Male Trafficking in the Illegal Mining Camps of the Peruvian Amazon


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speaker: Dolores Cortés

“The increasing demand for gold worldwide has become intertwined with illicit financial flows and criminal behavior”, (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, 2016).

The hike in the international price of this metal has allowed for the emergence of new economies of gold in some developing rich-mineral countries. Gold extraction has spread “at the margins of the State” often in a chaotic manner causing devastating environmental and social harm. Such is the case of Peru, the largest producer of this metal in Latin America that sources 20% of its production in artisanal and small-scale unregulated operations. Much of this gold extraction has been associated with violence and human rights abuses. The United Nations and other international human rights organizations have reported on the existence of human trafficking of children, women, and men for sexual and labor exploitation in the Peruvian gold mining camps. This presentation focuses on the gold rush taking place in the Peruvian Amazon region of Madre de Dios where 50,000 people have migrated to find their fortunes. An emblematic case study of a unique enclave economy of gold, this paper reviews the strategy developed by the Peruvian State to regulate the mining activity and examines the role of male labor trafficking, as female sex trafficking is most often considered. To what extent does the exploitation of male bodies play a part in the regulations put forward by Peruvian government? In spite of written legislation, gold miners are also excluded from counter-trafficking measures implemented by the Central government. This paper argues that the extractive labor of male miners represent abuses that exist outside the reach of the governmental regulatory schemes in Peru and proposes possibilities for resolving this conundrum.

Dolores Cortés has over 20 years of experience in the international humanitarian arena. For over a decade she worked as a human trafficking expert for the United Nations. Based in Peru, she was the Regional Human Trafficking Focal Point for the Andeans at the UN Migration Agency, providing technical assistance to governments on policy development and leading campaigns to raise awareness and capacity-building strategies. Cortés is now completing her PhD within the Human Rights Department of the University of Deusto, Spain. She is also a senior researcher and a lecturer at the Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). Dolores completed her Master of Science (MSc) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London where she also worked within the Center of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, and as a Latin American researcher for several NGOs.

Please contact Ruth Goldstein ( with any questions.