CREDHOS accompanies communities resisting 30-year permit for the Colcco open-pit coal mine in Santander, Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On January 17, CREDHOS tweeted:

“Today we accompany the campesina communities of San Vicente; El Carmen de Chucurrí and the social organizations on the ninth day protest, rejecting the Environmental License granted by the CAS [Regional Autonomous Corporation of Santander], for the exploitation of open-pit coal by the Multinational Colcco SA.”

CREDHOS president Ivan Madero.

Mauricio Meza, one of the social leaders CREDHOS is supporting, says: “We are here because we are concerned that the collection of water for the Aqueduct will be affected and will endanger 23,000 people. This is a coal mine and they are going to contaminate all the water, we lost the legal process and that is why we are going with social protest.”

The news agency Colombia Informa has also recently reported on the “several days of protests against the granting of licenses that would allow the company COLCCO S.A. to carry out open-pit coal mining for 30 years.”

Their article continues: “The citizens explain that they will maintain the demonstration permanently until the environmental authorities, the departmental government of Santander and the national government revoke the environmental license FLL-082 approved last August 2022 by the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Santander (CAS) to the company COLCCO for the exploitation of open-pit coal mining.”

“For several months the inhabitants of the region have been carrying out different peaceful actions warning about the damage that the coal mining project will bring. According to the Alliance Colombia Free of Fracking, coal is the dirtiest energy and contributes to the increase in greenhouse gases and, therefore, aggravates the climate crisis.”

Paramilitary threats against social leaders

Notably, the article highlights: “Meanwhile, citizens denounced that the paramilitaries of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) threatened the communities that have been demonstrating against the mining license granted to COLCCO by the CAS.”

RCN Radio adds: “Through a pamphlet that circulated in Barrancabermeja, San Vicente de Chucurí and Carmen de Chucurí, a series of threats were made known to environmental leaders who are holding demonstrations in rejection of the environmental licenses that were granted to the multinational Colcco. In the pamphlet, which would be signed by the Gulf Clan, the leaders are declared a military target.”

Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad has tweeted: “I express my rejection of the threats against environmental defenders from Barrancabermeja, San Vicente and El Carmen de Chucurí, who are peacefully protesting against a mining project in that region. @MinAmbienteCo we respect your legitimate right to care for water, life and the territory.”

Colombian coal exports to Canada

In June 2022, reported: “[Colombia’s Diego Mesa said at the PDAC mining convention in Toronto that] Colombia has increased its coal exports to the Netherlands, Spain and Canada since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

The two companies that import Colombian coal into Canada are: Nova Scotia Power (NSP) and New Brunswick Power (NBP).

In 2007, Nova Scotia Power imported 1.4 million tons of coal from Colombia, most of which came from the El Cerrejon mine. Nova Scotia Power has refused to name the other source of the coal that it imports from Colombia.

In October 2021, CBC reported that New Brunswick Power “imports the fuel by ship, mostly from Colombia” and that it’s not worried about spiking coal prices because “we have a fixed contract on supply until 2024.”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) since 1994.

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