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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 25th November 2016 > TOXIC BLING


A Colombian peace deal won’t stop the armed groups who pollute the jungle in search of gold

THE AIR is sweltering as Américo Mosquera trudges through a shallow river in his black rubber boots. The 62-year-old knows these muddy waters well. Like many here in Colombia’s western Chocó province, Mosquera spent years searching the riverbanks for precious metals. But not anymore. Today, he is the legal representative of a local governing council that owns a swath of land in the Colombian rainforest. But large tracts of it are controlled by armed groups who extort the locals and pollute the water in an effort to dominate the $2.4 billion illegal gold trade.

Colombia’s 52-year-old civil war has devastated the country’s Pacific coast, so close to 80 percent of the people who voted in the recent referendum supported a peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The referendum failed to approve the deal, thanks in part to a strong “no campaign” whose organizers proved far savvier than their opponents in manipulating public opinion.

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25th November 2016