Gerardo Damonte Valencia
Gerardo Damonte Valencia is Senior Researcher at the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE) in Peru and teaches at the Department of Political Sciences at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Damonte obtained a MA and a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University. He carries out research in the field of natural resources and leads projects in three interrelated fields: extractive industries and rural society, local knowledge and climate change, and territories and social movements. The geographical focus of his work is Latin America, and in particular the Central Andes region. Among his publications are ‘The Constitution of Political Actors: Peasant Communities and Mobilization in Bolivian and Peruvian Andes’ (2008) and various articles on the social impacts of extractive development in the Andes.
The Peruvian region Madre de Dios is the scene of an enduring dispute between small-scale miners and the authorities over the use of land. In an attempt to formalize the small-scale mining sector, the Peruvian government has declared all small-scale mining in the protected non-mining areas illegal. While the plan is aimed at countering the environmental impact of illegal mining, the miners perceive the plan as a threat to their livelihoods and as violating earlier land agreements. Negotiations between the authorities and the small-scale miners have not produced a way out of the current impasse. This is largely due to the plan being given a low priority by the central government, as well as a failure to acknowledge the complex social dynamics that rule the remote Amazonian region.