A new book, just published:

The People Behind Colombian Coal: Mining, Multinationals and Human Rights
Edited by Aviva Chomsky, Garry Leech and Steve Striffler
Publisher, Casa Editorial Pisando Callos
July 2007
200 pages
ISBN: 9789589799550
USD $12.00 plus shipping

This book, as the title suggests, is about the people behind Colombian coal. More precisely, it is about the people behind the coal produced at El Cerrejón, the world’s largest open-pit coal mine, which is located in La Guajira in northern Colombia. The book aims to illustrate how the multinational mining companies that own El Cerrejón profit at the expense of the “people” of the Guajira region whose plight has remained hidden “behind the Colombian coal” that many of us in North America and Europe rely on to generate our electricity.

Since the Cerrejón Mine opened in 1983, its operations and constant expansion have forcibly displaced indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian communities. The reports and articles in this book, written by various Colombians, North Americans and Europeans familiar with the issue, document this process and the human rights and environmental consequences. This case study illustrates a much bigger problem with the global economy and our dependence, in the North, on the natural resources of the South. It describes the very real plight of people who want nothing more than to defend teh social fabric of their communities and to live their lives with dignity.

The book can be ordered from:  http://www.colombiajournal.org/colombia_coal.htm
North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee: http://home.comcast.net/~nscolombia/

The Profits of Extermination:

How U.S. Corporate Power is Destroying Colombia

by Francisco RamírezCuellar
translated by Aviva Chomsky

Published to acclaim-and death threats against its author and bombings of his union's offices-in Colombia in 2003, The Profits of Extermination uncovers the role of multinational mining and energy companies in Colombia's violence. Through legal maneuvers, corruption, and direct use of paramilitary violence, companies like Occidental Petroleum, Harken Energy, and many others, have taken over Colombias resources, displacing and murdering those who have tried to challenge them.

This book gives the lie to the claim that the drug wars are the main factor behind Colombia's violence, and explains the role that the U.S. and Canadian governments and their corporations have played in the war against Colombia's peasants, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian populations.

Francisco Ramirez Cuellar is president of Sintraminercol, the Union of Colombian Mining Workers.
Aviva Chomsky is Professor of Latin American History at Salem State College and active in Colombia solidarity work.

Note: Some of the coal for the Salem Harbor Station came from this mine. HealthLink is attempting to find out the source of coal today.