Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima has called for both sides involved in conflict over the construction of Peru’s largest mine to cease protest and reach an agreement through dialogue.
Protests against the Conga Mine in the region of Cajamarca began on June 26 and resulted in violent clashes between protestors and police, leaving five people dead and nearly twenty wounded.
Former Catholic priest Marco Arana, along with the governor of Cajamarca, Gregorio Santos, have led the demonstrations.
During his radio program Dialogue of Faith, Cardinal Cipriani praised Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo for his work “to seek out the truth and the dignity of the human person. I hope we can see some light after these very difficult days,” he said.
Archbishop Cabrejos has been named a mediator in the efforts to establish talks between both sides in the conflict.
“I think dialogue is needed to establish order and we need to pray to God to enlighten both sides. Let’s not make an experiment out of this that dialogue is the last word. No, the last word is truth, justice, the common good and bringing wellbeing to many people who are poverty,” Cardinal Cipriani said.
He noted that the Church teaches that democracy must be based upon values and norms that are beyond the reach of any discussions or authority.
“The rule of law, the dignity of persons and the respect for public order are above everything else. They are rights and duties that are not up for debate in any talks because they are inherent to the person,” he said.
“It is impossible to achieve peace without the truth. Personally, I see the conflict as very difficult and complex and I don’t think it’s a question of saying, ‘I hope they are lucky’; but rather it’s about saying, ‘I hope the rule of law and the respect for the law take root in our country’,” the cardinal added.
He said local officials in Cajamarca have been unjust and disrespectful of others in their approach to the conflict.
“This method that the people of Cajamarca are using is one of violence and destruction that is very familiar in our country. We need to wake up to reality and to the truth; we need to open the way to dialogue but without blackmail.”
The claim that the State does not want to listen to them “is a well planned lie,” the cardinal continued. “There are interests here not just between the two sides. I think there are many NGOs from overseas that are harming the country, and this has yet to be clarified. I think there are a number of companies that don’t what the company that is there now to the one to exploit these resources,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani said he agreed with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s criticism and indignation towards those who are using the deaths of protestors and police officers to make political statements.
“I would say first, prayer; second, the truth; third, use a little bit more wisdom and common sense. But let’s not play with the country, let’s not play with poverty, let’s not play with the dead,” he added.
“The State has the duty to establish order. All dialogue is welcome, but dialogue is not an end, it is a means. We need to reach an end, which is the truth, peace and the development of the country,” the cardinal said.