Is Colombia’s Military Displacing Peasants to Protect the Environment or Sell Off Natural Resources?

Justin Podur, The Anti-Empire Project, May 20, 2021

Colombia witnessed a series of mass protests at the end of April following a call for a national strike in the city of Cali. Still ongoing, the protests have many causes: an apparent “tax reform” that was going to transfer even more wealth to the 1 percent in Colombia; the failure of the most recent peace accords; and the inability of Colombia’s privatized health care system to contain the COVID-19 crisis. In response to these ongoing protests, the government has killed dozens, disappeared hundreds, imposed curfews on multiple cities, and called in the army. But the protests continue—because they are, at least in part, a repudiation of the militarization of everything in the country.
In the background of the uprising in Colombia is the question of land. A multi-decade civil war has led to millions of peasants being thrown off of their land, which ended up in the hands of large landowners or was used for corporate megaprojects. In the ongoing corporate land grab that has been taking place in Colombia for the last few years, there is a new and frightening weapon: the militarization of environmental conservation. In a countrywide series of military operations beginning in February, involving a large number of soldiers and police, the army captured 40 people, whom the attorney general accused of deforestation and illegal mining, in six different locations in the country. In an earlier operation, the army captured four people for crimes against the environment, who have been labeled as “dissidents of the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)” by Colombia’s President Iván Duque, according to an article in Mongabay. In another operation in March 2020, soldiers trying to capture illegal ranchers in national parks picked up 20 people, 16 of whom turned out to be peasants who did not own land or cattle, according to Mongabay. According to the Colombian military, eight operations were carried out in 2020, through which it had “recovered more than 9,000 hectares of forest,” while capturing 68 people, 20 of whom were minors, stated the article in Mongabay.
What the military calls “recovered” forest is a territory emptied of its people. The overall initiative, which began in 2019, is labeled “Operation Artemis.” It deploys what one article in the City Paper (Bogotá) calls “Colombia’s full-metal eco-warriors” in an effort to reduce deforestation by 50 percent, as President Duque told Reuters.
With so much military defense of the forest taking place, the question that arises is, is deforestation a problem that can be solved with the use of weapons? Can the forest be saved through mass arrests? Can the same military that killed thousands of innocent people, including peasants, in an attempt to inflate their body count statistics, be trusted to protect the environment?
The Amazon Threatened
The deforestation of the Amazon is a real problem. The Colombian Amazon comprises about 42 percent of Colombia’s land area and 6 percent of the total area of the Amazon, with Bolivia and Venezuela each making up another 6 percent, Peru 9 percent, and Brazil 66 percent of the total Amazon area.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil campaigned on the promise to “develop” the Amazon and has taken rapid steps toward doing so. In Colombia too, deforestation has taken place rapidly, at a rate of between about 100,000 and 200,000 hectares per year as of 2018. The biggest motors of deforestation are ranching, burning, cultivation of coca and poppy, and road and mining expansion. If the “recovery” rate—which is defined as clearing people out of the area by military force—follows 2020’s pattern of 9,000 hectares in a year, the army’s “full-metal eco-warriors” are working at least 11 times too slow to stop deforestation. This raises questions about what is really happening in Colombia and why.
The Amazon is protected under the Colombian constitution, as are the territorial rights of Indigenous peoples. Among these rights is the right to free, prior, and informed consent in the event of any development scheme. A number of forums exist through which Indigenous people are theoretically able to exercise these rights. These include the mesa permanente, the comisión nacional and the Mesa Regional Amazónica. A very important portion of the Colombian Amazon—more than half—is, by law, under Indigenous jurisdiction.
These lands are coveted by corporate interests.
Investor Rights Challenged in Courts
The most powerful tool of the corporate land grab makes no pretense of protecting the environment: it is the framework of “free trade,” enshrined in international agreements, which noted linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has argued would be better termed as “investor rights agreements.” But this framework is always under challenge by Indigenous people and by courts that have even a modicum of independence.
There are many examples of when Indigenous people have taken to court to uphold their rights over their land. When Canadian mining company Cosigo Resources Ltd. was discovered carrying out illegal activities in an Amazon national park and was investigated by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, the company took Colombia to arbitration in Texas, where the matter is to be conducted as per the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITL) rules. Cosigo Resources Ltd. claimed that the Colombian constitutional protections in the Yaigojé-Apaporis National Natural Park violate Colombia’s obligations to protect investor rights under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. That battle is ongoing.
Another Canadian mining company, Auxico Resources, is trying to extract the gold and coltan (a key ingredient in cell phones) under the Amazon. Auxico Resources signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the governor of Guainía, Javier Zapata, for the “production of minerals,” according to Minería Pan-Americana. In 2018, Zapata announced that 80 percent of the land had been conceded to Auxico Resources. Zapata is now in prison for corruption. But Auxico is still working in the area. In 2019, President Duque announced the creation of the new municipality of Barrancominas in Guainía, pre-empting an initiative by Indigenous communities (85 percent of the people in Guainía are Indigenous) in the region to establish their land rights.
A third company, Amerisur Resources (now GeoPark), won a license to conduct petroleum exploration in Siona Indigenous territory in Putumayo in southern Colombia (on its borders with Ecuador and Peru), a community of 2,600 people who have been under attack by paramilitaries and narcotraffickers for decades—police records show 23 separate massacres in Putumayo between 1993 and 2014. The community swore in 2014 not to allow petroleum exploitation in their territory. In 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “ordered precautionary measures to protect” the Siona, and a Colombian judge also declared that this “sent a clear message” and ordered that Amerisur Resources cease their project of oil exploration there, according to an article in El Espectador. The judge ordered a suspension of licenses for exploration in one of the reserves. Amerisur Resources quickly announced that it would continue mining because “prior consultation,” a right under Colombia’s constitution, had apparently been completed. The battle continues to this day, with the company continuing to insist that it had fulfilled the constitutional requirement for prior consent sometime in the past.
In 2010 in Ecuador, the military proposed creating an army-controlled “protected” forest on Siona territory—the Siona refused. In July 2020, Siona Governor Sandro Piaguaje announced to GeoPark that “[Y]ou are going to lose, because you will not be able to get a drop of oil from our territory.” But now deforestation alerts are popping up all over Siona land along with reports of narcotrafficking. The Siona fear that these alerts will provide a pretext for the military to enter the zone and will start a process that will culminate in handing over the territory to GeoPark.
When discussing corporate interests in the Amazon, the case of Steven Donziger and Chevron in Ecuador shouldn’t be forgotten. In 1993, Donziger took on a historic claim against oil giant Chevron, which had polluted the Amazon in Ecuador and devastated the Indigenous communities there. In 2011, a court in Ecuador ordered that Chevron pay $9.5 billion in damages. Chevron didn’t pay—and then proceeded to use the U.S. court system to persecute Donziger, who is currently living in his second year of house arrest in New York.
Environmental Bubbles Deployed Against Peasants
However high the cost of court battles, Indigenous people have proven that their struggle inside and outside the courts to protect the environment can often succeed. To land-hungry corporations, militarized conservation has emerged as a strategic alternative to risky court battles. Along with Operation Artemis, Colombia has rolled out a strategy of “Environmental Bubbles,” which started in 2016. In 2017, the Colombian military participated in a series of military exercises in the Amazon called “Operation United America,” jointly with the governments of Peru, Brazil, Canada, Panama, Argentina and, of course, the United States—but not Bolivia (then-president Evo Morales refused).
The Environmental Bubbles are surprise operations, which are made public knowledge after the military has carried out an operation to protect some area against illegal activity. Each state (department) in Colombia gets a rapid reaction force to carry out monitoring, prevention, control and surveillance tasks against the causes of deforestation.”
In 2018, campesino (peasant) organizations testified before the #JuicioALaDeforestación (deforestation trial) tribunal about what the authorities have done to them in the name of conservation. In the La Paya National Natural Park, a peasant delegate from the Leguízamo Peasant Workers Association while reporting on the “alleged abuses against the civilian population by the authorities in the areas” said, “All their belongings, houses and animals were burned during the intervention.” He continued, “We peasants are not the reason for deforestation. The big landowner, who seized one thousand hectares from the park, is walking around freely with no trouble.” Four other military operations of the same type were conducted throughout 2018-19.
The case of Labarce, in the Colombian department of Sucre, is also instructive. Afro-Colombians, some of whose families had arrived in the area as early as 1916, saw their lands become part of a national park—the Santuario de Flora y Fauna el Corchal—in 2002. Their territories suddenly became “terra nullius,” empty” lands—the same doctrine used to usurp Indigenous people from their lands throughout the Americas, including the United States and Canada where mining corporations are headquartered. The peasants came forward in good faith to cooperate with the process and had rights under the law. In their decades living there, they had protected the biodiversity of the area and maintained a circumscribed territory without expanding further into the forest. All the same, they were classified as illegal occupants of their own land. There are many other cases of peasants being suddenly declared interlopers, generations after their ancestors were encouraged to “colonize” lands.
Environmentalism Must Be Demilitarized
The takeover of conservation by military forces is not unique to Colombia—Kenyan scholar Mordecai Ogada has written about the same dynamics in many countries in Africa. He writes on his website, “A foreigner’s love for our wildlife is usually a measure of their hatred for Indigenous people.” If “conservation” can be appropriated as a slogan for displacing Indigenous people, it is time to rethink the concept. It is time to discard Malthusianism, the fantasy of “empty lands,” and the apocalypticism that underlies too much environmental thinking.
The Amazon is estimated to be 13,000 years old, and the region has been inhabited for 19,000 years or more—there is a reason, in other words, to consider the possibility that the wildest rainforest imaginable is in fact a cultural landscape co-created by human beings and other species working together. In the book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, author Charles Mann gives several estimates as to what fraction of the Amazon was created by Indigenous people; one cautious estimate is that “about 12 percent of the nonflooded Amazon forest was of anthropogenic origin—directly or indirectly created by human beings”; another researcher tells him “it’s all human-created”; and according to another researcher, “The phrase ‘built environment… applies to most, if not all, Neotropical landscapes.”
With the authority of the National Natural Parks of Colombia being used to displace peasants, one proposal for a breakthrough in this conflict is the “Parques con Campesinos” (Parks with Peasants) concept—which would make peasants partners in conservation, rather than setting them up as enemies of the environment.
The greatest weapon against deforestation is no weapon at all. It is to give peasants security of land tenure, to resume the sustainable practices that have preserved the vast and glorious Amazon. The current National Development Plan under Operation Artemis purporting to serve “conservation” goals would see it reduced to a set of disconnected protected areas, cut by roads, surrounded by petroleum blocs, hydroelectric dams, fumigated zones, and mines, as maps presented by the activists at the Amazon Forest Protection Program show. The presence of communities and caretakers on the land—not “full-metal eco-warriors”—is the only reliable way to stop deforestation.The way to save the planet is not to have the world’s most destructive institution—the modern military—create “bubbles” empty of humans, only to then reassign that land to oil and mineral companies. The way to save the planet is to give the land back to the people whose practices assured the astounding biodiversity we have enjoyed for millennia.
This article was produced by Globetrotter on May 20, 2021.


LETTER TO CANADIAN GOVERNMENT -ADD YOUR NAME- : Canada must Live up to its Stated Values…

Canada must live up to its stated values

in its relation to Colombia!


Our External Affairs minister, Ms. Chrystia Freeland stated in her speech on Canadian values underlying our foreign policy that “Our values include the unshakable commitment to pluralism, human rights and the rule of law” (Global Affairs Canada, June 6, 2017).  However, despite our Free Trade Agreement and good relations with the Colombian government,
  • Canada did nothing about the situation described by JP Daniels in The Guardian, 2018-05-08: “These were cold blooded murders: Research finds over 10,000 were killed to boost numbers for military aid in the “false positives” scandal.” Canada’s voice on human rights violations by Colombian Authorities has yet to be heard.
  • “Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to defend environmental rights,…..targeting Indigenous African descendants and defenders of the right to land, the environment and the implementation of the peace accords”. (Amnesty International, Colombia 2020).
  • Protesting the torture and murder by police of lawyer Javier Ordonez, videos presented by the mayor of Bogota, showed that police were firing indiscriminately at civilians causing at least 14 deaths (D Pardo in BBC, Mundo, 12/09/2020).
Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia on November 21, 2008 and in Chapter 2018 stated the following objective: to improve working conditions and  promote respect of Internationally recognized labour rights (Chapter 1603).
  • The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC, CSI, IGB) Global report of 2020 states that the ten worst countries for workers include Brazil, Colombia and Honduras. The report says “Colombia remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries for trade unionists”
The most recent disturbances, starting on April 28, were triggered by President Duque’s pronouncement that the threshold for taxation of income was being lowered, threatening the income security of millions of Colombians.
  • The police used live ammunition to control the resulting demonstrations. As of May 5 Colombian government sources state that at least 23 civilians have been killed in the demonstrations and 1 policeman but Human rights organizations report 31 dead and 1443 victims of police violence (A Suarez, Los Angeles Times, 5/5/21.)
  • The UN Human Rights office expressed deep concern for the police violence where police in the city of Cali used live ammunition against civilian protesters (BBC Mundo, 12/09/2020). “650 civil society organizations call for exhaustive investigation of repression of protests and call on the IACHR to act” (Amnesty International report on Colombia, 2020/2021).
  • The Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on May 6 condemning the violence against the demonstrators. It was also decided that this resolution would be forwarded to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The actions or lack thereof of the Canadian Federal government, done in the name of all Canadians, need to reflect our values, and these do not include looking the other way and business as usual with partner governments while their security forces repress and murder unarmed civilians. Our government needs to be serious about their stated goals of protecting human rights and promoting the respect of the rule of law, so we are demanding it to use its influence with the Colombian government derived from our free trade and diplomatic relationships to put an end to its brutal repression of its civilian population.
Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (Toronto, Ontario)
Latin American & Caribbean Solidarity Network – LACSN (Toronto, Ontario)
Maria Páez Victor PhD (Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, Toronto, Ontario)
Beatriz Santiago (Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, Toronto, Ontario)
Maricarmen Guevara (ALBA social Movement, Ottawa chapter)
Luis Tapia (Victor Jara Cultural Group)
Edmee Franssen (Toronto, Ontario)
Jorge Garcia-Orgales (Toronto, Ontario)
Martha Blandon (CASA, Toronto, Ontario)
Casa Salvador Allende (Toronto, Ontario)
Plataforma Guatemala (Toronto, Ontario)
Miguel Lima (Toronto, Ontario)
Magdalena Diaz (Toronto, Ontario)
Carlos y Alicia Diaz (Toronto, Ontario)
Dario Esguerra (CASA, Toronto, Ontario)



Send us a message to

Galeria de Fotos: Velaton por Colombia en Toronto, Mayo 8, 2021

Velaton por Colombia en Toronto

Agradecemos a Diego Mejia por coordinar un maravilloso Velaton que hacia mucho rato la ciudad de Toronto no veia.  A Paola Gomez por su instalacion artistica (siempre tan creativa, sensible y educadora) y a las siguientes personas quienes nos comparieron sus fotografias: Luis Alberto Mata, Diana Gallego, Alexander Abello, Jeannethe Lara, Adolfo Garces, Sandra Cordero, Diego Vivas, Henry Uzuriaga y Felipe Noriega  (sus fotografias aqui)





Mas fotos y videos via Twitter, abran este link!


SOS Colombia – Toronto to Colombia Solidarity Vigil and gathering





Hoy 9 de mayo de 2021, Temblores ONG e Indepaz, aunamos esfuerzos para expresar nuestra preocupación y alertar a la comunidad nacional e internacional por el recrudecimiento de la violencia por parte del Estado que se ha presenciado a lo largo de todo el país en los últimos 11 días, en el marco del Paro Nacional.

Tras un ejercicio de verificación y triangulación de información asociada a denuncias que se inscribieron en distintas plataformas, al día de hoy, se registró un total de 47 personas asesinadas desde el 28 de abril de 2021, día en que comenzó el Paro Nacional. De estos casos de violencia homicida, ha sido posible determinar que 39 de ellos se dieron por violencia policial.1 De las 47 víctimas de violencia homicida, 2 de eran mujeres y 45 eran hombres. 36 de los casos se presentaron en el Valle del Cauca (35 en Cali y 1 en
Yumbo), 3 en Cundinamarca (1 en Soacha y 2 en Madrid), 3 en Risaralda (2 en Pereira y 1 en La Virginia), 2 en Bogotá, 1 en Antioquia (Medellín), 1 en Tolima (Ibagué) y 1 en Santander (Floridablanca). Asimismo, ha sido posible determinar las siguientes modalidades de agresión con respecto al total de casos de violencia homicida: 34 se dieron por arma de fuego, 2 arrollados con tanqueta del ESMAD, 2 por gases lacrimógenos y 3 con arma blanca (6 casos sin información).

A lo anterior se le suman numerosos casos de violencia a nivel nacional por parte de la Fuerza Pública. A la fecha, se han registrado, al menos, 1.876 casos, dentro de los cuales
se pudieron identificar los siguientes:
● 278 víctimas de violencia física
● 963 detenciones arbitrarias en contra de manifestantes
● 356 intervenciones violentas en el marco de protestas pacíficas
● 28 víctimas de agresiones oculares
● 111 casos de disparos de arma de fuego
● 12 víctimas de violencia sexual

Ante estos registros concluimos lo siguiente:
1. La violencia homicida se ha cometido en medio de una decisión del gobierno nacional y de los mandos de la Fuerza Pública de promover un uso desproporcionado de la fuerza y tolerar el uso armas de fuego como método de terror contra la protesta social. En más del 50% de los casos de violencia homicida, familiares y testigos han señalado responsabilidad material de agentes de la Fuerza Pública. En 25% de los casos no se ha señalado a un presunto responsable. En todos los casos el gobierno y los mandos de Fuerza Pública tienen que responder por acción, omisión o complicidad.

2. Se ha mostrado que son completamente falsas las afirmaciones del Ministro de Defensa y de otros funcionarios sobre ataques armados contra la Fuerza Pública, en medio de las movilizaciones de protesta, por parte de grupos armados ilegales vinculados al narcotráfico y a disidencias. En Cali han asesinado a 35 jóvenes, mientras que no se ha registrado un solo homicidio a miembros de la Policía Nacional o de las FF.MM que hacen parte de lo que el gobierno llama “asistencia militar”. El caso lamentable del asesinato con arma blanca de un Capital de la Policía en el municipio de Soacha, es un hecho aislado que no puede presentarse
como parte de un plan o patrón de infiltración o como muestra de propósitos de violencia con armas de fuego por parte de lxs marchantes.

3. Se cuenta con numerosos vídeos de miembros de la Fuerza Pública, policías y miembros de organismos de inteligencia, que arremeten contra concentraciones y reuniones pacíficas. Lo anterior, con armas de fuego en la mano, haciendo disparos de amedrentamiento, sembrando el terror entre los manifestantes y, en ocasiones, disparando en dirección a la multitud.

4. Las autoridades militares, de policía, del gobierno nacional y de los organismos de control, no han atendido las denuncias de los ciudadanos sobre la presencia en las manifestaciones de agentes encubiertos que llegan armados a mezclarse con la multitud, como ha ocurrido en Cali. Tampoco hay respuesta por ataques a puestos de asistencia médica, ni por los casos de patrullaje de civiles armados en presunto apoyo a la Fuerza Pública.

5. La denuncia de más de 500 personas desaparecidas, después de haber sido detenidas en medio de las protestas, muestra la gravedad de las violaciones a los derechos humanos por parte de agentes del Estado. Dos de esos desaparecidos fueron encontrados muertos este 7 de mayo de 2021.

6. La censura que se ha generado en algunas redes sociales sobre los contenidos asociados al Paro Nacional ha despertado preocupación ante la posibilidad de que esto represente un obstáculo para el registro y denuncia de casos de violencia policial.

Cerramos el presente comunicado recordando a las personas asesinadas en los últimos días en el marco del Paro Nacional.



“Nothing to Lose”: Colombians Protest “Fascist Mafia Regime” Amid Deadly Police & Military Crackdown


Canada must condemn government violence and defend Democracy in Colombia

Over the recent period, hundreds of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets in peaceful anti-government protests to challenge a neoliberal austerity tax reform bill proposed by the right-wing government of President Iván Duque. The Government sought to impose tax hikes that would disproportionately impact the poorest people by eliminating subsidies on some public services, taxing pensions, and freezing public sector wages for up to five years as a way to mitigate Colombia’s economic crisis.

The Colombian government has responded with shocking levels of repression by deploying the military against a civilian population. Military soldiers alongside police have engaged in systematic human rights violations with NGOs claiming the armed forces fired at civilians. The anti-riot squad (ESMAD) and Colombian Armed Forces have killed at least 26 protesters, committed 1181 cases of police violence, and committed 988 arbitrary detentions. More than 471 people have been reported missing in Colombian between  April 28-May 5th.

The government undertook further anti-democratic actions by suspending the right to public protests making it illegal to protest government policies and to partake in May Day day celebrations.

Although the tax reform sparked the protests, demonstrations have continued even after Duque withdrew his controversial tax proposal. The repression witnessed over the past couple of days is nothing new for Colombians. Colombians have protested on and off since November 2019 after years of dissatisfaction with government policies, falling living conditions, and state repression. According to the World Bank 45-47% of Colombia’s 50.3 million people live below the poverty line.

Social movements in Colombia have declared that genocide is being carried out against them with the complicity of the state. In 2021 alone 35 massacres have been carried out according to local conflict watchdog Indepaz Some Indigenous movements are calling for the resignation of President Iván Duque.

In August 2020, the United Nations System in Colombia and United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia issued a joint statement “expressing concern at the occurrence of massacres and the continuous killings of human rights defenders, social leaders, and former FARC-EP fighters.”  Since the Havana peace accords were signed in 2016, 1146 social leaders, human rights defenders, and demobilized members of the FARC have been assassinated.

Canada has a responsibility to speak out due to its strong political and economic ties with Colombia, given the signing of a contentious bilateral free trade agreement in 2008.  Since then, trade between the two countries has flourished. Moreover, Colombia has become an important destination for Canadian corporate investment particularly in the extractive industry that has led to increased social conflict in the country, including the displacement of Indigenous peoples. As a key ally to the Colombian government, Canada has a responsibility to address the rampant violence unleashed on the population.

In 2019 alone, two-way merchandise trade between the two countries totaled $1.8 billion. President Iván Duque, a relationship built on close economic ties. This year, Colombia and Canada celebrate the 10th anniversary of their free trade agreement.  Colombia has become the 5th largest recipient of Canadian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We call on Prime Minister Trudeau to follow the lead of other world leaders in unequivocally condemning the violence in Colombia and to call on the Government of Colombia to:


  • Dismantle the anti-riot police (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios) ESMAD;
  • To immediately halt the human rights violations taking place against civilians engaging in protest, and to guarantee the safety of all of those in line with internationally recognized human rights standards;
  • To investigate and bring to justice all members of state security agencies responsible for human rights violations during the strike;
  • To refrain from criminalization and stigmatization of peaceful protests;
  • Start negotiations with the National Strike Committee and engage in a serious dialogue with social and institutional actors to address the deep inequalities which are at the root of this conflict.

Galeria de Fotos: Toronto se une a la Protesta! Mayo 4, 2021

Paro Nacional. Toronto se une a la Protesta!

Mayo 4, 2021 @ Nathan Phillips Square

CASA – Otros articulos interesantes:

Respaldo a la Movilización Colombiana y al Paro Nacional, Miércoles 28 de abril de 2021
Ocho dias de uso desproporcionado de la fuerza contra manifestantes en Colombia

Respaldo a la Movilización Colombiana y al Paro Nacional, Miércoles 28 de abril de 2021

Ocho dias de uso desproporcionado de la fuerza contra manifestantes en Colombia
Galeria de Fotos: Toronto se une a la Protesta! Mayo 4, 2021





Frente a las situaciones críticas y complejas como el incremento de la violencia socio-política que amenaza especialmente a los grupos poblacionales indígenas, afrodescendientes y las comunidades campesinas en Colombia y prioritariamente en el departamento del Cauca, donde las principales víctimas de estas violencias son los líderes y lideresas que vienen padeciendo amenazas, persecución y asesinatos consecutivos, las y los miembros de Colombian Action Solidarity Alliance – CASA, desde Toronto, nos unimos al rechazo colectivo de estos actos de violencia sistemática y estructural, manifestando su posición de defensa de la vida en dignidad y de la integridad de los y las defensores de derechos humanos, ambientalistas y reclamantes de tierra.
A la vez, nos permitimos ser plataforma de denuncia y visibilización de la grave situación que se presenta en el país, en donde en lo que va del 2021, han ocurrido 52 asesinatos de líderes sociales y 32 masacres que suman 116 víctimas según datos de INDEPAZ.  Así mismo, nos sumamos desde nuestro pensar y actuar a las voces y cuerpos que avivan y sostienen el Paro Nacional del 28 de Abril de 2021, en contra de la Ley de Reforma Tributaria propuesta por el gobierno de Ivan Duque eufemísticamente denominada: “Ley de Solidaridad Sostenible” y las nefastas políticas con las que intenta y ha intentado manejar la pandemia Covid-19.
CASA reitera y resalta el importante papel que han desempeñado los y las defensoras de derechos, lideresas y líderes sociales frente a la promoción de la plena vigencia de los derechos humanos y territoriales en Colombia, así como su destacado rol en la construcción de la paz, la defensa de la vida en medio de la adversidad y la terminación pacífica del conflicto armado.
Recientemente, organismos internacionales como la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), ha expresado su preocupación por la violencia sostenida registrada durante el año 2020 en Colombia y ante la persistencia de la violencia en el 2021, la Comisión ha hecho diversos llamados al Estado Colombiano para reforzar todas las medidas necesarias que puedan garantizar a las personas defensoras de derechos humanos ejercer sus actividades en un ambiente propicio libre de hostilidades y agresiones.  Contrario a esto, se percibe un panorama desolador en el que las violencias se han incrementado en medio de las medidas de aislamiento decretadas por el Estado bajo el marco de la pandemia por el Covid-19, especialmente en los territorios que históricamente han sido afectados por la confrontación de actores del conflicto armado interno.

“En los últimos meses hemos visto cómo se intensifican los hechos victimizantes en nuestro territorio: Masacres, desplazamientos, confinamientos, asesinatos, desapariciones forzadas, torturas, amenazas a líderes, atentados con artefactos explosivos que dejan víctimas mortales, enfrentamientos entre grupos armados legales e ilegales, entre otros, hacen que nuestras comunidades se hayan convertido en campos de guerra, afectando la tranquilidad característica del katsa su y desequilibrando todos los seres espirituales que habitan el mismo.” Asociación de Autoridades Tradicionales y Cabildos Indígenas Awá en Colombia

En el Departamento del Cauca ha sido una constante la presencia y expansión de actores armados irregulares[i], algunos recién surgidos y otros fortalecidos ante el incumplimiento progresivo de los Acuerdos de Paz y la incapacidad del Estado de actuar en territorios abandonados tras la abdicación de armas de las guerrillas de las FARC-EP.
La CIDH también ha observado que la mayoría de los asesinatos que se han registrado se concentraron en los departamentos de Cauca, Chocó, Nariño, Antioquia, Huila, Norte de Santander, Córdoba y Putumayo, territorios – que el Estado ha identificado como “Zonas de Riesgo”- que de manera histórica se ven afectados por la confrontación permanente entre el Ejercito Militar Nacional y los grupos al margen de la ley. Así mismo, los departamentos de Valle de Cauca, Magdalena, Bolívar, Córdoba, Arauca y Chocó, han sido identificados por el Estado como zonas de riesgo para ejercer la defensa de los derechos humanos.
En el contexto actual de implementación del Acuerdo de Paz, resulta de vital importancia la presencia del Estado en territorios, no solo con presencia militar, sino con programas de inversión social, cuya necesidad de fortalecimiento institucional cada vez resulta mayor.  Especialmente en aquellas zonas más afectadas por el conflicto armado y abandonadas donde hoy han reaparecido las disidencias de grupos guerrilleros y bandas paramilitares.
Como CASA, le apostamos a ser voceros y voceras de una fuerza colectiva para la visibilización de los incumplimientos del Estado colombiano -a través del gobierno del Presidente Iván Duque y de su partido de gobierno el Centro Democrático- en su obligación de garantizar y proteger la vida y la integridad personal de quienes defienden los derechos humanos, los derechos territoriales y ambientales. También de aquellos quienes luchan por condiciones de dignidad en el campo y en las ciudades en situaciones de riesgo, incluso cuando este riesgo se deriva de la acción de un agente no-estatal como lo son las bandas paramilitares y las disidencias guerrilleras al servicio de la mafia global y del narcotráfico.
Por consiguiente, nuestro trabajo prioritario en Canadá es darle mayor visibilidad a las luchas del movimiento social colombiano y fortalecer los lazos de solidaridad entre los movimientos sociales en ambos países.  Por tanto, manifestamos nuestro respaldo y apoyo directo a la movilización de Colombia a través del Paro Nacional del miércoles, 28 de abril de 2021, en contra de la ley de “Solidaridad Sostenible” o reforma tributaria que afecta a los sectores más desfavorecidos de la población colombiana.


[i] Algunos denominados GAO por parte del Estado como el ELN (Frente de Guerra Suroccidental: Frente José María Becerra, Compañía Lucho Quintero; Frente Manuel Vásquez Castaño, Compañía Camilo Cienfuegos; Compañía Milton Hernández Ortiz), EPL y Paramilitares (Clan del Golfo, Las Águilas Negras y Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia. Otros denominados por parte de la institucionalidad Grupos Armados Organizados Residuales y conocidas como disidencias de las FARC (Jaime Martínez, Carlos Patiño, Dagoberto Ramos, Nueva Marquetalia y Jacobo Arenas).