Colombia’s “emerald tsar” Victor Carranza has told news network Al Jazeera that a war over the industry could erupt should he die.
Carranza, one of the world’s top traders in the precious stones who was diagnosed with prostate and lung cancer in February, fears his demise could see the breakdown of the peace deal brokered between warring factions in the 1980s.
In an Al Jazeera documentary, the owner of a string of Colombian emerald mines said, “The peace we signed 23 years ago is cracking. It’s damaged. People don’t treat it with the respect we gave it when we reached those compromises and that is a very grave and delicate thing. And I don’t like it.”
Colombia’s “Green War” left some 6,000 people dead 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 1989 with the help of the Catholic Church, and has controlled the industry ever since.
Writer Pedro Claver, who has extensively studied Carranza’s role in the Green War, told Al Jazeera,”While Carranza is alive he holds all the control, but behind him there is another generation that could restart the conflict …. If there is another big find [of emeralds] there will be another war … and the kind of war that could erupt will have a lot in common with the wars from the past.”
Carranza is currently under investigation for allegedly employing paramilitaries to protect his emerald empire after an ex-paramilitary implicated him in financing armed groups. The emerald tsar has claimed he was extorted by paramilitary groups operating near his mines.
Al Jazeera aired the 25-minute film on Thursday June 28. It can be seen on their website.