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Government of Alvaro Uribe Velez Liquidates Colombian State Mining Company on the Orders of Mining M

Published by MAC on 2004-02-02

Government of Alvaro Uribe Velez Liquidates Colombian State Mining Company on the Orders of Mining Multinationals and the World Bank

2 February 2004

Action Alert from SINTRAMINERCOL - English first, then Spanish / primero ingles, despues espanol:

SINTRAMINERCOL (Union of Workers in the State Mining Company MINERCOL Ltd.) denounces the policy of the multinationals and the Colombian state which will lead to the unemployment of thousands of workers, put the existence of trade unions in peril and increase the activity of paramilitaries in mineral rich areas.


The government of President Alvaro Uribe Velez, through Minister of Mines and Energy Luis Ernesto Mejia Castro, passed Resolution 180073 on 27 January 2004. This Resolution was published on 30 January. It deprives Minercol of its functions and thus begins the process of liquidating the state mining company. This process will end in two years time according to Decree 254 of 28 January 2004.

The Colombian Government justifies its liquidation of MINERCOL by stating that it is ‘a State-owned industrial and commercial enterprise which is unviable, inefficient and ever more dependent on the national budget.’ This is not true and it obscures Uribe’s real intentions, which faithfully fulfill the commitments made to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to privatize State enterprises. In this case, as with other State-owned enterprises, the Government is setting up a new organism which will involve some of the current directors, but the great majority of the workers will be left unemployed.

Through the liquidation of MINERCOL ordered by the World Bank and the mining multinationals, the Government of Alvaro Uribe Velez will have completed the first stage of its planned renewal of public administration: on the one hand, it will eliminate 40,000 jobs in four years, and on the other it will finish off the trade unions in the State sector, among them SINTRAMINERCOL.

The process of liquidating MINERCOL is being accompanied by the growth in military and paramilitary operations in mineral rich areas, among them La Gabarra in the north of Santander and la Serrania de San Lucas in the south of Bolivar (municipalities of Norosí (Casa de Barro, Aguas Frías, Mina Seca) San Pablo (Vallecito, San Juan Alto), and Simití (El Paraíso)), places where the farming and mining population is restricted in its movements and the victim of continuous bombardments, machine-gun attacks, burning of farmhouses, and the denial of access to foodstuffs and medicines, which is a way of suggesting that they belong to, or are collaborating with, insurgent groups.

The death threats, harassment and persecution suffered by the President of SINTRAMINERCOL, Francisco Ramírez, have also increased. In the last three weeks, a number of men and women have phoned the union or approached its offices to find out whether Francisco was there, on the pretext of inviting him to seminars, or of having arranged meetings with him, or seeking advice, in the name of people from social organizations, or sent by officers of international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, all of which, on checking, has been found to be untrue.

The Colombian Trade Union Congress (CUT) and unions SINTRAMINERCOL, ASOINGEOMINAS, SINTRACARBON, SINDEINGEOMINAS, SINTRAMIN, FUNTRAENERGETICA, FENALTRASE, and FENANSITRAP are opposed to the liquidation of state mining company MINERCOL, which will throw hundreds of workers on to the streets, put in danger the existence of a number of trade unions, hand over the most important mineral resources to the mining multinationals Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencor AG and various North American companies and prevent State control of mineral production.

SINTRAMINERCOL condemns and calls for an end to the military and paramilitary actions against the population of La Gabarra and the south of Bolivar and expreses its deep anxiety for the life and safety of the President of the union, Francisco Ramirez, and the union and farmers’ leaders in the various mining regions of the country.

Call For Action:

To trade unions, human rights and social organisations:

1. Denounce, and take actions against, multinationals Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencor AG, CEMEX, Holcim Group, and Ladrillera Santafe, and in front of the embassies of Switzerland, the USA, Great Britain and México, condemning the multinationals for their responsibility for the liquidation of workers’ unions, assassinations of trade unionists and the increasing warfare in mineral-rich areas.

2. Send letters to the Colombian authorities, with a copy to the trade union, urging that the Government:

a) Halt the liquidation of MINERCOL and guarantee its functioning as a State enterprise which helps preserve national sovereignty over mineral resources, respecting the rights of the workers;

b) Stop the military and paramilitary operations against the people who live in mineral-rich areas, especially in La Gabarra, Norte de Santander and in the south of Bolivar;

c) Take the necessary steps to guarantee the right to life and safety of the President of SINTRAMINERCOL, Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, and the mining and farming leaders in these areas;

d) Order the army, State security organisations and other armed groups to suspend whatever order there may be against the life and safety of Francisco Ramírez and the mining and farming leaders.

SINTRAMINERCOL, Calle 32 No. 13-07, 3er piso Bogotá. Teléfono (57 1) 2456581, Fax (57 1) 5612829. A.A. 40369 Bogotá. Email:

Bogotá, Colombia, 2 February 2004

Colombian authorities:

His Excellency Alvaro Uribe Velez, President of the Republic, carrera 8 No. 7-26 Palacio de Nariño, Bogotá. Fax (57-1) 566 20 71. email:

Dr. Luis Ernesto Mejia Castro, Minister of Mines and Energy, Transversal 45 No. 26-86 Bogotá. Teléfono (57-1) 324 5262 email:

Dr. Sabas Pretel de la Vega, Minister of the Interior and of Justice.

World Bank and multinational companies:

James Wolfensohn, President, World Bank,
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.

Tel: *1 202 473-1000 Fax: *1 202 477-6391

Sir Mark Moody Stuart (Chair) and Tony Trahar (Chief Executive), Anglo American plc,

20 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AN, England.

Tel *44 (0)20 7698 8547 Fax *44 (0)20 7698 8637 E-mail (contact details given are for Edward Bickham, Executive Vice President for External Affairs)

Don Argus (Chair) and Charles Goodyear (Chief Executive), BHP Billiton,

180 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.

Tel *61 3 9609 3333 Fax *61 3 9609 3015

OR via BHP Billiton plc, Neathouse Place, London SW1V 1BH, England.

Tel *44 (0)20 7802 4000 Fax *41 (0)20 7802 4111

OR contact via e-mail via or tel *41 (0)20 7802 4084

The Chief Executive, GLENCOR,

Baarermattstrasse 3 - CH-6341 Baar - Switzerland
Tel *41 41 709 20 00 Fax *41 41 709 30 00 Telex *41 865272

The Chief Executive, HOLCIM,

Hagenholzstrasse 85, CH-8050 Zurich, Switzerland.

The Chief Executive, CEMEX,

Ave. Constitucion 444 pte, Col. Centro CP 64000, Monterrey NL, Mexico AP 392

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