By Cruz Bonlarron Martínez
Current Drummond President, José Miguel Linares, and the former president, Augusto Jiménez, are being charged by the Colombian Attorney General’s office with financing and developing the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a right-wing paramilitary group, between the years 1996 and 2001.
Drummond is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama and has had a contentious relationship with the communities that live near its mines since it started operations in Colombia in the late 80s.
Crimes Against Humanity
Linares and Jiménez are accused of supporting the “Juan Andés Álvarez” Front of the AUC that operated in Cesar, the department where Drummond is based, at the time. The Attorney General's Office stated that crimes against humanity were committed by the front in Cesar, financed and supported by Drummond in exchange for “security”.
The Attorney General’s Office states that there are at least 3,382 registered victims, who were terrorized by the “Juan Andés Álvarez” Front between that time period. Victims were subject to murder, torture, threats, and dismemberment. According to the Attorney General Office Linares and Jimenez knew about this but still contracted Jorge Blanco Maya to funnel funds to the AUC.
Drummond allegedly allowed the AUC to be present in their facilities so they could intimidate union leaders and workers who might be sympathetic to the union. Blanco Maya has corroborated these accusations before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and elaborated on the connections between corporations in Cesar and paramilitaries.
The U.S. Connection
The fact that the Attorney General’s Office is pressing charges against the current and former presidents of Drummond in Colombia means that the victims of the AUC in Cesar may finally have justice. It is also an important case because if Linares and Jiménez wanted it could be the first corporate case to be tried in Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). The JEP is an autonomous organ of the Colombian judicial system that seeks to ensure that victims have a right to know the truth about what happened in the conflict, that they receive justice, and that the crimes that happened during the armed conflict won’t be repeated.
If it were to reach the JEP it would be historical not only because it would be the first time that a case involving Presidents of corporation would be heard but also because it would show the extensive involvement that U.S. corporations have had in the conflict. The most famous of which is the Chiquita Banana Company which had to pay fines for financing paramilitary groups. But Drummond has also has a shady history, in addition to the above accusation there are accusations that the U.S. based management of the company had knowledge of the financing of Paramilitaries and the hiring of a former CIA agent to head their security in Colombia.