Tag Archives: cerrejon

Generating Power and Poverty in Colombia

Many of the communities in Colombia’s remote northeastern department of La Guajira exist on the periphery of the country’s violence. The semi-arid landscape is not conducive to guerrilla warfare and looks more like the southwestern United States than any other part of Colombia. While the region’s geography is responsible for keeping much of the country’s violence at arms length, it is the cause of another form of conflict currently being waged against numerous La Guajira communities: economic globalization. In the early1980s, ExxonMobil—through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Intercor—and Colombia’s state-owned coal mining company Carbocol began extracting coal from the El Cerrejón mine in southern La Guajira. El Cerrejón soon became the world’s largest open-pit mine as it grew to its current size of 30 miles long and five miles wide. This continuing expansion has wreaked havoc on local communities, some of which have already been gobbled up by the mine, and others that are targeted for destruction over the next couple of years.

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