Strikes carried out by miners that are taking place across Colombia, but turned deadly on Wednesday as security forces attempted to impede roadblocks, killing two protesters.
The miners who died took part in protests in the Risaralda department. According to the miners, one of the protesters died of a heart attack after inhaling tear gas.
Despite organizers of the strike insisting that there would be no road blocks, Radio Santa Fe reported that in the department of Valle demonstrators blocked roads, burned tractors and subsequently clashed with police.
According to reports, serious disturbances also occurred in the municipalities of Caucasia, Caceres and Buritica in the department of Antioquia, leaving seven police officers and five civilians injured.
The demonstrations are regarding a decree signed into legislation in 2012, ordering the destruction of machinery used in illegal mining.
Miners have called for the repeal of this decree, claiming it is damaging the informal mining sector.
President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday defended the decree, stating that he has no interest in ending “artisanal mining”, simply the “criminal mining that is destroying our rivers and forests.”
According to the president, miners with ties to illegal armed groups are inciting artisan miners to used violence.
The miners’ strike follows ongoing demonstrations in the northeastern Catatumbo region. According to the government, these protests were also incited by illegal armed groups.
The UN recently condemned the Colombian government for accusing protesters of being infiltrated by illegal armed groups without providing corroborating evidence.
- Presidente afirma que no se va a terminar con la minería artesanal (President’s Office)
- Presidente Santos afirma que un nuevo paro en el sector cafetero ‘sería tremendamente injusto y contraproducente’ (President’s Office)
- Mineros en paro boquean vías, se enfrentan a la policía y queman camiones (Radio Santa Fe)