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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Marmato's City Council Approves Revision and Adjustment of Zoning Scheme

Pro-Defense Committee of Marmato
Regional Indigenous Council of Caldas (CRIDEC)
Press Release
[Translated by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer translator. Edited by John Laun ]
The inhabitants of Marmato halt the operation of open-pit mines in their territory, stop the relocation of the municipal capital and prohibit the demolition of the historical heritage.
The Pro-Defense Committee of Marmato and the Regional Indigenous Council of Caldas (CRIDEC) inform the Colombian people, the international community, human rights organizations, sectors mobilized in defense of the environment and small-scale mining, and the general public:
That after six years of uncertainty, since their arrival in Marmato, with the support of the national government, from the Canadian multinational companies taking over the mines, destroying mills, creating unemployment, by drilling out of control and humiliating the population, yesterday, December 21, 2011, the Honorable City Council of Marmato, Caldas, approved the revision and adjustment of the Zoning Scheme (EOT) of this town, in which remain established the following provisions:

1. Preserve the name El Llano (La Betulia) and as a consequence abolish the name Nuevo Marmato in all articles.
2. Preserve the municipal capital in the historic zone, and maintain there the mayor's office, the city council, the church, the educational institute, the police headquarters and other institutions considered to be of institutional and social importance.
3. No open-pit mining in the Municipality of Marmato, Caldas. In agreement with Article 33 of Law 136 and Article 313 of the National Constitution, support will be provided to traditional small-scale mining.
4. Declare El Llamo (La Betulia), center of the urban population and its areas of urban expansion, (El Tejar, Guayabito), and equip it with the required infrastructure to attend to the needs of its current and future populations.
5. Maintain the extension of the city center and the historic zone in the same borders established by the EOT in 2004. The City Council will regulate the form of development in this area according to the parameters of the law.

6. To strictly monitor all of the drilling that the city does.
7. To negotiate with relevant authorities the extraction of the mining rights of areas in urban zones, population centers and centers of rural development, and near sources of water and protected areas at the city level.

8. To take part in the public space and better the environment in the entire city, in a prioritized and convincing way, where more than 15 percent of its use is not permitted.
9. Maintain the rural character of San Juan de Marmato, recognizing at the same time the fact that within its jurisdiction resides the better part of the indigenous community of the city, for which San Juan de Marmato will have categories for Township (art. 311 of Decree 1333 of 1986) and for Indigenous Territory (Decree 1386 of 1994) establishing two rural towns: San Juan and Agrovillas Jimenez.

. Submit the main plaza and the surrounding area to a specially run plan that gives precedence to its permanence as a testimony of the history of ancestral mining, colonial and of the republic, all the while having in mind the risky situation in the area. As a result, prohibit the demolition or relocation of the heritage sites existing in this sector and make their maintenance necessary for proper conservation. Ensure the permanence over time of residents and public and private establishments located in the atrium sector and other sectors of the historic zone that are in a moderate area of risk. As a result, classify as high priority the execution of risk mitigation as recommended by CORPOCALDAS in these sectors.
11. To negotiate with the Governor of Caldas, the Ministry of Culture and UNESCO the declaration of Marmato as a World Heritage Site.

12. Revise the water system and conserve the people's access.

In an exemplary way, the City Council welcomes the voice of the people represented in the six-year fight of the Pro-Defense Committee of Marmato, the small-scale miners, the Council, the regional indigenous organization, the teachers and the multiple supportive sectors in the country, in Canada and elsewhere.

With this decision the council members of Marmato close the door to the claims that Canadian companies can move the population and destroy a town with 475 years of history to exploit the gold reserves of the mountain of Marmato for a 20-year open-pit mining project.

This project has been rejected since 2007 by more than 500 signatures of residents of Marmato, in May of 2011 by thousands of people across the country that marched on the Panamerican Highway, and later by the mobilization of 400 small miners who at the end of last November
paralyzed the town facing the intention of the company to close the mines.

The Mayor's Office presented last November 2 to the Council the reform project of the EOT, prepared over the last three years by the Ministry of the Environment, 15 days before the sessions end. The project declared all of the city's historic zone high-risk areas, ordering the eviction of the people, the demolition of the main plaza and the heritage buildings, and the relocation of the municipal capital to the area at the base of the mountain, known as El Llano, which would be called "Nuevo Marmato", located less than a kilometer away from the actual capital, so its inhabitants would suffer the direct impact of open-pit mining if the project is carried out.
Finally, the councilmembers of Marmato have given Colombia and the world a lesson in dignity by demonstrating that the defense of life, the culture of the people and of natural resources is not a question of money nor official pressure, as expressed by an executive of the Medoro company a few months ago.

We demand that the Colombian authorities, the government of Canada and the Gran Colombia Gold Corp. (before known as Medoro Resources) respect the sovereign decision of the people of Marmato, at the same time we call all the miners
of Marmato themselves to follow the Manual de Convivencia Minera (Coexistence of mining with other activities) immediately which will  translate into the betterment of the quality of life of the people and respect for Mother Nature.
Marmato, Caldas, December 22, 2011
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered and the source, author, and translator are cited.)

(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)
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