Colombia: protests against illegal mining in Cauca

Hundreds of indigenous and Afro-Colombian protesters from La Toma, Suárez municipality, in Colombia's southwest Cauca region, marched over the weekend against illegal gold mining taking place in their territories. The communities, angry about environmental damage caused by the activity, said they had received threats from the Rastrojos paramilitary group for their opposition to the mining. The three-day cross-country march along the Pan-American Highway culminated Feb. 16 at Buenos Aires, in northern Cauca.

In a letter to President Manuel Santos in 2014, scholars from Colombia's Pacific zone warned of the imminent risk to the indigenous communities. "We share a deep concern about the serious situation in the region and the impact on Black and indigenous communities,” wrote researchers from the Observatory on Ethnic Territories and Farmers, the Institute of Environmental Studies, and the Observatory on Mining Expansion and Resistance. The statement cited water contamination, erosion, and unregulated waste-dumping. (Colombia Reports, Feb. 17; El Espectador, Feb. 15)