Peru: A Toxic State

Peru: A Toxic State

Deadly pollution from the mining industry is poisoning the indigenous Quechua people

© Alessandro Cinque

Over the past decade, the Peruvian economy has been one of Latin America’s great success story. The country’s resurgent mining industry — Peru is among the world’s top producers of copper, silver, gold and other valuable minerals — has boosted employment, reduced poverty and greatly increased the quality of life for many people.

However, there’s also a dark side to the economic success. Peru’s mining industry has had a devastating impact on the country’s indigenous communities. It’s a story that Italian photojournalist Alessandro Cinque has been chronicling in tragic detail since 2017.

For his work exposing the effect of pollution on Peru’s Quechua people — from poisoned groundwater to toxic dust that covers crops and livestock — we’re proud to award Cinque our inaugural 2020 Focus on the Story Grant. Cinque received $2,000 to help him continue reporting his project.

Cinque, who is based in Lima, said the grant will help pay for needed travel to areas he yet to visit.

“When I decided to deal with the issue of new forms of colonialism in South America by focusing on the mines in Peru, I knew that it would take a long time to develop it. Today, after years of believing in this story that I have always funded myself, I am happy to see that Focus on the Story believes it with me, helping me to support part of my work,” Cinque said. “It is important for me to continue to analyze these themes in areas that I have not yet visited, giving voice through my photos to all the people who suffer the consequences of mining extraction.”

X