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Stuff the internet, say Peruvian farmers

We want irrigation

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Peruvian farmers living around a huge copper mining site at Las Bambas in the Southern Andes are to stage a two-day protest against the government's plan to blow part of the cash generated by the project on internet infrastucture.

Swiss-based Xstrata has stumped up £26m to a poverty-busting fund as part of its concession deal to exploit the copper reserves, Reuters reports. The authorities say they will spend the cash on soccer pitches, rehabilitating city squares and installing net-connected computers.

All well and good, say local farmers, but as representative Cristian Huilca put it: "We're peasants, many of us cannot read or write ... But we don't believe the internet will help us as much as an irrigation channel will."

The protestors, and some local officials, not unreasonably reckon the money would be better spent on schools, hospitals, water and electricity. Hence the planned blockade of the Las Bambas mining site, due to commence production in 2011. ®

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