S.O.S TIMBIQUI, CAUCA, COLOMBIA
Territorial Region of the Pacific, Municipality of Timbiqui
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN's Program Assistant)
Alert by the Community Councils Black Rebirth and Blacks United in the Timbiqui River Valley, Blacks in Action in the Bubuey River Valley, the High South of Saija, San Bernardo North Patia and Lower Saija in the Saija River Valley. All of these Community Councils are part of the Higher Palenke el Kastigo – Association of Community Councils of Timbiqui. The alert is concerning the enormous and irreparable harm to the environment and the cultural and territorial integrity of the Black community caused by the situation in Zaragoza on the Dagua River, in the Municipality of Buenaventura in the department of the Cauca Valley.
The newspaper El Tiempo, in its April 29, 2010 edition, made public the presence of two retro-excavators in the Timbiqui River. According to the newspaper, more than twenty of the 200 retro-excavators that are present in Zaragoza Buenaventura, Cauca Valley will be sold to Timbiqui, Cauca. These excavators will destroy the environmental and ecological wealth of the townspeople of the Timbiqui River and of other rivers on the Cauca coast. We therefore present the following alert to the National and International Community:
The Municipality of Timbiqui was founded in 1772 and is one of the last places in the Southern Colombian Pacific where the violence, narco-trafficking, militarization and neo-colonization have reached. Timbiqui is located in the Western part of the Department of Cauca and can only be reached by water from Buenaventura or Tumaco, or by air from Cali. There are approximately 33,655 inhabitants, and they have historically made their living through agricultural tradition, the coconut economy, wood exploitation, fishing, and cultural mining where the environmental and ecological impacts are minimal. In 1900, with the support of the Republic, the English company The New Timbiqui Gold Mines Ltd. established itself. The English mining company's principal offices are in Paris, and the Colombian government gave the company the rights to the entire right margin of the Timbiqui River. This company subjected our superiors to a relationship of slavery that obligated the men to work at least one day per week for the company. People who had lived alone in the territory before its arrival, now had to seek permission from the company before carrying out any actions. The company also controlled the local commerce and created their own currency, the Cachaloa, to control business and trade in the area. It was the resistance of our superiors that made possible the departure of the company, the liberation of the territory and the freedom of our families. In 1989 the government granted permission for a Russian company to establish itself on the same margin of the river until 1993. In addition to the enormous damages to the environment in the territory and to the farms of the natives and their houses, the company removed the gold and impoverished the families that had historically made a living through gold mining, generating a great social deterioration in the entire Municipality. The presence of these companies and the responsibility of these impacts have never been assumed by the Colombian State.
The Territorial Region of the Pacific is one of the most important environmental and biodiverse zones of the world. This wealth of ours, of the country and of the world, is being destroyed, due to, among other reasons, the inactivity of the governmental entities responsible for environmental control and environmental policy, and for the formulation and implementation of policies and measures regarding the sphere of development not appropriate for the social, environmental and cultural reality of the communities that inhabit this territory. Zaragoza is a crude and painful example of the inactivity of the State entities and their refusal to protect the rights of our communities and the environmental and ecological wealth of the nation. The environmental, social and cultural disaster of the illegal mining in Zaragoza occurs in the form of the construction of the two way road from Cali to Buenaventura, a project of infrastructure property of the government. An environmental license was authorized for its construction. The illegal mining in Zaragoza is the responsibility of the government and its "incapacity" to apply all of the measures, in this case the studies of environmental impacts and its diverse plans of management, mitigation, and reparation of the impacts. We are in a bad way, because the government does not adhere to Prior Consult and Free and Informed Prior Consent, and when it does, as is the case with the two-way road, an important project for all of the plans of port expansion, it does not comply with the results of the consultation.
Suarez and Buenos Aires in the North of Cauca, Zaragoza in Buenaventura, and what could happen in Timbiqui on the Cauca coast, are clear examples of legal and illegal mining and of the government's responsibility to protect the environmental, territorial and cultural rights of our communities. The government is not adhering to the stipulations of Agreement 169 of the International Workers' Organization, Law 70 of 1997 and what was ordered by the Constitutional Court, among other regulations, in Court Decree 005 of 2009. The government does not adhere, regarding legal and illegal mining, to the protection of the constitutional rights of the Black and Afro-Colombian communities. While the lives and cultural integrity of our communities are profoundly affected it seems as though all of the state and governmental entities have agreed to do nothing.
The communities, community councils, and organizations of the zone are preparing for a great battle to protect our rights and impede the arrival of these retro-excavators to our territories.
We therefore ask for the solidarity of social, environmental, ecological, human rights, Indigenous and Black organizations of the National and International level to take action and call to the Colombian government to stop the environmental and ecological disaster, the violation of human rights and the cultural integrity of the Black communities in Timbiqui, Cauca, Zaragoza, Buenaventura, Cauca Valley, and La Toma in the Municipality of Suarez, Cauca, Colombia.
HIGHER PALENKE EL KASTIGO-ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COUNCILS OF TIMBIQUI
BLACK REBIRTH COMMUNITY COUNCIL
BLACKS UNITED COMMUNITY COUNCIL
BLACKS IN ACTION COMMUNITY COUNCIL
COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF THE HIGH SOUTH OF SAIJA
SAN BERNARDO NORTH PATIA COMMUNITY COUNCIL
COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF THE LOWER PART OF THE SAIJA RIVER
PROCESS OF BLACK COMMUNITIES IN COLOMBIA (PCN)