As the rapidly declining health of Colombia’s emerald czar forebodes potentially violent territorial disputes, other magnates along with the czar requested an “active presence” from the government to prevent another “Green War.”
Emerald czar, Victor Carranza, and the brothers Luis and Oscar Murcia, also powerful emerald miners, proposed an agreement for an “active presence of the Ministers of the Interior and of Mining and Energy, and the army and the police.” The emerald magnates also asked the Catholic Church to act as a guarantor in the agreement.
“There are serious situations which can put at risk the stability of the peace process,” Carranza wrote in a letter to his business rival Pedro Rincon, alias “Pedro Orejas” which was obtained by newspaper El Tiempo.
Carranza is believed to control half of all emerald mining in Colombia, which accounts for 60% of the world’s emerald trade. Plagued by prostate and lung cancer, Carranza’s heath is critical. He has warned that his death could result in a violent power struggle for control of the multi-million dollar trade.
Colombia’s “Green War,” which began in the 1960s, left some 3,000 people dead after violence exploded in the 1980s as several factions, including the now-defunct Medellin Cartel, struggled for control over the lucrative emerald business. Carranza brokered a peace deal in 1991 with the help of the Catholic Church, and has controlled the industry ever since.
Currently, Carranza said, the decades-old peace deal is deteriorating.
In addition to the small number of clans that control mining in Colombia’s emerald-rich departments of Boyaca and Cudinamarca, illegal armed groups including left-wing rebels the FARC, neo-paramilitary organization “Los Urabeños” and drug trafficking gang “Los Rastrojos” are all involved in illegal mining on some level.
- Colombia’s ‘Emerald Czar’ Calls for New Peace Deal (Insight Crime)
- Emerald Czar’s Failing Heath Could Spark Conflict in Colombia (Insight Crime)
- Esmeralderos piden al Govierno que evite ‘guerra verde’ (El Tiempo)