Supreme Court of Peru Clears Máxima Acuña of all Criminal Charges

May 9, 2017

“Peru’s highest court has ruled in favor of 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizewinner Máxima Acuña. On Wednesday, May 3rd, the Supreme Court of Peru ruled that the case against Ms. Acuña was unfounded and absolved her of all charges. The Supreme Court’s decision comes after six long years of legal battles and reaffirms a previous ruling from an appeals court in favor of Ms. Acuña.

In 2011, Minera Yanacocha (a joint venture of Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corporation and Peruvian mining company Buenaventura) had sued Acuña and her family in a provincial court, which found them guilty of allegedly squatting on their own land. Acuña was sentenced to a prison term of almost three years, and fined nearly $2,000. Acuña appealed the ruling and in December 2014 the Cajamarca regional courts ruled in her favor. Yanacocha had then taken the case to Peru’s Supreme Court.

During these past several years, Ms. Acuña has faced all manners of intimidation and harassment. She has been beaten and threatened, and had her property destroyed. The mining company has built a fence around Ms. Acuña’s land, restricting her ability to move about freely. They have destroyed her potato crops, and maintain a close watch on her property to prevent her from continuing to grow food for herself and her family.

As a result of Ms. Acuña’s courage and persistence, the Conga mine has been kept off of her land and no mining has occurred in the area around Laguna Azul, a freshwater lake near Ms. Acuña’s property that provides drinking and irrigation water for numerous downstream communities.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, we urge Minera Yanacocha to withdraw all security personnel from the area and cease any legal action against Ms. Acuña or the Chaupe family. Please allow Ms. Acuña and her family to return to the peaceful life they wish to live on their land.”

Susan R. Gelman, President of the Goldman Environmental Foundation.