|On Plaza Bolívar, protesting mining pollution along the Upia River.|
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get details from them about what sort of mining - whether gold, coal, silver or emeralds - is being done there, or details about the impacts on the environment and the people, whether erosion, pollution or the destruction of biodiversity.
|Pollution, likely from small, illegal mines, |
near the city of Buenaventura (Photo: Panoramio.com)
|The Upia River (Photo: Panoramio.com)|
Large-scale mining, altho generally cleaner than small, informal mines, has been widely criticized in Colombia as a losing proposition, both economically and environmentally. The government has called mining the 'locomotive' of economic growth, and it does contribute a lot to the GPD. But mining areas tend to be poor and environmentally damaged. And those royalties often feed corruption instead of improving common people's lives.
The fear is: When Colombia's finally dug up up and exported all of its natural resources, it'll be left still poor and corrupt and with its tremendous biodiversity gone forever.
Few nations have built stable, solid democracies and a strong middle class, which is the foundation of every democracy, by exporting raw materials. Rather, they turn those raw materials into finished products, such as furniture, computers and airplanes and sell them for much more money, generating lots of skilled, good-paying jobs along the way.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours