Mining company Prodeco is leading by example by taking concrete steps that contribute to peace in Colombia. At a recent commemoration of victims in Estados Unidos, close to Prodeco’s La Jagua mine, CEO Mark McManus clearly voiced the company’s commitment to regional peacebuilding. PAX is positive about the actions taken by Prodeco as they are key towards building trust and a reconciliation dialogue.
In his speech in Estados Unidos, McManus highlighted the importance of learning from the past in order to make the right decisions about the future. McManus also expressed his appreciation for the attendance of Padre de Roux, head of the Colombian Truth Commission and hundreds of victims. PAX has been supporting the Asamblea Campesina that unites 15 victim communities of the Colombian conflict in the mining region who have invited mining companies to start a direct reconciliation dialogue.
PAX General Director Jan Gruiters: “Prodeco is taking substantial steps that contribute to regional peace building. They have supported several vulnerable communities and have reached out to victim groups. We hope these actions will lead to the start of a direct dialogue with victim organizations on truth, reconciliation and reparation. ”
Truth and reconciliation
The mining region of Cesar has been hard hit during the conflict causing many inhabitants to be victimized, most of whom are still looking for truth, restitution of lost land and a restoration of their livelihood. The Colombian Peace Accord that put an end to more than fifty years of armed struggle provides the mechanisms that are necessary to address the violent past. Among these are processes that are meant to determine truth and requirements for remediation of the victims of the conflict.
Nonetheless, in practice assuring that victims get the truth and remediation they are entitled to remains challenging on a governmental level. Companies in conflict affected regions clearly have a supportive role to play and can take initiatives that are complementary to those of the government. By attending last year’s and this year’s commemoration in Estados Unidos, engaging with the victim communities and openly speaking of the importance of truth finding and reconciliation, Prodeco is taking important steps to contribute to regional peace building.
Victims hope the next step will be a reconciliation dialogue between them and the mining company. Deyis Carmona, leader of the Asamblea Campesina: “I consider this commemoration to be a break through because recognition between Prodeco and us is an indispensable step to start a dialogue. If we manage, through dialogue, to understand each other, we can dream of a reconciled society that is capable of turning the page of violence.”
Leading by example
Whereas Prodeco is clearly setting steps in the right direction, other mining companies in the mining region in Cesar remain passive in dealing with the past and making public contributions to truth finding and reconciliation. Gruiters: “Prodeco is so far the only mining company that is taking concrete actions when it comes to dealing with the past and reaching out to victim groups such as the Asamblea Campesina. We recommend others to follow its example and hope that Prodeco will take further steps that will lead to truth, reparation and sustainable peace in the mining region.”