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The Human Face of Coal

Jairo Fuentes Epaiyu poses in front of the Salem Harbor Station, which burns coal from Colombia.

Check out this recent column from Lynn Nadeau in Marblehead, MA. She’s been hosting Jairo Fuentes Epaiyu, a Colombian man from a coal mining community called Tomaquito, during his speaking tour “to tell us — the people who use the coal buried beneath his village — about how his ancestral home has been destroyed by the owners of the largest open-pit coal mine in the world.”

The column states that:

“The removal of topsoil and enormous excavations deep into the earth have destroyed the land and rivers on which [Jairo’s community] farmed and fished for generations. The mining operation polluted their water and made the villagers’ life unsustainable. There is coal dust everywhere, especially in their lungs. Before the mine was built, Jairo and his neighbors in Tamaquito depended on the nearby village of Tabaco for services such as health care, schooling and mail delivery. Then, tragically, the multinational corporation took over the mine and bulldozed Tabaco, scattering its inhabitants in diaspora. Now Jairo’s villagers must travel great distances for these vital services and connection to the outside world. Their simple dwellings form a small island in a wasteland. Their social fabric has been ripped apart; their livelihood has disappeared.

This July, Witness for Peace is organizing a delegation to two regions devastated by coal mining: one in Appalachia and one in northern Colombia near Jairo’s hometown.

For information about joining the “Behind the Coal” delegation please click here.


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