Communities protest coal mining in Yariguíes mountains

Community leaders face threats from paramilitary groups after blockading highways to protect the Yariguíes mountain range from environmental disaster
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protestors stand in the street, holding a large banner that spans across the street

We pray for the communities and leaders of El Carmen and San Vicente de Chucuri.

On 9 January, people from the municipalities of El Carmen and San Vicente de Chucuri mobilized to protest the mining concession given to the COLCCO mining company to exploit coal in the Yariguies mountain range.  The Chucuri communities are principally cocoa growers and are located near the Yariguies Mountain Range National Park.  

Colombia has several large coal mining operations in the northern region that have destroyed the environment and its surrounding communities, deviating vital drinking water sources for mining operations, and causing severe skin and respiratory diseases from coal dust contamination.

In response to the protests, the paramilitary group AGC sent out death threats against the protesting communities and their leaders. Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, leading the charts in 2021. Global Witness reported that 33 of a total of 200 environmental activists were assassinated in Colombia.  

On 27 January, representatives of the national government and the protesters reached agreements that allowed the blockades placed on a highway to be lifted. One of these agreements was that the Ministry of Mines would challenge the environmental license that was authorized for the COLCCO mining company.

We thank God for the communities that resist and protect the environment and its resources such as water—a source of life. And we celebrate the commitment of the recently elected government of the Historical Pact in August 2022 who seeks to mitigate climate change and place more restrictions on multinational companies.

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