Colombia: gold or water?

The Constitutional Court annulled the Santurban's moor delimitation

Colombia: gold or water?

Leer en Español: Colombia: entre el agua y el oro

Moors are one of the most important ecosystems in Colombia due to the fact that they are the main producers of drinkable water for many big cities. According to the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, in the South American nation there are around 36 moors, but only 23 are delimited in order to protect them.

However, the Constitutional Court of Colombia annulled the delimitation of the Santurban's moor. This ecosystem provides water to 2.5 million people located in the departments of Santander and Norte de Santander. The judicial branch explained that the first delimitation, in 2014, didn't take into consideration the people’s needs. The court's decision assured that the Ministry lacked the consideration and participation of the community.

The Court's decision assured that "the citizens didn't have any scenario to debate the regulation of the biome and to achieve a reasonable consensus because the administration already took a decision".

The court's ruling leaves the Santurban's moor in a limbo. There is gold in the region and some mining companies are interested in exploding the area outside of the moor’s delimitation. The Colombian law specifies that mining inside the moor is prohibited.

The judge’s sentence compels the government to delimit the moor in one year. They also needed to create a program to replace the people’s jobs in the area who made activities is now banned. For example, small-scale mining, agriculture, and farming, which are all prohibited within the vicinity

The Colombian Government has already delimited 23 out of 36 moors. There is uncertainty and ignorance on the magnitude of this decision, but it can also affect other delimitations.

Environmental groups are against any kind of mining in the region. According to them, this activity can contaminate the water which reaches more than 2 million people. Rodolfo Hernandez, mayor of Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander, assured that even mining outside of the delimitation can affect the structure of the mountain and it can contaminate the natural resource. Minesa, the mining company, assured that they will use a modern method that doesn't requires mercury or any other pollutant.

The moors are located between 3.100 and 4.000 meters above sea level. They have an important water catchment and filter, and are in charge of the supplying water to many rivers in Colombia. They were also considered sacred for pre- Colombian communities. It's also an important habitat for the Andean bear and the condor, the representative specie of the country. Colombia has the 50% of the moors in the world.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto