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Peruvian police officers stand guard in a recovered area deforested by illegal gold mining in the Madre de Dios province of Peru, Feb. 19, 2019 (pool photo by Cris Bouroncle via AP Images).

Peru’s Militarized Response to Illegal Mining Isn’t Enough to Protect the Amazon

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Peruvian authorities are touting an aggressive new military-led effort aimed at eliminating widespread illegal gold mining activities, which have caused massive deforestation and pollution in the fragile Amazon rainforest. But this kind of militarized environmental management could further complicate an already messy situation in Peru.

On March 5, senior Peruvian defense officials inaugurated the first of four new military bases near the remote Tambopata National Reserve—part of their new campaign, codenamed Operation Mercurio, or Mercury, focused on restoring order and eliminating illegal mining in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios, the epicenter of illegal gold mining in Peru. President Martin Vizcarra also declared a 60-day state of emergency in the region to coincide with the operation. The authorities will be empowered to aggressively pursue suspected illegal gold miners and their support network. During the state of emergency, basic constitutional rights are suspended, including most civil liberties and restrictions on freedom of movement. ...

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