(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Marmato, August 4, 2013
After nineteen days of protests all over the country against the mining policies of Juan Manuel Santos, the national miners’ strike is continuing. In Marmato, there were fourteen days of calm, the result of an agreement between the local authorities and the strike committee that the Pan-American Highway would be blocked for two-hour periods throughout the day. But ever since August 2 there have been serious confrontations because of the statements and the pressure by one Senator and because of an order from the Defense Minister to lift any blockage, whatever it takes..
Because the Strike Committee, both at the national level and in the municipality of Marmato, has always insisted on keeping agreements to carry out the protests in a peaceful manner, and keeping in mind that the violent incursion of the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron) has complicated the situation in the town, we declare that:
1. The events in which a vehicle unfortunately went off the Pan-American Highway toward the Cauca River, had nothing to do with the protest that was being carried out in the municipality. On August 2, the day of the accident, all of the demonstrators were at the entrance to Marmato–located more than one kilometer from the events—resisting the attackes by the armed forces. We are deeply sorry for what happened and we ask that the authorities and the news media to be responsible in their treatment of the information, because there are numerous versions being spread around about the accident and not one has been confirmed by the authorities.
2. We reject the statements by the Mayor of Marmato, Héctor Osorio, in which he asserted that there had been attacks on several establishments and institutions in the town, disrupting the peace in the area. The people and the organizations that make up the strike committee in the municipality have always made it clear that the protest is to be carried out in a peaceful manner and without affecting the people of Marmato. No call to violence can be inferred from any statement or communication from the committee or from the leaders of the strike, much less urging attacks on installations, people, or entities. We urge the Mayor to retract his statement and to come to the municipality, because his absence in such delicate moments, because of supposed threats against him, has generated a lot of discontent among the people who consider his action to be an irresponsible avoidance of his responsibilities as leader of the municipal government.
3. We reject the statements of the Caldas Province Secretary of Government Fernando Hely Mejía, in which he stated, without any basis in fact, that two busloads of people from the La Frontera de Chinchiná neighborhood had arrived at the demonstration to create disturbances. During the 19 days of the strike, no people have come from that sector, much less to promote disruption of public order. Instead of making deceitful declarations, they ought to concentrate on taking care of these problems and serving as mediators with the national government.
4. Because of the impassiveness and intransigence of the national government, the miners’ strike is continuing in the municipality of Marmato, and so we are continuing to demand a serious and responsive attitude toward the just petitions brought by the small-scale miners throughout the country. That does not mean making the transnationals happy while attacking the Colombian people. That is not how a nation ought to be governed.
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