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Congressman accuses intl mining companies of land theft in Colombia

posted by Tim Hinchliffe
Congressman accuses intl mining companies of land theft in Colombia

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Colombian Congressman Ivan Cepeda has accused three mining companies of using falsified documents to seize land intended for farmers and displaced persons, local media reported on Friday.

According to Cepeda, multinational mining companies Drummond, Prodeco from the Glencore Xstrata group, and Cerro Matoso from the BHP Billiton group cleared territories for mining purposes by using “documentary methods of falsehoods” to acquire land intended for farmers, displaced citizens and land reform, El Colombiano reported.

The Congressman claimed that Drummond used the courts to empty lands held by former paramilitaries, particularly near the town of Jagua de Ibrico in the northern state of Cesar.

“What took place in Cesar was truly a strategy of emptying the territory from the hand of the paramilitary groups in favor of Drummond,” Cepeda told Colombian media on Wednesday.

“Incredible,” the congressman tweeted. “Drummond seeks to legalize plundering through processes of adverse possession against displaced and murdered farmers.”

Between 1996 and 2006 a paramilitary strategy was launched to displace settlers and landholders. The paramilitaries used fear and terror methods during this time to maintain control of numerous areas in the country, including kidnappings, arson, and murder.

In 2012, a former paramilitary commander testified in a Colombian court that Drummond even paid the now-defunct paramilitary group, AUC, to protect its railroad operations.

MORE: Drummond funded AUC: Paramilitary commander

In April, the graves of two adults and one child fitting the family’s description were found where coal mining company, Prodeco, now operates, Santa Fe Radio reported.

Australian-owned mining company, Cerro Matoso, has also been accused of land-grabbing uncultivated territories. 

Cerro Matoso acquired five territories encompassing 655 acres in the northern state of Cordoba, which were awarded as vacant, and therefore could not legally belong to one single owner or entity, El Colombiano reported..

Despite all accusations of land theft and illegal appropriation, in February of this year, 173 families in the state of Cesar agreed to a relocation program with Drummond, Prodeco, and multinational mining company, CNR. However, neither the locations nor the financial specifics have been yet made public.

More: Colombian families to relocate after reaching agreement with mining corporations

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