MAC: Mines and Communities

Salem City Council Resolution on the Cerrejon Mine in Colombia

Published by MAC on 2003-08-15

The following resolution was passed by the Salem City Council, Massachusetts, USA, on June 27th 2002, and forwarded to the Colombian government and the mining companies accused of human rights violations in La Guajira.

see also Coal Mines and Communities in Colombia: The Salem Connection (26 August 2003)

Salem City Council Resolution on the Cerrejon Mine in Colombia

President of Colombia
Señor Presidente Andrés Pastrana
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia

Dr. Armando Estrada Villa,
Ministro del Interior, Ministerio del Interior,
Palacio Echeverry, Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegram: Ministro Interior, Bogotá, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 562 5298/ 562 9890

Mayor of Hatonuevo, Enaimen Rodríguez Ojeda
Alcaldía de Hatonuevo
La Guajira

Lee Raymond
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Exploration and Producing Operations
800 Bell Street
Houston, Texas 77002

Paul Anderson
BHP Billiton Ltd.
Bourke Place
600 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

WHEREAS, Salem Harbor Station, located in the City of Salem, MA, consumes coal produced in the Cerrejón Zona Norte mine in La Guajira, Colombia;

WHEREAS, since the development of the mine in 1982 the indigenous Wayúu people of La Guajira have been displaced from their lands and had their traditional means of livelihood destroyed by loss of land and industrial contamination;

WHEREAS, in August 2001 the Afro-Colombian village of Tabaco was bulldozed by Exxon Mobil, then half owner of the mine, which included the destruction of many homes, the town's church and school to make room for expansion of the mine;

WHEREAS, residents of Tabaco appealed to the Colombian Supreme Court for the relocation and reconstruction of their town;

WHEREAS, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled in May, 2002, in favor of the villagers and their request for relocation and reconstruction of their town, and ordered the Mayor of Hatonuevo to oversee the reconstruction;

WHEREAS, two Colombians, Wayúu leader Remedios Fajardo and Tabaco's lawyer Armando Pérez Araujo, visited Salem in May, 2002 to ask for Salem's support in expressing solidarity with and demanding justice for the people who live in the mining zone;

WHEREAS, officials of the Salem Harbor Power Station issued a statement that "As a customer, we urge our vendor to enter into negotiations and find a just settlement on this issue." (Mike Fitzgerald; General Manager; Salem Harbor Station, May 23, 2002)

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the City Council of the City of Salem, that the City Council supports the Colombia Supreme Court's decision and requests that said decision be carried out promptly and effectively, so that the inhabitants of Tabaco can rebuild their community and lead productive, shared lives;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council urges that any further mine expansion be conditioned on peaceful and just negotiations that guarantee residents in the mining area basic human rights: the right to life, the right to subsistence by one's own labor, and the right to human dignity;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that as a community hosting a coal powered generated facility, we condemn violations of human rights by all actors involved in Colombia's conflict, including guerrilla groups, military, paramilitary, police, multinational corporations and foreign agents, including U.S. defense contractors; we express our solidarity with all Colombians working for nonviolent, just, political solutions to the conflict in Colombia; and we encourage the establishment of an ongoing relationship with organizations in the Guajira working peacefully for the human and democratic rights of the Wayúu indigenous people (Yanama) and the villagers of Tabaco (Comité Pro-Reubicación de Tabaco).

Copies of this resolution shall be forwarded to above addresses.


Michael Bencal
Kevin R. Harvey
Claudia Chuber
Joan B. Lovely
Laura A. DeToma
Joseph A. O'Keefe, Sr.
Kimberly L Driscoll
Leonard F. O'Leary
Regina R. Flynn
Arthur C. Sargent, III
Thomas H. Furey



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