LIMA May 4 A key Peruvian official tasked with
implementing a law to give indigenous groups more rights has
resigned to protest efforts by President Ollanta Humala's
cabinet to roll back the law to protect mining investments.
Deputy Culture Minister Ivan Lanegra, who confirmed his
resignation on Saturday on Twitter, was upset the government
decided to exclude Quechua-speaking communities in the
mineral-rich Andes from being covered by Peru's "prior
consultation law," a number of sources told Reuters.
That law gives indigenous communities the right to shape
natural resource developments that affect them, but does not
allow them to veto projects.
Still, mining companies in one of the world's top minerals
exporters were worried the law would slow new projects by making
community approvals more difficult.
Reuters reported in an exclusive on May 1 that Mines and
Energy Minister Jorge Merino had persuaded Humala to keep
Quechua communities from being covered by the law, because
Merino feared its broad application in the Andes would hold up a
$50 billion pipeline of mining investments.
Foreign investment in mining has traditionally powered
Peru's fast-growing economy.
Merino has argued that Quechua communities in the Andes are
not "indigenous" but instead "peasant" because they mixed with
Spanish colonizers centuries ago, often have formal town
assemblies, and are less isolated than Amazon tribes.
Humala has made comments echoing Merino's position.
It is unclear whether Lanegra's resignation will further
delay the application of the law in the Amazon, where it is
still expected to cover tribes near Peru's oil and gas reserves.
"I am grateful for the honor to have served my country and
led such a challenging process that has only seen its first
chapter," Lanegra said on Twitter.
Humala had touted the prior consultation law as a salve to
widespread and sometimes violent conflicts over mining and
energy projects in Peru. Many communities have organized to hold
up projects that they say could reduce scarce water supplies,
cause pollution or fail to generate sufficient jobs and tax
When he signed the law in 2011, Humala listed the Quechua as
one of the indigenous groups that would be covered by the law to
"build a great republic that respects all its nationalities."
(Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Terry Wade and Vicki Allen)