“To My Boquerón” – a video of spoken word

Mar 10, 2015 | Displacement and Land Issues, Extractive Industries, News, Our Partners

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We present the video and text of a poem about the impact of large-scale coal mining on the community of Boquerón, Cesar, Colombia written by Flower Arias Rivera from Boquerón.

The community of Boqerón is located in the mining zone of Cesar – a region where the majority of the country’s coal is extracted. It is there that FOR Presente por la Paz accompanies the Center for Social Justice Studies – Tierra Digna, a collective of social scientists, psychologists and lawyers, on a monthly basis as they provide capacity-building and legal counsel to the community. Boquerón is a majority Afro-Colombian community of about 1000 habitants which is currently undergoing the first involuntary resettlement ordered by the national government due to unhealthy levels of air pollution caused by open-pit coal mining. Supported by Tierra Digna and accompanied by FOR Peace Presence, the community is taking part in rounds of meetings with mining companies, including US-based Drummond Ltd. and Swiss-owned Glencore, contractors, government environmental agencies, and human rights entities. They are struggling to ensure that the resettlement signifies a dignified alternative to the poverty and negative health impacts they currently face.

The video above was filmed at an event in Cesar as one stop of many during a visit by a Ministry of Holland to Colombia. Boquerón, along with another community, presented their cases to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Relations last November (she’s sitting at the table on the right in black).

Holland is one of the top foreign investors of Colombian coal. We attended the event together with Tierra Digna and recorded this poem by Flower when he spoke as part of what they chose to present. Afterwards, the Minister addressed the communities by thanking them for sharing their stories and expressing that she appreciated hearing all sides to the complicated situation of coal mining.

To My Boquerón

Boqueron of my soul
Land of my core
I’m losing my happiness
My traditions and my hopes

I walk slowly and with sadness
Just thinking of your departure
My history, your history
It’s like sorrow on Christmas Eve

I would like to die in your remembrance
Where I lived so many memories
Of worldly loves and experiences
Boquerón, how I carry you in my soul

Voices from memories are heard at a distance
Of a child and an old man
Longing for the past
Of Boquerón and her beautiful old days

Leaving without return is painful
And a December without you is death
How can I return later to Pajuil
When my shoes have broken?

Now I walk, a vulnerable Boqueronero
And the history of Tucuy, El Manantial, and La Lomita is dying
Today even the very sky is weeping
Drops of water turned into desperation

I would like to return to my mother’s legs
Like when I hid as a child
I listen at a distance to the voice of the patriarch Rivera Ángel
Who, from the tomb, is wishing for hope

Goodbye little Diablito, Palma, and Paraluz canyons
where I gave my first cry of freedom and left behind slavery
of my Palenquera race and also of Chambacú
My memories of my ancestors are lost, I swear on this blue sky

Damned black stone
That changed my history
A humble village cries
The ill-fated abandonment of a whole life


Author: Flower Arias Rivera
Born: 02/16/1960
In Boquerón
Son of Elisa María Rivera-Biological Mother
Raised by Inés María Rivera
Father: Eduardo Francisco Arias Almenarez