Declaration of the Churches and Mining Network, from their third meeting, in Bogota

September 9, 2016

Colombia September 2016

A cry for the lands lost;

a cry for the extraction of riches from the soil which paradoxically has not produced wealth for the local populations, who remain poor;

a cry of pain in reaction to violence, threats and corruption;

a cry of indignation and for help for the violations of human rights, blatantly or discreetly trampled

(Pope Francis to the meeting of communities affected by mining, July 2015)

Within the frame of the World Day of Prayer for our Common Home, we, about 50 religious and laypersons, women and men from countries in America and Europe, have gathered in Bogota as members of the Churches and Mining Network, to hear the cries of Mother Earth, exchange experiences of resistance and alternatives to the so-called “development” and to reflect on the challenges that we, as Christians, face in regard to the many problems suffered by communities affected by mining.

We started our meeting with visits to the departments of Tolima (Ibagué and Cajamarca) and Valledupar (Cerro Largo), where the companies Drummond and Anglo Gold Ashanti operates; two of the many areas in Colombian territory affected by opencast mining. Through observation and testimonies we found that the harmful effects of open-pit mining violate the rights of nature and therefore constitute a crime against humanity. 

We are concerned about the increasing criminalization and murders of those defending the territories, as is the case with our sister Berta Caceres for whom we reclaim justice, and through it ask for a fairer world for women, who play a leading role in defense of life but are always the first victims of extractivism. We are aware that defending the Creation, within a predatory system whose highest purpose is profit and money, is an action that involves risk and danger of death, but the gospel of Jesus encourages us, as does the encyclical “Laudato Si” and the spirit of struggle of many communities affected by mining and other extractive activities. 

We urge local authorities elected by popular will to support initiatives in defense of life. We are pleased to note that the City Council of Cajamarca and the Mayor of Ibagué consider an ethical commitment with the citizenship the fact of accompanying initiatives in defense of the common house. 

We call our churches to take an active commitment in defense of the common house as this is a constitutive element of being Christian. We alert the Church hierarchy on the cooptation mechanisms that companies and some governments are implementing. We see hope in the attitude of many bishops, priests, pastors and lay people who hear the cries of the victims in their territories and we celebrate their commitment to life. 

We salute the Colombian people in their efforts to achieve peace and put an end to the long period of internal war that they suffered. Peace is the way to continue building a fairer, more equitative Colombia that is also more in harmony with Mother Nature. From the ecumenical spirit that animates us, our Churches and Mining Network reaffirms its commitment to continue supporting small communities that are displaced and overthrown in their most basic rights. Experience shows us that nowhere in the world mining is an alternative for development, neither comprehensive nor sustainable for our peoples.

Bogotá, 4th of September 2016

Red Iglesias and Mining Dario P. Giuliano Bossi, Comboni Missionaries, Justiça nos Trilhos network, Brazil Claudia Andrea Huircan, Claretians from the province of San José del Sur, Argentina Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret, Franciscans International, Brazil Rosa del Valle Araoz de Machado, Sumai Kausay Collective, Catamarca-Argentina Dom André de Witte, Bishop of Ruy Barbosa, Comição Pastoral da Terra – CNBB, Brazil Birgit Weiler, Theologian from Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University, Peru Monsignor Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of Quibdo, Colombia Apolinar Flores Tococari, Centre for Ecology and Andean, Bolivia Victor Manuel Hirsch, Vivat International, Argentina Viviana del Carmen Vaca, National Team of Indigenous Pastoral -ENDEPA, Argentina Stefan Reinhold, CIDSE, Belgium Moema Marques De Miranda, Inter Franciscan Service of Justice, Peace and Ecology, Brazil Fr. Nelson José Barrientos Chodiman, Diocese of Copiapo, Alto del Carmen, Chile Igor Guilherme Pereira Bastos, Global Catholic Climate Movement, Brazil Sandra del Carmen Ferrero, EDIPA, Sisters of Mercy, Argentina Alessandro Gallazzi, Theologian, Advisor to the Pastoral de la Tierra, Brazil Susanne Friess, Misereor, Germany Patrícia Generoso Thomaz Guerra, Conceição do Mato Dentro, MG-Brasil Maria Angely Robles Carvajal, Presbyterian Church, Chile César Eduardo Correa Valenzuela, Columban Missionary Society, Chile Fr. Henry Ramírez Soler cmf, Claretian Missionaries, Colombia Carmen Amaya Alicia Rodriguez, Inter Ecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace, Colombia Father Jesús Alberto Franco Giraldo, Inter Ecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace, Colombia Milton Fernando López Ruiz, Fastenopfer, Colombia Martha Inés Romero Medina, Pax Christi International, Colombia Augusto César Padilla Ormeño, OCMAL (Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America), Chile Alírio Caceres, AMERINDIA, Colombia Mauricio Lopez, REPAM (Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network), Ecuador P. Gregory Kennedy S.J. CLAR – CRC, Colombia Milton Mejia Camargo Mariano, CLAI, Ecuador Pedro Sanchez, SIGNIS LAC, Ecuador Vidalina Morales Gamez, Association of social economic development, El Salvador Scott Wright, Interfaith Working Group on the Extractive Industries, USA Carlos Alarcon Novoa, Organization for Human Rights of the Archbishopric of Guatemala Cesar Augusto Espinoza Muñoz, Claretian Missionaries, Honduras Pedro Landa Palma, Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación – ERIC, Honduras Lupo Canterac Troya, Red Regional Agua, Desarrollo y Democracia, Piura-Perú Pablo Arturo Sanchez de Francesch, GRUFIDES, Peru Jahncke Rodolfo Javier Benavente, Red MUQUI, Peru Esther Dorothea Winkler, Fastenopher, Switzerland Signatures to be continued…