SEGOVIA, COLOMBIA—It is nine in the evening and there is a knock on the door of Andres Bedoya’s house. He opens to find a skinny teenager. The youth raises a revolver to Bedoya’s head and fires.
Bedoya had no enemies, no debts and no links to the armed groups that plague this part of northern Colombia. His only crime was to work in the mines of Canadian mining giant Gran Colombia Gold.
Bedoya was the first to die in a terror campaign waged in Segovia late last year by Colombia’s most powerful criminal group, a paramilitary mafia known as the Urabenos. Their target was the riches produced in Gran Colombia’s mines. But it was ordinary miners who paid the price in blood.
One year on and the teenage assassin who carried out the attacks is beginning a 23-year prison sentence, after confessing his crimes in a recent trial. But the workers in Gran Colombia’s mines continue to pay — now in the form of money extorted from their meagre earnings.
The Toronto-registered company is Colombia’s largest underground gold and silver producer. But in Segovia, Gran Colombia does little actual mining. After arriving in the region in 2010, the company cut costs by laying off most of its directly employed workforce then rehiring them through subcontracting companies.
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