Defending life, resisting destruction: communities and coal mining in Colombia

"Your operations generate displacement, they dispossess us of our territory, and they result in a loss of our culture and of our cultural identity. It generates internal community divisions such as is the case with the internal divisions caused to the organisations of my community of Tabaco." Samuel Arregoces

BHP Billiton part-owns the massive Cerrejon opencast coal mine in Colombia. It also has opencast coal operations in Australia, Indonesia, and South Africa. And it produces oil and gas and is involved in fracking in the USA. 

Danilo Urrea of CENSAT Agua Viva (Friends of the Earth Colombia) and Friends of the Earth International said that CENSAT had been accompanying the communities in La Guajira in the north of Colombia, where the El Cerrejón mine operates. He continued:

“Throughout these years we have witnessed the irresponsible behaviour of the Colombian state in the face of conflicts related to coal mining, generated by the Cerrejón mine. We have also witnessed systematic, repeated and irreparable damages that your company has generated, and the inadequate way in which Cerrejón has responded to these impacts.

“We are also aware of the abuses of corporate power which can be seen in the following ways:

Negotiations which have resulted in the subjugation of communities
Processes of community division
Not respecting signed agreements
A pretence of corporate social responsibility
Privatisation of Water

“These elements have generated the dispossession of ethnic communities from their territory.

“These situations lead us to believe that shareholders of the Cerrejón should profoundly consider what is currently happening with their company in Colombia.

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