The Colombia Support Network (CSN) expresses its outrage at the September 1, 2011 murder of Father Jose Reynel Restrepo, parish priest in the town of Marmato in central Colombia. Father Restrepo had spoken out against a plan by the Canadian mining company Grand Colombia Gold which would require the town of Marmato to be moved from its present location so that an open-pit gold mine could be developed there. The Canadian mining interest in Colombia fits with the recent approval by Colombia and Canada of a so-called bilateral Free Trade Agreement, which we believe will have deleterious consequences for both countries, but particularly for rural communities in Colombia.
Town residents in Marmato have opposed the Gran Colombia Gold plan, which would also close down small-scale artisan mining in the highland area where Marmato is located. This small-scale mining has been a feature of the area since the Spanish conquest and, according to the Mayor of Marmato, provides employment for some 2,000 miners, upon whose earnings the town depends. The Mayor also has pointed out that years ago an agreement had been reached to keep the highlands where Marmato is located available for small-scale mining, while allowing the Colombian government to develop mining projects in the lowlands. This accord would be breached by the proposed open-pit mine in the highland areas where the town is located.
Father Restrepo critiziced publically the Canadian mining plan, which he noted would undermine the livelihood of Marmato’s artisan miners and cause tremendous damage to the community and its residents. On August 28, 2011 a video (with English subtitles) in which he spoke out against the Medoro mining plan was placed on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuEboyypwV4
Or see this one in an article published by PASC; http://www.pasc.ca/en/article/colombia-priest-shot-dead-mining-town-where-canadian-company-lead-mining-project. Three days later Father Restrepo was murdered as he traveled by motorcycle between Marmato and a neighboring community. The persons responsible for his murder have not yet been identified, nor has the cause of the attack on Father Restrepo been determined. But few doubt that his murder was related to his outspoken objection to the Gran Colombia Gold mine plan.
Please write to Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón at : firstname.lastname@example.org and his Human Rights Director Hernan Ulloa at : email@example.com
We suggest the following as a model for Government officials :
I am very distressed at the news of the murder of Father Jose Reynel Restrepo of the historic Colombian community of Marmato, who was killed after he spoke out publicly against the plan of Canadian gold mining company Gran Colombia Gold to destroy Marmato, eliminate the small-scale mining which has supported community residents for centuries, and relocate residents, so that an open-pit gold mine can be developed on the site of the community. I call upon you to stop this development at once. Preserve the livelihood of the residents of Marmato, and call for the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for Father Restrepo’s murder.
(Your Name and Address)
And write or call at Gran Colombia Resources to :
Peter Volk, Gran Colombia Gold General Counsel and VP : firstname.lastname@example.org
333 Bay Atreet, Suite 1100 Toronto, Ontario M5H 2R2 Tel (416) 603 – 4653
We suggest the following model for Grancolombia Gold :
I am very distressed at the news of the murder of Father Jose Reynel Restrepo of Marmato, who was killed after he spoke out publicly against your company’s plan to destroy Marmato, and relocate residents, so that an open-pit gold mine can be developed on the site of the community, which has existed there for nearly 500 years. I call upon you to stop this development at once. Preserve the livelihood of the residents of Marmato. And reveal any links of your company to the murder of Father Restrepo and call for the prosecution and conviction of those responsible. In light of his murder and in remembrance of him, renounce your company’s destructive plan to mine in Marmato.