Suzanne Kent on the Witness for Peace Delegation 2015 Letter to Cerrejón.
This letter was a part of the delegation’s efforts to maintain solidarity with community members impacted by mining activities. The writing process for the letter began in Colombia. The Witness for Peace delegates had several discussions regarding the current priority concerns stemming from the activities of Cerrejón. The first of these dialogues took place the evening before our meeting with community representatives and a team from the mining company and the second dialogue occurred on our last afternoon in Colombia. The brainstorming sessions were helpful as they provided an outline of key topics; without this, the letter would have been quite long as the number of concerns and problems resulting from open pit mining operations in Guajira are too many to count. In writing the letter, I also referred to my notes from our meeting with the community leaders and Cerrejón. The CENSAT publication [http://censat.org/apc-aa-files/686468646b6c61736a6b6c646a61736b/informe-arroyo-bruno-rf.pdf], which evaluates the proposal to relocate the Bruno stream, also informed the section of the letter that argues against the relocation of that stream.
After I had drafted the letter, I circulated it amongst the delegates. Several people provided feedback, and a shared suggestion was that the letter should be more assertive. I revised the letter based on the feedback and advice. We sent the letter to Cerrejón contacts, community leaders in Guajira, and representatives of the parent companies, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore.