Colombian government supports dialogue in Cesar – Colombia


The Colombian government supports a dialogue between the mining companies active in Cesar and the victims of the armed conflict.

Paula Gaviria, Presidential Adviser for Human Rights, expressed this support in a public letter addressed to the representatives of the Cesar Peasant Assembly who, supported by PAX, represent 14 communities of victims of the armed conflict. The letter shows Gaviria’s broader support for a reconciliation dialogue in Cesar, which can include a wide range of regional actors.

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In the letter, Ms Gaviria says “[This would be] a great precedent for the transformation of our country and the consolidation of a just, equitable and rights-respecting society. For this, we want to recognize the commitment of the Peasant Assembly of Caesar and we encourage you to continue to lead this process, because we are convinced that reconciliation and dialogue are decisive for the construction of a stable and lasting peace.

PAX Program Manager, Joris van de Sandt, said: “We highly appreciate the leadership shown by Paula Gaviria and call on all actors to follow her example and take concrete steps to start a dialogue between mining companies and the Peasant Assembly as legitimate representatives of the victims of the armed conflict to Caesar.

For several months now, PAX and the Cesar Peasant Assembly have approached mining companies with the aim of achieving an open and sincere dialogue that helps victims obtain full reparations. These mining companies began to explore the department of Cesar in the mid-1990s, in the midst of armed conflict. At least 3,100 people were murdered and around 55,000 farmers were driven from their land in the mining region.

Positive progress

The rapprochement between mining companies and Caesar’s victims shows clear signs of progress. Last September, the mining company Prodeco took part, alongside nearly 800 victims, in a commemoration of a massacre by paramilitaries. On this occasion, Prodeco paid tribute to the victims and declared that the company wanted the truth to be known and justice to be done.

Recently, Prodeco again demonstrated its good intentions in a public statement in which the company categorically rejects all threats and acts of violence against leaders and human rights defenders in Cesar. The statement was made in response to the threats made by a paramilitary group against trade unionists, students, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, land restitution officials, journalists, government officials and others.

PAX and the Cesar Peasant Assembly applaud the growing support for the initiative for an open and honest dialogue between victims and mining companies. Van de Sandt of PAX said: “Cesar’s story has been particularly violent and the latest threats show that the violence has not yet been overcome. This makes it even more urgent to start a dialogue of reconciliation.

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