Afro Colombians oppose free trade agreement

Publié le par hort

AfroColombians Oppose Free Trade Agreement
By David Bacon
t r u t h o u t | Report

Sunday 13 May 2007

Ana Valencia still tries to eke out a living as a
miner in the hills near the headwaters of Colombia's
Rio Salvajina. Her sisters are gone now to the nearest
city of Cali, where they work as domestics. She's
having a hard time hanging on.

"Due to the absolute poverty in which we live,"
Valencia explains in Spanish, "many women have to move
to the city to work. Single women have to leave their
children behind with the eldest child caring for the
younger siblings. They can't afford to send all of
their children to school, because you must pay for
tuition and their uniform and there isn't enough money
to go around. So they come home every two weeks to
leave more food for the children and return to the
city again. That is their only option."

Living on the mountain is even harder. In this
AfroColombian community, Palo Blanco, the men farm and
take care of animals, while the women mine gold. "We
do everything here, even a man's job," says Valencia.
"My mother's a miner too. She's 77 years old, and
she's been mining since she was 15. She's still out
there right now."

As hard as mining and farming are, people like
Valencia are fighting to stay. Today, though, the
threat to Palo Blanco's existence doesn't come only
from poverty. The Anglo American Corporation plans to
pulverize the mountain where Valencia and her
community mine and extract the gold using industrial
methods that will leave behind huge piles of tailings
and pits filled with cyanide residue. If the project
is allowed to proceed, Palo Blanco residents will lose
their small diggings and the income they gain from
them. Pollution will make it even harder to farm. The
town might become just a memory.(read more)

Publié dans African diaspora

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