University of the Pacific

Peru has copper. China wants it. And now Beto Chahuayllo is dead.

Peru has copper. China wants it. And now Beto Chahuayllo is dead.

When the Chinese took over the Las Bambas copper mine here in the Andes Mountains in 2014, Beto Chahuayllo at first barely noticed the change.

He kept on painting buildings at the mine, a job he’d been doing for four years in hopes of saving enough to leave his village and his dirt-floor hut and move his family to nearby Cuzco, where the houses have electricity and his children could attend a better school.

The new owners, a conglomerate of Chinese state-owned companies, bought the mine while it was still under construction, paying $5.85 billion to the Swiss firm that had started developing it.

The Peruvian government welcomed the new investors, predicting that Las...

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