Minería (II): a los opositores se les considera… terroristas

Colombia in focus (II): Those opposing mining are considered terrorists

Las empresas llegan a las regiones colombianas, prometen oro y dinero para dividir a los grupos locales, y a los diez años les dejan sin nada. Por ello, en zonas como Yaigojé y Tolima, las comunidades locales se han unido para expulsar a estas compañías.

 

Raudal La Libertad-Laura Restrepo-FGA

Foto Laura Restrepo-FGA

 Juanjo Andrés Cuervo

 

La región de la amazonia colombiana está perjudicada por la minería y otras actividades que realizan las empresas como el uso de pesticidas químicos o la industria pesquera. Esta situación es difícil de modificar en el país debido al interés del gobierno por las actividades mineras.

De ello hablan para The Prisma Mariana Gómez, coordinadora de la red ‘Yes to Life, No to Mining’ en Latinoamérica, y Nelson Ortiz, experto en gobernanza ambiental cultural con Gaia Amazonas y colaborador de ACIYA, que en la primera entrega de la entrevista explicaron el proceso de defensa del Parque Nacional Yaigojé-Apaporis ante la empresa minera Cosigo.

Mariana Gómez también colaboró en la resistencia de Tolima ante la compañía Anglo Gold Ashanti, donde dice que esta empresa “empezó a perforar sin licencia en una zona cercana al pueblo, pero gracias a la gestión de los ciudadanos se suspendió la actividad”.

Por otra parte, asegura que en “Cajamarca se han dado casos de asesinatos a líderes ambientales, y también “se han identificado nexos de la empresa minera con integrantes de grupos guerrilleros y paramilitares”, señala.

Guajira, otra de las zonas colombianas en las que ha trabajado, lleva décadas siendo afectada por la minería.

llegada investigadores ACIYA a taller-Camila Rozo-FGA

Foto Camila Rozo-FGA

Allí, la compañía y los propietarios agrícolas privatizaron el río, lo que provocó, según las cifras, la muerte por inanición de unos 5.000 niños pertenecientes a la etnia Wayuú.

En cuanto a esta tendencia de explotación territorial por parte de las empresas, Nelson Ortiz cree que “es difícil que haya cambios a largo plazo porque no hay una política clara del gobierno”.

Él participó en el proceso de defensa del Yaigojé junto a la organización ACIYA, y aunque asegura que hay propuestas para realizar cambios, dice que “el problema es que en este país son consideradas como manifestaciones terroristas”.

Respecto a esa afirmación, Mariana incide en que “estos movimientos son vistos como interesados en frenar el desarrollo”. Sin embargo, “las comunidades han demostrado que quieren ser escuchadas para participar en las decisiones que afectarán su futuro y el de sus hijos”, señala.

¿Cómo es el proceso de investigación del Parque Nacional?

Nelson: Debido al contacto con otras culturas, las comunidades tradicionales, aunque conservan su idioma, se han debilitado en cuanto a sus prácticas chamanísticas.

Por ello, los indígenas tradicionales acordaron que se debería construir un plan especial de manejo del parque en el Apaporis a partir del conocimiento cultural.

Bajo una política creada por ellos, los indígenas tradicionales enseñan a los jóvenes la cultura mitológica y las características de cada territorio.

Procesos de investigación similares a los del Apaporis se realizaron en otras zonas como Pira Paraná, un rio reconocido como Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de la humanidad por la UNESCO.

mineria raudal 2Usted también participó en la defensa de Tolima, ¿hay similitudes entre ambas situaciones?

Mariana: Lo más parecido es la estrategia que usa una empresa al llegar a una comunidad local. Ellos fueron a Piedras ofreciendo televisores, licuadoras o neveras.

En Yaigojé prometieron dinero para dividir a las comunidades. Además, las empresas llegan con otro nombre y ocultando su propósito.

Ante esta situación, las comunidades, por su vínculo con la tierra, se motivaron para defender su territorio.

Eso es el motor que enciende a los habitantes para embarcarse en un proceso de resistencia, y han tenido cierto tipo de victorias.

El problema es que estas empresas compran a la comunidad de estas regiones, contaminan el ambiente y a los 10 años les dejan sin nada.

investigadores indigenas exponiendo investigacion-Rafael Almonacid (1)

Foto Rafael Almonacid

¿En qué se ha visto afectado el Tolima tras el acercamiento de la empresa minera?

Mariana: En Piedras logramos que no entrara organizando una votación popular para expresar el desacuerdo de los habitantes con la minería en su municipio, pero en otras zonas como Cajamarca, tuvo un impacto en la división de la comunidad. Algunas personas han creído en los empleos y riquezas que estas empresas les prometieron. La empresa empezó a perforar sin licencia en una zona cercana al pueblo, pero la autoría ambiental suspendió las actividades, gracias a la gestión de los ciudadanos.

En Piedras iban a realizar el último paso del proceso de extracción de oro: el dique de colas donde van a parar todos los residuos tóxicos de la mina.

El tajo abierto de la mina está ubicado a 100 km en línea recta de Piedras, en Cajamarca, donde han realizado actividades sin haber sustraído un área de reserva forestal.

El territorio de la Guajira en Colombia ha estado afectado por la minería durante décadas, ¿qué hace el gobierno del país al respecto?

Mariana: Es una región de desierto con poco acceso a agua potable, que depende de periodos de lluvia específicos. La mina lleva muchos años y ha afectado el curso del rio Ranchería, uno de los únicos que le brinda agua a esta región. Además, el país se ve afectado por el fenómeno de El Niño, y ha habido una escasez de lluvias.

Mineria raudalOtros problemas que amenazan la región del Amazonas son los cultivos de cocaína, es el uso de pesticidas químicos o la industria pesquera, ¿Creen que es posible eliminar estos negocios?

Nelson: Hay situaciones que requieren de políticas nacionales y en las que es difícil tener incidencia, pero hay grupos pequeños que demuestran que es posible. Sin embargo, a largo plazo no se ve una política clara por parte del gobierno para cambiar esa forma de intervención en los territorios.

Hay movimientos alternativos políticos que generan propuestas ambientales, pero en este país son vistos como manifestaciones terroristas.

Mariana: Requiere mucha voluntad política y de la población en general. En Colombia, a los indígenas que no están de acuerdo con las industrias extractivas se les tacha de querer frenar el desarrollo.

Raudal La Libertad2-Laura Restrepo-FGA

Foto Laura Restrepo-FGA

Es un cambio lento, pero comunidades como ACIYA en el Yaigojé o en Piedras en el Tolima, demuestran que al menos las comunidades están dispuestas a alzar sus voces.

No sé si eso tendrá un impacto real en la economía y en los modelos de desarrollo, pero en Latinoamérica hay ejemplos de que la gente quiere ser parte de las decisiones que afectarán su futuro y buscan los medios para poder hacerlo, y muchos casos son silenciados.

Para saber más. Reloj: Yaigojé Apaporis – conocimiento tradicional, el corazón en proteger la Amazonia Colombiana
 In part two of an extended interview, YLNM Coordinator Mariana Gomez and environmental and cultural governance expert Nelson Ortiz describe how mining companies come to regions of Colombia promising gold and money to the local groups, later leaving them with nothing. As a result, local communities in areas such as Yaigojé and Tolima have joined forces to remove these companies.

rainbow

Article written by Juanjo Andrés Cuervo for The Prisma.  (Translated by Lucy Daghorn)

The Amazon region of Colombia is harmed by mining and other activities carried out by companies, such as the use of chemical pesticides and the fishing industry. This situation is difficult to change in Colombia due to the government’s interest in mining activity.

Speaking to The Prisma on this topic are Mariana Gómez, coordinator of the network ‘Yes to Life, No to Mining’ in Latin America, and Nelson Ortiz, expert in environmental and cultural governance with Gaia Amazonas, and collaborator with ACIYA. In the first part of the interview they explained the Yaigojé-Apaporis National Park’s defence process against the mining company Cosigo.

Mariana Gómez was also part of the resistance in Tolima against the company Anglo Gold Ashanti, which “started to drill without a licence in an area close to the town, but thanks to community action this activity was suspended”.

On the other hand, Gómez states that in “Cajamarca there have been cases where environmental leaders have been murdered”, and she also points out that “connections have been found between the mining company and members of guerrilla and paramilitary groups”.

La Guajira, another area of Colombia where she has worked, has been affected by mining for decades.

The company and the landowners privatised the river there, which caused around 5,000 children of Wayuú ethnicity to die of starvation, according to figures. Regarding this tendency by companies to exploit the land, Nelson Ortiz believes that “long term changes will be difficult because government policy is not clear”.

He participated in the defence process in Yaigojé along with the organisation ACIYA, and although he assures that there are proposals to make changes, he says that “the problem is that in this country they are seen as terrorist demonstrations”.

With regards to this statement, Mariana emphasises that “these movements are seen as trying to curb development”. Nonetheless, she points out that “the communities have shown they want to be heard and participate in decisions that will affect their future and that of their children”.

What does the research process of the national park involve?

Nelson: Due to contact with other cultures, the shamanistic practices of the traditional communities have diminished, though they have preserved their language.

As a result, the traditional indigenous people agreed that a special plan should be made concerning the management of the park in Apaporis based on cultural knowledge.

IKnowledge-800x445

In accordance with the policies that they created, the traditional indigenous communities teach the young people about the mythological culture and characteristics of each territory.

Similar research processes to that of Apaporis have been carried out in other areas such as Pira Paraná, a river that is recognised by UNESCO as a site of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

You also participated in the defence process in Tolima, are there any similarities between the two situations?

Mariana: The most similar aspect is the strategy that companies use when they come to a local community. They went to Piedras offering televisions, blenders or fridges. In Yaigojé they promised money to share amongst the communities. Moreover, the companies use another name, disguising their true motives.

In this situation, the communities were motivated to defend their territory because of the bond they have with the land.

Canoe Yaigoije -800x446

This is the incentive that drives the inhabitants to begin a process of resistance, and they have had certain victories.

The problem is that these companies buy out the communities in these regions, pollute the environment and ten years later they leave them with nothing.

How has Tolima been affected after the arrival of the mining company?

Mariana: In Piedras we managed to hold a popular vote to express the residents’ disapproval of the mining in their region. In other areas such as Cajamarca, however, the arrival of mining companies has had an impact on the division in the community.

Some people believed in the jobs and riches that these companies promised them. The company began to mine without a licence in an area close to the town, but the environmental authorities suspended the activities thanks to the actions of the citizens.

In Piedras they were going to carry out the last step of the process of gold extraction: the tailings dam to dump the toxic waste from the mine.

The open pit mine is located 100km in a straight line from Piedras, in Cajamarca, where they have carried out activities without having extracted an area of forest reserve.

The land in La Guajira in Colombia has been affected by mining for decades, what does the country’s government do about this?

Mariana: It’s a desert region with little access to drinking water, which depends on specific periods of rain. The mine has been there for many years, and has affected the course of the river Ranchería, one of the only rivers that provides the region with water. Furthermore, the country is affected by the El Niño phenomenon, and there has been a shortage of rain.


Other problems that threaten the Amazon region are the production of cocaine, the use of chemical pesticides and the fishing industry, do you think it’s possible to get rid of these businesses?

Nelson: There are situations that need policy at national level and where it’s difficult to have an impact, but there are small groups that show it’s possible. However, the government’s policies are not clear with regards to changing this type of intervention in the long run. There are alternative political movements that put forward environmental proposals, but in this country they are seen as terrorist demonstrations.

Mariana: A lot of political will and willpower from the general population is needed. In Colombia, the indigenous people who are against the extracting industries are branded with the label of wanting to curb development.

It’s a slow process of change, but communities such as ACIYA in Yaigojé or in Piedras in Tolima, show that people are at least willing to raise their voices.

I don’t know if this will have a real impact on the economy and on development models, but in Latin America there are examples of people wanting to be part of decisions that will affect their future and who look for the means to do so, and many such cases are silenced.

Find out more, watch:  Yaigoje Apaporis: Traditional knowledge protecting the Colombian Amazon |   Yaigojé Apaporis – conocimiento tradicional, el corazón en proteger la Amazonia Colombiana

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