LIMA – Peru’s government on Wednesday authorized the intervention of the military to support police in the mining town of La Oroya, some 185 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Lima, where one person has been killed in clashes between protesters and authorities.
The Interior Ministry gave approval to a one-month deployment of military forces in the province of Yauli, whose capital is La Oroya, to “secure control and the maintenance of internal order.”
The ministry said the role of the armed forces will be to support police, who retain responsibility for law enforcement in the province.
On Wednesday, residents of La Oroya continued blocking the Central Highway, a key national route, while a delegation of town representatives arrived in Lima to meet with officials of the national government.
One person was killed and 63 others injured Tuesday when protesters clashed with police who tried to clear the road.
La Oroya residents began a general strike after the failed auction of a metallurgical complex formerly operated by Doe Run Peru, a unit of the U.S.-based Renco Group.
The Doe Run smelting and refining complex in La Oroya was shuttered in 2009 due to the company’s financial woes and its failure to comply with environmental clean-up requirements.
In April 2012, Doe Run Peru was declared by its creditors in a process of “operational liquidation,” which meant that while they would not approve the company’s restructuring plan, they would allow the company to continue production pending a final resolution.
The community had hoped that the auction of Doe Run’s assets, including the complex in La Oroya and the Cobriza mine in the neighboring region of Huancavelica, would lead to a revival of the mining and processing operation.
Protesters in La Oroya want the Peruvian government to issue an emergency executive order extending labor protection to the miners and metalworkers left unemployed by the shutdown of Doe Run’s operation.