See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.

Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:

El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.

The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.

With regards to the protest's goals, she added:

El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.

On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.

Images have circulated on Twitter:

Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.

In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:

I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!

Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:

‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close