On 9 August 2001 the Afro-Descendant community of Tabaco was forcibly displaced from their ancestral land to give way to the biggest open cast coal mine in Latin America: Cerrejon. The mine is currently owned by Anglo American, BHP and Glencore, three multinational mining companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, with very high profits.

Members of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, London Mining Network, War on Want and many others in more recent years, have been witness to the suffering and losses caused to the people of Tabaco and the environment during all these years. Today, 18 years after that tragedy, we stand in solidarity with Tabaco and support their demands. Please see below a translation of the invitation from the Junta Social Pro-reubicaciĆ³n de Tabaco (Tabaco Relocation Committee) to commemorate this date.

This video is in Spanish only

Tabaco resists with dignity

We invite the national and international organizations to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the expropriation of our community by the coal megaproject Cerrejon in La Guajira, Colombia.

We have completed more than 18 years of struggle and resistance for land, life, a healthy environment and dignity.

On August 9 of 2001, our Afro-descendant community was brutally displaced from our ancestral territory. This megaproject, the biggest open cast coal mine in Latin America, has seen the ethnic and campesino (small-scale farming) communities as a hindrance for their extractive economic interests. Therefore, today there are thousands of people from more than 20 communities that have lost their territory and with it, the social and cultural fabric of their communities, their livelihoods, sacred places, their peace and tranquillity. All that with rampant complicity from the State.

Today, after those 18 years, our community is still not relocated. Our rights have been transformed by the Cerrejon Company and the Colombian State into mere promises, and sometimes into privileges that are offered to a few in exchange for silence and misleading the community.

Extractivism takes over the territories of the communities. It imposes a war against those living a peasant lifestyle, to subsistence and autonomy. The damages that it creates to human and non-human communities are irreparable.

In addition, our struggle for our rights, our complaints and our desire that this kind of thing will never happened again to any other community, has also been criminalised, stigmatised and threatened.

Our demands:

  1. Relocation
  2. Comprehensive reparations
  3. Land for productive projects.

To all the persons and organisations that fight for a world without extractivism, for a peaceful society with social and environmental justice, we invite you to participate in this struggle.

Junta Social Pro-reubicaciĆ³n de Tabaco (Tabaco Relocation Committee)