

Thousands of anti-mining protesters lifted their blockades in the department of Puno, following protests that left five people dead and led the government to announce new measures to prevent the exploitation of natural resources.

The rules adopted over the weekend – which include the revocation of a mining concession held by Canadian company Bear Creek Mining – require private firms to consult with indigenous groups in the south of Puno, near the border with Bolivia, before building new mines or oil projects.

Humala told Reuters that mining concessions generate 70 percent of social conflicts in Peru and urged the government to solve the issues now rather than wait for his administration.

"I hope the government or persons responsible for the President of the Republic are working to prevent the continuation of these conditions of social upheaval that do not help anyone," Humala told reporters Monday.

Puno has been the scene of violent protests in recent months, with roadblocks and the burning of vehicles and buildings both public and private against the development of mining and energy projects, alleging that they harm the environment.

The demonstrations were suspended Monday.

Rufino Machaca, one of the main leaders in the area, told Reuters that things are returning to normal and the roads are being opened again.

On Friday, at least five people were killed and dozens injured after a clash between police and protesters when they took over the airport in Juliaca to protest river pollution caused by artisanal mining.

In an attempt to calm the situation, the government issued a decree promising to clean up that river.

Peru, the second largest producer of copper and silver and sixth in gold, is a major supplier of minerals to global markets. These remittances represent about 60 percent of the nation’s exports.

The country is home to vast reserves of minerals and oil that could attract investments of about billion in the next decade, reports >Gestión.

Thousands of anti-mining protesters lifted their blockades in the department of Puno.

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