Colombian Town Rejects Gold Mine To Protect Water And Preserve Life

Cumbe Mayo in Region Cajamarca, Colombia.

Multinational companies commonly step into third world countries with proposals for resource exportation projects. Although it may be presented as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs, it often ends up as a grand-scale exploitation, encouraged by government bribes.

The people of Cajamarca, Colombia have voted against the proposal to build a gold mine upon their forested mountains, which was projected to bring the region billions in profit. The proposal came from AngloGold Ashanti, a World Bank giant from South Africa.

AngloGold Ashanti had been camped out in Cajamarca for the last ten years, in anticipation of the project. The community, divided, came to refer to the project as “Auntie Anglo-Gold”. In the end, the project was denied by a single vote among approx. 22,000 citizens.

The company will have to abandon the gold mining project.

The tremendous operation would cut into hundreds of hectares of forest and irreparably damage the ecosystem. Mining processes require exorbitant amounts of electricity and water, while producing millions of tons of waste rock and emitting toxins into the atmosphere.

“If the water gets contaminated, the lives of 600,000 people are in danger, that’s what I want people to see. The government is overlooking and going against its constitutional duty, which is to protect the lives of Colombian citizens. I think you, the international community, realise what happens in Colombia. We don’t lie when we say that the state violates human rights.” said Pablo Diaz from Ecotierra in a forum regarding the project.

If these types of projects succeed, they create a dependency on foreign investors and threaten the sustainability of traditional industries. The government had been promoting the project as a way to combat the thousands of illegal mining operations that exist to fund drug smugglers and terrorists. Usually, the pirated gold from Central and South American countries is purchased by U.S. companies. 

In an interview about the prospect of AngloGold Ashanti’s takeover, Carlos Games from Ecotierra said the community had been saturated by propaganda from the government and investors. Ultimately, the people of Cajamarca rejected the project in favour of preserving air and water quality, and their farming industry.

Games has stated in the past:

“We’re very concerned about the arrival of this multinational to Cajamarca. We’ve always lived from agriculture and stockbreeding… Like all multinationals, especially in the third world, they arrive announcing large amounts of investment in social developments for the people. They arrive softening up communities and bribing the authorities. They do everything they can think of, because the only thing they’re interested in is gold… What they’re most interested in, is taking away the natural resources of the third world countries.” 

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