Peru’s populist presidential front-runner Yonhy Lescano plans to renegotiate a fairer distribution of mining wealth if elected to lead the world’s No. 2 copper producer and also allow imports of cheaper natural gas, he told Reuters less than a month before an April ballot.
Lescano, 62, a former lawmaker and leader of the Popular Action party, has emerged as the favorite in polls heading toward the April 11 first round vote. He will very likely face a second round run-off in June.
In an interview at his home in Surco, a quiet residential district of the capital Lima, the lawyer said the contrast between the Andean country’s booming mining sector and relatively poor populace was “a terrible contradiction.”
“That wealth is not even reaching the inhabitants who are next to the mining sites, something is wrong here, we must correct that,” Lescano said.
Copper, silver and gold mined from Peru’s highlands and lowland Amazon represent 60% of its exports and are vital to the economy. But protests are mounting as citizens demand greater benefits and tighter controls to ensure environmental and social sustainability.