Communities from Throughout Colombia Meet in Medellín to Search for Ways to Protect the Region from Problems Caused by the Mining and Energy Industries

Author: Felipe Cardona
Translated by: Rudy Heller, CSN Volunteer Translator
Edited by: Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Editor

More than 100 members of various social action organizations from throughout Colombia met in Medellín for the “Mining and Energy Policy Forum: Dispossession and Resistance in Colombia.” The purpose of the Forum was to analyze the problem region by region and to coordinate a national mobilization to protect Colombia from its government’s “engines” of economic growth.

The event took place on February 16, 17, and 18, in the Casa de Conviviencia in the Fe y Alegria School [Fellowship Hall of the Faith and Joy School] in the Zamora neighborhood of Medellín and in the auditorium of the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquía (ADIDA) [Teachers’ Association of Antioquía]. Participants included regional organizations from Nariño, Santander, Córdoba, Chocó, Sur de Bolívar, Suárez (Cauca), El Quimbo (Huila), Guarinó and Marmato (Caldas), Sogamoso (Boyacá), Anchicayá (Valle del Cauca) and from counties of Antioquía including Argelia, Angelópolis, Betulia, Briceño, Caramanta, Cocorná, Dabeiba, Frontino, Granada, Ituango, Jardín Jericó, Santuario, San Andrés de Cuerquia, San Francisco, San Luis, Támesis, Toledo, Valparaíso, and youth representatives from Medellín’s Comuna 8, as well as social action and workers’ organizations from Medellín and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation [a political education foundation supporting social justice and based in Germany]. This forum was organized thanks to the response of social action and workers’ organizations that have organized and mobilized against mining and hydroelectric projects. Within the economic, political and social context in which most Colombians live, “the arrival of multinational mining companies has resulted in the destruction of the social fabric, the militarization of entire regions, the forced displacement of communities, and, in these regions, it has changed the traditional economic dynamic in agriculture and fishing. If the pending proposed mega-projects are approved, alarming environmental problems will be created that will endanger the nation’s biodiversity, water, and food safety,” according to the comments of Narciso Beleño, a director of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (FEDEAGROMISBOL), a participant in the Forum. Presently, as reported by the Red Colombiano Frente a la Gran Minería Transnacional (RECLAME) [Colombian Network Confronting Multinational Mining], there are petitions for mining concessions for 40% of Colombia.

Analysis, Discussion, and Proposal

Delegates arrived on Thursday, the sixteenth, and that evening, pointing out the area of impact of the mining or hydroelectric project on a Colombian map, they described the problems faced by their respective regions. The complexity of the problems and the enormous resistance of local communities were evident from the start.

On the second day, more than 300 people attended the public forum, which took place in the ADIDA. Speakers were Andrés Idárraga, Insituto Nacional Sindical (CEDINS) [center for research and publishing on social action]; Edgar Mojica, Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) [Colombian oil workers’ union]; Cristina Zuleta, Mujeres Ideales de Ituango [Exemplary Women of Ituango]; and Bernardo Sitton Bejerano, from the Panamanian Ngabe Buklé indigenous community, who is a member of the Frente Nacional por la Defensa de los Derechos Sociales y Económicos de Panamá (Frenadeso) [National Front for the Defense of Social and Economic Rights in Panama]. Sitton spoke of the problems caused by a hydroelectric megaproject of the Empresas Públicas de Medellín [Medellin Public Utilities Company].

The meeting broke into working groups divided between mining problems and energy problems in which they assessed the organizations’ problems, options and strategies. As the meeting ended, they developed strategies and organization and specified plans of action and national agendas for mobilization for the coming year.

This was an educational opportunity for each organization in every region. The Congreso de los Pueblos [People’s Congress] was recognized as the coordinating body for social action and workers’ organizations, the political setting in which suitable legislation will be proposed which will permit people to remain on their land and communities to practice self-determination. As the meeting came to a close, they concluded that the struggle is not only to oppose multinationals and the megaprojects that affect all regions, but also to confront the “laws of dispossession,” that is, the economic and political model, and to build alternatives to this with life plans for a different country.


This is not the first opportunity organized to seek solutions to the mining and energy problem. In Cali, from September 30, through October 4, 2011, the Congeso de los Pueblos held the Conference on Lands, Territories, and Sovereignty, which dealt with these same problems and which resulted in proposals collected in mandates for self-determination in matters of construction, care and defense of the territory.

Date Published: February 23, 2012
Source: Notiagen
Link:­‐de-­‐todo-­‐el-­‐pais-­‐se-­‐ encuentran-­‐en-­‐medellin-­‐para-­‐discutir-­‐problematicas-­‐minero-­‐energeticas-­‐en-­‐busca-­‐de-­‐la-­‐ defensa-­‐del-­‐territorio/

(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)

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