From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Harassment of Peruvian anti-hunger network

Date 31 Jan 2003 07:50:35 -0500

Note #7575 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Harassment of Peruvian anti-hunger network escalates
January 29, 2003

Harassment of Peruvian anti-hunger network escalates

Presbyterian Hunger Program-related office is broken into

by Jerry L. Van Marter 
and Elinor Stock, Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery

LIMA - A Jan. 6 break-in at the offices of the Joining Hands Against Hunger
(JHAH) Network of Peru - made up of churches, non-governmental organizations,
and grass-roots community groups with close ties to the Presbyterian Hunger
Program - has raised fears among network members and their PC(USA) partners
in Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery.

	The break-in - and reports of harassment of network activists and
supporters - come as the network is achieving success at calling attention to
the extreme pollution of air, ground water and soil in La Oroya by Doe Run, a
Missouri-based mining company. Research indicates that at least 90% of La
Oroya's children are lead-poisoned.

	"We believe this crime to be part of a series of reprisals,
intimidation, and veiled threats which our institution has received, as have
other institutions committed to defending the health and environment of the
population of La Oroya," said PC(USA) mission co-worker Hunter Farrell, who
helps facilitate the network.

	The network's computers and computer files were taken in the robbery,
which police said was suspicious because numerous other valuable items were
left behind.

	According to Peruvian Network Coordinator and human rights lawyer
Jose Regalado, "This robbery occurs precisely at a time when the campaign,
organized by our network and the Movement for the Health of La Oroya were
succeeding in forcing Doe Run Company to take more seriously the impact of
their refinery's illegal and excessive air pollution on the children and
pregnant mothers of La Oroya."

	JHAH and local citizens have been investigating and documenting the
urgent need for medical attention of lead-poisoned children in La Oroya, and
has been pressuring the Peruvian government to declare La Oroya a "Health
Emergency Zone."  

	In November, a JHAH partner group from Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery
(in whose bounds Doe Run is headquartered), traveled to Peru to help press
the case against Doe Run. (see related story,

	On the heels of such exposure, a coalition of environmnetal, labor
and human rights

Groups named the Doe Run Company in a scathing report last week that
highlighted the environmental and social abuse at the hands of several
international corporations.  The report, entitled "International Right to
Know: Empowering Communities Through Corportate Transparency," calls for
disclosure standards that would hold U.S. companies accountable overseas.

	The coalition includes such organizations as the AFL-CIO, Amnesty
International, EarthRights International, Friends of the Earth, Global
Exchange, Oxfam America and the Sierra Club. 

	JHAH network leaders are undeterred. "We will not cease in our
struggle to denounce the levels of environmental contamination in La Oroya as
a result of the work of mining companies there, particularly the Doe Run-Peru
Company," Regalado said. "We will continue to accompany the population in the
defense of its right to a clean and safe environment and a decent quality of

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