(Ottawa) At about 8:20pm on the night of Friday April 21, MiningWatch Canada’s Latin America Program Coordinator Jen Moore and US journalist John Dougherty were arbitrarily detained in Cusco, Peru after a successful public event screening a documentary film about Hudbay Minerals’ operations in Canada, the US, Guatemala and Peru. The two were surrounded by 15 to 20 national police officers, many in plain clothes, and a handful of migration officers, and taken into custody.
Moore and Dougherty were then questioned about their immigration status and informed that their activities – showing a film and engaging in discussion with people about it – were not permitted under their tourist visas. They were released four hours later with an order to appear in court today to be charged.
“The situation that arose on Friday is not about our immigration status, it is about Hudbay trying to exert control over what information communities living around its Constancia mine have access to. What is Hudbay so afraid that the communities will learn from a film about its global operations?” remarked Moore.
Stigmatization and criminalization of those involved in screening the documentary “Flin Flon Flim Flam” in communities around Hudbay’s Constancia mine, as well as in Cusco and Lima, began well before Jen and John arrived in Cusco on April 15. An anonymous article in a Cusco newspaper accused Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, and Peruvian organizations coordinating the film screenings with local organizations and district authorities of trying to “ambush” Hudbay.
The ambush, however, was against those involved in the film screenings.
From April 17 to 20, while the film was being screened in public events in the province of Chumbivilcas, Peru where Hudbay has its largest mine operation, Dougherty, MiningWatch Canada, and representatives of the Peruvian NGOs Human Rights Without Borders and Cooperacción were constantly filmed by unknown individuals and tracked by police, while community leaders reported being questioned by police and company representatives about the film screenings.
These public events were organised for Dougherty to share the film, which he had produced in part on the basis of interviews with members of the same communities in November 2014, when they were protesting Hudbay’s broken promises and faced violent police repression. Dougherty dubbed the film in Spanish and Quechua in order to be able to give copies of the film to the communities and screen it in the cities of Cusco and Lima.
The arbitrary detention on Friday night followed a screening at the municipal Cultural Centre in Cusco and lasted for four hours. During this time, Moore and Dougherty were asked to make a lengthy declaration about their activities in the country. Given the irregular way in which they were detained and prior evidence that the company and police were seeking evidence to lay criminal charges against them for ‘inciting violence’ by screening the film, they exercised their right to remain silent.
On Saturday, the Peruvian Ministry of the Interior issued a public statement affirming the Peruvian government’s support for Hudbay’s operations and further trying to incriminate Dougherty and Moore with serious accusations of inciting people to violence and of being a threat to public order and national security. The Ministry’s statement tries to link the two to protests in 2016 over Hudbay’s broken commitments regarding social benefits, contractual agreements, and social and environmental issues in the area of the Constancia copper mine.
“I am deeply troubled by the apparent level of coordination between Hudbay, the police and the Peruvian government and the lengths to which they are willing to go to prevent local communities from receiving independent information,” said Moore.
“We know that Hudbay has had contracts with the national police force in Peru to provide security to its area of influence in Cusco, so it’s quite possible that the police could have been acting under company orders or according to their obligations to the company, not to public security,” she added.
“The Canadian government should be calling on the Peruvian Ministry of Interior and Hudbay to account for why a Canadian and US citizen, as well as members of Peruvian human rights and environmental justice organizations and local community leaders, were subject to this sort of surveillance, harassment and criminalization," concluded Moore.
Dougherty and Moore were issued summonses to appear before the migration authority in Cusco on Monday morning. They will challenge this administrative process through their Peruvian legal counsel. On advice of their lawyers and fearing arrest on trumped-up charges, Dougherty and Moore left Peru on Saturday.
The film will be shown at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 25 at CCPUCP, Avenue Camino Real, 1075 San Isidro, Lima. https://www.facebook.com/events/229821817496463/
Contact: Jen Moore, cell (613) 722-0412, [email protected]
The film is available free on Youtube: