Indigenous Communities Demand to be Consulted

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 12 February 2011

The indigenous communities of Canamomio, Lomaprieta de Riosucio and Supia, in Caldas Department have protested against the Colombian government’s granting of a permit to Antioquia Gold to explore and mine 2800 hectares of land, some of which is in indigenous territory.

On Sunday February 6th indigenous representatives met with the department governor, ex-governors and a commission sent by the Canadian mining company Antioquia Gold. The representatives of the mining company told the community that it had paid for and received government permission to explore and then mine lands in the area, some of which is located adjacent to, and inside, the indigenous reservation. The representatives claimed that they wanted to work with the support and approval of the indigenous community.

However, the indigenous leaders made clear that the government is not entitled to give permits or grant concessions to companies or individuals when the land they wish to use is located in indigenous reserves. This violates the indigenous peoples’ right to previous consultation enshrined in the Colombian constitution and in Article 15 of ILO Convention 169 and Article 32 of the UN Charter on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The indigenous communities also complained of the exploration of their territory by mining companies without prior agreement saying that “The indigenous cabildo is not interested in making deals with foreign mining companies. We aren’t able to give our territory to companies that leave ruins behind, degrading the land. As indigenous people we need the land to grow our food.”

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