Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Emerald Tzar of Colombia

Víctor Carranza (8 October 1935 – 4 April 2013) was a Colombian emerald dealer and the owner of emerald mines in the Boyacá mountains.

Carranza was involved in the Muzo mining area outside Boyacá, Colombia from the 1980s until his death. Various forces clashed during the Green War, including Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, leftist guerrilla groups and right wing paramilitaries. Carranza remained in control of Colombia's emerald trade during this period.
Carranza was believed to control at least 40% of Colombia’s emerald business, which supplies about two thirds of the world’s stones and whose exports last year totalled $121m. Before the signing of a peace pact in 1991, an estimated 3,000 people were killed in fighting for control of the business.

As cancer sapped his health, his hold on power began to slip, and the peace pact started to unravel. He survived at least two assassination attempts.
Analysts in Colombia warn that battles could resurface after the death of the “emerald tsar”, who brought a relative peace to the industry. Mr Carranza claimed gems “called to him”, and warned of the possibility of a new rift.
Slipping production might be a reason behind the rise in the price of Colombian emeralds, which spiked 30 per cent last year alone, according to industry experts, and is expected to increase by at least 25 per cent this year.