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Tuesday marks a week since Afro-Colombian women decided to march from the “La Toma” community, Suarez municipality, Cauca department, to the capital city of the country, Bogota. Their aim is to say “enough!” to the violation of their territorial rights by megaprojects, especially transnational mining.
“While we walk, we are going to tell all these people what we are going through. We decided to walk and to sing, without fear”, said the women. One of them, Francia Elena Marquez, was interviewed by Real World Radio when the mobilization left Cauca department (in the South-West of the country) to travel through two mountain ranges to the capital city.
They are women that have recently been stopping bulldozers in several of their communities, built by fugitive slaves from large sugar-cane plantations, whose territorial rights are only safe on paper.
They are tired of the different kinds of oppression they are suffering: as women, as afro-descendants, as peasants, as fisherfolk, as social activists and defenders of their territories.
“We want to raise awareness among the public and with national authorities about the damage caused by “illegal mining”, but also by “legal mining” with the permits the government has been granting to foreign transnational companies”, said Francia Elena.
These women’s struggle for their right to free, prior and informed consent with reference to mining projects, as a right established at international level and enshrined in Colombian law, has resulted in continuing threats and the need to abandon their communities, she said.
The activist also highlighted that they are unprotected despite judicial and humanitarian declarations. Moreover, the meetings held have been useless, she added.
“Many women are scared and leaving our children, but we can´t take it anymore”, she concluded.
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