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Stigmatisation of Campesinos and Environmentalists opposing La Colosa Gold Mine

category venezuela / colombia | environment | non-anarchist press author Thursday February 28, 2013 17:22author by COMITE AMBIENTAL Y CAMPESINO DE CAJAMARCA Report this post to the editors

Threats, stigmatisation and criminalisation of the campesino social movement of Anaime and Cajamarca, which opposes AngloGold Ashanti’s La Colosa project in Colombia.

We, the environmental and campesino committee of Cajamarca, the Environmental Committee for the Defence of Life (Comité Ambiental por la Defensa de la Vida) and the organisations and groups that are voicing our opposition about the dangers of the La Colosa Regional mining project of the company AngloGold Ashanti, report the following facts to the Tolimense community, and the national and international community:

1. On February 22 we were formally invited to the Citizen’s Environmental Rountable organised by Cortolima in the Alfonso López Convention Centre in the Department of Tolima. As communities and citizens of Cajamarca, Saldaña, Coello, Piedras, Ataco, Líbano, Murillo, Ibagué and other municipalities of Tolima attended the event, which from the outset reflected an atmosphere that was not conducive to the legitimate right that we have to oppose this megaproject that will affect our lives and that of future generations.

2. Having gathered at the event at 8:00 am we found that in the early hours of morning the multinational AngloGold Ashanti had brought in staff in buses hired by the company, so that when the good citizens arrived to participate, the hall was already full and the authorities, citing the hall security standards, DID NOT PERMIT US TO ENTER. A civic protest, a complaint directed at the organizers of the event, and the efforts of many leaders were necessary to ensure that those coming in from the villages and towns were allowed access to the hall.

3. During the admission, the National Police, following orders, from where we do not know, removed all our posters, banners and notices in violation of our legitimate right to expression against the La Colosa project and subjected us to severe requisitions against us, treating us as if we constituted a threat against the event.

4. On 23 February, the newspaper El Nuevo Dia of Ibagué wrote an article about the event. In its print edition it published a photograph of Mr. Rafael Herz, vice president of sustainability of AGA and official representative of this multinational at the event, reading a message on his mobile telephone which read: "several guerrillas from Anaime were identified among the public opponents". This information, besides being TOTALLY FALSE, endangers the life, personal integrity and security of those of us who are legitimately opposed to the La Colosa Regional mining project that is being carried out, to put us in the crosshairs of those in this country that have gone about pursuing their interests with blood and fire, and moreover confirms that AngloGold Ashanti is smearing those of us that oppose its economic project as "guerrillas".

Given the gravity of the facts, which in this context of our vulnerability can be defined as persecution against members of the community of Anaime and all Tolimenses in general, we oppose the La Colosa Regional mining project, and request that:

1. CORTOLIMA, the department’s environmental authority and convener of the event, publicly expresses its position on these threats, and demands that AngloGold Ashanti, which was invited by them, publicly clarifies this information on the presence of "guerrillas from Anaime". If it does not, CORTOLIMA would be complicit in the handling of classified information that, by its nature, should be handled by the state and not a multinational, and furthermore would be complicit in the stigmatization and criminalization of the environmental movement of Tolima;

2. The authorities responsible for the security and rights of all citizens take rapid action against this threat that affects the life, personal integrity and the safety of those exercising our right to civil protest and oppose the La Colosa Regional project;

3. The Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Interior fully investigates the origin of the mobile phone message of Mr. Rafael Hertz and the sender, Mr. Iván Malaver, with a view to taking the necessary measures to protect the lives of those who are part of the social and campesino movement of Tolima;

4. Dr. Paula Gaviria, of the Victims Unit, establishes the necessary security measures to guarantee the life and integrity of leaders and members of the environmental and peasant Anaime movement, about the serious vulnerability that messages such as those from AngloGold Ashanti generate, which confirms its ongoing stigmatisation to its opponents by labelling them as "guerrillas";

5. The Ombudsman, as part of its mandates, comes to Cajamarca and takes the necessary actions to protect the life and integrity of the social and campesino and workers’ movement of Cajamarca, and those in the district of Anaime;

6. The Attorney General's Office investigates the actions of the security forces on the day of the event, who, through security measures, proceeded to violate and harm the legitimate right of citizens to engage in social protest, along with the seizure of posters, banners and notices publicly expressing rejection to the proposed La Colosa gold mine, raising serious doubts about who our military should be serving.

7. The Government of Tolima and all the popularly elected officials in general, to express their support for the social, campesino and workers’ movement, which finds itself denouncing and leading the opposition to the proposed La Colosa gold mine, so that they can act together to defend of our land, water, life, biodiversity and the right of future generations to a healthy environment;

8. The Presidency of the Republic, headed by Dr. Juan Manuel Santos, ensures the safety, equality and participation of all Colombians, including those Colombians that oppose the Locomotora Minero-Energética [the government policy to promote large scale mining projects] from levelling the country and our true wealth, namely Colombia’s natural assets, which are our national heritage;

9. Given the gravity of the facts, we call on the national and international community to express its condemnation of AngloGold Ashanti for such messages that criminalise our right as good Colombians to oppose the destructive La Colosa mining project, and to send messages and letters to state entities so that they investigate, reject and penalise those responsible for this message.

Demanding that they investigate, censure and reject these threats.

The Attorney General's Office
The Ombudsman
The Personality
The Presidency of the Republic

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