Mines & Territory, May 2019

Laura Garcia | Colombia, Colombia, Mining, Mines&Territory, Mines&Territory, Mining


May 2019

Collection, summary and edition by Sam Packet, Karlijn Van den Broeck and Laura García

Download Mines & Territory, May 2019 here.


May 2019

News comes and goes. With social media as the main outlet for civil society organizations in Colombia to get their stories heard, a story can be famous for a day after which it disappears in the mass information. Mines & Territory aims to register and share these stories for longer than just a viral thread. Mines & Territory collects the most remarkable events that have occurred in the past month regarding extractivist matters in Colombia and summarizes them in English ans Spanish so that the information is accessible to anyone interested and raises awareness internationally to the current eco-socio realities in Colombia.

Terrorist attack against Francia Márquez and other leaders of black communities in Northern Cauca

France Márquez Mina, social leader in the Cauca province and winner in 2018 of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, also called the environmental Nobel Prize, denounced on May 4th that strangers opened fire on her while she was accompanied by several colleagues preparing a meeting with the National government. Although she got out unharmed, two of her escorts got injured in the attack.

Recognized internationally for her tireless fight against the exploitation of gold in the area of the Ovejas River in the municipality of Suarez, Cauca, where she is originally from, Francia managed through a tutelage action in 2009 that the Constitutional Court removed the mining titles which were owned by the multinational AngloGold Ashanti. From that moment onwards she has been receiving all kinds of threats for which she was left with no other choice than leaving her territory in 2014.

The struggle for the preservation of the environment has led to an unequal dispute between the environmental groups of the country, which generate public spaces to visualize the environmental problems in mining zones, and groups outside of the law that control illegal exploitation and drug trafficking using violent methods of intimidation.

Two days after the attack, Victor Hugo Moreno, president of the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca, one of the people who were present on the same spot when they tried to assassinate Francia, received a message on his cell phone that accentuated once again the terror in the area. : “(…) this Saturday was only the beginning of what will happen to all of you; next time all members of this organization will die (…) and all those who closed the humanitarian path in the so-called ‘minga’, your time has come, niggers… (…) “.

Sources: PULZO ‘Colombia es el tercer país donde más se asesinan defensores del medio ambiente’; CONTAGIORADIO ‘Atentan contra lideresa Francia Márquez’.


Members of Cosajuca and the Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida threatened again by Águilas Negras

On March 26th, 2017, the consulta popular took place in Cajamarca, Tolima, where 97% of the votes said NO to mining activities within the municipality. This decision halted the arrival of the mega mining project La Colosa, the open pit gold mine that was supposed to be the largest one in Latin America. As a result of  this popular referendum, the social and environmental leaders who promoted it suffered serious stigmatizations by local territorial entities, government sectors and companies with an interest in the territory, stigmatizations that are becoming stronger and put defenders at risk.

On May 14th some members of organizations such as Cosajuca, the Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and Conciencia Campesina received an email with a message that more or less announced that the time had come to “clean the country from all those who claim themselves as environmentalists and defenders of Cajamarca but who actually only impede its development and take refuge in NGOs to fill their pockets. ” The shippers of the threat were identified as ‘Águilas Negras Tolima’.

The members of Cosajuca and the Environmental Committee, two allied organizations of Catapa in Colombia, denounced the threats and expressed that the message evidences a clear relationship between political and business interests on the one hand, and the armed groups behind the threats on the other hand. Apart from demanding respect for the autonomy of the territories, they also express that the authorities must provide all the necessary guarantees that allow the integrity of all members of the affected social and environmental organizations and their families.

Source: FACEBOOK COSAJUCA’/photos/a.319407811806631/689982171415858/’; TWITTER ‘/CSPP_/status/1131597211966562310?s=19’.


Another law proposal by the Duque administration aims at making it easier for mining companies to access natural resources

Next July, the Duque administration intends to present a law that would regulate the Coordination and Concurrence procedure, which has mainly been built by the mining sector itself. This occurs after the Constitutional Court granted multinationals an easier access to the exploitation of natural resources in the subsoil and after it took away the veto power of consultas populares over these projects.

Juan Camilo Nariño, CEO of the Colombian Mining Association (ACM), suggested that the country has made progress in jurisprudential matters, which will give more certainty to the mining sector. “This precision and clarity generates greater investment and tranquility to the extractive industry and its investors. The decisions issued by the Constitutional Court between December and January make it clear that the territorial entities cannot prohibit mining through the mechanisms of citizen participation anymore, as they did before with popular referenda or municipal agreements. ”

Likewise, he claimed that the National Development Plan (PND for its Spanish acronym) will allow to consolidate small and medium mining in the country through a process of formalization, and that he’s feeling strong about the reforms of the General System of Royalties (SGR for its Spanish acronym).

The CEO clarifies: “It is fundamental for this sector to modify the current SGR since it will end up benefiting several fronts. Firstly, it balances local public discussions. Secondly, it makes the inhabitants of the mining municipalities feel the economic benefit thanks to the development of the extractive industries which operate in their territories. And thirdly, it simplifies a system with complex laws which are not allowing municipalities to access their resources easily. ”

Piedad Córdoba Ruiz, in her column in ‘Las2Orillas’, expressed her frustration over the proposed law which, according to her, only seeks to favor the extractive and multinational companies that are polluting the environment: “The Court gave free access to the resources of the subsoil, the popular referenda lost their veto power and now they come up with this new regulatory law of Coordination and Concurrence which goes hand in hand with the mining sector. It literally feels like we’re living in a mining dictatorship governed by multinationals.”

Sources: LAS2ORILLAS ‘El medio ambiente minado’; PORTAFOLIO: ‘Alistan ley que espanta el fantasma de las consultas populares mineras’.


What the march for the Páramo of Santurbán in the province of Santander revealed

On Sunday, May 10th, tens of thousands of people marched in Bucaramanga for the protection of the páramo of Santurbán and against the project of the mining company Minesa. Minesa plans to extract over nine million ounces of gold in the next 25 years in the vicinity of this fragile ecosystem which supplies water for about 2 million inhabitants.

The mobilization coincided with the re-delimitation of the páramo that the Ministry of Environment was applying by order of the Constitutional Court, and with the application of the environmental license that the mining company is seeking for, which would give the project a green light.

The march took place two weeks after videos got leaked from one of the private meetings of the mining company, in which its president Santiago Urdinola made it clear that relations with the community inside and outside of the area are not within their priorities. (For more information, read M&T April)

The dispute over mining in the páramo of Santurbán has now been going on for almost a decade. In 2011, the first demonstrations took place. One of the main questions in the preview of this march addressed the question whether it would be able to match the march of 2017 which mobilized around 50 thousand people. While there are no precise figures of how many people marched on the streets, the calculations point out that the number of people who attended was several thousand more than a year and a half ago.

La Silla Vacía, a regional newspaper, reviewed in detail the 2,800 pages that comprise the structural chapters of the study which proposes the exploitation of the large-scale underground mine for 25 years. They summarized it in seven key factors and impacts that Minesa will leave behind in the páramo of Santurbán:

  1. In some points, the area of ​​influence of the project is only 20 meters below the current páramo frontier.
  2. The mine will work 24/7 for 25 years.
  3. It will most probably get rid of its pollutants on a stream that supplies the aqueduct of Bucaramanga.
  4. It will decrease flows in the basin of one of the rivers which provides water to the aqueduct.
  5. Heavy traffic will take over public roads and it is not clear if Minesa is willing to share the roads that would be built.
  6. The ground where the project will be built has actually no mining vocation.
  7. They must remove vegetation that as of now is forbidden to cut down.

Sources: LA SILLA VACIA ‘Siete impactos claves Minesa vecindad Santurbán’; LA SILLA VACIA ‘Lo reveló la marcha de Santurbán’; EL ESPECTADOR ‘Una nutrida marcha contra la minería en Santurbán’.


Yopal (province of Casanare) approves the prohibition of fracking in its municipality

With 11 positive votes, the Municipal Council of Yopal approved project 08 of 2019, “by means of which measures for the defense of the ecological and environmental heritage of the municipality of Yopal and other provisions are dictated.” It seeks to prohibit the exploitation of oil through fracking and is the first initiative of its kind that is presented in Colombia.

Nonetheless, the initiators clarified that this draft agreement does not intend to exclude Yopal from oil exploitation, but only seeks to prevent this fracking method that has been questioned a lot from being used in the municipality.

Many voices have risen in support of the initiative. As popular referenda have lost their strength, now the only expression of autonomy is left to the regions and municipalities. This expression of autonomy is needed in order to influence the development of their territory, against the increasingly voracious intervention of the national government, which takes away more and more independence in the management of their resources.

For more information, read our article on fracking in Colombia in the M&T April edition: ‘Comptroller warns that Colombia is not ready to fracking’

Fuentes: VIOLETA STEREO ‘Concejo de Yopal cierra el paso al fracking en el municipio’; CASANARE NOTICIAS ‘Aprueban prohibición del fracking en Yopal’.


New legal setback for AngloGold in Tolima

A judge in Ibagué filed the criminal proceeding against the director of Cortolima, Jorge Enrique Cardoso, and the head of the juridical office of that same entity, José Francisco Montufar, who had been denounced by the mining multinational Anglogold Ashanti for embezzlement of legal actions.

As stated by the investigating body, the two officials did not commit any crime when requesting, on March 11th 2013, the preventive suspension of the work that AngloGold Ashanti was carrying out in the village of Doima, municipality of Piedras. The Court archived the Prosecutor’s request because it did not find enough evidence to accuse the officials.

The mining company had requested an authorization to carry out hydrogeological works in order to prepare for the construction of an infrastructure related to the La Colosa project in Cajamarca, an application that was endorsed by Cortolima. However, the CEO of Cortolima explained that the multinational “cheated” on the corporation permit since it was only assigned to do a soil survey, while AngloGold was also executing totally different activities.

Cortolima received several complaints from the community about the machinery that had reached the municipality of Piedras and about the work they were doing. “We went to visit the place and saw that they had taken advantage of the forest, had adapted the Camao stream, they had installed machinery that is typically used for drilling groundwater exploitation, activities different from those they had communicated,” Cardoso said.

Source: EL OLFATO ‘Nuevo revés jurídico para AngloGold en el Tolima’.


Update Jericó: tension grows about large-scale mining in Jericó, Antioquia

Due to protests of the community, mining exploration procedure in Jericó is postponed

The mining company Quebradona, owned by the South African multinational AngloGold Ashanti, intended to install on May 13th a drilling platform to perform soil and geotechnical studies in order to develop its copper mine in the neighborhood  of Vallecitos-Palo Cabildo, belonging to the municipality of Jericó, in the southwest of the province Antioquia. The employees arrived accompanied by the police, the army and the Esmad (special forces).

People from the community, leaders of the municipal administration and leaders of environmental groups were present in the area to oppose the drilling of the mountain. Several dozens of peasants also arrived to confront what they considered an attack on their sovereignty, arguing that the company was committing a violation of the 10th municipal agreement of 2018, which establishes the prohibition of metallic mining activities in the municipality.

To avoid a confrontation of large proportions, mayor Jorge Pérez arrived at the site and spoke with the people in charge of the Quebradona mine so that they wouldn’t violate the orders given by the Municipal Council. This recommendation was finally accepted after more than three hours of discussion, consigning that the mining company should not continue its activities until the Court takes a final decision about the validity of the municipal agreement.

Mayor Jorge Pérez: “Duque has to review the true potential of the country.”

“The attitude of the mining multinational is regrettable, because they know very well that the agreement is still valid as we have not known any ruling of the Administrative Court of Antioquia yet. They did somehow invade the village with the Esmad, the police and the army. That’s not the way. These people are peasants, not criminals, ” argued the mayor.

Perez: “It is not easy because we find ourselves in notorious inferiority in this power struggle. We are a sixth category municipality where most of the citizens are against the mining plans. Above us, we’re facing the will of the mining secretariat of Antioquia which promotes mining, the ministry of mining, the National Mining Agency, etc. President Duque is deadly wrong when he says that the country’s only economic outlet is the exploitation of resources. He should better spend his time reviewing the true potential of the country. Take a look at the enormous potential for food production, biodiversity and tourism.
Jericó is currently standing in a legal framework, we rely on our 010 municipal agreement; we hope that if one day all these legal forms of opposition are exhausted, all Colombians will rise up to protect their territories.”

Meanwhile, it’s known that in the coming month AGA will apply for its environmental license to step up the project, which increases the tense mood of the inhabitants as most of them refuse any kind of drilling in their territory.

Former President Álvaro Uribe against the project

The upcoming months are uncertain, because there a lot of different interest which have been moving local politics. The southwest of Antioquia is one of the spoils of the Democratic Center, a party that has never lost any election in the area and where President Iván Duque swept its campaign. And as if that wasn’t enough, this is the region were former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez was born.

Right in the middle of this dispute, President Uribe tweeted on April 7th a 13-minute video in which he explains why, according to his vision, mining should not take place in Jericó. Uribe used among others the following words: “Jericó y Suroeste, preserve and promote green projects, no to mining.” Quite a surprise for his followers, because it was the Uribe government that granted the largest amount of mining licenses in the history of Colombia.

Judge of Medellin supports municipal agreement

A judge in Medellín considered that he could not implement any precautionary measures to suspend the administrative act of the municipal council – which established a prohibition on mining in defense of the ecological and cultural heritage of the municipality of Jericó – as requested by the company AngloGold.

The judge reminded judicial decisions in which “the constitutional possibility held by the Municipal Councils to dictate the necessary rules for the control, preservation and defense of the ecological and cultural heritage of the municipality” have been confirmed.

Sources: SEMANA ‘Crece la tensión por minería a gran escala en Jericó, Antioquia’, CONTAGIORADIO ‘AngloGold Ashanti desconoce el acuerdo municipal que prohibe la minería’; EL COLOMBIANO ‘Exploración minera en Jericó se posterga’; EL TIEMPO ‘Choque entre Comfama y Anglo Gold Ashanti por mina en Jericó; LA REPÚBLICA ‘Anglo Gold pierde otra batalla en el proyecto minero de Quebradona’.

Official communiqué to the public opinion legal action defending the ‘consulta popular’ of Cajamarca

Laura Garcia | Colombia, Consulta popular, Mining, News

Official communiqué to the public opinion legal action defending the 'consulta popular' of Cajamarca

Today, Wednesday the 5th of June 2019, the corporation ‘Cajamarca Despensa Hídrica y Agrícola’, promotor of the Consulta Popular in Cajamarca, represented by the Center of Studies for Social Justice ‘Tierra Digna’, filed an absolute nullity claim against the National Mining Agency of Colombia and the company Anglo Gold Ashanti before the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to declare the nullity of (3) three mining concession contracts registered in 2007, which are still in force in the region of Cajamarca. The concessions should be nullified on the ground of violating the superior mandate expressed through the Consulta Popular (Popular Referendum) of the 26th of March 2017, in which 97% of the citizens of Cajamarca prohibited mining activities in their territory.

At the time the mining concession contracts were signed it was licit to explore and exploit minerals in Cajamarca. However, this legal landscape changed due to the incorporation of a new rule to the legal system, namely the Consulta Popular, which transformed a former lawful action (to explore and exploit minerals) to unlawful. Consequently, there should not be any mining contracts in Cajamarca at present.

The Consulta Popular of Cajamarca was a citizen initiative, in which the community, using their democratic rights, mobilized for the protection of its sovereignty and peasant life. The Consulta Popular complied with all the legal and constitutional requirements, it is now definite and, therefore, its results have mandatory effects. This legal action should be understood as the coming together of the struggles of the peasants of Cajamarca in defense of their land, but also as the beginning of a new phase that seeks to recognize the legal effects of the implementation of Consultas Populares that have been made throughout the country.

Download the document here.

Are you running the 20 km of Brussels with us?

Laura Garcia | Uncategorized, Uncategorized

Are you also running the 20 km of Brussels for CATAPA on May 19th? Sign up and become one of the CATAPA runners!

On May 19th, CATAPA runs the 20 km of Brussels to continue to fight for the rights of local communities that are victims of the ecological and social impact of large-scale mining; and to strive for a just society in which people and nature live in balance together. Do you want to join us?

YES! I participate!

Register on the website of the 20 km of Brussels (25 euro) and add yourself to the group of CATAPA (group name: CATA10946). Engage yourself to raise at least 50 euros in sponsorship for CATAPA.

You don’t feel like running but you would like to give CATAPA a boost? Sponsor one of our runners! You can help by donating money on: BE49 9795 2861 7871, mentioning “Sponsoring CATAPA 20 km of Brussels (+ possibly: name of runner you want to sponsor)“. This donation is not tax deductible.

⭐ If you sponsor 50 euros of more you get a giftbox from CATAPA!*

For more information and/or questions, feel free to contact kim.claes@catapa.be.

¡Vamos! For socio-environmental justice!

*To pick up in our office in Ghent.

Meet our runners!

Charlotte Christiaens

Charlotte Christiaens

I am Charlotte Christiaens and I run the 20km for CATAPA in 2019, as I did in 2010. My passion to run through nature has only grown over the years. For once I want to exchange nature for the city on May 19th in Brussels.

somehow I’ve often ended up in barbed wire while walking, resulting in torn trousers and wounds. Painful, yet stupid thing to do. But the greeting of my beloved trees and the sound of my familiar birds on my familiar paths I could not miss. When I don’t like it anymore during the race, I say to myself: “Come on Charlotte, this suffering is in no way comparable to how local communities in the South suffer from mining.” Do you sponsor me?!

Kim and Koen Claes

Kim and Koen Claes

We are Kim and Koen, and together we run the 20km of Brussels for Catapa. We walk fraternally on double strength, full of enthusiasm and surrender, because we believe that Catapa brings us one step closer to a more just world.

We will provide the blood, the sweat and the tears, would you put a dime in the bag? We promise to shine, from Catapa you will receive eternal gratitude!

Iris Maertens

Iris Maertens

I am Iris Maertens: graphic designer, illustrator and digital ninja. The thing that I like to do the most is drawing. But as a creative mind, I’m always looking for new challenges!  For CATAPA I will put my best foot forward.

Niels De Vos

Niels De Vos

My name is Niels De Vos, from Lokeren, and I will run the 20 km for Catapa! A challenge for myself, and if a much-needed initiative like Catapa can be supported with it, that is more than welcome! Would you sponsor me?

Froukje Kuijk

Froukje Kuijk

I’m Froukje and I’ve been in CATAPA for a while. I am back in Belgium for over a year now, after having spent a few years in Chile. I find it a wonderful challenge to tighten the muscles for our sublime volunteer movement. I love sports, open air and Brussels so this will be a perfect mix! The goal: fervent team spirit, putting CATAPA on the map during the 20 km of Brussels and hopefully end those kilometers elegantly.


Laura Garcia | Campaigns, Campaigns, Campaigns, Women, Women, Women

Environmental and human rights defenders are tirelessly committed to equality and justice. Unfortunately, they often face discrimination, violence, criminalisation, violations of their civil rights and the impunity of armed public groups (police, army) or hired groups (paramilitaries, death squads). All activists are presented with major challenges. However, female activists are additionally confronted with gender-specific violence and other risks.

With a project called “Strategies of women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries“, CATAPA lead a campaign regarding the situation of female environmental activists who fight against the extractive industries in Latin America. With this campaign we wanted to give a voice to the female activists, to draw attention to their precarious situation and to encourage political institutions and other organisations to create mechanisms that offer better protection to these defensoras. The project was carried out in collaboration with several partner organisations including Ingeniería Sin Fronteras (ISF) and REDD (Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras).

There are many dangerous sectors in which it is risky for environmental activists to offer resistance. According to the organisation AWID, the most unsafe context for activists is the mining industry, followed by hydropower projects and dams, agro-industry and logging. Alda Facio, head of the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination Against Women, confirmed in May that even the most vulnerable group of women human rights activists aims to prevent extractive industries from operating (besides fighting for reproductive and sexual rights). Offering resistance to extractive industries also implies challenging (inter)national companies and global elites, which collaborate with governments and sometimes even with religious and ‘traditional’ institutions. Research by Front Line Defenders (FLD) shows that 281 human rights defenders worldwide were murdered in 2016: 49% of the total number were activists defending the environment, territory and indigenous rights. More than half of the murders, 143 according to the findings of FLD, happened in Latin America.

All activists are presented with major challenges. However, female activists are additionally confronted with gender-specific violence and other risks. While environmental advocates are often labelled “non-patriotic” or “against progress”, female advocates are additionally stigmatised because of their gender and sexuality. “Despite the increasing dangerous context, more and more women play an important role in social movements. However, they run a higher risk of sexual violence, especially when they live in a militarised environment. Moreover, their children are also more likely to be threatened or attacked as a form of intimidation,” said Marusia Lopez of JASS at the same UN event in May. In addition, the rights that these women defend are not always recognised by society and in some countries they are even considered crimes.

Alejandra Burgos of the Mesoamerican Woman Human Rights Defenders Initiative adds: “The lack of access to justice as well as the high level of impunity has an impact on the lives of activists in Central America. Research shows that , between 2012 and 2016, 60% of attacks against activists consisted of harassment, threats, warnings and ultimatums, defamation and stigmatisation campaigns, use of force, illegal and arbitrary arrests, criminalisation and prosecutions. In addition, we live in one of the regions with the most feminicides (female killings) in the world.”

Female activists in Latin America often suffer from a three-dimensional form of discrimination. First of all, they are often treated with contempt because they are indigenous. They often have their own cultural habits, speak another language and believe in the worship of nature. Unfortunately, these characteristics cause them to be considered inferior in many countries. In addition, the specific (violent) context of the socio-ecological conflict in which they live also has a major impact on different aspects of their lives and, therefore, they do not always have the opportunity to move. Lastly, they also experience difficulties because they are one by one women who want to break with traditional role patterns. Because of the discrimination, they find themselves in a precarious situation as they ‘do not respect their obligations’ and become ‘rebellious’. Environmentalists who protest against the economic extractive policy of Latin American governments often become victims of the arbitrary use of the penal system, with the result that they are confronted with false accusations and unfair trials. These strategies of criminalisation are difficult to resist due to lack of money, time and contacts.

An international consensus on the definition of what constitutes an environmental or human rights defender already exists. However, the double vulnerability of female activists is often forgotten. There are hardly any statistics on the total number of activists who are confronted with threats and gender-based violence or who are criminalised. Research agencies and international organisations should approach this issue from a gender perspective, so that specific resolutions and protocols can be drawn up and female environmental and human rights defenders in turn receive specific protection.

As part of our project, international research teams were sent to partner countries in Latin America: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador. These teams, with the help of local experts, investigated the issue of female activists who fight against extractive industries, using quantitative and qualitative research methods. The results were written down in a report that was then sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR is an autonomous legal body for the protection of human rights in the 35 member states of the Organisation of American States. On October 24th, the IACHR held a public hearing on “The criminalisation of female environmentalists in Latin America“. The session of the IACHR took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, and set an important step forward in raising awareness of the precarious situation of activists in the context of extractive industries in Latin America.

Subsequently, CATAPA worked very hard in Belgium to bring this issue to the attention of the wider public and political institutions. The aim was to encourage political institutions such as the European Union to implement a gender perspective in their legislation and policies, which would lead to a better protection of female human rights defenders.

In January 2018, CATAPA organised two events during which several speakers explained the situation of female human rights defenders in Latin America and the possibilities of protection. Mirtha Vasquez was invited as guest speaker. The Peruvian lawyer and human rights activist represents Maxima Acuña in her fight against the gold mining project Conga.

On January 10th, an event was organised in the European Parliament as part of a new EU Resolution on women, gender equality and climate justice. Mirtha Vasquez and Dr. Clara Burbano Herrera (University of Ghent), one of the project’s researchers, made recommendations for the EU on the protection of human rights defenders. This was followed by presentations by Florent Marcelessi and Jordi Solé (both Greens/EFA), members of the European Parlement, on respectively the existing protection of human rights defenders by the EU and how this was reflected in the EU budget.

The day before, an event was organised in the Pianofabriek in Brussels on the same subject, where Mirtha Vasquez was invited to present to a full house. In addition to Mirtha Vasquez, Amelia Alva Arevalo (Ugent), one of the project’s researchers, and Nicky Broekhoven (Ugent), who conducts research on gender and climate, gave a presentation as well.

During Open Min(e)d, formerly Academic Week, no less than three female human rights defenders were invited to give lectures at universities and colleges, and during events: Gloria Chicaiza from Ecuador, Margarita Aquino from Bolivia, Mariana Gomez from Colombia.


Front Line Defenders. (2017). Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2016. Front Line Defenders.Consulted on: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/annual-report-human-rights-defenders-risk-2016

IACHR. (2015). Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders. Consulted on: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/criminalization2016.pdf

Inmaculada, Barcia. (2017). Weaving resistance through action: strategies of women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries. Consulted on: https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/eng_weaving_resistance_through_action-web.pdf

Mining in Paradise?

Laura Garcia | Uncategorized

Mining in Paradise?

With the  campaign Mining in Paradise, CATAPA supported the agricultural and environmental organisations in four provinces in the North of Peru that didn’t want to allow mining in their region. This organisations saw a need in mobilising because of the fact that mining companies harm human rights, cross local development plans and threaten the most bio-diverse area in the world, the tropical Andes, which may cause irreparable damage. Below you will find an extensive list of achievements of our campaign.

CATAPA and her partner organisations wanted with this campaign:

  • To meet the question of information about mining in local farmer communities and support them in the launching of joint actions.
  • To get the subject of no-go-zones on the agenda of regional and national Peruvian politics.
  • Sensitize citizens in Belgium and other European countries about mining issues in North-Peru.
  • Stimulate international solidarity within the farmer’s population of North Peru.

Partly thanks to the help of many volunteers and signers of the petition, our campaign was largely successful.


On regional level, North-Peru

– The Frente, with the support of Red Muqui and CATAPA, has given about ten informative and participative workshops in different villages about mining, globalization and human rights. A total of more than 500 farmers took part in these workshops – large part of which were young people. About 70% of the population in the predominantly rural area is poor and has little or no access to education, nor information about the mining industry.

– Farmer organisations out of four provinces have stated a joint statement ‘Zonas libres de minería’ (or ‘No-go zones for mining’) in which they comment on why they don’t want any mining activities in their area. Their principal requirements are: a spatial planning process with participation of the local population and respect for the environment, investments in the local development alternatives (agriculture and ecotourism) and the approval of a legal mechanism for consultation of indigenous people.

– On the 16th of September, which is the third anniversary of a referendum out of which appeared that 97% of the local people preferred not to have any mining activities in their area, public events were organized in the provinces of Ayabaca and Huancabamba. During these events, the declaration and the campaign video were shown. Hundreds of people were present.

– Thanks to a press conference, the campaign got the attention of different local newspapers and radios. Also the statement was published in El Tiempo de Piura, which is one of the best-read newspapers in the area.

– The people who are candidate at the election of mayor in the local elections on 3th of October, in four North-Peruvian provinces, have spoken out against a statement, during public debates prior to the elections. Many of them signed an ‘ethical pact’, in which they promised to respect the requirements of the declaration. The social organisations will see to it that they keep their promise.

– Also the two new regional governors in the area promised openly in the media that they will be working on no-go zones for the mining industry. Moreover, the new regional governor of Piura has signed a personal agreement with the farmer organisations, in which he promises not to permit any mining activities in the páramos and cloud forests of the Andes, and to recognize the farmer organisations as ‘protectors of the páramos‘.

– On 2nd December 2010, one year after the death of two farmer leaders who died because of the mining industry conflict, the local campaign was finished with an event in the farmer community of Segunda y Cajas. During this event, the death of the two leaders was remembered and the information about the campaign was spread in Lima and Europe. Also during this event hundreds of people were present.

On national level, in Lima

– A lot of networking was done between NGOs and social communities to enlarge the support of the national and international society. Several international NGOs, such as Oxfam America and Friends of the Earth US, supported this action.

– The production house Guarango, which had made documentaries about the mining industry problems in Peru before, made, in cooperation with CATAPA, two sensitizing campaign videos. These were shown during ten informative sessions in the capital, as well as in North-Peru and Europe.

– With the support of CATAPA and a member of parliament from North-Peru, our partner organisations Fedepaz and Cooperacción organized a national forum in the Peruvian Parliament which threats the campaign theme no-go zones for mining. On this forum many experts gave lectures, representatives of local farmer organisations gave a speech and debates were held. The forum was commented in various national newspapers.

– Four (digital) informative bulletins were published, in which each time a certain campaign theme was spotlighted. These bulletins were spread by the campaign partners to the general public. On the final event of the campaign in North-Peru, the people present got a summarizing bulletin of the campaign, with pictures of the different activities.

– In cooperation with our national partners and Friends of the Earth US we sent a critical letter to the stakeholders of Zijin, the Chinese mining company which is the principal stakeholder of the Río Blanco-mining project in North-Peru. This letter was published in The South China Morning Post, an important Chinese business paper.


– On the 16th of September, the website mininginparadise.org was launched in six languages, with the different campaign videos and an online petition to support the declaration ‘Zonas libres de Minería’.

– On invitation of CATAPA, a European lecture series with Peruvian guests was organized. Some of the Peruvian guests were José De Echave, who is an economist and co-founder of CooperAcción, and the North-Peruvian biologist Fidel Torres. Furthermore, there were some witnesses of communities that had been harmed directly by the mining industry, such as Josefina Aponte, leader of agriculturers of Huancabamba, and Magdiel Carrión, president of the farmer movement FEPROCCA from Ayabaca. There were lectures with Peruvian lecturers in Great-Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, to argument the need of No-go zones for mining. Numerous lectures and conferences were held in Flemish and Walloon colleges and universities, with all together hundreds of people present.

– The most important activity of this tour was the international conference in Brussels, where hundred people were present. An extensive article in the newspaper De Morgen about the conference was written.

– A brief investigation paper was written which covered the scientific and juridical foundation of the campaign. In cooperation with photographer Danny Veys, the Photo-exposition Mining in Paradise? was developed, which portrayed the reality of North-Peru and the impact of the large mining industry elsewhere in the country. This was exhibited during some months in Brussels.

– The e-petition was signed by about 3000 people of 75 different countries and 140 different large and small organisations.

– We sold (and keep on selling) the delicious CATAPA-coffee Café por el Paraíso, in cooperation with Oxfam Wereldwinkels and Cepicafé- a coffee-cooperation in Northern-Peru.