Activist calls on us to protest Anglo American’s Colombian mine | World Development Movement

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Activist calls on us to protest Anglo American’s Colombian mine

By Nikki Ray, 5 April 2013

The World Development Movement recently hosted Tatiana Roa Avendaño, an activist resisting the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia. Watch the video below to see what she said about Cerrejón when she visited Anglo American's headquarters.

Cerrejón is a giant open-pit coal mine in La Guajira, northern Colombia. The mine is jointly owned by three of the world's largest mining companies; London-listed Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata. Tatiana told us about how the Colombian government has presented Cerrejón as an example of responsible mining. However this is far from the truth. The Cerrejón mine is located in Wayúu indigenous territory and when mining began 30 years ago local people were not consulted. Instead their lands were seized and communities were forcibly displaced, violating their constitutional land rights. The Colombian government has failed to adequately compensate any of the affected communities.

Pollution and dust from the coal mine has caused the contamination of water supplies and the air. Indigenous groups report that their traditional lifestyle has been badly affected, soil pollution has caused failed crops, fishing areas have been contaminated and displacement has disturbed inter-community relations. The creation of the mine has failed to significantly boost the local economy – La Guajira is still one of Colombia’s poorest regions. Paramilitaries from the mining company continue to threaten and pressurise local communities.

Tatiana reported that over 700 mine workers have suffered from back and respiratory illnesses. A worker’s strike began at Cerrejón on 7 February 2013 to protest about poor pay, illness and the expansion of the mine that would result in the diversion of the local river by 26 kilometres. The strike lasted a month and was supported by indigenous peoples, farmers and trade unions.

You can join us to oppose Anglo American’s Cerrejón coal mine at their AGM on Friday 19 April at 1pm. At Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. London Mining Network, supported by WDM and our allies, have also organised an event Stories of Resistance (Monday 15 April) a chance to hear testimonies from communities across the global south who have resisted mining companies destroying their communities.

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Written by

Nikki Ray

Nikki is a campaigns and policy intern at WDM. She studied African Studies with Development at the University of Birmingham.

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