Black Communities Confiscate Illegal Mining Equipment

Communities Resort to Direct Action While Government Remains Silent 

Black communities are risking their lives to protect the rights to their territory. The government has not responded despite repeated denouncements of illegal mining throughout northern Cauca. Therefore, community leaders and members have made the decision to confiscate the machinery that is exploiting their land and violating their rights. This is extremely dangerous because the illegal mining operations often have ties to illegal armed groups that kill with impunity.Confiscados

Last week ACSN reported the presence of illegal mining in the Community Council of La Toma to the international community, but the government has not taken action. Therefore, on September 13, Afro-descendant and Indigenous leaders confiscated two excavators operating in the village El Palmar in the municipality of Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, and only 50 minutes from the city of Cali.

The communities have given the excavator’s owners 48 hours to remove the 32 machines that are operating in the area. They will meet with the illegal miners tomorrow, Tuesday 16, where they will command them to remove all the machinery permanently and cease any attempts to renew mining excavations in their territories.

ACSN is supporting the efforts of the communities to defend their right to self-determination by reaching out to Colombian and international authorities. We encourage our networks to do the same. Please see below for more information on how to take action.


Please take a few moments to e-mail or contact the following Colombian government officials. We have included a sample text in English and Spanish. Feel free to send the message in whichever language you feel comfortable.


Yo digo NO a la minería ilegal—y los Ministros?

NO mas tragedias-San Antonio

#BlackLivesMatter @MinInterior @MinMinas @ViceMinasCol @DefensoriaCol

English Version:

“Dear [Official],

My name is [Name] from [Affiliation], and I am very concerned by the lack of political will from the Colombian government in ending illegal mining in black communities. Armed groups and outsiders exploit the ancestral lands of the black communities with retro excavators and dredging equipment. I am especially concerned with the illegal mining in the towns of El Palmar in Santander de Quilichao; Yolombó and Hato in the Community Council of La Toma, as well as the towns of Honduras and Betania in the Community Council of AfroRenacer in Micay.

The communities do not agree with or support this mining and it goes against Law 70/93 and Sentence 1045-A of 2010. We urge your office to take action to confiscate the machines and investigate the owners in order to protect the communities and their leaders who are threatened for defending their right to the territory.



[Title, Affiliation]

Spanish Version:


Yo soy [nombre/afiliación] y estoy muy preocupad@ por la falta de voluntad política del gobierno colombiano para acabar con la minería ilegal impuesta por grupos armados y foráneos que explotan el territorio ancestral de comunidades negras con retroexcavadoras y dragas. En particular quiero denunciar la minería ilegal que se esta llevando a cabo El Palmar, municipio de Santander de Quilichao; en el Consejo Comunitario de La Toma en las veredas de Yolombó y Hato y en el Consejo Comunitario AfroRenacer del Micay en las veredas de Honduras y Betania.

Esta minería no esta auspiciada ni promovida por las comunidades y va en contra de la Ley 70/93 y la Sentencia 1045-A del 2010. Quiero urgir a su oficina que tomen acción para confiscar las maquinas e investigar a sus dueños y para proteger a las comunidades y sus líderes porque son amenazadas por defender su derecho al territorio.”





Twitter: @MinInterior, @CristoBustos @MinMinas @ViceMinasCol @DefensoriaCol

E-Mail: (,,,,,,,,,,,,

Embassy of Colombia to the United States

Ambassador Luis Carlos Villegas

Embassy of the United States to Colombia

Ambassador Kevin Whitaker

Ministry of Interior: 

Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo Bustos
@MinInterior, @CristoBustos

Liliana Mera, Office for Black Communities

Ministry of Mining and Energy

Minister of Mining Tomas García; @MinMinas (Twitter), +57-220-1321 ext. 2600

Vice-Minister of Mining Cesar Diaz Guerrero; @ViceMinasCol (Twitter);

Human Rights Ombudsman:

Human Rights Ombudsman Jorge Otalora; @DefensoriaCol

Vice Human Rights Ombudsman Esiquio Manuel Sánchez Herrera; (57+1) 691-5466 ext. 2718 – FAX (57+1) 691-5466

Regional Human Rights Ombudsman for Cauca Mauricio Redondo Valencia; +57-310-853-9404 – FAX (57+2) 824-4874

Ethnic Human Rights Ombudsmen Patricia Luna Paredes, FAX : (57+1) 691-5255


Community Ombudsman Carolina Fernandez +57-311-639-5977

Inspector General’s Office (various),,


Press Contacts:

Charo Mina Rojas:

Anthony Dest:

Manuel Matos:

*ACSN includes Global Rights, Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), International Working Group of PCN, Colombia Land Rights Monitor, and activists and scholars Joseph Jordan, Eunice Escobar, Ajamu Baraka, Manuel Matos, Naila Rosario, Tianna Paschel, Arturo Escobar, and Nicole Lee (Lee Bayard Group). Peace Brigades International (PBI) serves as an international observer.

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