La Toma - Fear of Displacement
La Toma, Colombia (in the Suárez municipality of north Cauca) is a predominately Afro-Colombian community of approximately 1,400 families. Following in the tradition of their enslaved ancestors who settled in the area in 1637, the vast majority of its citizens earn a living through small-scale gold mining.
However the very resource (gold) that makes life possible now threatens their existence. Outside business interests are looking to capitalize on the wealth of the land. The community was threatened with eviction after the Colombian government granted a mine exploration permit to a Colombian businessman. The Afro-Colombian community refused to vacate the land. A key argument on the community’s behalf was that the government made promises to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (in 2009), to review mining permits it granted to third parties without the previous consent and consultation of the La Toma Community Council.
Despite the victory the community remains under threat of displacement; they are aware and wary of the continued appeal of their land to industrial gold mining corporations.