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Peru: Preparing for the Great Water March

As part of the protests against the Conga mining project in Cajamarca, which could affect headwaters and lakes, a national movement of protest and awareness-raising named “The Great Water March” has been established. The promoters explain [es] on their Facebook page:

La Marcha del Agua partirá de las lagunas de Cajamarca el día 1ro. de febrero y llegará al Lima el jueves 09 de febrero y el día sábado 11 culminará en Lima con la instalación del Foro Nacional de Justicia Hídrica, en el cual se debatirá pública y programáticamente la problemática del agua y las propuestas de leyes y políticas que se impulsarán en adelante.

[...]

Un país más justo, fraterno y solidario se ha puesto en marcha, la defensa del agua y la Pachamama los convoca, los inspira, los une. Bienvenidos a la GRAN MARCHA NACIONAL DEL AGUA, sean cada uno y una de Uds. parte de los pequeños manantiales y riachuelos que alimenten el gran río que nos da la vida y nos devuelve la esperanza.

Let's be a river. National March for Water.

Let's be a river. National March for Water.

The Great Water March will depart from the Cajamarca lakes on 1st February and will arrive in Lima on Thursday 9th February, culminating on Saturday 11th February with the installation of the National Forum of Water Justice, in which the issue of water and the legal bills and policies which are being pushed forward will be debated publically and systematically.

[...]

A fairer country with greater brotherhood and solidarity is coming, the defence of the water and of Mother Earth calls us together, inspires us and unites us. Welcome to the GREAT NATIONAL WATER MARCH, may each and every one of you form part of the tiny springs and streams which feed the great river which gives us life and gives us hope.

But as the organisers themselves have warned, this march has been branded political [es] and radical [es] by spokespeople from various sectors. Confusion occurred when the coordinator of the March, Irma Pflucker, was detained by the police [es] on the pretext of possession of fake currency (read here Irma's own version [es] of events).

There have also been counter-actions, with leaflets being delivered [es] to houses in Cajamarca warning recipients that Marco Arana, general coordinator of the National Water March and Wilfredo Saavedra, president of the Cajamarca Environmental Defence Front will be profiting from the money donated to fund the March.

One event which has gone somewhat unnoticed is the declaration [es] made by the Governor of Cajamarca, Ever Hernández, who has said that it is the responsibility of his office to provide guarantees for the march, but that since these have not been solicited by the organisers, the latter will be responsible for any act of violence or public disorder which occurs. On this matter, the organisers have  stated [es] that they will be vigilant and make sure that the march is not infiltrated by troublemakers.

Meanwhile, support for the march has been growing in recent days and participants from Loreto [es], Arequipa [es], Ancash [es] and Puno [es], among others, have been confirmed. It is estimated that around 500 people will initiate [es] the March from Cajamarca on February 1, and that by the time the march reaches Lima on February 11, some 5,000 people [es] will have joined from different regions of Peru.

Various blogs have been set up to promote the numerous activities which will be taking place all over the country as part of the Water March, such as Marcha Nacional del Agua 2012 [es] (“National Water March 2012″) and Seamos un río (“Let us be a River”), where the  “ITINERARY – ACTIVITIES OF THE NATIONAL WATER MARCH” [es] has been posted. The blog Arequipa marcha por el agua (“Arequipa marches for water”) has published the “Itinerary of events in Arequipa for the Great National March for Water and Life ” [es], as well as this illustration:

For water and life! "Water is a treasure, that is worth more than gold"

For water and life! "Water is a treasure, that is worth more than gold"

The blog “El Maletero” “Red Verde Cajamarca” reported [es] on the press conference held in Cajamarca announcing the start of the Water March. It has also previously posted this poster from the call to mobilise in support of the march held in Iquitos, Loreto:

Mobilization for water and life, this February 1 Iquitos roars for water.

Mobilization for water and life, this February 1 Iquitos roars for water.

The blog of the Cajamarca Environmental Defence Front shares [es] the support which the organisation has shown to the organisers of the activities relating to the March in the La Libertad region. Amongst other issues, it mentions the areas in the region which are experiencing water problems as a result of mining activity:

La participación mayoritaria para la gran marcha será de la población de las comunidades afectadas por los proyectos mineros en el ande liberteño, organizados en nuestras rondas campesinas de Santiago de Chuco, Huamachuco, Pataz y Otuzco. La lucha emblemática es contra el proyecto minero de exploración las lagunas sur de la empresa minera Barrick, que afecta a las lagunas: Los Ángeles, El Toro y Verdes; que son cabecera de cuenca de los ríos Santa, Chicama y Marañón. Así como subcuencas de los ríos Chuyugual (Sánchez Carrión), Caballo Moro (Santiago de Chuco) y Perejil (Otuzco), es en las comunidades afectadas de este proyecto minero donde se ha realizado un trabajo de bases, y de donde esperamos la mayor movilización de masas.

The majority of those participating in the great march will be inhabitants of the communities affected by mining projects in the Libertad region of the Andes, mobilised during our rural patrols in Santiago de Chuco, Huamachuco, Pataz and Otuzco. The symbolic fight is against the project established by the mining company Barrick to exploit the southern lakes, more specifically Los Ángeles, El Toro and Verdes, which provide the source of the Santa, Chicama and Marañón rivers, as well as the sub-basin of the rivers Chuyugual (Sánchez Carrión), Caballo Moro (Santiago de Chuco) and Perejil (Otuzco). It is in the communities affected by this project where the groundwork has been carried out and from which we expect the greatest mass mobilisation.

Chungo and Batán publish [es] a video containing photos relating to the Water March, and Sin Patrones shows a video [es] with the declarations of specialists José de Echave and Carlos Monge on the importance of the fight to defend water made during a press conference held in Cajamarca. In turn, Punto de Vista y Propuesta posts [es] several “carnivalesque couplets” on the National March for Water and Life.

Finally, Servindi uploaded [es] a poster relating to the parade which is being held in Lima to celebrate the departure of the Water March in Cajamarca.

March for Water, Let's be a river!

March for Water, Let's be a river!

Post originally published on the personal blog of Juan Arellano on January 31, 2012 [es].

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