Many community leaders opposing mine expansion at El Cerrejon, or holding out for a better deal from the mining company, have been unjustly condemned and imprisoned, some accused of collaborating with Colombia?s left-wing guerrilla movements.
Others have been threatened and live in fear. Jose Julio Perez and his family are among those who are fearful of reprisals because they are standing up for a better deal.
Many people have become physically ill because of the contamination caused by the mining and the stress caused by displacement.
Many people have gone insane because of stress. Some have even died of despair. The communities? wishes have not been fulfilled.
What the communities are asking of us in Britain
? Physical accompaniment by international observers as a way of guaranteeing their safety
? A campaign for the relocation of displaced communities to suitable land where they can resume their agricultural livelihoods and community life together
? Medical assistance
? Political accompaniment to strengthen their communities and community leaders in the face of the enormous power of the companies and the Colombian authorities.
Jose Julio Perez, President of the Relocation Committee for the settlement of Tabaco, says: ?These steps would bring us hope in our very sad situation.?
For more details of how you can help, contact
Colombia Solidarity Campaign, PO Box 8446, London N17 6NZ.