Empower a rural Colombian community to protect a mountain ecosystem from mining

The citizens of the town of Cerrito, in the Santander department of Colombia, are organizing resistance to stop the imminent development of mining projects in the Almorzadero páramo.  The páramos are distinctive mountain ecosystems of alpine meadows, peat bogs, lakes, and forest that are rich in biodiversity.  They are known as a “water factories” for the unique role that their plant life play in drawing water out of the air and soil and distributing it to the surrounding area. The residents of Cerrito are dedicated to protecting the Almorzadero from mining because the coal that is under the high-altitude páramo is crucial to filtering the water that flows from the mountain-top into innumerable streams, rivers and lakes in Colombia, providing the population with clean water for small-scale farming and other vital needs.  For twenty years, the people of Cerrito have been resisting mining in the area, and have successfully blocked several mines proposed by multinational corporations and backed by the national government.
Through a process established by the Colombian constitution, the Cerritanos have created a popular initiative that would designate the Almorzadero páramo as a special zone where no mining activities are permitted.  The initiative would also give the citizens the general ability to create protected ecological zones and require that they be consulted about proposed land use projects in those zones before they are undertaken.  The municipal council is set to consider the initiative at the end of August and either pass, reject or modify it.

Take Action: Send an email to the municipal council of Cerrito urging them to pass the citizens’ initiative to stop mining in the Almorzadero páramo. In the email, express your support for the popular initiative, the protection of the Almorzadero, and the right of the citizens of Cerrito to make local land use decisions.  

Sr. Hugo Alberto Fernandez-Jaimes : alcaldia@cerrito-santander.gov.co
Mayor of Cerrito

Sr. Olinto Calderon- Basto : contactenos@cerrito-santander.gov.co
Cerrito City Council

You may use the following email or write your own.  
August 12, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen
Town council
Cerrito Municipality, Province of García Rovira
I’m writing to express my support for the community-backed initiative to protect the Almorzadero páramo from the imminent threat of mining.
This initiative is an important step in the two decades long struggle to prevent mining activities in this ecologically important area. This initiative will preserve the distinctive páramo ecosystem and ensure that the water needed for the life and livelihood of the regional population is not endangered.  
I would like to express my full support for this initiative and hope that you, as representatives of the people, recognize that this collective action of the citizens of Cerrito is an important action in defense of the environment and an advance in public participation in the political process in Colombia.  I urge you to give your full support to the passage of this initiative.
If you want to see some views of the Paramo del Almorzadero (Spanish)



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