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The pleasures of working for Serafino Iacono

I'm a little late to it, as it was a pre-Christmas report, but all the same this exposé of the horrendous working and living (and dying) conditions suffered by workers at Gran Colombia Gold ( by James Bargent and published by The Star is an impressive article. Here's an extract:

"...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.
Today, about 65 per cent of production in Segovia is through Damasa, a business group of five mining companies all owned and run by one man, Julio Erazo. Damasa miners who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity complained of low pay, a lack of proper safety equipment and unstable short-term contracts that are terminated if they complain.
In September last year, the workers’ already precarious situation took a deadly turn when the Urabenos dispatched an 18-year-old hit man known as “Venom” with orders to target Damasa. The Urabenos wanted their cut of Gran Colombia’s gold, and Julio Erazo had stopped paying it, according to witness testimonies in the case.
In the space of a month, Venom shot up a living room where a miner sat with his family, murdered Bedoya in front of his pregnant wife, hurled a grenade at one of the company processing mills and shot dead a mine manager in the street outside his home."

Read it all here, well worth your time.