MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2001-05-01


[1] All of the information about coca in the South of Bolívar comes from interviews with people involved in the trade in one way or another. In some cases we have also consulted the data of the peasant organisations. Where another source is used, this will be indicated.

[2] According to the Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes (op. cit.), only some 6000 of the countrys approx. 163 000 hectares of coca are in the department of Bolívar. Although these DNE figures are disputed, they serve to give us an approximation of the proportions and relative scale. Nevertheless, coca is very profitable in Bolívar, as 6000 hectares can generate gross income of 48 thousand million pesos for the peasants from the sale of paste alone, based on the lower sale price offered by the AUC of two million pesos a kilo.

[3] Here we draw a difference between those who benefit from the cultivation of the leaf by way of levies, wages for labouring and the sale of the secondary materials, and those who dedicate themselves to the production, sale and distribution of the final product, cocaine.

[4] Paramilitary boss Carlos Castaño has distanced himself from the trade in recent statements, and criticised those members of the AUC who are involved in drugs trafficking. On the 9th of September 2002 the Metro block of the AUC, which operates in Medellín, assumed the same position as Castaño. However, these seem to be tactical declarations, as post September 11th they feel they have to demonstrate their good intentions to the people of North America more.

[5] Moralitos is on the other side of the river from the municipal town of Morales and cannot be considered an area outside the control of the state.

[6] The levy was some two hundred thousand pesos per hectare per year, and had still to be fixed when we visited the zone.

[7] The guerrillas also collect levies. The ELN abolished its different rates of taxes on the trade in favour of a single per hectare levy. The quantity of this levy had yet to be decided when we visited the zone.

[8]State mining body now known as Minercol.

[9] The countrys potential is much greater than the Ministry of Mining statistics suggest, as 80% of the gold mining is done by traditional craftsmen who, due to a lack of technology and training, extract between 30% and 50% of the gold, wasting the rest because it is very fine gold which cannot be extracted with their traditional methods. Added to this is the fact that the statistics only reflect what is legally declared.

[10] Copy of the letter.

[11] Sintraminercol, 2002

[12] They are not the only companies she has represented. She has also represented other companies which have tried to carry out mining projects in the South of Bolívar such as the Compañía Minera Norosí Ltda.

[13] The interest of the company in these mines is due to the fact that they produce, according to Sintraminercol, a gross value of 65 million dollars a day!

[14] Sintraminercol, 2002

[15] Minga, undated document.

[16] Sintraminercol, op. cit.

[17] Letter of the 3rd of March 1997.

[18] Sintraminercol and testimony of residents.

[19] Testimony.

[20] Mesa Regional, Plan Integral, 1999.

[21] Testimony.

[22] San Pedro Frío is where the mines at the cente of the dispute between Conquistador Mines and the small miners are.

[23] Fedeagrominisbol and various inhabitants of the zone.

[24] Previously known as and refered to above as Asoagrominisbol

[25] Asocipaz, op. cit.

[26] Fedeagrominisbol 2002

[27] The communities of the South of Bolívar and the miners are not the only ones to have been affected by the paramilitary offensive. The president of the minerstrade union , Sintraminercol, has suffered three attacks and even had to leave the country for a year, which also affected the minerscapacity to receive advice on their disputes with the state and the multinationals.

[28] Sintraminercol op. cit

[29] Sintraminercol, op cit.

[30] Portafolio 27/06/02.

[31] Álvaro Pardo, interview, 2002.

[32] Letter to Alberto Henao, 29th of November 1999.

[33] Ibídem.

[34] El Tiempo, 30/05/02

[35] May and must are two distinct concepts in law, one allowing for the application of the law and the other making its application obligatory.

[36] All the quotes and references are from the Mining Code, Law 685 of August 15th 2001.

[37] In the case of the environmental authority of Quindío for example, the environmental quality controller had substantial investment in the very industry he was regulating and the environmental authority itself had investments in the forestry activity which they were in charge of regulating. See Wann et al : Report on Activities of Jefferson Smurfit Group in Colombia, xerox 1999.

[38] Although art. 227 says that they will pay no less than 0.4%, decree 2353 of November 01, 2001, modified on the 25th of January2002 establishes the quantity at 0.4%. When interviewed, Alvaro Pardo of the Ministery of Mining denied that this was true. As well as only paying 0.4%, they can pay it in kind; i.e. roads or other infrastructure beneficial to themselves.

[39] Articles 160 and 163 respectivamente (bold type ours).

[40] Álvaro Pardo, op cit.

[41] Sintraminercol op cit

[42] Decree 2200 of the 19th of October 2001.

[43] According to the data of the National Royalties Fund, in only three years (1995 1998), Córdoba went from 6,22% of the total national royalties for gold to 60,14%.

[44] Sintraminercol, op. cit.

[45] UPME, Estadísticas Minero Energéticos , May 2001.

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