MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Healing Ritual For The Territory Of Atrato Medio AntioqueÑo

Published by MAC on 2007-03-30



JAIBANÁ HEALING RITUAL FOR THE TERRITORY OF ATRATO MEDIO ANTIOQUEÑO

Song of Jai (Jai-Itua)
30th March 2007

PREVIOUS MAC POST:

Mining Concession Granted Without Community Public Notice in Jiguamiandó, Colombia
By Colombian Intereclesiastical Commission for Justice and Peace
20th February 2006
http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press952.htm

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The indigenous people of Murindó (Atrato Medio Antioqueño) ask for the solidarity and the presence of sister organizations and friends, the media and embassies to help us denounce the consequences which the exploitation of the Cerro Careperro mines will bring to local communities of the protected reserves of Urandá-Jiguamiandó and Murindó.

The municipality of Murindó is rich in biodiversity and virgin forests. The indigenous communities live in the protected reserves of Chagerado (five communities), Rió Murindó Reserve (four communities) with a population of 1,200 persons. The Uradá-Jiguamiandó Reserve belongs to the municipality of Carmen del Darien (Chocó) and has a population of approximately 800 inhabitants. The populations are made up of both indigenous persons and our brothers and sisters of African descendence.

In Careperro Mountain, geologists have detected the presence of rich copper deposits. In the territories of the Indigenous Reserves of Uradá-Jiguamiandó and of Río Murindó and their surroundings is a site sacred to the Emberá, known as Usa Kira (in the Emberá tongue), which to the western world appears on maps as the Cerro de Careperro, or Caperro Mountain. Communities living in the area know that the only humans who may enter into or move around in this zone are the Jaibanás, who by traditional authority are those who know and have alliances with the Jais (spirits).

Our Jaibanás know that to operating a mine on Careperro Mountain (Usa Kira) will mean the loss of the equilibrium between man and nature. This will cause displacement, division and problems to the communities. The spirits will become uncontrolled and will exact a terrible price upon the communities for not having done anything to prevent the mining disturbances, causing sickness and deaths of children and adults.

Mining operations will contaminate the rivers and the earth, epidemics will appear, and the powers of the Jaibanás will wither because they will not have the support of the plants and spirits to carry out their rites and their dialogue with the Jai. They will lose the medicinal plants, the foods, the flora and diversity of birds and insects.

In the face of this situation, the wise persons of our community want to prevent sickness and death by carrying out a healing ceremony upon the territory, in the community of Guaguas. We are opposed to the mining concession contract awarded by the Ministry of Mining to the Colombian affiliate of Colorado, USA-based Muriel Mining Corporation, for the mining of copper, gold, molybdenum and other minerals which nourish our spirits. The initial concession extends to over 2,000 hectares, located on the borders of the municipalities of Murindó in Antioquia, and in Carmen del Darien in Chocó, and have an extendable duration of 30 years.

The first thing that Murial Mining will do is carry out mining exploration in the zone for three years. The consequence will be their invasion of this territory. Later, the corporation has three years dedicated toward the construction of the mines. According to the plans in the concession contract, the affected communities will be: The territories of the Indigenous Reserve of Uradá-Jiguamiandó, where a quarter of the mine is located, and the Indigenous Reserve Emberera-Catio and the municipality of Murindó, where the remaining three quarters are located.

The territorial healing ceremony will be carried out on March 30, 2007. The preparation for the ritual began fifteen days earlier. To the jaibanás, it is not enough to just carry out one single ritual -- the damage that is happening requires many more. To the indigenous people, the Careperro Mountain is a testament to the struggles of indigenous people -- with its destruction, the memory of a thousand year struggle, as well as all of the secrets, knowledge and testimonies of the people of Atrato Medio, will also be destroyed.

The IPS-AIC OIA, responsible for carrying out health promotion and prevention in the indigenous communities of the department, takes into account the unique cultural knowledge and the Peaceful Indigenous Forests project, is gathering and leading this ritual. The goal is to support and strengthen the ancestral mythological knowledge of the sacred site Usa-Kira, and to seek the equilibrium between humans and nature, to prevent the death and sickness of our indigenous and African-descendent brothers and sisters.

Executive Committee
Organización Indígena de Antioquia (Organization of Antioquia - OIA)
Secretary of OIA: indigena@une.net.co
Ancestral Communities of Altrato Medio Antioqueño
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