The community of La Toma is a Colombian district integrated by 1300 Afro Colombian persons that has struggled for many years and in many occasions in the defence of their right of collective property over land and control over their territory. This paper analyzes the current struggle against the exploitation of gold –in mines that are located inside of their territory-, and how the allocation of natural resources that have been the source of employment for this community for more than three centuries can affect their means of subsistence, and survival of cultural integrity. Regardless of the constitutional provisions that protect the minority rights, in this case the Afro-Colombians and their long relation to their territories; the state has conceded the rights for mining exploitation to foreigners ignoring existing international instruments that guard human rights and communities’ fundamental rights granted by the Colombian Constitution of 1991. In the midst of this situation, institutional mechanisms for the recognition of fundamental human rights were successfully mobilized by residents of La Toma. In their legal action, residents claimed the violation of their identity, their right to prior consultation, and to self-determination. Although advance in materialization of a bill of rights in Colombian Constitution, in practice La Toma had to wait ten years to be hearing as legitimate holders of territory and achieve environmental justice.

Additional Metadata
Keywords environmental justice, minority groups, mining, identity, participation, autonomy
Thesis Advisor Arsel, Murat
Persistent URL
Series Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD)
Flórez Arévalo, D.E. (2012, December 14). Mining Rights vs. Human Rights : Struggles for Environmental Justice in Colombia : The Case of the Afro-Colombian District of La Toma in the North of Cauca. Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD). Retrieved from