More than 600 indigenous mobilized in north Antioquia to protest the
activities of US-Colombian mining company Muriel Mining. The corporation is
currently establishing itself in Chocó, illegally according to locals.
Muriel Mining began construction in December and protests began on January 9th. Initially, a small group of locals attempted to obstruct the company’s plans but their amount has grown considerably since then.
The Embera claim that the land is in fact protected by the constitution and if mining activities take place, it could well pollute the waters they use for basic needs such as drinking, washing and fishing.
The dispute started in 2005, when the Colombian government awarded Muriel Mining a 30-year mining concession to exploit the 16,000 hectares of supposedly protected land.
While the company has been granted permits by the state, these permits do mention that the corporation needs permission from local communities using a public consultation.
The region is mostly populated by Embera and Afro-Colombians. Many of the latter were already displaced from other regions due to violence and now having their future threatened again.
Muriel Mining is supported by the Colombian army, who sent troops to defend the activities on January 5th. Moreover, the company is said to have used paramilitary forces to repress protests.