Energy supplier Vattenfall announced yesterday that it will continue buying blood coal from Colombia. As a result, the company that calls itself a leader in sustainability will carry on profiting from grave human rights violations. PAX campaign leader Wouter Kolk commented, “Vattenfall says that it stands for human rights and sustainability, yet in practice it opts for cheap blood coal. That’s why we’re repeating our call to customers of Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary Nuon to switch to a more decent alternative.”
Stunning about-turn by Vattenfall
Vattenfall’s decision is unexpected. At the end of September, the company had announced that it wanted to stop buying from Drummond, the Colombian mining company. Vattenfall explained that it is ‘strongly committed’ to improving the situation regarding blood coal. However, even though the victims of blood coal are no closer to receiving recognition of and compensation for their suffering, something that Vattenfall itself recognises, the Dutch energy supplier believes Drummond has nevertheless taken sufficient steps.
Wouter Kolk said, “It’s a stunning about-turn. But it’s one that’s at the expense of blood coal victims. Yes, Drummond has issued a press bulletin stating that it condemns the violence in the region, but that’s a far cry from addressing current violence and making any real effort to providing reparations, something the victims have been wanting for many years.”
Blood coal violence routine
Structural violence and intimidation is still very common in the coal region where Vattenfall buys its coal. Since 2012 at least 200 people have become victims there. On 11 September this year, Néstor Iván Martínez, leader of an African-Colombian community, was executed in front of his family by receiving two bullets to the head.
Martínez was one of the activists resisting the expansion of the Drummond mines. The murder took place in Chiriguaná, the same village where the father of Maira Méndez was shot in the presence of his daughter. Maira visited the head office of Vattenfall last May to warn about the violence in Cesar, a department of Colombia located in the north of the country. She also asked Vattenfall to stop buying blood coal.