Securitas is one of the largest security companies in the world. They work in unstable countries with quashed legal systems, police brutality and systematic corruption. They see themselves as ethical role models. Blank Spot travelled to Peru to investigate if their claim holds true.
Av Jonatan Fried 30 september, 2015
Lindhagensplan, Stockholm. Next to a roundabout with signs pointing toward Swedish suburbs and a turnpike exit for European Highway 4, there is an anonymous brick-yellow building known as ”The Fort” by the employees.
It says ’Securitas’ in large letters on the brick wall, and gray-clad guards
with the familiar red dots on the uniform sleeve pass by the entrance.
That this would be the headquarters for one of the world’s largest
security companies, is hard to believe.
The interior is reminiscent of a municipal building in a medium-sized Swedish town. Dreary color schemes, well-beaten linoleum floors and well-worn 1980s furnishings.
On the ground floor is a canteen where Securitas guards from the entire Stockholm beat can take a breather with a tray-lunch after a long shift. This is hardly the work environment in which you expect to find executive committee members of a billion dollar global corporation.
But the stacks of cardboard boxes in the corridors suggest that something is going on.
Entire departments are moving, binders and filing cabinets have been packed up, and people complain that it’s impossible to find anything.
From this anonymous place, just outside the heart of Stockholm, a gigantic corporate machine is run. Securitas currently has 320,000 employees in 53 countries, making them one of the world’s largest security companies with an annual revenue of more than 8 billion dollars.
I have asked to speak with someone about accountability and ethics. How can Securitas guarantee that all these guards behave according to protocol in 53 different countries? How can they ensure that no one takes bribes, that they do not commit brutal acts, that they are not affiliated with local mafias, and do not violate local laws? Is it possible to oversee such a gigantic organisation from a headquarters next to a freeway exit from the inner city limits of Stockholm?
”Yes,” says Cecilia Alenius, who is the in charge of Securitas’ ethics protocol, or Group CSR Officer, which is her official title.
Along with Chief of Communications, Gisela Lindstrand, we sit down in a conference room overlooking the construction site that will be Securitas’ new headquarters. Workers are rolling out sedum roofing, the latest trend in green construction.
Over the course of an hour, the executives explain the careful process used to minimize risks and to guarantee the core of Securitas’ ethics values.
Each guard in all 53 countries must comply with Securitas’ basic values, the so-called Company Code. It includes specifics ranging from human rights to the environment and zero tolerance against corruption.
”We are a security company with strong ethical values. This is a dirty industry in many ways. The companies we buy and run have to live up our high expectations,” Gisela Lindstrand says.
To accomplish this, management has launched a large-scale education effort. Every guard in Cambodia, Colombia and China has to undergo training in company codes of conduct and fundamental values. As a standard, all guards are tested after completing their training, just to ensure they have understood and adopted Securitas’ values.
The training initiative is an enormous undertaking. Globally, Securitas’ guards speak 40 languages and some are illiterate. In addition, the corporation has a staff turnover at 3,540 percent, which means that around 100,000 new recruits are hired every year.
”Currently, 90 percent of all persons in management positions and 70 percent of all guards have finished the training,” says Gisela Lindstrand.
Cecilia Alenius tells me that Securitas has introduced a system where all employees and outsiders can file a report in case of violations. And based on that report, necessary measures are taken to resolve the situation.
So what do you do if you get a complaint that feels, say, critical?
”Critical? We are glad to get it instead of someone contacting the media or one who turns into a competitor. Our legal counsel have access to all information and everything is investigated and archived,” Gisela Lindstrand says.
But is that really true?
Not long ago, when I looked into Securitas in Montenegro on assignment for the Swedish business magazine, ”Veckans Affärer” I found a business that hardly seemed under control.
Many of the Securitas guards in Montenegro work without licenses—though it seems licensed guards should be a minimal expectation as business practice in this industry. In addition, incidents of unlicensed guns being accidentally discharged lead local police to search the Montenegro office, where they found a large number of illegal weapons. Is this one of the branches that headquarters in Stockholm controls and claims follows company code?
Perhaps this was just an exception in a corporate group that is one of the world’s largest employers?
In other parts of the world, local media have reported other cases for years, which raises new questions about Securitas and their routines. One report that stands out is from Peru.
When Securitas acquired the local security company Forza, they not only bought shares, but also inherited a long-drawn conflict with the locals.
Forza, which contracted with a large American mining corporation, had gained a reputation for abuses, such as torture, harassment and assault. Despite the many reports about the same issues in local media, nothing seems to have changed under the new Swedish owners.
At Securitas headquarters in Stockholm, they say that they have proper
policies in place and great confidence that their company code is followed. Who is right? How do the Swedes keep checks and balances on an organization in Peru that is six time zones and 11,000 kilometers away?
2. Gold mine Cajamarca
The city of Cajamarca, with half a million inhabitants, is located in a northern province of Peru that bears the same name, about 800 kilometers from the capital, Lima. It is a warm afternoon and before our plane goes in for landing the pilot circles over Cajamarcas’ sumptuous landscape. The rolling hills are a patchwork of green thanks to the pretty clouds overhead.
Just a few kilometers from the city, deep within the surrounding hills, is the Yanacocha Mine which started its mineral extractions in 1993. Back then, everyone had huge hopes, believing the gold mine would bring an economical boost to one of the poorest regions in the country. That was not the case—poverty and production increased exponentially.
The mine spans an area of more than 1,200 square kilometers and parts of it are visible from the airplane window. Over more than two decades, Yanacocha has grown to be the world’s second largest gold mine.
For a while it was the world’s most profitable gold mine. Nowhere else was
it as cheap to produce gold. But profitability came with a high price tag—a substantial popular resistance, environmental pollution and enormous conflicts with the locals. It didn’t stop the owners and the Yanacocha Mine has long worked to expand to the adjacent gold-and-copper mine, called the Conga Project.
In Cajamarca’s main square, Plaza de Armas, next to a lushly green hill, someone has spelled ”Conga no va” with rocks. It means ”Conga doesn’t work.” The local residents have stated their stance in stone.
The conflict with the local population is now a Securitas’ conflict, inherited from
Forza as well as the Peruvian government’s intelligence and espionage. Officers of this organization’s Marine unit formed the company in 1991, and were assigned to provide security for Yanacocha early on.
The assignment transfered when Securitas acquired Forza.
It’s Friday night when we leave Plaza de Armas to pay Jorge Pereyra
Terrones a visit. He’s one of Peru’s most influential journalists, born and raised in Cajamarca. This evening, like all others, he hosts guests who are in the news spotlight.
Wearing a green zippered jacket, he lets us into his house. Further inside, in the dining room, one of his children sits in front of a computer. A black cat slinks through the hallway.
Jorge Pereyra has covered the mine conflicts closely and have received death threats on numerous occasions following his reports on the security company, Forza.
His up-front style has made him some enemies.
”I constantly get threats over the phone. There has been many efforts from Yanacocha to silence me and get my show off the air,” he says.
One reason for the conflict is that large scale mining began without first anchoring it with the local population. Another is that the economic boost in the region failed to materialize. Very little money has shown up in the citizens’ bank accounts.
”Cajamarca is now the most impoverished region in all of Peru,” Jorge
In detail, he explains all disputes that have followed in the wake of Yanacocha and the scandals that have fuelled the conflicts. There was political corruption after fights between different mine owners, land disputes and pollution of toxins such as cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals.
Still, the American giant, Newmont Mining Corporation, of Denver, Colorado, who is the principal owner of Yanacocha, is pushing for expansion with the adjacent Conga Project, something that has been strongly opposed by a number of environmental experts.
One of them, Robert E. Moran, who has conducted an Environmental Impact Asessment, believes that important marine life will be lost, creeks will dry up and the reservoirs that are supposed to be a back-up for existing lakes will poison both surface and ground waters.
The people in the region have protested vigorously. They have demonstrated in the streets of Cajamarca, on mountain tops and near threatened lakes. Newmont Mining has defended itself against the protests, staunchly maintaining that they have the political support to continue operations.
Jorge Pereyra tells us about the many features he has done on the issues with the mine and the security company— a company he, like many others in Peru, still calls Forza.
”Yanacocha is very powerful and sees itself as inviolable—they can do anything. In a way, Cajamarca is feudal. With money, authorities, anyone, can be bought in order to get away with what you want. Forza obeys their orders,” says JorgePereyra, zipping up his jacket and readjusting himself on the sofa. The cat peeks in and disappears.
In addition to Securitas, the Yanacocha Mine is also allied with the local police in an arrangement that has no equivalence in most other countries. Since a few years back, the police are allowed to charge for performing security and other services to private institutions.
For these services, a company has to pay the policemen’s salary as well as compensating the police department. This privatization yields a form of monopoly of violence and has been utilized by many foreign companies in Peru.
The UN group watching the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination reports that the number of police officers in Peru has not increased since the 1990s. The private security sector, however, has seen a significant growth, with supervision being weak. This problem is enhanced by the close relationships between police, military and security companies.
”In many cases these companies are run by former members of the military or law enforcement, or, have powerful positions within the two,” the UN work group states.
Securitas report that they do not have a contract with the national Peruvian police, but there is an agreement between Yanacocha and law enforcement. This means that police officers, on their days off, can appear at the mining company, armed with their service weapons, which has happened.
This has resulted in great confusion during demonstrations, manifestations and other protests against the mine—are they contracted guards by Yanacocha, or are they Securitas personnel?
Experts who study the privatization of such vehicles for monopoly on violence, say that in most cases the core of the conflicts change when private actors are mandated the use of violence.
Commander Marcus Mohlin of the Swedish National Defense College, who researches private security companies, says that it’s rarely the client who demands the level of violence used by the guards.
”It is rather the companies in charge of security, who are more offensive than the mine owners. In other words, the security companies contribute to the instability, rather than following expectations of stricter actions by the mining corporations,” Marcus Mohlin says.
3. Maxima Chaupe
It is late afternoon when Maxima Coupe comes in riding on a horse, way down in the valley. A couple of hazy clouds breeze by and release a light drizzle. The weather changes quickly. One moment it is sunny and the next the skies are covered with rain-heavy clouds.
While waiting for her, we climbed up on a hill top, the constant wind swirls around my hair. The view is spectacular: rolling green hills as far as I can see, and I am so close to the clouds that it feels like they are touching my shoulders.
Our guide has brought a glass bowl of roasted corn, which we eat while catching our breaths.
Below us is a network of newly-built roads for the Conga mine, a few one-story buildings, and a lake which will soon be drained. These are the early stages of a opencut mine.
Next to one house is a foundation, the remnants of a structure that was recently torn down.
Maxima Chaupe returns from the market, where she has sold off the crops that surround her house. She unloads her horse, tethers it and removes the high frequency radio from her shoulder.
”I knew you were already here, I saw you up on the hill,” she says after we’ve exchanged greetings.
She’s used to being on the lookout. Oftentimes, on this particular hill, different men stand and look down on her house. They are watching Maxima Chaupe and her family, sometimes filming who comes and goes from her home.
The surveillance of her house has made it difficult to visit Maxima Chaupe. The conflict is so infected that all visitors are forced to walk a several-mile detour in the thin air to avoid running into mine personnel and their white trucks, who are spying on people.
At one point, we see a plain-clothed man with a mask over his face, standing still as a stone, just staring. Our guide has no idea who it is. We walk on; the man doesn’t move.
Maxima Chaupe, a short farm woman—a campesina—in her 40s has lived here for two decades. She owns the stone house and land that spans roughly 60 acres (24 hectares). Stubborn and persevering, she is the kind that knows how to survive, living off the land. She ties her horse, fast and efficient, with red hands swollen by constant and contrasting temperature changes—bone chilling winds and the heat from the hearth next to the house.
The tinny sound of an old radio fills the air and Maxima Chaupe sits down on a stool and begins spinning yarn. The family supports themselves by sewing rugs, selling crops and breeding Guinea pigs.
”When the court ruled in my favour, I thought the harassment would stop. But they didn’t. The company continues their violent actions and tore down a house we were building,” she says and turns toward the foundation.
It was the mining corporation and Securitas who did the teardown, she adds.
The Chaupe family bought the property in 1994. Since then, Yanacocha has bought up surrounding land and now they say that Maxima Chaupe’s land belongs to them.
The ownership has been tried in different courts. In December, 2014, a decision was handed down—the Chaupe family was the rightful owner. Many believed that was the end to the struggles, that the situation had been resolved.
That wasn’t the case.
”They won’t leave us alone, day or night. They won’t give us peace.”
Maxima Chaupe doesn’t want to tell us who harasses her and her family. They never identify themselves. It’s the same dilemma the journalist Jorge Pereyra highlighted—it’s impossible to know if they are police officers on the clock for law enforcement, police officers contracted by the mining corporation, or, Securitas guards.
Police Chief Hugo Begazo de Bedoya has said in interviews that it was Securitas who tore down the house.
The situation has disillusioned Maxima Chaupe.
”We have reported this to authorities, many times, but they side with the corporation. They have economical power; I don’t. The corporation knows that the authorities are on their side and they keep provoking and trespassing every day,” she says.
There are others who agree that it’s impossible to separate a police officer from a Securitas guard. In connection with a large anti-violence demonstration in Cajamarca in 2012, the Catholic priest, Father Marco Arana, was arrested and taken to jail, where he was assaulted.
He says he saw several men dressed in Securitas uniforms in the jail. They came and went as if they were employed by the police department.
Maxima Chaupe sits by her fireplace, warming her hands. She apologizes, says she’s tired from the long ride from the market. She wants to have dinner and then a cup of coffee, then she can tell us more about how her life has changed over the years.
She offers us rice and potatoes from the pots next to the fire providing warmth in the cold.
Maxima Chaupe is worried about her children. They have been threatened at checkpoints manned by Securitas.
”Anything could happen to us and our lives. We all live in danger. They say they can make us disappear, at any time,” she says.
I ask if she is sure Securitas has been involved in the harassments. She doesn’t hesitate.
”Securitas follows the mining company’s orders. They all work together—the mining company, Securitas and the police,” she says.
Suddenly Maxima Chaupe bursts out in tears, and says between sobs: ”What I want is justice—I can’t live my life like this.”
She breathes heavily and her eyes, red from crying, linger over the landscape.
”I can’t stand it anymore. They block off roads so we can’t use them anymore. If I was a bird I could fly, but I am not, I am a human being and I have to move on the ground. This treatment is unfair,” she says.
So that we will really understand, she shows us a video recording from August 10, 2011. Prior to the recording, uninvited guests had torn down her house, taken beds, clothes, household items and food. Then they returned.
On the recording, I hear how one of the daughters call for Maxima Chaupe. The Yanachocha company trucks, followed by a backhoe and a bus are approaching. The vehicles stop next to the Chaupe homestead and out steps security guards and officers of the National Police of Peru’s special forces unit, DINOES.
Someone yells to Maxima Chaupe: ”You have sold your land, it no longer belongs to you!”
When the backhoe starts moving toward the house, Gilda, Maxima Chaupe’s teen-aged daughter, runs up to try and block its path. In the tumult, she is overpowered by several guards and assaulted.
Maxima Chaupe runs to her rescue, but also she is assaulted. Both lay on the ground, unconscious.
It was another daughter, Ysidora Chaupe, who managed to record the incident on her cell phone. The video continues and while Maxima and Gilda are laying on the ground, a a group of officers gather and one man dressed in a Securitas uniform walks toward the camera to block it. The clip is several minutes long and throughout, we hear the desperate cries made in vain.
Why didn’t Securitas try to help the injured? Why did they try to block the video recording?
The answer is clear to Maxima Chaupe. She and her family are a problem for Securitas and their assignment for the Yanachocha Mine.
”The Securitas personnel keeps us under surveillance and control who visits us. When we are here, they come and attack us. We can’t defend ourselves,” she says.
We walk up a steep hill in a corner of the large Plaza de Armas square in central Cajamarca, which leads us to three long flights of stairs and in to a narrow, doll-house looking building. This is where Dr. Mirtha Vasquez Chuquilin works.
We have tried to meet with her for several days, but she has been busy and constantly changed our appointment. For a while I thought she was avoiding us for safety reasons. She and her family have been harassed and their lives threatened. One time someone even tampered with the brakes in her car.
But now she sits in front of us, a woman with a friendly face and jetblack hair cut in bangs— a lawyer and the leader of the volunteer organisation, Grufides. It started as an environmental activist group, but these days its focus is on protecting the locals’ rights and helping them with land disputes. In the conflicts with Yanacocha, Grufides has helped with mediation.
This is how Mirtha Vasquez has understood how Securitas and the mining corporation work. She paints a picture of daily threats and torments.
”Our police reports are dismissed and archived. It’s frustrating that justice isn’t administered. It is extra frustrating because we have already brought forward evidence of how they have acted. They have violated our rights and I am, myself, a victim,” she sighs.
Mirtha Vasquez had long suspected that she was being spied upon, but she wasn’t sure. Not until 2010.
That’s when a judge called her and told her to appear in a Lima courtroom to give testimony. Even though she is a lawyer, she didn’t understand why. She wasn’t counsel of the aggrieved party, she was the plaintiff. What crime had been committed, she wondered? When and how?
She flew to Lima and the situation started to make sense.
The police had arrested a number of higher-ups and employees of the technology company, Business Track. They were accused of illegally intercepting phone lines and e-mails for their clients. They had also tapped phones, tracked and persecuted mine activists.”You are the one they have bugged the most,” the judge told Mirtha Vasquez, showing the documents that had been confiscated from Business Track’s offices.
The documents had been carefully scanned and certain sentences and lines had been underlined. At first, she didn’t understand why. Who would be interested in mapping out someone who organized mine activists?
Mirtha Vasquez figured it out after seeing Business Track’s home page. Listed among their clients was Forza, the company Securitas had aquired.
”In court, I said that the mining corporation and Securitas should be investigated, because it was them who hired Business Track,” she says.
That’s not what happened. A few of the executive officers at Business Track were charged, but nobody ever put the confiscated materials under the looking glass.
”There were many people who were keen on closing this case as soon as possible,” she says.
In the verdict, which yielded in more than 1,100 pages, the judge recognises that no investigation was made of Business Track’s clients, who ordered the phone taps and e-mail accounts hacked.
Mirtha Vasquez says the courts work with an obvious strategy. Difficult, or uncomfortable, cases move through the judicial process quickly. But if they are extensive, they are delayed or watered down by new investigations.
The deficiencies in the Peruvian legal system are confirmed by outside observers. Canadian law scholar, Charis Kamphuis, has studied the judicial system with special focus on Forza, Securitas and the Business Track case.
In a report for York University, Osgoode Hall Law School from 2012, she identified a clear pattern of immunity for foreign investors and their private security contractors, and deems the motive the partnering of security companies, law enforcement and mining corporations.
”The explicit objective of these types of partnerships is to use coercion, suppress, monitor and break down local social movements and their international aid that either criticises and/or tries to prevent specific mining projects in Peru,” she writes.
Outsourcing security from state and other law enforcement to private contractors is part of a larger international trend. Airports, hospitals and governmental buildings are just a few examples where private contractors are in charge of security.
The global surveillance and security industry shows an increase of 7-8 percent per year, bigger growth than the global economy. Today, the annual revenue of the security industry counts for billions every year, one of the main players being Securitas.
The involvement by private security firms has deepened the conflicts, says Mirtha Vasquez.
”It is important to reflect upon the role of the security firms in a larger perspective. Not only do they violate human rights, they also contribute to a weakening of our democracy. We live under the law: Survival of the fittest,” she says.
Mirtha Vasquez has also tried to communicate her concerns directly with Securitas, but is constantly referred to someone else.
”They say that every demand has to be communicated directly to the mining corporation. Securitas always say that they are just following orders,” Mirtha Vasquez says.
She has assisted Maxima Chaupe with legal counsel in her judicial proceedings. But there are no lights at the end of the tunnel there either. Maxima Chaupe continues to be harrassed.
”For one, a cabin Maxima was building was destroyed. Who did that? Forza. It is clear looking at photos. Those who do the job, excuse me, I mean Securitas, they are the ones who are doing it, and it’s they who are threatening Maxima,” she says.
Mirtha Vasquez refers to video recordings, where Securitas are tearing down a foundation and a structure on the Chaupe family’s land.
”Usually, it’s regular laborers along with Securitas personnel, who carry our the tough parts, communicating threats of shooting them, for example. Securitas does the dirty work,” Vasquez says.
Securitas’ branch office in Cajamarca is located in an historical part of town with baths from the Inca era. We stand on a small street, parallel to the main fare, in what appears to be a residential area. An older man comes up to us, asking if we have some change to spare so he can buy medicine.
We knock on the spy-hole in a high wall. I see part of someone’s face as he leans forward to ask our errand. He tells me to wait and shuts the opening. Car after car passes through a light blue steel door. After about ten minutes, the face returns in the spy-hole.
”Come back tomorrow, the person in charge has just left the office.”
Securitas is a decentralized corporation, where a large portion of the decisions being made on local and regional levels. The power does not rest with the Stockholm headquarters. The explanation for why is simple: To sell security services requires a good knowledge of what works for each specific market.
This is the reason why Securitas commonly enters new markets buy acquiring existing companies. Growth through acquisition is something the corporation established already several decades ago, in the 1980s.
At the time, Securitas was a company in crisis. In order to solve its problems, main shareholder Gustaf Douglas recruited Melker Schörling for the CEO post. The new CEO demanded partnership in his negotiations, and he got what he wanted.
Schörling steered up the business with the vision that Swedish reliability
and security could be exported—that Swedish security services would also be in demand on an international market.
Schörling chose a strategy that was to grow by acquisition. In a short amount of time, he invested in companies in Portugal, Hungary, Spain and Austria.
Melker Schörling is now the Chairman of Securitas, and his strategy remains.
The company’s prosperity has grown from 122 million dollars when he took over in the 1980s, to 8.5 billion dollars today. Melker Schörling owns shares in Securitas at a value of 266 million dollars. Forbes Magazine considers him to be Sweden’s third richest, with a fortune of nearly 6 billion.
Based on this strategy, Securitas bought Forza in Peru for about 11 million dollars in 2007. It looked like a deal, but it would appear the company had a few skeletons in its closet.
With a simple Google search, they would have found a report that a UN work group had recommended the government of Peru ”to take necessary legal action” to determine whether ”Forza, or Yanacocha were individually or jointly responsible for illegal acts.”
The questions as to Securitas’ reasoning when deciding to purchase Forza are many
We try to pass the light blue steel door again, but now Pearla Altamirano, chief of human resources at Securitas Peru, says that the executive board are on a business trip in a coastal town about an hour and a half away. I ask how Securitas what their position is on the information about harrassment, coercion and assaults against, among other people, Maxima Chaupe and her family.
”I just hope Maxima and her family regain their peace,” says Pearla Altamirano.
Then she continues:
”Yanacocha hires us to tend to security. We cannot share information about our clients without permission.”
So how do we go about getting answers to questions regarding Maxima Chaupe?
”Securitas has its own chief of communications in Lima,” Pearla Altamirano says.
So we have to travel to Lima?
”Yes, I have tried to contact my boss, but he’s in a meeting. I am sorry that I cannot share more information.”
5. The quest for the guards
In an industrial area, outside of Lima, we are trying to locate Securitas’ Peru office. The address seems wrong. The sun is high in the sky, dust and sand are swirling up from a couple of large construction sites. The traffic is moving slowly, due to construction.
We get help from a police officer. She stops a taxi driver and orders him to drive u s to Securitas. Once we arrive, there is no sign on the building.
”It has been destroyed by the thick smog,” says Jaime Alfaro, chief of communications at Securitas in Peru.
He gives a friendly impression, but declines to comment on Securitas’ operations in Peru.
”Stockholm asked me: ’Jamie, how do you think we should handle inquiries?’ And I said what we ought to do—the only person allowed to give interviews is me and the CTO (Chief Technology Officer),” he says.
The CTO is not present. But we manage to get some information from Jaime
Alfaro before it’s time for another journey through the industrial area.
”Securitas Peru always follows the parent company regulations. We have the same policy around the world and we respect Securita’s guidelines,” says Jaime
Maxima Chaupes tells a different tale, but Jamie Alfaro does not want to talk about that.
”We only provide a service. Yanacocha is our constituent and the only one who can answer questions about Maxima,” he says.
Our efforts for an interview stop at a dead end.
After standing in the hot sun for almost an hour, the chief of communications offers to call a taxi to make sure that we find our way out of the smog-heavy district.
The silent treatment from the Securitas personnel in Peru begins to form a pattern. Perhaps the explanation lies, not only in an unwillingness to cooperate and answer questions, but in the ongoing legal proceedings against the company?
In a restaurant in downtown Lima, we meet the young American lawyer, Maryum Jordan. She works at the NGO Earthrights International and represents a person who was shot in the back during a demonstration, rendering him paralized from the waist down. No one has claimed responsibility.
This work made Maryum Jordan investigate the role the owner of Yanacocha and Newmont Mining Corporation have had in the conflicts. With time, her interest steered her toward those in charge of security operations, Securitas.
”We are investigating the possibilities of beginning judicial proceedings against Securitas for their involvement in the mine conflicts,” Maryum Jordan says.
Maryum Jordan has benefited greatly by the federal laws of the United States in pursuing the proceedings in Peru. Active lawsuits in foreign countries can turn to American courts and request assistance in investigations of American actors. The court can then force private individuals or firms in the US to disclose documents and testify.
A court in Colorado, where the majority owners of Newmont Mining have its headquarters, recently granted the request by Earthrights.
Newmont Mining has submitted reports, documents, photos and video recordings from Yanacocha’s security personnel and employees. In addition, Earthrights has gained access to communication with law enforcement, and questioned executive officers at Newmont’s headquarters. The extensive material is now being scrutinized at the Earthrights office in Lima.
Maryum Jordan hints to the fact that the American data provides for a good case, but declines to comment as to Earthrights’ future plans.
”If you look closely at what we have accomplished so far, you can see that we’ve started legal proceedings, that’s what we do,” she says.
She refers to other judicial processes that have yielded large compensations for damages. One example is a British mining company in Peru that had to pay for damages, just before a civil process was about to start in London.
6. The Dilemma
From the conference room in Stockholm, today we see the construction workers putting the last finishes on Securitas’ new headquarters.
Gisela Lindstrand, chief of communications and board member at Securitas, says a thorough analysis of Forza was done before they purchased the company.
”It is very important that the companies we acquire have a healthy approach as to how to care for their employees, how they train them, how they are paid. We are a security company with high ethical standards,” she says.
According to Gisela Lindstrand, Securitas looks farther than the financial situation of the company of interest, as well as at human resources and how they handle personnel questions.
The reasoning behind buying local companies rather than building an organization from scratch is the idea of local rootedness while maintaining key employees such as the executive officers of the venture.
”Our strategy in 19 cases of 20, is that we secure the managerial staff. Oftentimes those employees become our executive management for that country, in order to maintain stability and harmony within the company,” Gisela Lindstrand says.
But it has hardly been harmonious, has it?
”We know there is a conflict between the mine and the local population because they have taken people’s lands. But we are not part of that conflict,” Gisela Lindstrand says.
She has made business trips to Peru, several times, and insists the accusations are false. In fact, there are other reasons as to why Securitas has been singled out.
”It’s symptomatic of having a client which is a fairly anonymous mine, then it’s us who are visible, who face the brunt. But there is nothing that points to the accusations against us being true, that our security guards would have done something wrong,” she says.
She also claims that Securitas personnel only keep within the mine area, which is also where they live. They are not in the city of Cajamarca where the demonstrations against the mining company are taking place.
”The guards are not in physical contact with the demonstrators. When protesters try to get in on the mining compound, we report it to our client and then they have to call the police. This is very important and from what I understand these are the procedures we operate by. We control this through internal audits. Then, of course, there are a lot of emotions involved here. There have been several hundred demonstrations, just this year,” she says.
Gisela Lindstrand, who previously served as the press secretary to the former prime minister, Ingvar Carlsson, notes that the citizens who have been forced to move because of the mining operations, have not been treated well by the Yanacocha mine.
”I will be the first to say that it has to be handled better,” says Gisela Lindstrand and adds that every company has to have its own ethical compass.
But isn’t it possible that you end up in tricky situations? What happens if the mining company wants to do something Securitas doesn’t?
”That can absolutely happen. That’s why it’s so important that everyone has this compass and that people know what our job is,” she says.
Securitas’ mission for the Yanacocha mine is, among other things, to protect explosives, precious gold assets and buildings, as well as controlling the saftey in the mine compound.
The area is ever growing, especially now that the new Conga Project is under way.
The mining company continues to claim the Chaupe family’s land. Securitas maintain that all they have done is to act to protect the mining company’s assets.
Gisela Lindstrand says that in the incident with Maxima Chaupe and her family from 2011, the Securitas personnel was just trying to help and prevent someone from getting injured, not trying to stop the video recording.
”The assignment for personnel with Securitas Peru on site was to monitor the events. When necessary, they also helped prevent accidents, just as the one shown in the short video recording, where a Securitas employee is on his way to aid an injured person,” Gisela Lindstrand says.
Securitas’ answers were about what Maxima Chaupe expected. Back in Peru, the days go by slowly. For four years she’s stuck with it, but things have not changed for the better. She doesn’t have any higher hopes of anyone in Peru investigating the assaults or collecting testimonies in an effort to learn how Securitas has treated the people in Cajamarca.
Instead she asks for help from the outside—she fears for her future.
”Where am I going to live? Where can I exist? Where am I going to go? I don’t know what the firm will do with my life. I worry about my children. I ask authorities in other nations to help investigate and solve this,” she says where she sits surrounded by the land she, despite strong pressure from powerful corporations, does not want to leave behind.
Stockholm the 30th of September 2015
The interviews with Cecilia Alenius and Gisela Lindstrand was made by Nils Resare