The mining strike in the Segovia and Remedios municipalities of Colombia’s Antioquia department has reached the 30-day mark, with tensions between workers and the government continuing to escalate.
The indefinite strike began on July 21 in the northeast region of Antioquia, where miners have rejected government policies that favor large foreign companies instead of local artisanal and ancestral mining.
The government action that exacerbated the conflict was the implementation of Decree 1102, which made it harder for local miners to continue operating their personal businesses.
Mining Bureau of Remedios and Segovia President Eliober Castañeda said that due to recent legislation, small miners can not sell the gold “because the buyer consigned their remittances and when they are going to withdraw their money, the banking area keeps them.”
In response, over 10,000 artisanal and ancestral Colombian miners started protesting against the expansion plans of multinational mining companies.
The local communities said their human rights have been violated during the demonstrations. Earlier this week, for example, Colombia’s Anti-Riot Mobile Squadron, ESMAD, reportedly fired sniper shots against demonstrators and are alleged to have killed miner Alexis Gregorio Acevedo.
Police have also been accused of using hospitals, schools and even childcare facilities as a base to attack the locals. Residents also allege officers offered benefits and money in exchange for information about the protesters' leader.
More than 340,000 Colombians depend directly on small and medium scale mining for their livelihoods.