Shareholders of BBVA, Bilbao, March 13, 2015
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Maria de Lluc Bagur and I speak as a member of the Delás Center for Peace Studies on behalf of the campaign BBVA without arms. I speak on behalf of dozens of shareholders who have given 609 575 shares to the campaign BBVA without arms to have their voices heard in this forum today. We urge you, on your behalf, to modify your policy of controversial investments.
BBVA is one of the main banks financing the coal industry in Colombia. According to the report Banking on coal, published in 2013 by a group of international NGOs, this entity has paid to the coal mining industry around €913 million since 2005.
Of these investments, the most worrying is what BBVA has made in the Drummond Company, which is currently funded with about €200 million.
Last year we highlighted here that Drummond is the most controversial coal mining company working in Colombia, yet however this year we are yet again forced to speak on the issue. Drummond began its operation in the early 90s and is accused of having supported serious crimes committed by Colombian paramilitary forces. Former paramilitaries have testified that the company financed the paramilitary unit “Juan Andres Alvarez” between 1996 and 2006. According to their testimonies, the paramilitary unit would not have been able to increase its number of combatants without money from Drummond. For the company, the protection of business interests clearly outweighed hundreds of murders, disappearances and mass displacement of peasants that occurred in the area.
PAX, a reputed international NGO, has collected in its report “The Dark Side of Coal” the testimonies of scores of peasants which illustrate the ambiguous relationship of Drummond with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia. In exchange for financial and logistical support, this paramilitary group committed heinous crimes to safeguard the interests of the coal company.
Mr. Gonzalez, the victims of these actions are humble people. They live in a state of helplessness because companies such as Drummond and you as chair of BBVA, prioritize economic benefits in favor of human rights. The problem is that you, who claim to respect international human rights standards, close their eyes to these atrocities and thus contribute to the maintenance of a terrible and unjust situation.
Last year we were here denouncing the murder by paramilitary unit Juan Andres Alvarez, two labor leaders: Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita in 2001. The first was killed while traveling in a bus company way mines and the second was kidnapped and later found dead with signs of torture.
Mr. Gonzalez: We want to know what your relationship with Drummond really is. Have you ever talked about these cases of violence? Have you done something to stop the repression that Drummond is bringing to Colombian coalmines? Do you plan to continue offering financial support to Drummond? What explanation can offer to its shareholders to justify so many millions of euros in invested in bloodshed?
Mr. President, we are confident that most of your shareholders are not in agreement with this policy. We urge you and the Board of Directors of the company here present to undertake an exercise of responsibility and end your relationship with the company Drummond.