I arrived to Madre de Dios on July 1st. The same day the illegal and informal miners started a strike against a recent decree declared by the state (DL-1100), which ordered the process of formalization of the illegal extractivism and established a list of requirements for that formalization. According to the miners, those requirements were impossible to fulfill, and the state was just trying to declare their activity as a crime. According to the state, the miners were not respecting the law and had no will to formalize their activities. Until today, they have not reached an agreement.
Certainly, the strike altered my plans in the region and limited my access to the area where my research was taking place. There was a constant threat of blocking the Interoceánica highway, a corridor that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. The Interoceánica is nowadays the only route of access to Madre de Dios. And, therefore, the one used for trafficking women from nearby provinces, especially Puno, Cusco and Abancay.
Since the strike limited my access to the area I wanted to visit, I stayed in the capital of Madre de Dios, Puerto Maldonado, and interviewed everybody involved in the crime of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and mining: the president of the Supreme Court, the district attorney, the public defender; I went to the local prison and interviewed one of the interns for that crime, NGOs, priests, the president of the illegal miners, among others.
The topic is very sensitive in the area, and all of my sources gave me a new point of view and shared very personal stories about how human trafficking and the extractivism has changed the relationships and customs in MDD. But despite their different perspectives, most of them agreed in one point. When asked who the main responsible for the lack of control of human trafficking in the area was, they said the state and corruption, present in every layer of the human trade route.
Posted by Rosario Yori – MA candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU