Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Medellin-based multinational supermarket giant Exito reported August 14 that its first-half (1H) 2017 net profits rebounded to COP$61.6 billion (US$20.7 million), up from a COP$47.7 billion (US$16 million) loss in 1H 2016.

Revenues also rose 12.4% year-on-year, to COP$26.8 trillion (US$9 billion), while recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 40% year-on-year, to COP$1.7 trillion (US$573 million), according to the company.

While Colombia’s relatively weak economy this year pinched over-all results, a rebounding Brazilian economy boosted Exito’s corporate-wide earnings, according to the company.

In Brazil, Exito’s “Grupo Pão de Açúcar” (GPA) chain saw revenues rise 8.1% year-on-year (measured in local currency) and the “Assai” cash-and-carry supermarket chain saw a 28% jump in operational earnings.

In Uruguay, sales rose 7.4% year-on-year (measured in local currency) and EBITDA margin hit 8%, according to the company.

In Argentina, the company’s commercial real-estate business expanded to 161,000 square meters of rentable space, putting Exito in the number-one position (outside of Buenos Aires) in offering commercial gallery space.

In Colombia, Éxito’s “Surtimayorista” cash-and-carry chain continues to grow, with eight stores now open and showing promising results.

Surtimayorista is “one of the strategies of the [Éxito] group to confront the challenging macroeconomic situation” in Colombia, according to the company.

The private-label clothing business also is showing exemplary results, as 97% of all Éxito-branded clothing ítems are produced in Colombia, generating US$6 million in export income, according to the company.

Synergies between all of Éxito’s business lines in Latin America are now expected to deliver US$50 million in corporate-wide savings this year, the company added.

The company now has 1,563 retail locations, with 568 in Colombia, 884 in Brasil, 81 in Uruguay and 30 in Argentina.

“The first-half results continue to show us that our internationalization strategy is producing good results and positive diversification in income and profits for our group,” added Grupo Éxito president Carlos Mario Giraldo.


A new study by Colombia’s health ministry (Ministerio de Salud) found that Suramericana EPS, Sanitas EPS and Aliansalud EPS were rated the top-three health insurance network providers by patients in the “contributory” (user-pays, employer-pays) “Entidades Prestadoras de Salud” (EPS) health-coverage sector.

However, the study didn’t cover health-care consumers in the prepaid sector – an attractive insurance alternative for many wealthier expats (and richer Colombians).

Several companies including Suramericana and Coomeva offer prepaid health insurance coverage in Colombia. However, these policies are much more expensive than EPS policies -- and they’re beyond the budget of most Colombians.

In addition, only Coomeva offers prepaid health insurance to people 60 years and older, which puts most older expats (and native Colombians) either at the mercy of relatively slow EPS coverage for certain expensive and optional procedures, and for certain drugs -- or else paying cash/credit for faster, broader services and broader drug options.

Still, people in the prepaid insurance system also must buy a complimentary EPS policy -- which effectively helps subsidize the cost of coverage for millions of others stuck in EPS networks.

As for the “subsidized” EPS sector (mainly for indigents), the top three EPS networks in the Ministry study were Associação Mutual Ser Empresa ESS; Caja de Compensacion Familiar de la Guajira; and Asociacion Mutual Barrios Unidos de Quibdo, according to the ministry report .

In all, the top 13 EPS networks in the contributive sector were (in order):

1. Suramericana EPS
2. Sanitas EPS
3. Aliansalud EPS
4. Nueva EPS
5. Compensar EPS
6. Salud Total EPS
7. EPS Famisanar
8. Saludvida EPS
9. Coomeva EPS
10. Servicio Occidental de Salud EPS
11. Comfenalco Valle EPS
12. Cruz Blanca EPS
13. Cafesalud EPS

The top 10 EPS’s in the subsidized sector were:


1. Asociacion Mutual Ser
2. CCF de la Guajira
3. Ambuq ARS
4. Coosalud EPS
5. Comfacor
6. Comfaoriente
7. Comfasucre
8. CCF Cajacopi Atlantico
9. Emdisalud ESS
10. Ecoopsos ESS


For the study, health-services consumers were asked to rate companies by 51 indicators, with 24 indicators relating to the opportunity to receive certain services, 19 relating to relative satisfaction with services, and eight relating to the ease-of-access to services.

However, a relatively high ranking as indicated in the Ministry study doesn’t mean that all patients are happy with health services. On the contrary: Many of the more-complex, more-expensive health services and certain high-cost drugs aren’t readily available in EPS networks, or at least not very timely.

What’s worse, hospitals and clinics that provide such EPS services too often face enormous delays in reimbursement -- with past-due bills running into the billions of dollars (see Medellin Herald stories in the “hospitals, health and insurance” subcategory under the “Antioquia” main category).

As a result, various hospitals and clinics around Colombia have at times been forced to delay paying wages to hospital workers and vendors – in certain cases, for months at a time. Some hospitals have been shuttered permanently.

What’s more, several national EPS networks have gone bankrupt or have drastically reduced services in many areas, as income simply hasn’t been anywhere near enough to cover expenses -- or (in certain cases) mismanagement and corruption have destroyed the business.


Medellin-based multinational cement giant Cementos Argos reported August 11 that its first-half (1H) 2017 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 26% year-on-year, to COP$641 billion (US$216 million).

Revenues dipped 4% year-on-year, to COP$4.2 trillion (US$1.4 billion), but second-quarter (2Q) net income rebounded over the first quarter, to COP$48 billion (US$16 million), indicating “better prospects in the market in Colombia . . . as well as a greater contribution to the results of the business coming from the United States,” according to Cementos Argos.

Through 1H 2017, Cementos Argos saw 73% of its corporate revenues generated in U.S. dollars, the company added.

Volumes of cement delivered rose 15% year-on-year, to 8 million tons, but concrete shipments dipped 7% year-on-year, to 5.4 million cubic meters, according to the company.

“The good results obtained in the U.S. and in the Caribbean and Central America far outweigh the challenges we are facing in the Colombian market,” said Cementos Argos president Juan Esteban Calle.

“As of June 30, 73% of revenues and 77% of EBITDA were generated abroad, in dollars or in highly dollar-denominated currencies. Additionally, we expect a better second half in the local [Colombian] market as a result of growth in shipments to 4G [fourth-generation highway construction] projects and the recovery in consumption that should be presented as a result of the reduction in interest rates,” he added.

As of June 30, Argos USA generated US$759 million in revenue and US$99 million in EBITDA, “in line with expectations announced by the company in early 2017,” according to the company.

“Argos supplies cement and concrete to important works such as Procter & Gamble in West Virginia, Liberty Mutual in Texas and State Farm in Atlanta, and is a key supplier in the construction of the Atlanta Falcons stadium, where ‘Super Bowl 53’ will be played in February 2019," the company added.

In Colombia, Argos is already involved in 39 of the 56 awarded “4G” highway construction projects and is bidding on another 46 projects currently under negotiation, according to the company.

At mid-year 2017, Colombian highway and infrastructure projects represented 28% of company revenue and 23% of EBITDA, according to Argos.

In its Caribbean and Central America markets, Argos recorded cement and concrete supply growth of 7.6% and 7.5%, respectively, compared to the first half of 2016.

“Honduras and Panama continue to be the main drivers of this region,” according to Argos. “The company’s participation in key projects for the development of the region include the European space station in French Guiana, the third bridge over the Panama Canal, the wastewater treatment plant in the Dominican Republic, the Civic Government Center in Honduras, the Royalton Hotel in St. Lucia and the Nobo Hospital in Curacao, among many others.

“Cementos Argos reached additional milestones during the semester, such as the opening of a new mill in San Lorenzo, Honduras, the purchase of an integrated cement plant in Puerto Rico, the launch of new products such as advanced concrete and cement and integration of the new plant in West Virginia, among others,” the company added.

Grupo Argos Sells Port Stake to Goldman Sachs

Meanwhile, parent company Grupo Argos announced August 11 that it has sold its 50% stake in the “Compas” ocean port facilities to an affiliate of U.S.-based investment banker Goldman Sachs.

The deal nets Argos US$137 million, a 2.5-fold return on investment since 2012, when it acquired the stake from affiliate Cementos Argos. In addition, the transaction is equivalent to 25 times EBITDA generated by Compas in 2016, according to Argos.

“Grupo Argos, through its investment in Compas, managed to transform a group of terminals --mainly bulk carriers dedicated mostly to the import and export of cement and coal -- into integrated logistics and multipurpose [terminals] with top national and international allies such as APM Terminals (Maersk group) and the Singapore Port Authority,” according to the company.

“This transaction consolidates Grupo Argos as a matrix of investments in infrastructure focused on the cement, energy and highway concessions and airports businesses, maintaining financial flexibility that allows it to efficiently manage its capital,” added Jorge Mario Velásquez, president of Grupo Argos.


Medellin’s downtown Olaya Herrera airport will eliminate all flights from September 4 through September 10 to accommodate enormous crowds expected for Mass ceremonies for Pope Francisco’s visit.

According to the official press statement from Olaya Herrera airport management, all flights that normally would arrive and depart from the downtown airport instead will be transferred to Medellin’s José María Córdova (JMC) international airport at Rionegro.

The Medellin Archdiocese estimates that some 800,000 people are expected to attend Mass ceremonies with the Pope – and such enormous crowds would best be accommodated by taking-over the vast area within the Olaya Herrera airfield, according to the airport agency.

Because of the shift in flight operations, JMC will have to accommodate an extra 144 daily flights serving about 2,800 daily passengers, according to the managing directors of both airports. Extra airport workers and special facilities will be assigned to JMC to handle the surge of baggage and passengers during that week.

A special bus service will operate to and from Olaya Herrera to handle the extra volume of passengers arriving and departing from JMC, according to the airport agencies.


Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia announced August 9 that its second-quarter (2Q) 2017 profits rose 7% over first-quarter 2017, to COP$654 billion (US$223 million).

Meanwhile, Bancolombia’s 2Q 2017 gross portfolio grew 8.5% year-on-year, to US$52 billion, with 27% of the total corresponding to its international businesses represented in Banistmo (Panama), Banco Agrícola (El Salvador) and BAM (Guatemala), according to the company. However, credit demand in Colombia had “moderated” in the latest quarter.

The overdue-loans portfolio (exceeding 90 days) hit 2.6%, with coverage at 171%, “a good level that shows an adequate level of reserves,” according to the company.

Primary capital stands at 10.4%, “more than twice the minimum required. The solvency ratio ended at 14.3%, which indicates that the Bancolombia Group has sufficient reserves and capital to develop its business plan,” according to the company.

“These results speak to our purpose of having profitability that generates value to shareholders, customers and different groups of relationship,” said Bancolombia president Juan Carlos Mora.

The 2Q 2017 results featured “release of products and services that have technology and data analysis as tools to generate better experiences for customers,” according to the company.

Examples include the launch of “Puntos Colombia” as well as “InvesBot,” the securities robot, according to the company.

Equity also grew 5% quarter-on-quarter, to COP$22 trillion (US$7 billion), while assets grew 4% quarter-on-quarter, to COP$203 trillion (US$67 billion), the company added.


Medellin-based textiles giant Fabricato announced August 10 that its first-half (1H) 2017 sales fell 5.6% year-on-year, to COP$90.8 billion (US$30 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin fell by more than half, to 2.7%.

On the up-side, Fabricato recorded a COP$45 billion (US$15 million) gain on the transfer of its 70% fiduciary rights in the “Pantex” real estate development project to the promoter-builder. This boosted net income 17.8% year-on-year, to COP$16 billion (US$5.3 million)

“The transfer of fiduciary rights is executed with due guarantees, and said transfer does not imply or represent for Fabricato any impairment or decrease in the quality or valuation of the guarantees granted by the promoter-builder group in favor of the company,” according to the company.

‘Somewhat Better’ 2H Outlook

“The business environment of the second quarter of 2017 showed no improvement compared to the first quarter, which was admittedly one of the worst for the Colombian economy since the crisis of 2008-2009,” according to Fabricato.

“As for the textile sector, the demand rebound for finished [domestically produced clothing] products was not perceived, in spite of the constant promotions that we have seen in the points of sale during the whole semester [and also because of] increased importation of finishing clothing, the result of the change in the tariff policy produced in November 2016.

“Another relevant element was the perceived increase in technical contraband (under-invoicing) in the period. This is an unresolved issue for a long time, which is causing damage to the sector.

“Some elements allow a somewhat better scenario to be projected in the [2017] second half : (1) inflation and the interest rates to the downside; (2) the consumer confidence index maintains a recovery trend; and (3) the commitments assumed publicly by the [port] authorities to combat some practices of unfair competition.

“We understand that at Fabricato, our state-of-the-art technology and resource optimization were decisive in cushioning the negative impacts. But in any case, in a capital- and labor-intensive sector, reducing the utilization of installed capacity will always lead to a negative effect on our results.

“Fabricato reduced its [employed] installed capacity to 80% in the period, with the objective of optimizing its cash flow and consequently preserving the capacity to comply with all contracted obligations,” the company added.

On the labor front, Fabricato took a COP$13.8 billion (US$4.6 million) charge for eliminating 200 positions at the company -- although this move will cut future payroll expenses by about COP$900 million each month.


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced August 8 that its “Oro Legal” program has already helped 205 miners and 176 informal/illegal gold-mining families in Antioquia convert to safer, legal mining – with many more miners targeted for help by 2020.

Working with the departmental government of Antioquia, “Oro Legal” projects (and the “Bioredd” predecessor projects) have already converted dozens of “mining production units” (“UPM” in Spanish initials) to legal operations, 36 of which now operate through service contracts with responsible miners that obey Colombia’s environmental, fiscal and social laws.

Thanks to “Oro Legal” educational efforts, newly formalized miners have helped slash annual toxic mercury dumping by seven tons, while 770 hectares of lands deforested and wrecked by irresponsible mining have now been reforested, according to USAID.

In three key gold-mining areas -- Buriticá, San Roque and El Bagre – legal miners produced eight tons of gold last year, according to the agency.

However, an estimated 1,664 illegal mines are still operating in the area, when including nearby townships including Caucasia, Cáceres, Nechi, El Bagre, Zaragoza and Tarazá, according to the agency.

“With a team of technicians and professionals, ‘Oro Legal’ helps small miners identify routes to legalization, which permits them to obtain [formal mining] rights,” according to USAID.

In areas where formal mining companies have yet to hold mining titles, “Oro Legal” also helps informal miners obtain legal-claim areas, according to the agency.

In areas where mining companies already have legal titles, the Oro Legal program helps illegal miners obtain subcontracts to work with legal miners -- while simultaneously preventing toxic mercury use.

Through July 2017, the “Oro Legal” projects have already legalized 38 “UPM” mine operations, of which six are in Antioquia’s Bajo Cauca region, 19 in the Northeast region and 13 in Buriticá, Don Matías and Barbosa, according to the agency.

Another 114 UPM operations are in process of legalization, 62 of which are located in Bajo Cauca, 36 in the Northeast and 16 others in the municipalities of Puerto Berrio, Buriticá, Don Matías and Barbosa, according to the agency.

Oro Legal also coordinated with Antioquia Governor Luis Perez on another 29 formalization subcontracts.

The agency also brought technical assistance to another 17 “UPM” operations in titled mining areas owned by Canada-based Gran Colombia Gold.

As for the future, Oro Legal aims to legalize 220 artesinal mining operations in Antioquia and Choco regions, involving about 17% of currently estimated illegal gold mining operations in the area.

This project would help some 3,800 mining families diversify incomes with alternative businesses, slash mercury dumping by 55 tons/year and legalize about US$280 million of currently illegal gold production, according to the agency.

Some Miners Refuse Help, Push Strike

Despite these good-faith efforts to promote environmentally and fiscally responsible mining, some miners don’t want the help – and some have mounted violent protests against legal mining over the past two weeks.

According to an August 8 report from Colombian daily newspaper El Tiempo – quoting statements from Antioquia Governor Perez – Colombian Army troops recently encountered caches of explosives and weapons used by violent demonstrators.

Meanwhile, another group of demonstrators protested outside the Governor’s offices this week in Medellin, with signs attacking multinational mining companies -- companies that don’t dump mercury, pay all required taxes and royalties, and  don’t support criminal groups that use violence and extortion in mining areas.

In contrast, informal, illegal miners “are not prepared for the ‘no-mercury’ mining norm,” the report quoted “Conalminercol” informal-miner association leader Rubén Darío Gómez as saying.

Meanwhile, Canada-based Gran Colombia Gold has sent tons of food and water to Segovia and Remedios where strikers have blocked roads. But some strikers/demonstrators armed with machetes and clubs stole the supplies from Gran Colombia workers, company spokesman José Ignacio Noguera was quoted as saying.

On a related front, another strike leader – Ramiro Restrepo, president of informal-miner association Asomineros – was quoted as saying that new legal-mining rules in Antioquia have made it nearly impossible for illegal-informal miners to sell their gold.

Now, such miners are required to get proper licenses and environmental permits. But informal miners don’t have time to do all this paperwork, Restrepo was quoted as saying.

Ironically, many of these illegal miners are now showing that they do have sufficient time to mount protests -- sometimes violent -- against legal mining and block roads to mining towns, preventing access to critical food and water supplies.

What's more, six employees of Canada-based legal miner Continental Gold died in a suspicious explosion two weeks ago, following an attack by illegal miners (see "Violence Slams Legitimate Canadian Gold Miners in Antioquia,"  Medellin Herald, August 1, 2017) .


The just-concluded, 60th annual “Desfile de Silleteros” (flower-carriers’ parade) – the culmination of the 10-days-long “Feria de las Flores” (flower festival) – once again showed-off Medellin’s growing attraction for global tourists and an enticement for foreign investment and relocation.

This year, John Jairo Grajales Gómez of the “El Porvenir” neighborhood in Medellin’s Santa Elena district took the over-all prize for best “sillete” (flower design), as well as best “traditional” sillete.

According to the Medellin mayor’s office, this year’s parade featured 510 “silleteros,” including 23 graying pioneers that launched the event 60 years ago.

Aside from the hundreds of thousands of spectators that lined Avenida Guayabal to witness this year’s parade (crowd estimated at 800,000)  -- and thousands more viewing the event on five different television channels around Colombia -- the festival also attracted more than 23,000 non-resident visitors to Medellin, of which more than 10,00 were foreigners, according to the mayor’s office.

Another 50,275 persons visited the “Orquideas, Pajaros y Flores” (orchids, birds and flowers) annual show in the Botanical Garden, according to the mayor. Medellin hotel occupation also rose, to around 65% during the 10-days-long festival.

The mayor’s office cited a study by the “Trivago” internet hotel reservation system indicating that 58.4% of foreign visitors to Medellin during the festival -- as well as the “Colombiamoda” fashion show (immediately preceding the festival) -- came from the USA. Travelers from Mexico, Spain, Peru and Ecuador rounded-out the top-five of foreign visitors. 

María Fernanda Galeano, Secretary of Economic Development, added that the event generated more than US$22 million in extra tourist revenues including hotels, taxis, restaurants and services.


Bird-watching in decades past may have been considered the province of biologists and eccentrics. But it’s becoming an ever-more-popular pathway for appreciating, enjoying and defending the incredible beauty of nature.

Now, two of metro-Medellin’s top bilingual prep schools – Colegio Theodoro Hertzl (CTH, see earlier Medellin Herald report on 08/24/2015) and Colegio Montessori – are opening-up the fascinating world of ornithology (bird science) to primary-level students.

It’s another positive sign that ever-more people recognize, respect, conserve and trumpet Colombia’s unique status as hosting more bird species -- some 1,925 documented to-date -- than any country in the world.

Two years ago, ornithology classes here debuted at Colegio Montessori, coordinated by auto-didact birding expert Nelson Giraldo, a board member of Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia (SAO) -- the Medellin-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that has pioneered wild-bird conservation and education here for nearly 35 years.

Giraldo told Medellin Herald in an interview that some 60 students so far have benefited from the once-a-week, semester-long ornithology offerings, which include both classroom studies and guided bird-walks.

Students proudly wear special bird-club jackets as they enjoy observing and learning the ecology of many spectacular native birds at locations including the Medellin Botanical Garden, the Medellin Zoo and nearby bird-rich areas including Angelopolis and the El Salado nature reserve in Envigado.

Typical class sizes are 15 students per semester, including third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, Giraldo explained.

The school provides supervised bus transport to birding sites as well as four binoculars, which the kids share among themselves.

Classroom materials include SAO-published or SAO-sponsored guides including Birds of the Aburra Valley, Birds of the Upper San Miguel Area (where the Rio Medellin is born), as well as guest lecture-expositions, including two by current SAO president Martin Estrada.

CTH Latest Entrant

More recently, Colegio Theodoro Hertzl (CTH) began offering ornithology classes to third-, fourth-, fifth- and six-graders, as primary-level English/science teacher and ornithology auto-didact Alejandro Cartagena explained to Medellin Herald in recent school visits here -- which included a bird-walk in the extensively forested, 6.3-hectare CTH campus.

While an inventory of birds at CTH has only been underway for less-than a year, Cartagena and students have already compiled a list of more than 100 species, opening eyes and insights into the lives of spectacular hummingbirds, tanagers, a resident barn-owl, migratory warblers, hawks and the amazing Common Potoo, which during daylight hours perches vertically, quietly and almost invisibly at the tail-end of certain branches.

The once-a-week, 1.5-hours-long ornithology offerings at CTH include classroom lectures on birding basics, bird anatomy, how to use binoculars, how to use field guides (including the SAO-published Photographic Guide to the Birds of Aburra Valley), how to use checklists, how to identify birds by their scientific nomenclature (Latin), by their local names (in Spanish), by their official English names, by sex (most birds are dimorphic) and by the family groups to which species belong.

Kids are also being introduced to the world-leading “Ebird” computerized system for recording bird observations.

They’re also learning about bird habitat and food requirements, which show that most birds and most other wildlife typically don’t benefit from destruction of natural forests, streams and pastures, or from monoculture plantings of trees or crops -- such as the massive planting of exotics including Eucalyptus and non-native pine trees.

Students also are helping to plant bird-friendly trees and bushes, which are now flourishing in several areas at CTH. In some places, lettered signs have been attached to plants and trees in bird-friendly areas so that kids can learn their scientific and Spanish names.

They’re also regularly bringing certain fruits and grains to bird feeders on the grounds – one way of teaching that “nature is a commitment,” as Cartagena explained here.

While many young children are by nature noisy and easily distracted, Cartagena – whose bubbling enthusiasm for birds radiates to his students – nevertheless makes a point to encourage his kids to walk, whisper and concentrate when on bird-walks.

To make some of the learning tasks less formidable, Cartagena divides-up the work, giving each student one bird to study, including its appearance, size, habitat and feeding/foraging habits (divided into diurnal and nocturnal birds, for example).

Some students – including fifth-grader Matias Quintero -- have shown exceptional ability to draw individual birds and rapidly make correct field identifications, as Medellin Herald learned during a visit to CTH and also during an earlier SAO-organized birding trip when he was accompanied by father Luis Fernando Quintero.

To date, CTH teacher Cartagena has been supplying most of the binoculars shared by his students. But there’s a proposal in-process that eventually might lead the school to buy several binoculars for shared student use.  It’s also possible that in future, Cartagena might have a chance to expand ornithology classes to students in more-advanced grade levels at CTH – including some of his former primary-level students.


Toronto, Canada-based Continental Gold announced July 29 that six of its security contractors died following a suspicious explosion July 28 at an illegal mine nearby its Buritica, Antioquia gold mine.

Just three days later, fellow Toronto-based miner Gran Colombia Gold announced August 1 that it is trying to deal with a massive outbreak of violence affecting its operations in Segovia and Remedios, Antioquia.

As for the Continental mining incident, “the contractors were performing routine underground inspections of a government-closed illegal mine as ordered by the national government of Colombia in order to maintain its post-intervention strategy,” Continental explained.

“Upon entering the underground mine, the contractors were accosted by illegal miners, followed by a subsequent explosion. A seventh contractor managed to escape and immediately notified all relevant authorities.”

“It is shameful that this incident has tarnished the remarkable progress made in establishing peace in the municipality over the past 18 months,” added Continental CEO Ari Sussman. “These efforts have been fully embraced by the local community, which has publicly voiced their strong preference for the benefits of legal versus illegal activities.”

Meanwhile, Gran Colombia Gold stated that despite the outbreak of renewed violence by illegal miners near its fully licensed, legal mining operations, the company “continues to negotiate in good faith with the Mesa Minera [association of mostly illegal and artesinal miners] of Segovia and Remedios toward formalizing activities of illegal mines operating within its mining title despite the actions being taken by certain illegal miners to disrupt the company’s operations.”

“Over the last 10 days, the company has been monitoring the actions of the Mesa Minera, a local mining collective comprised in its majority by illegal miners, as they attempted to convene a civil disruption and protest in response to the increased measures being implemented by the Colombian government to restrict illegal mining.

“The company estimates that approximately 30% to 40% of its workers are currently able to attend [their mining duties]. In addition, over the weekend, an explosion damaged a pipeline owned by the company that supplies water to 1,200 residents in Remedios.”

Meanwhile, according to a news report from Medellin-based El Colombiano, more shots were fired and explosions detonated in confrontations between illegal miners and Colombia’s “Esmad” riot police on July 31.

The rioters attacked police about three kilometers outside of Segovia where they had set-up a roadblock, according to Segovia Mayor Gustavo Tobon. Six policemen suffered injuries in the attack – five hurt by home-made bombs thrown by demonstrators and a sixth hit by shotgun fire.

However, Mesa Minera president Eliober Castañeda was quoted as saying that the violence was caused by police trying to break the roadblock and by shooting tear-gas canisters at protesters.

El Colombiano also quoted Jaime Arteaga -- director of the “Plan Buriticá” legal-mining promotional organization -- as saying that illegal miners have often used bombs, firearms or set fire to old tires inside mines to scare-off or attempt to asfixiate security officials that monitor illegal mines in the area. Buritica Mayor Humberto Castaño added that police and mining authorites have shuttered 213 illegal mines in the area over the past 18 months.

“Plan Buriticá” is led by the Mayor of Buriticá, the departmental government of Antioquia, plus 25 civil associations, companies and international organizations. The association is partly funded by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), of which the government of Colombia is a member.


Page 2 of 24

SILLETEROS PARADE 2016 by JOHN AND DONNA STORMZAND (click to enlarge)

MEDELLÍN PHOTOS by Gabriel Buitrago (click to enlarge)

Featured

Volunteering February 20 2017 0
As the late North American philosopher A.B. Johnson once quipped, “mighty oaks from little acorns…

About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

Contact US

logo def
Medellin Herald: Find news, information, reviews and opinion on business, events, conferences, congresses, education, real estate, investing, retiring and more.
  • COL (4) 386 06 27
  • USA (1) 305 517 76 35
  •  www.medellinherald.com 
  •  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellín Photo Galery

Medellin, contrasting colors and styles by Gabriel Buitrago
MPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGnav