One dead in Colombia mining protests

Violent protests involving hundreds of miners left one person dead in a northwestern Colombian town, authorities said Thursday after imposing a four day curfew.

“The situation is under control but it is tense,” said Santiago Londono, the security chief of the northwestern department of Antioquia.

The protesters hurled stones and noise bombs at the mayor’s office in the town of Zaragoza on Wednesday night until they were dispersed by police, said London, who said several people were arrested.

He blamed the protesters for the death that occurred during the disturbances, although the circumstances were not clear.

He said a curfew had been imposed until Monday.

Protests by miners were also reported in Caucasia, another mining town in the northwestern department of Antioquia.

The miners operate without permits and are demanding that they be given legal status.

The National Confederation of Miners, which represents 200,000 miners, both legal and illegal, has demanded that the government revoke a decree that calls for destroying equipment found at unlicensed mining sites.

It has also called for the creation of designated areas for so-called “ancestral” miners, that they be provided with licenses and titles, and that environmental standards be set for those mining activities.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos has pushed for development of large scale mining with foreign participation, which in some areas has been a source of conflict with local miners.

The mining industry accounted for the biggest share of the 5.9 percent increase in Colombia’s GDP in 2012.


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