Standing in front of Newmont's Conga gold mine

rondos conga mine goldReuters profiles rural Peruvians who are fighting against Newmont Mining's US$5 billion gold mine in the northern region of Cajamarca.

The locals are forming bands of ronderos, Spanish for "people who make the rounds".

Operating according to Andean customs, the squads act as a de facto judicial system in places where public institutions are weak and policing is scant. They have become potent political players in remote provinces, weighing in on disputes over natural resources and causing headaches for the central government.

"The government doesn't represent us anymore," Cesar Angel, a member of one of the squads, said last week at a rally against the mine near Lake Perol, one of several Andean lakes that would be displaced to mine ore. "But we're strong and will fight this until death."

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Image by David

Correction: The writer confused "Newcrest" and "Newmont" in the body of the piece. The Conga project is being driven by Newmont Mining. The story has been corrected. We regret the error.