The Curse of El Dorado - Video Available on Canadian Gold Interests in Colombia

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

The Curse of El Dorado has been made on behalf of SINTRAMINERCOL, the miners union in Colombia. It is an extremely powerful 35 minute video that captures the essence of what is happening in Colombia, the dispossession of the common people.

The scene is the beautiful San Lucas mountain range in the south of Bolivar, where gold has been mined from pre- Conquest days. A new generation of miners, mostly peasants displaced by violence from other parts of the country, have settled in this remote area. Using hand tools, noxious chemicals and their own back breaking labour the worker-proprietors dig for gold. Their communities are neglected by the Colombian state, there are no roads, no schools, no healthcare. All there is, is a tax on gold sales, without the miners seeing any return.

But it is well known that gold carries a curse: it attracts the greedy, those from the north who have appetites without limit. Conquistador Mines Ltd is listed on the Vancouver stock exchange. Through its subsidiary Corona Goldfields, and then through a Colombian lawyer and just one rich family that has never visited the zone, Conquistador has laid claim to the gold deposits. This was in 1997. One year later the paramilitaries were active in the zone, driving the miners from the area.

The film shows a story of mass protest, scores of miners and their families outside the US Embassy in Bogotá, and then a later mass exodus of hundreds navigating on barges to a demonstration in the nearest city, Barrancabermeja. The police took down the identities of people on the protest, supposedly so that they could receive state relief. Relief came, but it was the vulture of death, the paramilitaries. Edgar Quiroga, the foremost peasant spokesman, was disappeared.

This video is uncompromising. It tells the story though the voices of the oppressed. They have contempt for the corrupt lawyers and parliamentarians who cannot be trusted to defend their country's integrity. The nexus linking multinational capital, the corrupt, neglectful local elite and paramilitary death squads is clear. This is a new war for gold, the new Conquest.

Don't delay. Get hold of this video, show it in your community or union, arrange a meeting around it, and get organised to join with us in resisting paramilitarism and the multinationals' takeover of Colombia. The Curse of El Dorado can be ordered through the LASO Collective for £10 including postage. The video comes in a Spanish and an English version. Video, LASO Collective, P.O. Box 8446, London N17 6NZ.