MAC/20: Mines and Communities

One Killed in Protest Against Mining Activities in Colombia

Published by MAC on 2007-02-10

One Killed in Protest Against Mining Activities in Colombia

BOGOTA

10th February 2007

At least one person was killed and dozens were injured in a clash between security forces and demonstrators in the Northeast of Colombia, during a blockade of a road leading to coal mines operated by multinational companies. Medical sources said that the victim was shot in the head during the protests carried out in the mining town of La Jagua de Ibirico, near the border of Venezuela where around thirty persons, mostly civilians, were injured.

Neighbors of La Jagua de Ibirico began a strike on Saturday to protest the environmental damage which the mining operations have caused. According to councilperson William Días, one of the organizers of the demonstration, the clash began after the police launched tear gases at the persons who were occupying the barricades.

Alvaro Uribe, the President of Colombia, urged the companies Drummond (USA) and Glencore (Switzerland) to comply with their environmental plans which figure in the mining concessions received by the firms to carry out coal mining operations in the north of the country. Uribe said that both multinationals should carry out actions which prevent damage to human health and to recuperate the environment in La Jagua de Ibiríco (department of Cesar), a locality which has seen many revolts.

Uribe heard the claims of the local residents over the effects of mining activities on their health, provoking respiratory illnesses and the damages to the environment, such as contamination and the disappearance of water sources. He ordered that high level officials of the Ministries of Environment and and Social Protection travel in the next few days to La Jagua de Ibiríco in order to take charge of the issues that are each are responsible for.

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