The Miners’ Strike Starts on Wednesday

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)

Last month the miners of Caldas and Risaralda were stood up in Irra.  Now they are announcing a strike that will take place next Wednesday.

Thursday July 11, 2013

LA PATRIA (newspaper)/ Manizales

The deadline has passed and on next Wednesday July 17 the miners of this country will go on strike in defense of small-scale mining.  They say that the government has not carried out what it agreed to and that is why they will demonstrate indefinitely in several parts of Colombia.  In Caldas the gatherings will be in the sector known as Quiebralomo and at the entrance to Marmato, on the road from Manizales to Medellín. On that highway there will also be a blockage in Irra (Risaralda).  There are probably 1500 miners in both provinces.

Alexánder Garcés Vega, Executive Director of the Federation of Small-Scale Miners in Caldas and Risaralda, stated, “There will be a peaceful and indefinite protest.  The idea is to demand that the government allow us to work in cubic meter mining, which is how we work in artesanal mining, but the law considers it illegal because we use a motorized pump”.

Another demand that the miners will make is that Law No. 2235 be repealed. ”The government is using this to try to criminalize small-scale mining.  They confiscate machinery, they file criminal complaints that threaten from three to eight years of prison, and there is harassment going on,” Garcés stated.

Federation statistics show that sixty (60) miners have been arrested in Caldas in the last two months and 150 in the Coffee Zone.  “They say that we didn’t pay royalties, and last year the miners’ contribution was nearly 157,000,000,000 pesos (roughly $87,230,000),” the Director said.

They will hold out.

According to the organizers, they have been considering the strike since last year, when they first set forth their conditions to the government.  Those were focused on formalizing mining, entering into contracts with the multinationals, and development of cubic meter mining.  Organizers argued that beginning in 2012 their conditions were not being met and that they lost patience this year when the government actually closed the deadlines for formalization applications on May 10 and refused to open new ones, so  May 17 was the date established to start the demonstrations in the country.

Given those dates, the miners created a fund, money that they thought would sustain the strike until there could be dialogs and their demands could be met.  They also gathered members of indigenous communities in Caldas and Risaralda who have influence in mining areas where the multinationals are going ahead with their explorations.

In the country

The strike will take place in Caldas, Risaralda, Huila, La Guajira, Cesar, Córdoba, Antioquia, Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Meta.

The law

Law No. 2235, October 2012, provides:

Destruction of heavy machinery and parts that have been used for exploration or mineral exploitation without authorizations and compliance with the regulations established in the Law.  When mining exploration or exploitation is carried out by any natural person or legal entity without a mining permit filed in the National Mining Registry and an environmental permit or its equivalent, if one is required, destruction of the heavy equipment and the parts identified in Article 6 of Decision 774 of 2012 by the Andean Community of Nations shall proceed, regardless of who has possession of them or has acquired them.



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