U.S. coal giant Drummond paid former paramilitaries for protection of its Colombian operations, according to diplomatic cables sent between 2006-2010 released by WikiLeaks to newspaper El Espectador.
An October 2006 cable said there were significant security improvements in the northeastern region of Colombia where Drummond operates due to private security operations in the area, including roving patrols along the company’s railroad from their mine to the port in Santa Marta. The cable went on to say that these private security guards were former paramilitaries.
Over the course of four years U.S. Embassy officials sent 15 diplomatic cables to Washington which expressed concern over the company’s labor disputes, lax environmental practices and apparent links with paramilitary death squads.
A year ago, a Federal Court in Alabama, U.S., where the mining company is based, began a civil case against Drummond for its alleged paramilitary links. The case is still underway.
Victims of paramilitary violence in Colombia accuse Drummond of having paid paramilitary organization the AUC between 1999 and 2005, during which time 116 civilians were murdered, allegedly by the right-wing militia, in the region where the coal company operates.
The civil case also seeks compensation for the relatives of several people who were murdered, which they claim was for refusing to sell their land to to make way for the company’s railroad.