Colombian Coal: Resisting British-based Multinational Giants
Friday October 19, 2007 16:49 by Oliver Edwards - Colombia Solidarity Campaign BristolColombiaSolidarity at gmail dot com
In January this year, Bristol hosted Jose Julio Perez and Armando Perez to tell us about the forced displacements of villagers affected by the El Cerrajón mine. El Cerrejón is the world's largest open-pit coal mine, which is located in La Guajira in northern Colombia. On Friday 26 th October, Bristol will proudly host Freddy Lozano and Jairo Quiroz of the SINTRACARBON mine workers' union. Freddy Lozano is one of the leaders of the coal miners' union at the Cerrejon mine in La Guajira. He is coming to Britain to speak at the AGM of BHPBilliton (one of the mining companies involved) on 25 October. We have this rare opportunity to hear first hand from the experiences of a trade unionist in Colombia at the frontline of neo-liberal capitalist globalisation and exploitation.
Old Council Chamber
Wills Memorial Building
Bristol BS8 1RJ
for map go to http://tinyurl.com/34gmoc
The day after this visit, we will be taking Freddy and Jairo to meet residents of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. This (http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/10/09/the-new-coal-age/) article by George Monbiot, entitled "The New Coal Age", published in The Guardian last week, explains how the Miller Argent Group aim to re-open what they hope will become the largest open-face coal mine in Europe. The irony of this development is that it was cheap coal imported from the El Cerrajon mine in Colombia that helped cause the closure of South Wales coal mines in the 1980s.
In July 2007, Aviva Chomsky, Garry Leech and Steve Striffler edited the excellent book 'The People Behind Colombian Coal: Mining, Multinationals and Human Rights'. This book, as the title suggests, is about the people behind Colombian coal. More precisely, it is about the people behind the coal produced at El Cerrejón. The book aims to illustrate how the multinational mining companies that own El Cerrejón profit at the expense of the "people" of the Guajira region whose plight has remained hidden "behind the Colombian coal" that many of us in North America and Europe rely on to generate our electricity.
Since the Cerrejón Mine opened in 1983, its operations and constant expansion have forcibly displaced indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian communities. The reports and articles in this book, written by various Colombians, North Americans and Europeans familiar with the issue, document this process and the human rights and environmental consequences. This case study illustrates a much bigger problem with the global economy and our dependence, in the North, on the natural resources of the South. It describes the very real plight of people who want nothing more than to defend the social fabric of their communities and to live their lives with dignity.
Join us in solidarity to welcome these trade unionists seeking creative solutions to global problems.