November 01, 2006

Colombia Support Network Report

(For more information please contact the Colombia Support Network Email

Since 1998 the war for the control and exploitation of the natural resources in the region of Southern Bolivar State in the northwestern region of Colombia is destroying the social organizing en this region. The region is known for having one of the largest gold mines in the Western Hemisphere besides oil, emeralds and a great variety of bio diversity in fauna and flora, and water. The rural peasant and small mining communitites who inhabit the area have been taking care of the natural resources exploiting them with elementary tools. The Colombian state has abandoned the area : there is practically no infra-structure in roads, telephones, sewer system, water treatment for these rural communities who lately have resourced to plant coca plants for the production of cocaine to survive. The inhabitants can not take their products to the markets for the lack of roads.The area also was the site of guerrillas like the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

On March 3 of 1997 a paramilitary group invaded the town of Rio Viejo and assassinated the head of the miners union, posting his head on a stick facing the Serrania de San Lucas, where the gold mine is located and telling the community they should allow the entrance of the multnationals since they would bring developments and jobs.

At the end of 1997 the paramilitary group known at the time as Autodefensas Campesinas de Cordoba y Uraba ( ACCU) anounced its intention to control this territory from the hands of the guerrillas. On November 7 , 1997 combats started and the ACCU took over the mountains and blocked the entrance of food and medicines for the inhabitants. ACCU attacked by land , river and the air aided by helicopters and small planes. On their path they left death and loneliness by killing civilians, burning their homes, robbing cattle and property, raping women, massacres, torture, beheding peope and displacing most of the inhabitants of the region accusing them of being guerrilla collaborators, punishing the population. Openly the paramilitary group spoke of preparing the region for the exploitation of its natural resources through the investment of large sums of capital.

Here is the description of some of the doings of the paramilitaries when entering the region as described by the Regional Working Group of the Magdalena Medio from direct testimony from the communities of Southern Bolivar state :

On Friday November 6 180 men dress with uniforms and carrying arms came at 1 p.m. in nine motor boats and with a list of names killed a citizen called Michel Hernandez. Then they went to the place called Sudan and took off a boat Nilson Polanco 20 years old who was beaten and decapitated in front of the population. Then they killed another youth who was 23 years old. With a list on their hands they asked for several families from the town. Former Mayor from Tiquisio Arcesio Perez introduced himself as the commander of the paramilitary group.Hilario Torres former City Council member is one of his main helpers.

On Saturday November 7, 1997 at 8 in the morning about 50 ELN guerrilas waited in trenches for the arrival of the paramilitary group. They arrived in 10 motorboats, starting the atack. After two hours of combat the guerrilla retrieved because they were attacked by helicopters. This state of war takes place in the area of the Serrania de San Lucas.

The inhabitants observe that when there is fighting and there are dead paramilitaries, their corpses are picked up minutes later by a grey helicopter. People believe this helicopters leaves from Corozal, near the militarybase. Brigadier General Fernando Millan from the Colombian army publically recognized that two Army helicopters and two private ones are in the area under his command.

In the hamlet of La Mocha they burned 40 houses and kidnapped an indetermined number of peasanta to use them as human shields. The whereabouts of these persons is unknown. When the paramilitaries arrived to Pueblito Mejia, the inhabitants had left the town. 200 houses were burned and 2 persons were killed. In the outskirts of this town they burned the cooperative of the Peasant Association and killed 12 people. On Friday night they burned 100 homes in Mina Azul. In the hamlet of Buena Sena the paramilitaries burned 205 homes from a total of 211.On Sunday November 22 in Norosi 42 houses were burned On November 26 the whole population in the town of Monterrey was sieged and have no possibility of displace themselves.

In the town La Cooperativa two children 3 and 5 year-old were beheaded. They were taked from their mother’s arms and the men in this family were killed by machetes accused of being guerrillas. Town after town ther destroy and kill whatever they find according to the people who run into the mountains escaping from the invasion as described by widows, mothers and relatives who lost their loved ones. People describe bombings and the use of machine-guns. The paras carry laminated lists of names. There is no food in the area. People are cut in pieces, dismembered and decapitated. The guerrilla uses land mines and occupies community places. The ELN dennounced acts of antropofagia by the ACCU.

Ther are no official reports to establish numbers of anything.

Counter- insurgency Battallion # 27 Rogelio Correa Campos from the Colombian Army arrived in Arenal after the paramilitaries have left. The same with Battallions Los Guanes and Narino. People have seen the Army patroling with civilians and it does not go after the ACCU but stays in the territory making check-points, seeking land mines. They do not stop the helicopters that help the ACCU

As a consequence of these there is a massive displacement of the population in the area and with no place to go. To summarize this first incursion 10 towns were destroyed, more than 1,000 homes were burned, 400 persons were massacred and 35,000 were displaced.

Since that time the situation has not changed for the population of this region. Last September 9 , 2006, CSN received the following statement from the Asociation of Miners. Our communities have worked and lived in this region, as miners and peasants for several generations. Ten years ago, MNC’s from the mining sector, attracted by the great mineral wealth of this region have wanted to take over our territory, developing as years pass the same strategy that is used in other parts of the country: terror and killings with the support of the State and the paramilitaries. This strategy calls for a total militarization of the region in order to displace those who are the legitimate owners of the region in order to leave in the hands of MNC’s our territory. On September 19 members of the Colombian Army, “New Granada” Battallion cowardly assassinated our leaders ALEJANDRO URIBE accusing him of being a guerrilla. The same Battallion appropiated documents of the Federation of Miners and Peasants according to an Urgent Action sent by communities in the region. These same communities ask the national government to reject the pretension of the multinational KEDAHDA to take over by legal and ilegal means their territory.

Colombia Support Network requests to do the following Urgent Action :


On September 19, 2006, Alejandro Uribe, a well-respected leader of the community of Mina Gallo in the South of Bolivar Department, was murdered by Colombian Army personnel. Mr. Uribe, a peasant and a small-scale miner was president of the Mina Gallo Community Action Board. The Army misrepresented his killing to the news media as that of a guerrilla in combat. About 600 inhabitants of the region traveled to the headquarters of the Nueva Granada Battallion of the Army’s Fifth Brigade in Santa Rosa demanding the return of the body of Alejandro Uribe.

On September 21, the Army responded by threatening the assembled community members, saying “ he (Uribe) will not be the only dead person you are going to have. There will be more dead leaders”. The Army had previously indicated it had a list of leaders of the region and members of the miners’ federation, whom they hoped to find walking alone in paths in the vicinity of their homes.

General Jose Joaquin Cortes of the Army’s Fifth Brigade suggested that Alejandro Uribe was an ELN guerrilla carrying an AK-47 rifle and was accompanied by five guerrillas, and died in an army-guerrilla combat, all of which the community residents totally reject.

What really is going on here is that the Colombian Army is engaged in uprooting peasants and small-scale miners by attacking their leaders such as Alejandro Uribe, so that the multinational mining corporation Kedahda can enter the region and undertake mining operations on peasants’ and miners’ lands the government of president Alvaro Uribe has improperly licensed or conveyed to this company for mining development

Please write to

US to demand that the US government cut off all aid to the Colombian military which is openly engaged in the forced displacement and murder of civilians whose lives and properties it is suppose to protect.

In the States please write to :

Your Senators and Representatives. See our website

Condoleeza Rice . See

Ambassador to Colombia Mr. William Wood:

Kevin Murakami, Human Rights Officer, U.S. Embassy, Bogota, Colombia.

And write government officials in South Africa and Canada to tell them you very much disapprove of the actions of Kedahda, a corporation with headquarters in these two countries. Please ask them to investigate this company. Kedahda should recognize the rights and property of of the Colombian peasants and miners and must refrain from seeking the assistance of the Colombian Army in obtaining mining lands. Kedahda is expected to act honestly and should not seek to receive or develop mining lands ilegally or by threatening or killing those who live upon and work these lands and mines.

South African Parliament
Mr. Emmanuel Nkosinathi
Fax 021 461 5372

Canadian Parliament
Ms.Angela Crandall
Fax (613) 996 1962

Finally to Colombian Government to urge that it
1)Investigate the atrocities committed by the Colombian military and punished those responsible ;
2)to protect small scale miners and peasants recognizing their legitimate right to the lands they are occupying and the mines they have been working and
3) Refrain entering into bogus contracts with multinational corporations such as Kedahda to give them valuable mining concessions in lands where small scale miners and peasants have already established their right to possession; 4) And demand that the Army deliver the list of proposed victims to the Procurador General’s office for an investigation

S.E. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, President of Colombia

[OR to better send e-mail to Uribe login to and click on
ESCRIBALE AL PRESIDENTE at the bottom of the page.

Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Minister of Defense,

General Jose Joaquin Cortes

Dr. Francisco Santos, Vicepresidente de la República,
Téls. (+571) 334.45.07, (+573) 7720130,
E-mail: ;

Dr. Edgardo Maya
Procurador General

See updated information in our web News Section in our CSN web

Please Support our work. We need your support ! Click "Donate" from our main Web page.


Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621

Public Hearings on Mining
Findings of the People’s Court on Multinationals and Paramilitary Forces in Colombia

Santa Rosa
Southern Bolivar Region
August 16, 2006

The representatives of diverse organizations, (many based in the southern Bolivar Region and others from elsewhere in Colombia or in the world), invited groups representing, or working in solidarity with farm workers, miners, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and students to convene in Santa Rosa on August 15-16, 2006 to hold hearings related to a lawsuit against the Kedhada Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Anglogold Ashanti multinational corporation. The Company’s natural resource extraction projects have seriously compromised miners’ rights in our Region, particularly through its use of ad hoc armed forces to control its workers.

Our findings after these two days of deliberations include the following:

1. When miners in this region have applied to the Bolivar Region’s Mining Office for permits, or to add on to their existing mining titles, they’ve found out that the Kedhada Company already established contractual rights to nearly all of the untitled known mines in the Region. This Company has now requested similar priority rights in 336 Colombian municipalities. These same operational strategies were reported in Quinchía and in Risaralda, among many other sites.

2. These strategies have succeeded because of changes made just a few years ago in Colombia’s Mining Code to benefit multinational mining interests. These changes have harmed our miners who, for decades, have risked or loss their lives to maintain their sole source of income. The changes have also compromised the quality of life of our communities, our regions, our indigenous peoples and our Afro-Colombian population.

3. Under the current Mining Code, impoverished miners are unable to meet the requirements for obtaining legal mining titles. This leaves many miners and their families no alternative but to continue working in the mines and selling the gold on the black market. Many have thus faced extreme poverty due to the vagaries of this secondary market. It was also noted the these new provisions in the Mining Code have inured to the benefit of municipalities and regions that are not even mining gold, given that some of the resulting profit is used to finance paramilitary activities in various non-mining regions in Colombia.

4. Although it has only been proven that the Kedhada Company is now surveying mining sites under the jurisdictions of Buena Seña, San Martín de Loba and La Cruz, all indications are that over the next decade this multinational will have established the requisite infrastructure to survey the southern Bolivar region at will. The Company will by then have gained title to those mines which seem most profitable, without any regard for the presence of farm workers, many of whom have worked on the lands for decades. Our early research indicates that this Company ignores concerns related to proper decontamination. This region’s great gold wealth could soon help fund further violence, displacements and plundering instead of benefiting our people.

5. Our miner and farm worker community participants have further testified that many government bureaucrats and workers from international agencies have obtained valuable information from them, then gone on to work for the Kedhada Company. They’ve exploited our good will, betraying our communities’ trust in their motives. We have also heard testimony which indicates that the region’s police and armed forces are increasingly prone to defend this multinational corporation’s interests. Now, more than ever, they work to convince our fellow farm workers that this Company represents progress for the region, and that they should therefore comply with the Company’s demands. We also learned that many government workers have negotiated substantial kickbacks from this Company in exchange for their direct support or for their deliberate complacency.

6. Before the Kedhada Company was incorporated as a legal entity, its parent company, Anglogold Ashanti, tried to obtain titles, through shady dealings, to an extensive 7000 hectares (over 17,000 acres) in the southern Bolivar region, specifically to lands under the jurisdiction of San Pedro Frío, El Paraíso, Mina Gallo and Montecristo. It has been proven that when their negotiations were faltering, the region was invaded by paramilitary forces who committed many crimes against miners, creating a veritable reign of terror through forced displacements, ‘disappearances,’ closing off certain areas to food imports, routine threats and even assassinations. This proves how badly a situation can deteriorate when economically powerful entities seek to exploit natural resources in or near communities that won’t simply cede their rights.

7. Recently, since we began to define and expose this Company’s modus operandi in our region, there has been a growing paramilitary presence, even after these ‘armed actors’ were to have been disbanded. We’ve also noted an increased use of private security forces to defend Kedhada’s interests. Some of our communities must now live with the intimidation of having government soldiers announce the imminent arrival of paramilitary forces. We’re told, for example that the paramilitary "Aguilas Negras," or "Black Eagles," will "not look favorably upon" those who oppose the Company’s presence. This makes it all the more worrisome that a special army battalion has recently been assigned to the mining zone of San Pedro Frío.

8. Given the testimony that has been presented at this public hearing, the People’s Court participants declare our commitment to defend our fundamental rights, territories and communities against these violations. We call for a unified, widespread resistance movement among the farm workers, miners, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians affected by the Kedhada Company’s plans and activities in our area.


Drummond Corporation was sued in a US Court in Alabama for conspiracy with paramilitaries to kill union leaders, after years of abuses. The company used standard procedures to work with private security agencies to protect their grounds. They buy armaments, munitions, uniforms, communication equipment, gasoline and provides salaries and transportation vehicles. The Company hires former officers of the Colombian Army .

Valmore Locarno and Victor Orcasita were taking out of the company bus when leaving the mine even if they pled with the company to led them stay overnight. This violence has a clear political and economic logic: to clear areas for globalization and to welcome foreign investments and exports diminishing the social responsibilities of the State increasing povery and inequality.


Post a Comment

<< Home