COMMUNITY STATEMENT ON MINING EXPLOITATION IN THE EL ALMORZADERO HIGH PLAINS
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN Volunteer Translator and edited by Natalia Jaramillo, a CSN Volunteer Editor)
May 12, 2010
THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AND THE CONTINENTAL COAL COMPANY DO NOT RESPECT THE POSITION OF THE COMMUNITY REGARDING THE MINING PROJECT ON THE EL ALMORZADERO HIGH PLAINS.
Farmers, leaders of educational organizations, environmental NGOs, and the community in general from the municipalities of Cerrito Santander and Chitagá in North Santander, are astonished and greatly worried because the Continental Coal Company has a concession for 8,478 hectares, located on the high plains known as El Almorzadero. For 29 years they have not complied with the position they set forth in the First Regional Forum on the Defense of the high plains of El Almorzadero after the decision announced by more than 1000 farm leaders and social, governmental, educational and farm organizations that were present at the Presidente district in the municipality of Chitagá. They were emphatic in rejecting this mining project and in defending their fundamental rights as provided in Articles 8, 79, 80, and 95, sub. 8 and 3313, subs. 7 and 9, which establish the principles, rights and duties of the Corporation to set up regulations guaranteeing a healthy environment for the people.
This mining project is intended to extract coal from the heart of the high plains known as El Amorzadero. The coal is used to purify the water used by the farmers and inhabitants of the northeastern region of Colombia, in order to help them carry out their agricultural activities. Now these activities will be contaminated by the mining company, ignoring all the evidence of resistance to this unsustainable method of extraction. Two months ago, officers of the Continental Coal Company, and especially Engineer PEDRO ARZ, were seen taking samples in the high plains and especially in the town of Paja in the municipality of Cerrito.
We demand that the national government, through its nearby offices, prohibit mining activity where it affects strategic ecosystems (high plains, river basins, and tropical jungles).
We demand that Continental Coal leave the region immediately, that the CORPONOR, CAS and CORPORINOQUIA corporations take a stand on the environmental impacts of this kind of project, and that the Ministry of Mining and Engineering void this mining contract.
We invite farm leaders, indigenous communities, environmental NGOs, social movements, and government and community representatives in general, to take part in the Second Regional Forum in defense of the high plains in Colombia’s Northeastern Region. It will take place in the month of September of this year in the municipality of Chitagá, North Santander Province.
SAY NO TO MINING EXPLOITATION IN THE EL ALMORZADERO HIGH PLAINS!
NOT TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, NOT EVER!
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