Gold mining companies are undermining local democracy by giving money to the municipalities where they operate, said a local NGO in western Colombia on Sunday.

As mining companies move into southwest Antioquia to mine for gold in the mountains, local NGOs are claiming that the money the companies give to local mayors risks usurping the functions of the government.

“They are occupying the functions of the state that shouldn’t belong to private companies. The state has failed to invest in homes and schools so a company does it,” Juan Carlos Castro of BIABUMA, a small farmers association in the municipality of Tamesis, told Colombia Reports.