Colombian small and medium-sized mining entities on Wednesday went on strike to demand attention from the government who the strikers blame of preferring multinationals.
Demonstrations took place across nine of 32 departments, with miners demanding the repeal of a decree that orders for the destruction of machinery used in the informal, and according to the law illegal mining industry.
Despite organizers of the strikes insisting that there would be no road blocks, Radio Santa Fe reported that police had to intervene to prevent a road blockage between Cali and Buenaventura, which has Colombia’s largest port on the Pacific.
Stella Luz Ramirez, executive director of the Confederation of Colombian miners justified the strike, stating “the national government has failed us twice. On July 25 last year we agreed not to strike because the government pledged to improve conditions in the sector, but they once again broke their word. This time, we will not yield.”
Miners are seeking the repeal of decree 2235 of 2012, which authorizes the destruction of machinery used in exploration of minerals without legal authorization.
Ramirez argues however, that the decree “violates due process and the right to self defense” as it has led to the destruction of materials used in the informal mining industry.
Miners have called for the government to create a law, clearly differentiating between informal, and illegal mining.
President Santos insisted on Tuesday however, that the measures that have been put in place are intended to curb illegal mining only as it “is the main source of funding for criminal groups.”
The President insists that the government have began discussions with small miners who wish to formalize, but that it must act decisively, as it “cannot continue to allow criminal mining.”
The miners’ strike comes at a time of social unrest among several sectors of Colombia’s economy; in the northeastern Catatumbo region, farmers have been blocking roads and organizing protests for over a month. Coffee growers plan a national strike in August while other agricultural unions have threatened to join the coffee farmers.
- Nunca voy a permitir que me impongan por ningún motivo las zonas de reserva campesina por la fuerza (President’s Office)
- RECHAZO ROTUNDO A SEÑALAMIENTOS Y LLAMAMIENTO A PARO (Colombian miners)
- Mineros anuncian paro para el 17 de julio (You Tube)
- Paro minero en 9 departamentos; autoridades extreman controles para evitar bloqueos viales (Radio Santa Fe)