Small-scale campesino farmer and community leader, César Garcia, who had been opposing the development of a gold mining project in Cajamarca, Colombia, has been killed by an unknown gunman. There is a grave fear for security of other community leaders in the region.
César García (Pedro César García Moreno), a member of Conciencia Campesina and president of Community Action Board of El Cajón-La Leona district was shot dead close to his home on 2 November at dusk (approximately 6pm). Reportedly, César was with his two children and two other children he was looking after when an unknown man approached and shot him. His wife was nearby, but could not see anyone and just heard a gunshot. César García died immediately.
Reportedly, the Police and the Fiscalía (Office of the Attorney General) of the municipality refused to come and recover the body of César García. Family members and friends had to bring his body from the rural mountain region to the morgue in Cajamarca town by themselves.
César García was actively involved in opposing the development of the La Colosa gold mining project in the region. He regularly attended environmental meetings and reportedly persuaded many farmers in the area not to sell their lands to the mining company.
César is survived by his wife and children aged 4 and 9 years old.
Conciencia Campesina is a non-governmental organisation representing interests of small-scale campesino farmers in Cajamarca, Tolima. Conciencia Campesina is a member of the Comité Ambiental y Campesino de Cajamarca, a network of environmental organisations opposed to large scale mining in the region of Tolima.
Throughout the last three years Conciencia Campesina together with other grassroot groups have peacefully opposed the development of the La Colosa open cast gold mining project owned by multinational AngloGold Ashanti. The project is the first of a mining district that would encompass an area of 200,000 ha according to the company's own figures.
Social movements and community leaders from Cajamarca who criticise and oppose to the mining project have been characterised by the State authorities, the media and representatives of AngloGold Ashanti as “radicals”, “fundamentalists”, and even “terrorists”. Community leaders reportedly feel stigmatised and threatened, and therefore are reluctant to trust the Police or Army forces who work in the region.
Please contact the following entities immediately, demanding a prompt, rigorous and independent investigation of César García's assassination, and ensuring safety and security of community members who oppose the La Colosa gold mining project.
President Juan Manuel Santos
Señor Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República,
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26
Fax: +57 1 596 0631
Please complete the form at: http://syscopre.presidencia.gov.co/publico/frmCiudadano.aspx
Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez
Embassy of Colombia
3 Hans Crescent
London SW1X 0LN
Minister of Interior Affairs
Señor Aurelio Iragorri Valencia
Carrera 8 No. 7 - 83
Office of the Ombudsman
Señor Jorge Armando Otálora Gómez
Calle 55 Nº 10 - 32