Protests against Vale leave one dead and several injured in Columbia
The protests started in Plan Bonito when protestors blocked the railway used for coal transportation. More than 100 trucks loaded with 35 tons of coal, as well as a train with 135 wagons each carrying 60 tons of ore, were stranded. Upon learning of the blockade, residents of La Loma organized a rally that ended in an altercation with the riot control squad.
The residents of La Loma have demands for Vale: the remediation of the problem with mineral waste and the halt of deforestation of eucalyptus trees. The protestors also want to negotiate directly with Vale and the possibility of developing training and work opportunities for the community. So far, the negotiations have been through the National Development Fund (FONADE), an institution of the Colombian government hired by the company that has not complied with citizens' requests.
Most of Vale's activities in Columbia are related to thermal coal extraction in El Hatillo mine. The mine is located next to the town of La Loma and covers an area of 9,693 hectares. The company also operates the Rio Cordoba Harbor located in Magdalena, and has an 8.4% stake in Del Norte Ferrocaris de Colombia SA, which manages the railroad that links the coal operations to the harbor. Other mining companies as Drummond, Glencore and CNR also explore ore depositories in Cesar, Colombia.
Manifestations against Vale spread all over the world
Since the beginning of the year, there have been weekly outcries against Vale and its business operations. During January and February, public demonstrations blocked Vale's operations in Açailândia and Buriticupu (Maranhao, Brazil), Cateme (Mozambique), Sudbury (Canada), Morowali (Indonesia) and Colombia. In Para, where Norte Energia S.A. is building the Belo Monte Dam, protesters occupied the first dam on the Xingu River and disrupted the works.
Coincidentally, the last conflict in Colombia happened during the same day that Vale released its financial and investment statements, which confirm its billionaire income. "This is a two-faced development that negatively impacts communities living in the regions where Vale makes excessive profits" - said Andressa Caldas from the International Movement of People Affected by Vale (Atingidos pela Vale).
Recently, the Public Eye Awards, known as the "Nobel" prize of corporate shame, chose Vale as the worst company in the world. Created in 2000, the Public Eye is annually awarded by popular vote to companies with a negative social, environmental and labor record. The award was presented during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.