(Translated by Cecilia Zarate – Laun, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Directors of Anglo American
Coordinator of Relations with the Community Beatriz Maya Chavez
Reference : Answering to letter from March 5, 2015
Dear Sirs of Anglo – American:
We write this letter as Ancestral People Inga from the Colonial Reservation of San Andres, municipality of Santiago, along with the Kamentsa Community and with all the Indigenous Councils in Upper Putumayo, Colombia, after a massive mobilization took place of more than a thousand people in a Minga to defend our territory. We want to reiterate the following:
1. We celebrate with extreme joy the decision taken by Anglo-American by which you determine definitively not to proceed with the project “ Exploratory Diamantine Perforation of 4 Wells”. We also demand that you definitively and forever pull out of all the projects on our territory, which belongs to the Inga and Kamentsa people. Also besides Anglo – American we want all the mining companies to leave definitively and forever our territory as a place to carry out mining and exploit natural resources, ignoring that in our cosmic vision those resources play a fundamental place for the natural balance of Mother Earth. Every time those resources are taken, the balance and equilibrium of planet earth is altered. It is about time that all mining companies revalue their projects in Colombia and throughout the world, given the fact that the balance of mother earth is being disturbed and the consequences of that are being felt around the world.
2.It is our responsibility to disclose this important information because we are deeply worried about the mining intentions of this company, Anglo – American, or as a matter of fact of any company with the same intentions concerning our natural resources.
3. It is impossible to approve your request of “granting a space to give us the information of your decision”, given the fact that we have felt deceived and harmed in our good faith, because you were not clear or transparent with our communities, both Inga from San Andres and Kamentsa from our Territory. You never gave us truthful previous information, free or knowledgeable with respect to your real mining intentions in our territory; you allied with the section of Prior Consultation of the Ministry of Interior to advance at your convenience the process of “prior consultation and the proportionality test”, harming due process and our fundamental rights as original people. You never formally notified us of the following:
– The population was called for a one and only prior consultation. However this meeting was deceitful, because it was presented by the company as the beginning of the process of prior consultation, a situation that was rejected by the authorities and the Inga population of San Andres.
– Later on, on March 12, 2014, we learned that the Ministry of Interior was calling meetings, which were called workshops of impact, a totally unknown issue to both the population and the Inga authorities of San Andres. In this way they were violating our collective rights, natural rights, and Law of Origin, all of which are consecrated in the Constitution of Colombia, and rights, international agreements and declarations which protect the indigenous people and the environment.
– Anglo-American S.A. and the Ministry of Interior were supposed to be advancing in “ the process of prior consultation” since 2011, and in February of 2015 the Ministry of Interior certified the non- existence of indigenous population with respect to the Anglo-American project and then called for the Test of Proportionality framed under Presidential Directive # 10 of November 7, 2013 for the project “perforation exploration diamantine of 4 wells”. This meeting was called for March 15, 2015 at the offices of the Ministry of Interior.
4. We demand that Anglo-American repair the environmental, social and cultural damages that it has generated, harming our Inga population of San Andres and the Kamentsa population, which is an original indigenous community in our lands, because your arrival as Anglo-American to our territory has not been transparent as it was said to have been. Anglo-American has violated our fundamental rights arising from the Law of Origin. The company was allied with the Ministry of Interior’s Office of Prior Consultation.
5. We demand from Anglo-American and from the Office of Prior Consultation of the Ministry of Interior, that they repeal the certification of February 10, 2015 which denies our existence for the project “perforation exploration diamantine of 4 wells”, and correct the record to show our presence in the area for such a project, because it is part of our sacred lands upon which life depends for our communities in the Upper and Lower Putumayo and the Amazonic region.
6. We demand that the “process of prior consultation” for this project “perforation exploration diamantine of 4 wells” be repealed, because it violates due process, and rights which we have coming from natural law, rights present in our Colombian Constitution and rights, agreements and international declarations that protect indigenous populations.
7. WITH RESPECT TO THE DOCUMENT FROM MARCH 30, 2014, WE DETERMINE AS FOLLOWS:
OUR PEOPLES, INGA AND KAMENTSA FROM THE SIBUNDOY VALLEY AND PUTUMAYO, STAND FIRM WITH OUR VOICE AS MILLENIAL DESCENDANTS AND AS ORIGINAL PEOPLE IN THESE LANDS BEFORE THE WORLD, TO REJECT any kind of process of mining which affects the individuality, the collectivity and the environment; and we also reject a process where government institutions are involved, siding partially with the multinational Anglo-American S.A.
According to our thought and cosmogony, our ancestral territories Tabanok and Alpamama form a unity, united by the waters and spirit of wind, where the mountains give birth to pure waters that travel to refresh rainforests and come from them to form clouds in their sacred places, transported by the spirit of the wind, where again they transform themselves into liquid water. And this natural cycle of water production between the mountains and the jungle was not invented by men but rather by its creator BëngeBëtsa (Our Creator) to guarantee a healthy life and environment. It is he who left the mountains and the jungle well organized to protect the lives of everybody. We as elders keep feeling that this persecution to our communities and indigenous people goes on. They do not want to hear us or to respect the rights we have as original inhabitants of this territory. We did not come from anywhere. We are the Kamentsa Yentsang. We were born from mother earth in the Sibundoy Valley. No scientific study in the world has demonstrated that we came from some other place. But today they want us to disappear from our own territory through the very serious consequences that these projects bring.
By the same principles, the Law of Origin delegates to us the care and defense of our territory, in order to avoid that tragedy enter our lives. We are not only responsible for this territory, but also for the lives of our brothers in the Amazon region who feed themselves from it, because they depend upon the care we give to the mountains, the paramos, water and the surrounding lands.
The Amazon is considered “the lungs of the world” and it is the great reservation to mitigate the impact of global warming, which advances quickly. The Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos has made international commitments to protect the Amazon Region from deforestation, and these mining and infra-structure projects in the region represent devastation of nature and of the indigenous people such as ourselves who inhabit it . Because our territory is the entrance to the Colombian Amazon.