CBC, a Canadian version of the BBC, made a 10 minute documentary on ‘Colombian Goldfields’, a Canadian mining company attempting to displace a community of miners in the mountains of Marmato, in Caldas, Colombia (some 3 hours from Medellín). The problem is that residents of town have roots going back some 500 years in an area that the Colombian government itself declared a National Historic site.
With Colombia and Canada in talks over free trade agreements, ‘Colombian Goldfields’ wants to move on in and take some prospected 14 billion dollars in gold from the mountains there. Their best offer? To rebuild the residents town at the bottom of the mountain and perhaps give some of them work during the possible 20 years it would take to mine the gold.
The question I have is what gives a Canadian company the right (not simply referring to the legal right) to take the resources and riches of Colombia? Sure, the town of Marmato might not have the means to mine that amount of gold but I’m sure there’s a Colombian way to resolve that, a way that doesn’t involve non-Colombian shareholders of a non-Colombian company getting rich. It seems Colombian Goldfields literally got a little lost, now if only they would ‘get lost’ get lost, the people of Marmato could go back to living their lives.
For a little more on Marmato, here’s a 6 minute introduction (in Spanish)
If you wish to know more on the story, here is a video review of the company (done by two analysts), where they use the term “social responsibility”, which is just that, a term to be used. I take issue with companies who think they have social responsibility when their only true goal is making a profit (think Marlboro saying don’t smoke or Shell saying they care about the environment).
I also suggest writer Thom Calandra (from my hometown) who has a series of articles he wrote about his trip to Marmato…he also has stock in the company in question. Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.