Bogotá, Nov 22 (EFE).- A group of social organizations and community leaders is traveling to Europe to denounce the Swiss mining giant Glencore and pressure it to respect human rights and the environment at the Cerrejón mine in the department of La Guajira, northern Colombia.
The delegation has already visited Dublin and Amsterdam, and their next stops will be Frankfurt and Cologne in Germany on Nov. 24 and 25, followed by London, where they will participate in a public event at University College London.
They will finish their tour in Denmark, Switzerland and Belgium.
They aim to highlight “the serious human rights violations committed by Glencore in Colombia,” the organizations said in a statement, where they also reported 70 cases between 1995 and 2022.
Glencore, however, denies the legitimacy of the complaints against it, while reaffirming its commitment to human rights and the environment.
The organizations are seeking to hold not only the company, but also its investors, including UBS, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, ING Group and HSBC, accountable.
It also calls on the company to assume its “corporate and financial responsibilities in projects that have a significant impact on human rights and the environment, and that should be in line with treaties such as the Paris Agreement.”
Oxfam, the Popular Research and Education Center Program for Peace (Cinep) and Censat Agua Viva are the NGOs accompanying the leaders on this tour.
The desert department of La Guajira in northern Colombia is one of the poorest regions in the country, where water is scarce.
The Cerrejón mine has been the subject of years of confrontation between the mining company and the local population, who claim that Glencore’s activities are contaminating the river on which the indigenous Wayuu people depend for their livelihood.
The controversy surrounding Cerrejón, the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America, is that the mining company has partially diverted a 21-kilometer (13-mile) stream to allow for the exploitation of the coal that lies beneath its natural channel.
The communities report that the mine has affected a total of 16 water bodies in the region, and according to a report by Censat Agua Viva, water in the area has been altered and contaminated with heavy metals due to the mine.
The organizations denounce that Glencore continues to operate in the area, despite the eleven sanction processes that have been initiated against the company since 2018.
One of the leaders of the Wayúu indigenous community in the village of El Rocío, which belongs to the municipality of Albania, Leobardo Sierra, said during his visit to Dublin that “the company is destroying what we have” and lamented that Glencore “is looking for its own benefit regardless of the cost, which for us is life or death.” EFE