Boquerón: A Dream Turned to Nightmare

FOR Peace Presence Monthly Update – March 2015

March was a big month for our team in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. The team started off with a round of meetings in Apartadó, including meetings with the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ombudsman Office, the Urabá Police, and finally the 17th Brigade, which operates in San José de Apartadó. We held these meetings to express concerns about violations of the Geneva Conventions and protection measures that are guaranteed to the Peace Community and to gather information about the region to keep the team safe.

Then Adilah left the initial training in Bogotá to join the team in the field just in time to accompany with Nikki to a nearby Peace Community hamlet. On 16894400926_88b6be6544_oMarch 23rd, Adilah, Nikki, and Michaela all joined in the celebrations of the San José Peace Community’s 18th anniversary – 18 years of being a community that actively resists all armed forces in the area.


Boquerón: A Dream Turned to Nightmare

By Rafael Emiliano Molina Romero, translated by the FOR Peace Presence team

Para español, haz clic aquí

The community of Boquerón, in the mining zone of the department of Cesar, is facing forced relocation due to the high level of air contamination because of coal mining. Throughout the process, Tierra Digna, who FORPP accompanies, provides legal council and community strengthening for those in Boquerón. Below is a lyric reflection about the cultural effects of mining on the community of Boquerón. 

Locals of Boquerón, including Flower Arias Rivera y Zeneida Martínez Molina, remember that it was approximately 40 years ago when the mining company Glencore, along with Mr. Carlos Rodríguez, arrived to the area with the intention of exploratory mining. Over time, the same territory was invaded by new organizations expert in mining exploitation, especially in natural coal, and among these Drummond, Ltd.

Panoramic of the horizon threatening nighttime in Boquerón

In this time, the inhabitants of the town of Boquerón preserved the rudimentary customs of a more natural life. Traditions ranged from hunting and fishing to the physical labor they did for some farm-owners with cattle or who grew cotton, rice, sorghum, and other things too. The value of the wage they received in compensation, fair or not, was enough to sustain their families.

These companies, protected by legal permission given to them by the national government, began what is known today as open-pit and subterraneous mining of the valuable mineral. Under the assumption that there wasn’t qualified manual labor in the area, they brought their own servants. They still do this, even though they have left little to no benefit to the town. On the contrary, they have contributed to the deterioration of a social fabric that, until that point, was solid.