By Esteban Montaño
From very early in the morning, and regardless of the rain that at various times accompanied the day, hundreds of people approached the municipal school to participate in a popular consultation that took more than two years to see the light. And although the atmosphere was tense and there were even reports of an alleged fraud, in the end the contest went smoothly.
After the closing of the voting, anguish seized the Cajamarcunos. The great uncertainty was whether the consultation would reach the threshold of 5,438 votes that would grant legal validity to the election. In less than 40 minutes, the Registrar's Office delivered the results: 6,296 people participated in the elections, of which 97% chose the option of rejecting mining activities in their municipality.
The question that now opens has to do with the implications that this historic vote will have on the development of the mining project that the South African company AngloGold Ashanti has been executing since 2009 in Cajamarca.
In a brief press release issued minutes after knowing the results, the company affirms that “it regrets that due to a poorly formulated debate on mining in Colombia, the country and the region are put at risk of receiving the benefits of mining. well done and responsible ”. Likewise, they say they will analyze the legal, economic and social consequences and the impact that the consultation has on the project and on mining in Colombia.
In contrast, Róbinson Mejía, spokesperson for the committee promoting No in the consultation, told Semana Sostenible that what comes next is the implementation of the results. “It will be a carpentry job in which the Municipal Council will have to shield the Mining Territorial Ordering Scheme, the expiration process of the mining titles that AngloGold has will begin and, if they decide to continue with their work and request the environmental license This will have to be denied due to the disagreement that the people expressed today regarding their project ”.
In any case, the debate that was opened with the results of the consultation will be for a long time. For now, the streets of Cajamarca are full of people with whistles and flags celebrating a result that will undoubtedly mark a before and after in the way in which the State and companies assume the participation of communities in economic megaprojects that affect their territories.