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A  young priest from the mining town of Marmato, in the department of Caldas in the west of Colombia, Father Jose Reinel Restrepo Idairraga, was killed by unknown assailants, according to information given to the local press by the Secretary of the Government in that region, Henry Murillo.

In a report in the newspaper El Tiempo Murillo said that the priest was killed on Thursday, 1 September  on a road from Mistrato in Bethlehem of Umbria, in the neighboring department of Risaralda (west of Colombia about 200km from Bogota. Murillo said that the priest was riding a motorcycle when strangers stopped him and shot him dead. The assailants escaped taking the motorcycle with them. This was later was found by the police along and some other belongings.

Father Restrepo was 36 years, he was born in Viterbo and since 2009 was pastor in Marmato, where he was appreciated and respected by the locals because of  his commitment to the poor.

The authorities have begun investigating the case to determine whether the reason for the priest's killing was mugging or if there is any other reason. This area of Colombia is well- known because about 80 percent of the population of Marmato works in gold mining.

Source: Fides

We of the Colombia Support Network express our outrage at the murder of Father Jose Reinel Restrepo, parish priest in the town of Marmato in Caldas Department in west central Colombia. Father Restrepo had spoken out against a plan by the Canadian mining company Medoro Resources, which merged in July with Gran Colombia Gold. The plan would require the town of Marmato to be moved from its present location so that an open-pit gold mine could be developed there.  Town residents have opposed the Medoro-Gran Colombia Gold plan, which would also close down small-scale artisan mining in the highland area where Marmato is located. This small-scale mining has been  a feature of the area since the Spanish conquest and, according to the Mayor of Marmato, provides employment for more than 2,000 miners, upon whose earnings the  town depends. The mayor also pointed out that years ago an agreement had been reached to keep the highlands where Marmato is located available for small-scale  mining, while allowing the Colombian government to development mining projects in the lowlands. This accord would be breached by the proposed open-pit mine in the  highland areas where the town is located. Father Restrepo spoke out publicly against the Canadian mining plan, which he noted would undermine the livelihood of  Marmato’s artisan miners and cause tremendous damage to the community and its residents.

On August 28, 2011 a video in which he spoke out against the Medoro mining plan was placed on You Tube at

Four days later, on September 2, 2011, Father Restrepo was murdered as he traveled by motorcycle from Marmato to a neighboring community. The persons responsible for  his murder, hit men traveling by motorcycle, have not yet been identified, nor has the cause of the attack on Father Restrepo been determined. But few doubt that his  murder was related to his outspoken objection to the Medoro Mine plan.