Photo Gallery: A Walk for Life and Peace in Colombia

Friday, July 26th, 2019 – 6:00-9:00 pm

VIDEO

 

 

Read Info background here!

Thanks to all our friends for sharing your pics!

 

 

Profesor Moncayo, El Caminante por la Paz, starts his early walk from Mississauga to Toronto (25.3 Km)

 

 

Starting at Matt Cohen Park (Bloor & Spadina)  and Chrystia Freeland Office (344 Bloor St W.)

 

Walking towards Yonge Dundas Square and Toronto City Hall-Nathan Phillips Square

 

 

Night at Trinity Bellwoods Park – Simón Bolívar Bust (Shaw & Dundas)

 

 

MARCHES IN COLOMBIA

 

A Walk for Life and Peace in Colombia: International Mobilization Day

Friday, July 26th, 2019 – 6:00-9:00 pm

 

Read our message to PM Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland at the end of this page!

 

Visit our Photo Gallery

 

FRIDAY‘s TEMPERATURE: 31°

We would like to advise you of putting on sensible clothes and shoes -practical and suitable for the walk- If possible wear a white top, the international colour for Peace.  Finally, please bring your own thermo or water bottle, we will provide refilling stations.

 

Info, Map, Route and other details below…

Free shirts for everyone partaking in the walk. Let us know your size!

(English text below)

 

Mobilization called by Movimiento Defendamos la Paz” (Colombia)

 

Convocan a movilización nacional en defensa de los líderes sociales

Marcha nacional por el asesinato de líderes sociales

“Nos siguen matando y a nadie le importa”: mensaje de tres lideresas sociales

 

 

La violencia contra los líderes sociales y comunitarios, muchos de ellos afrocolombianos e indígenas, se ha incrementado dramáticamente desde la firma de los Acuerdos de Paz en el 2016. Cada tres días un líder social es asesinado en Colombia. Más de 700 activistas sociales y miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — Ejército Popular (FARC) han sido asesinados desde que se firmó el Acuerdo de Paz. El Defensor del Pueblo de Colombia ha dicho que casi la mitad de las amenazas y otras formas de intimidación cometidas contra activistas sociales estaban dirigidas a las mujeres.

Grupos de la sociedad civil en Toronto emprenderán una Caminata de cinco kilómetros por Vida y Paz en Colombia como parte del Día Internacional de Movilización y Solidaridad que busca llamar la atención sobre el alarmante número de asesinatos y amenazas a los líderes sociales y de derechos humanos en Colombia. LaCaminata por la Vida y la Paz en Colombia tendrá lugar el dia sábado 26 de julio de 2019 a las 6:00 pm, comenzando en el Matt Cohen Park en Toronto. La ruta incluye importantes puntos de convergencia, como la oficina de Christia Freeland (Bloor y Spadina) y el busto de Simón Bolívar (Trinity Bellwoods Park).

El histórico Acuerdo de Paz entre el gobierno de Colombia y las FARC, que fuera aplaudido por la comunidad internacional y por sectores de la sociedad colombiana, se encuentra hoy gravemente amenazado, ya que enfrenta grandes desafíos de legitimidad política e implementación. El gobierno Colombiano de Iván Duque ha intentado sistemáticamente socavar el acuerdo al no avanzar rápidamente la reintegración de los excombatientes a la vida civil y la desmantelación de los grupos armados paramilitares. Duque ha incumplido el compromiso de su gobierno de atender las necesidades de la población rural en relación con la tierra, lo que ha provocado una escalada violenta en la cual líderes comunitarios locales están siendo amenazados y asesinados.

Los organizadores de la Caminata piden al gobierno de Canadá que actúe de inmediato y presione al gobierno Colombiano para que se abstenga de criminalizar a los activistas sociales y garantice la protección de la vida y los derechos humanos de todos los líderes sociales en Colombia, algunos de los cuales están expuestos a violencia relacionada con megaproyectos extractivos Canadienses. En el 2018, el comercio bilateral total de mercancías entre los dos países alcanzó los $ 2,04 mil millones, aumentando en un 18,2% desde 2017. Canadá debe garantizar que sus intereses económicos no se impongan sobre los derechos humanos, laborales y sociales ni su capacidad para monitorear de manera efectiva la implementación de un proceso de paz sostenible.

La Caminata por la vida y la Paz será liderada por El Profesor Moncayo, conocido como El Caminante por la Paz, quien el 17 de junio de 2007 inicio una marcha a pie, por la liberación de su hijo, desde Sandoná, Nariño hasta Bogotá, en un recorrido de más de 1.000 kilómetros. Sus caminatas llevadas a cabo tanto en Colombia como en otras parte del mundo siempre las ha realizado en pro de los derechos humanos y la paz, y han continuado, incluso después de la liberación de Su hijo Pablo Emilio Moncayo, el 30 de marzo de 2010.

 

READING MATERIAL:

The Star:

Colombian-Canadians rally for peace amid rising violence back home

 

ENGLISH TEXT:

Violence against social leaders, many of them Afro-Colombian and indigenous has increased dramatically since the signing of the peace accords in 2016.  Every three days a social leader is murdered in Colombia. More than 700 social activists and members of The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC) have been murdered since the peace agreement was signed. Colombia’s Ombudsman has said that almost half of threats and other forms of intimidation committed against social activists were targeted at women.

Civil society groups in Toronto will undertake a five kilometre Walk for Life and Peace in Colombia as part of an International Day of Mobilization and Solidarity to draw attention to the alarming numbers of assassinations and threats to social and human rights leaders in Colombia. The walk will take place on July 26th, 2019 at 6:00pm, starting at the Matt Cohen Park. The route includes important points of convergence such as Christia Freeland office and the statue of Simón Bolívar.

The historic peace agreement between the government of Colombia and the FARC which was applauded by the international community and sectors of Colombian society is under serious threat today – encountering mayor challenges with political legitimacy and implementation. The Colombian government of Iván Duque has systematically attempted to undermine agreement and failed to move quickly and reintegrate ex-combatants into civilian life, and dismantle paramilitary armed groups. It has reneged on its commitments to address the needs of the rural population for land, all this is leading to an escalation of violence in which local community leaders are being threatened and killed.

The organizers are calling on the government of Canada to act immediately and pressure the Colombian Government to refrain from further criminalizing social activists and to ensure the protection of life and the human rights of all social leaders in Colombia, some of which are exposed to violence related to Canadian extractive mega projects. In 2018, total bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries reached $2.04 billion, increasing by 18.2 percent from 2017. Canada must ensure its economic interests do not prevail over human, labour and social rights, and its ability to effectively monitor the implementation of a sustainable peace process.

The Walk for Life and Peace will be led by El Profesor Moncayo, known as El Caminante por la Paz, who on June 17, 2007 started a march on foot, for the liberation of his son, from Sandoná, Nariño to Bogotá, in a route of more than 1,000 kilometers. His walks carried out as much as in Colombia as in other parts of the world have always done for the sake of human rights and peace, and have continued, even after the release of His son Pablo Emilio Moncayo on March 30, 2010.

 

Details of the Mobilization in Toronto

Primer punto de encuentroFirst meeting point:

Matt Cohen Park (Bloor & Spadina)  6:00 – 6:20 p.m.

Christia Freeland Office (344 Bloor St W.)  6:25 – 6:35 p.m.

Segundo punto de encuentro – Second meeting point:

Yonge Dundas Square 7:25 – 7:35 p.m.

Tercer punto de encuentroThird meeting point:

City Hall. Nathan Phillips Square 7:55 – 8:10 p.m.

Cuarto punto de encuentroFourth meeting point:

Trinity Bellwoods Park – Simón Bolívar Bust (244 Shaw St. – Dundas)  9:00 p.m.

We will end with a social gathering at the  park!

 

Join us for a full walk or just a couple of meeting points:

Program and music planned are different for each meeting point!

 

 

Enjoy us in a Fun-creative Day to design the visuals materials needed for the Walk by sending a message to:  colombiactionsolidarity@gmail.com

This Walk is being organized by:

CASA – Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance,

LACSN – Latin American & Caribbean Solidarity Network,

Common Frontiers,

Colombia Working Group

 

Letter to PM Justin Trudeau_July 26 2019

WOLA: Colombian social leaders remain at risk, July 26 Colombians will mobilize for peace and their protection

Since WOLA’s last update on June 21, the killing of social leaders in Colombia has not relented. We usually include a count of how many more cases we have recorded, but there are numerous varying figures and no official or definitive one. Although most tallies range from 479 to 702 social leaders killed since 2016, the Duque administration has cherry picked the lowest of the bunch (289), contradicting the count of its own Human Rights Ombudsman.

 

While this number is taken from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, it carries a significant caveat. The OHCHR has the most rigorous process to determine if a victim was a social leader, only reporting their murder after lengthy verification. Therefore, this is not a total number, but only those victims who they have ascertained were social leaders killed because of their leadership actions. Using this as the total number is a manipulation of data, ignoring the back-log of cases the UN has not yet investigated. The OHCHR has explicitly stated this in their annual report, reporting a back-log of 76 cases just this year.

 

From this disingenuous base line, the Duque administration has boasted a 35% reduction in the murder of social leaders during his first eleven months in office (68 from August 2018 to July 2019) when compared to the same period of time a year prior during the Santos government (105 from August 2017 to July 2018). Aside from the fact that these 68 cases do not represent the total number in this timeframe which has a higher number of pending cases since it is more recent, this analysis completely ignores political context. The peaks in the number of social leader murdered, many of which are political actors, concentrate in the months surrounding elections, making elections a significant confounding variable in this analysis. In the August 2017 to July 2018 time frame, there were congressional elections in March, and first and second round presidential elections in May and June respectably. There were no elections during the first eleven months of Duque’s presidency. Therefore, not only is the general decrease of murders debatable at best, but attributing it to government action is purposely misleading.

 

The reality is that areas of historically high conflict are backsliding into violence while the social leaders mending war-torn communities and implementing the peace accords are bearing the brunt of it. On July 26, WOLA will march along with thousands of Colombians in 29 Colombian cities Connecticut and Q St. and 28 cities around the world in defense of peace and protection for social leaders. U.S. groups have released a statement in solidarity with this March that can be found here. We encourage you to join us this Friday, July 26 at 5:30 p.m. outside the Dupont Circle Metro Exit and to express your support on social media with the hashtags  #MarchemosPorLosLideres and #DefendamosLaPaz.

Please continue to urge the Duque administration and U.S. policymakers to head our call to protect these leaders. Below is a list of the incidents that have occurred since our last update:

 

Afro-Colombian Social Leader Murdered In Front of Young Son (Córdoba)

María del Pilar Hurtado was murdered in front of her nine year-old son in the municipality of Tierralta on June 21. El Colombiano reports that the paramilitary group Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces (Autodefensas Gaitanistas, AGC) had distributed pamphlets threatening her along with other women activists from the community, some of whom had to flee the region shortly after. María was displaced from her native Cauca three years ago for denouncing paramilitary “chop houses” (houses where paramilitaries cut people into pieces) in Puerto Tejada. María’s nine year-old son witnessed the murder and broke down over his mother’s body in a heart-wrenching video. The video went viral on Colombian social networks, triggering national outrage towards the inaction of the Duque government on the prevention and investigation of the more than 54 social leaders killed just this year.

 

Land Rights Lawyer and Social Leader Murdered (Santander)

On July 20, Yamile Guerra attended what she though was a meeting to discuss the usurpation of her family’s disputed land only to be ambushed and shot by two men. The accomplished lawyer defended the Santurban moorland and served as Secretary General of the Bogota Ombudsman. Yamile was litigating efforts to recover land violently taken from her father in Zapamanga, Bucaramanga. Her fearless battle to recover her family’s land is suspected to be the motivation behind her assassination, as indicated by El Tiempo.

 

Indigenous Leader Murdered During a Party in His Honor (Cauca)

Contagio Radio reported the murder of Carlos Biscué on June 23. Carlos was an indigenous leader in the Huellas Indigenous Reservations in Caloto. He was an agricultural producer and community organizer. Several armed men arrived at his village where a party was taking place in his honor and shot him. According to HRD Memorial (Human Right Defenders Memorial) a paramilitary group is presumed to be responsible for the attack.

 

Community Action Board President Murdered (Huila)

Humberto Diaz was murdered in his home on July 20 in Gigante, Huila. The president of the Guadalupe village Community Action Board was the victim of extortion along with the rest of the Board. The group had no means to pay the armed actors and this crime is feared to be an act of reprisal according to Noticias RCN.

 

Illicit-Use Crop Substitution Leader Tortured and Killed (Valle del Cauca)

Manuel Gregorio González was missing for 24 hours before being found dead with clear signs of torture. He was leading efforts to implement the peace accord’s illicit crop substitution plan. It appears that he was killed by one of the three paramilitary groups that are battling for control of cocaine production sites in the Valle region. Noticias RCN reported his death on June 28.

 

Social Leader Murdered in El Copey (Cesar)

Tatiana Paola Posso Espitia was murdered by armed men when leaving her home to go to work on July 3. Taxi driver, Wilson Antonio Ortega Palomino, was also wounded in the attack. According to El Espectador, the perpetrators were two unidentified men on motorcycles. Tatiana received 3 bullet wounds while Ortega, received four. The social leader was an aspiring member of the Community Council and dedicated her life to the defense of human rights in her neighborhood. Her death was denounced by the National Network for Peace and Democracy (Red Nacional en Democracia y Paz) who called out the lack of action from the Colombian government to protect the lives of social leaders.

 

Victims Leader Shot Dead (Valle del Cauca)

José Arled Muñoz formed part of the Victims Table of Valle del Cauca since 2017, an entity designed to incorporate victims’ perspective on peace accord implementation. José was shopping in broad daylight when he was shot and killed by an unidentified man.

 

Murder of Young Afro-Colombian Displaces 74 families (Valle del Cauca)

On June 1st, Juan David Vivas Ramirez was murdered in Buenaventura. His death was the result of confrontation between different paramilitary groups that exercise control in the Lleras neighborhood. CONPAZ reports he was killed by a stray bullet. On June 2, confrontation between the groups escalated into a shootout, causing 74 families to flee Lleras for safer neighborhoods. More families are expected to leave. If they are not able to move, they will remain confined in their homes.

 

State Forces Persecute, Criminalize, and Stigmatize Social Leaders (Bolivar)

The Peoples’ Congress (Congreso de los Pueblos) denounced the ongoing persecution of their leaders and members. On July 15 at 2:00 a.m. military and police forces terrorized the community of La Plaza by kicking in doors, using tear gas, firing shots in the air, and beating men and women arbitrarily. Among the victims was the president of the La Plaza Community Action Board, who was pregnant and severely beaten. Nine people were captured during the raid, all deemed as judicial “false positives” by the Congress of the Peoples. Members of the group have been falsely accused of being ELN members for sympathizing with leftist ideals and organizing protests across the country.

 

Paramilitaries Occupy and Terrorize San Jose de Apartado Peace Community (Antioquia)

Since May 2019, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado has reported the arrival of paramilitary groups into their territory claiming they plan to stay. Reports indicate they coexist with police and the military, holding meetings and throwing parties in the military base of San Jose.  In the village of La Union, paramilitary alias ‘Ramiro’ threatened his step-father, forcing him to leave the area. The community also reported the following other incidents:

 

-On June 25, there were reports of a suspected murder, later concealed as further information was withheld.

-On June 29, paramilitary alias ‘Rene’ held a party, in which he threatened multiple villagers there present, including a family which was later displaced. Military and police were both present at the party and stood there in silence.

-On July 2nd, paramilitary Elkin Ortiz and his son damaged various agricultural products produced by farmers on the Roncona farm, which legally belongs to the Peace Community. Witnesses tried to take pictures and video but were later threatened by Ortiz. The same sort of incident happened at the beginning of the year. The Peace Community notes that Mr. Ortiz has made consistent use of children and integrated them in the paramilitary practices.

-On July 7th, Yeminson Borja Jaramillo was murdered by paramilitaries. He had resisted recruitment, suffering a common fate that anyone resisting oppression by these illegal armed groups faces.

-On July 8th, the community of Peace was commemorating the events of July 8th, 2000, where 6 of their leaders were murdered by Paramilitaries and the Colombian military in the village of La Union. As the group was walking back towards San Jose, they received threats from Elkin Ortiz, promising to “fill their heads with lead.”

 

Human Rights Defender Threatened and Harassed (Putumayo)

On June 26, Carlos Fernández, of the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) received threats via text message in Puerto Asís. The Commission reports that Fernández was also the object of previous intimidations and harassment because of his work in human, environmental and territorial rights for the Indigenous Nasa people. In WOLA’s past urgent action, we reported an incident in which the military had threatened Carlos and his state-issued bodyguard for carrying his standard issue weapon, stating that they had orders to shoot anyone who was armed. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has required more protection for Carlos Fernandez.

 

Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defender and Family Surveilled (Valle del Cauca)

Amnesty International put out an urgent action calling attention to the threats made against Danelly Estupiñan, a member of the Black Community Process (Proceso Comunidades Negras) organization working in Buenaventura. During the week of June 27, Danelly and her family experienced increased surveillance from unknown individuals. Whereas before the men would only linger outside her home, Danelly is now being watched everywhere she goes all day at all times. The men have taken pictures of her and her family. The Public Prosecutor’s office should launch an investigation and Colombian authorities guarantee her and other members of PCN’s protection.

 

CIJP Experiences a Rise in Threats (Antioquia)

CIJP has noted a rise in threats and increased surveillance. On July 4, members of the CIJP were followed as they were headed to Mutatá. Reports state that the Aguilas Negras (AGC) have installed a checkpoint on the road between Chontadural and Pavarando, where they constantly threaten drivers, including members of the Commission. After crossing the checkpoints, CIJP members are tailed. On three separate occasions, National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Proteccion, UNP) security details were followed and harassed by members of the AGC.

 

Displaced Indigenous Community Living in Precarious Conditions (Chocó)

The Pichima Quebrada community was first displaced in 2016. Shortly after, they were allowed to return to their land, a respite that would not last. On June 2, they were once again displaced by fighting between the ELN and the AGC. The 417 people, of whom 186 are children, live in precarious conditions with no running water, electricity, and little food. They fear the loss of their culture and traditions, closely tethered to their ancestral land, now used as a base for the Colombian Navy.

 

Families Threatened by Local Government Seeking to Displace Them (Chocó)

On June 25, Heber Rentería and Luis Emilio Mena, President and Prosecutor of the Community Council of Curvaradó, threatened Jesús María Hoyos and members of the CIJP. Rentería and Mena were intimidating Hoyos to abandon his land or face the consequences. The threats took place after a report was published by the CIJP denouncing the efforts made by the community council to engage in deforestation and dispossession of lands belonging to the Hoyos Family. According to Hoyos during the incident, certain paramilitary groups have expressed their discontent with the report and the fact that it was made public. These threats follow series of efforts by a member of the Community Council of Curvaradó in collusion with illegal armed actors to get rightful owners of these territories to abandon their lands so that large scale agribusinesses can develop in the area.

 

Extension of Natural Park Causes Forced Displacement (Guaviare)

The National Army is forcibly displacing people living in the Chiribiquete National Natural Park (Parque Nacional Natural, PNN). According to Contagio Radio, army personnel destroyed the work tools of two families and burned their houses down. The group of inhabitants was forced to leave under the pretext that they were living on an area where the National Park would be extending. The Prosecutor’s Office and the local authorities have not yet addressed the situation. The government is expected to relocate these people who were forced to sign documents prohibiting their return to their land.

 

Paramilitary Incursion in Humanitarian Space Worries Peace Network (Valle del Cauca)

The network Communities Building Peace in the Territory (CONPAZ) reported that four alleged paramilitaries entered the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space on June 19. The space was created to implement community building initiatives in an urban context free of armed actors since the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary protection measures to 302 families who live there. The four paramilitaries stationed themselves by the houses of social leaders Yampier Valencia, Orlando Castillo and Nora Isabel Castillo, all part of CONPAZ’s victims network.

 

Scholars Demand the Duque Government Halts the “Systemic Bloodshed” of Social Leaders

On May 21st, more than 260 academics and scholars sent a letter to Duque calling out his administration on the lack of action towards the rising levels of attacks on social leaders and human rights defenders. Academics from 13 countries point out it is “worrying that it was only when an attempt was made on the life of Francia Marquez , an Afro-Colombian leader known internationally since she was the winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental prize, who was with other well-known leaders at the time, that you chose to make a public pronouncement.” The letter also underlined the harmful impact of the extractive industry in Colombia, specifically calling out their role in the displacement crisis: “we have noted that nefarious links have developed between legal and illegal forces in order to expel the local population from their territories.” They go on to express frustration with the state’s silence in the face of attacks on minorities and vulnerable groups but also the will of the Colombian government to immediately repress any form of protest or grassroots organization. The authors of the letter have called for investigation to identify the intellectual perpetrators of the various attacks on human rights defenders. They’ve also called on the international community to react, specifically asking Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to create a Verification Commission meant to monitor and provide accurate information on these issues.

 

Environmental Organizations Resist Stigmatization (Antioquia – Santander)

A coalition of environmental rights organizations known as Defenders of Nature and Defenders of Human Rights in the towns of Barrancabermeja and Magdalena Medio are denouncing the continuing stigmatization of their work. They have been branded as “environmental terrorist” by those who oppose environmental conservation. Underlining the collaboration between social organizations and researchers to advocate for the right to clean water, they resist this label. The coalition has worked to produce technical and documented evidence to support their claims that water conditions in Ciénaga San Silvestre are extremely poor. This was done as collaboration between the organization and the Secretary for the Environment in Barrancabermeja. In turn this led to their push to get legal action started for retribution for those responsible for the degradation of water conditions in this area.  Stigmatization of social leaders makes them more vulnerable to attacks and impedes them from carrying out their work.

 

For further information please contact gsanchez@wola.org, jsudarsky@wola.org or call (202) 797-2171.

 

Sincerely,

Gimena Sanchez

Director for the Andes

 

July 25, 2019

Open letter to the Parliament of Canada

THE MURDER OF SOCIAL LEADERS IN COLOMBIA:

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA?

Open letter to the Parliament of Canada

Ottawa, 29 May 2019

Honorable Parliamentarians, we address you as Colombian defenders of human rights, with the help and collaboration of sympathetic Canadians, to shout loudly that in Colombia THEY ARE KILLING US! They are killing our leaders, our human rights defenders, and our defenders of life, of our communities, our waters, and our territories.

 

566 social leaders and human rights defenders have been murdered in Colombia between January 1, 2016 and January 10, 2019. In the first 100 days of the present government of Ivan Duque, 120 social leaders have been killed. Every three days a social leader is murdered in Colombia. More than four thousand leaders are presently registered with the National Protection Unit (UNP), a Colombian Government agency that tries to protect people at risk of being killed. One of them, Isabel Cristina Zuleta, reports she cannot count how many times her life has been threatened (Entrevista con Isabel Cristina Zuleta, Daniela Garcia Chestnut. May 8 of 2019).

 

Here today, before the Parliament of Canada, we would like to introduce to you three cases, among many, that link Canada and Canadian companies with this dramatic situation in Colombia: the relentless struggle of Isabel Zuleta against the NEFARIOUS HIDROITUANGO megaproject, which has important capital support from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ); the struggle of France Marquez, prominent leader of the black community, Premio Goldman Ambiental en 2018, on whom a recent bombing attempt was witnessed by Canadian Professor Sheila Gruner; and the case of the Tobie Mining Mining, which is using a perverse investment clause in the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to claim the colossal sum of US $ 16.5 billion dollars, to the detriment of the national treasury of the country.

 

______________ Allow us to ask you, ladies and gentlemen, would anyone in this chamber be willing to risk his or her life to defend the water? Would any of you be willing to risk your life to defend their territory? Would any of you in this chamber be willing to risk your life to defend the rights of your community? Every day of her life, Isabel Cristina Zuleta -leader of the Rios Vivos community- risks her life to defend the water, the territory, and the rights of her community. She struggles against a hydroelectric megaproject HIDROITUANGO , which has important Canadian funding.

 

According to the Colombian business magazine Portfolio , Roberta Brzezinski, principal administrator of Emerging Markets at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, CDPQ), stated that this Québec entity has extended a line of credit of US$1,000 million for HIDROITUANGO (Llegarán recursos canadienses al proyecto Hidroituango, Portafolio, 11 de enero de 2018).

 

The HIDROITUANGO hydroelectric megaproject was imposed with a great violence in Colombia. With the aim of clearing the territory and thus lowering production costs associated with compensation of displacing people, a campaign of terror was fomented upon the population of territories established in that area of the Cauca River where the dam was to be built. The Cauca is the second most important river of Colombia, and on it depend for water close to 10 million people. According to some sources, in the 12 municipalities near where the Dam is being built, there have been 62 massacres perpetrated by paramilitaries (Contagio Radio, 23 March 2018). Other sources speak of ” 100 massacres, targeted killings and enforced disappearances” (La muerte de Hugo y Luis, dos líderes que se enfrentaban a Hidroituango, Revista Semana, 14 May 2018). With the inundation of the canyon of the River Cauca, Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) seeks to bury the truth: “It is believed that there are between 300 and 600 victims buried in 62 massacres committed by paramilitaries” (Contagio Radio, 23 March 2018).

 

The last ordinance that was signed in 1997 as Governor of Antioquia Province by Álvaro Uribe Vélez – former President and current senator of Colombia- was the creation of the Sociedad Promotora Hidroelectrica Ituango. That same year occured the massacre at Aro (Luis Montenegro, Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo. (see video). According to William de Jesus Gutierrez, a human rights activist living in Rios Vivos, Antioquia “Alvaro Uribe coordinated a series of murders and massacres in the Bajo Cauca Antioqueño to impose the HIDROITUANGO project” ( see video).

 

On May 15, 2019 – 10 years after this Parliament ratified the Canada-Colombia FTA signed by Uribe and Stephen Harper, former Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre alerted the country about national and international investigations into the conduct of former President Uribe, to whom are attributed war crimes and crimes against humanity during his “nefarious administration”, and said that in the next few days he will deliver a thorough investigation to prove the responsibility of senator Alvaro Uribe Velez in the massacres of the ARO and of La Granja (Humana Radio, 15 de mayo de 2019).

 

Isabel Zuleta sums up the current crisis in communities affected by this nefarious hydroelectric megaproject: “Despite the fact that we have suffered the terrifying way that EPM (“Empresas Publicas de Medellin”) and the National Authority of Environmental Licenses (ANLA) have debased all the beauty of the territory, have destroyed our culture and our community, the fishing, the small-scale pan-mining, the tranquility, the forest, the animals… we never imagined that they would go so far as to suspend life, to sow confusion and anxiety with the hammer of lack of a future for our people. More than a year without knowing what will happen with a vast territory, as if Colombia has forgotten us, or as if simply we are not part of Colombia” (Colombia carece de consenso social sobre lo inadmisible – Colombia lacks social consensus on the inadmissible, Revista Semana, Semana sostenible, 19.05.24).

 

______________ On 4 May 2019, FRANCE MARQUEZ, a prominent leader of the black community and 2018 co-recipient of the Premio Goldman Ambiental, survived an assassination attempt in the region of Cauca, Colombia (Semana, Contagio Radio, El Tiempo, El Espectador, France24). It is likely that this attack is associated with the recent statements by the former president and now senator Alvaro Uribe Velez in in which he incites a massacre of the members of the Minga, according to Luis Fernando Arias, senior advisor of the Colombian National Organization of Indigenous Peoples ONIC (Luis Fernando Arias, consejero mayor de las ONIC).

 

“If the Authority, serenely, firmly and with social criteria implies the need for a massacre, it is because on the other side there is violence and terror more than Protest”, stated Senator Uribe on Twiter on 7 de abril de 2019, approximately one month before the attack.

 

Witness to this attack was Sheila Gruner, associate professor at the University of Algoma (Ontario, Canada) and visiting professor at the Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá). Professor Gruner narrates her experience of this serious attack:

 

“The attack – with grenades and shooting- was directed against some of the most prominent social leaders of the black movement and of the ethnic-territorial movement in Colombia. France Márquez represents the group “Mobilization of Afro-descendant Women for Care of Life and of the Ancestral Territories”. Carlos Rosero, a member of the Black Communities Process (PCN), played a key role in the preparation of the Law 70 of 1991, and is a highly regarded leader inside and outside of the black movement. There were also gathered important men and women belonging to organizations recognized at regional, national and international levels, including Victor Hugo Moreno Mine, Senior Advisor of the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca (ACONC) and Clemencia Carabali of the Association of Afro-descendant women of Northern Cauca (ASOM) and of the Social and Political National Movement of Black Women, Afro-colombian, Palenqueras and Aboriginals in their diverse identities, among others. Three of the leaders already had security protection (armoured cars and bodyguards) because they had previously received threats against their lives for for their ongoing work on human, ethnic and territorial rights in the country. Thanks to the reaction of their security escorts, they managed to avoid a massacre. Three juveniles were present, including a three year old girl. All leaders(as) present formed part of the National AfroColombian Peace Council (CONPA), which as an integral part of the Ethnic Commission for Peace and Territorial Rights played a key role in the development and insertion of the Ethnicities Chapter of the final Peace Agreement. This armed aggression is considered an attack against the peace agreement, against the Ethnicities Chapter and an attempt to erase the significant progress of the black movement with regard to political and territorial rights achieved during the last 2 decades.

 

“The Northern Cauca is an area where there is illegal mining and unconstitutional mining (without free and informed prior consultation with the communities), as well as where there has been an increase in coca production for illegal use. It is a region marked equally by mega-projects and industrial parks. The male and female leaders and the organizations they represented that day have struggled for years to put an end to illicit and harmful economies in their territories and communities. They were also part of the Minga – a major mobilization to demand that the national government comply with the agreements reached in 2016. On May 4th they were gathered for the purpose of preparing for a negotiation with the Colombian government which would take place a few days later, where they would demand the enforcement of the agreements reached previously. The reaction of the national government against the attack of 4 May was to offer to provide increased security frameworks, but they have failed to make a real commitment to address the reasons for the violence in that area of the country. There has been a lack of enforcement of Law 70, no compliance with the orders of the clause 005 and no progress in implementing the Chapter on Ethnic Origins”.

 

Very soon after this attack, one of the spokespersons received a threat of extermination: “this is only the beginning of what will be the extermination of all of you” (Semana, 6 de mayo de 2019).

 

____________ The perverse investment clause, conceived in the Canada-Colombia FTA , allows Canadian mining companies to file leonine lawsuits against the Colombian State. Canadian Cosigo Resources Ltd (Tobie Mining) sued Colombia for the colossal sum of US $16.5 billion dollars, equivalent to about 50 billion pesos, or one fifth of the national budget in 2017. After the mining company invested a mere US$ 20,000 dollars, it alleged a supposed “expropriation” of a claim which was without effect, since it had been granted in the protected Yaigoje-Apaporis National Park and a few days later was withdrawn by the Colombian environmental authority. According to the multinational’s calculations of the “crime”, their damages would be equivalent to the fabulous sum mentioned (La minera que pide 16.500 millones de dólares de indemnización a Colombia. Semana, 6 November 2017). The Tobie Mining will not be able to take the gold that it planned to extract for 20 years, so now it seeks to take this fabulous sum of money that represents 20 years of extraction of gold.

 

This is a perverse play under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement!

How much desolation and death will this colossal financial plunder the coffers of the Colombian State produce?

 

According to Francia Márquez, “until the year 2016 there had been issued in the department of Cauca 236 mining titles, covering 40% of the territory, and located largely in the Colombian Massif, on lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people and by people of Afro-Colombian descent. The extractive companies are pushing us out of our territories. When communities have won litigations, arguing their title rights as per the Consulta Previa Law (aboriginal title), as was the case of La Toma, municipality of Suarez, Judgment T1045A of 2010, where the Court revoked the license of the AngloGold Ashanti, we begin to receive the types of death threats that made it necessary for me to leave the territory. When the Courts have ruled in favor of the community then there has been an increase in the killings, the forced displacements, the stigmatization of our leaders(as) by armed actors, as well as increases in judicial persecution on the part of the same State, with the intention of ensuring and protecting the interests of the big companies. Those mining companies not only expel us from our or territory, not only destroy our lives, but also want to have us pay them for such destruction. The 50 billion pesos that are being claimed as ‘compensation’ to TOBIE Mining could instead be used pay reparations to all victims of the armed conflict in the Pacific region Colombia” (Interview 19.05.27).

 

_________________ The ongoing murders of social leaders in Colombia can be characterized as genocide, worse than occurred against the Union Patriotica (Patriotic Union) in the 1980s and 1990s, when a concerted attack claimed the lives of more than 1,500 members of this political movement throughout the country. The former president Juan Manuel Santos, who was Minister of Defense under Uribe, acknowledged the responsibility of the State in this persecution, death and disappearance of hundreds of members and supporters of Union Patriotica:

 

“I want today to express in this public act, as President of the Republic, as Head of State, that the extermination and the disappearance of the Patriotic Union should never have occurred; and to recognize that the State did not take sufficient measures to deter and prevent the murders, attacks and other violations, despite evidence that this persecution was underway.”(Exterminio de la UP fue un genocidio. Verdad Abierta, 15 September 2016).

 

Colombia is not a democracy. NO! In Colombia we lived through a most bloody dictatorship under Álvaro Uribe Vélez, former president and current senator in Colombia who is “clinging on to power so that power will protect him”. This dictatorship and its legacy are vividly symbolized in

 

“…massacres such as those in El Salado, in El Aro, in the false positives (young men rounded up, killed and then dressed in “subversive” clothes so as to be counted as dead guerrillas), in Barrancabermeja, Tierralta, Chengue, Montes de Maria, Tame, Saravena, Soacha, Ituango, Orion Operation; thousands of living dead in hospitals; in the fate of hundreds of leaders and peasants who have fallen victim to bullets or have died due to the indiscriminate spraying of glyphosate or have been killed for belonging to opposition parties; in countrysides emptied to make way for cattle raising, sending millions of internally displaced persons to die in the cities and towns; in the more than 2,000 women killed so far this year” (La dictadura más sangrienta. Beatriz Vangas ATHIAS, professor at the Universidad Javeriana. The Viewer, 2 March 2019).

 

Every three days a social leader is murdered in Colombia. Since the signing of the Peace Agreement – January 1, 2016- 508 social and community leaders have been killed in Colombia. They were defenders of human rights, of life, of their territories, of programs for the substitution of illicit crops, or mere land claimants. Since the signing of the Peace Agreement, we note an increase in violent actions against and of murders of social leaders in Colombia. According to the annual report 2018, of the Lawyers’ Collective “Somos Defensores” (We Are Defenders Program), in 2013 there were 366 violent actions against activists, 626 in 2014, 682 in 2015, 481 in 2016 and 560 in 2017. In 2018 there were reported 805 violent actions. According to the same source, in 2018 there were 155 murders, which represents an increase of 43.75% in relation to 2017.

 

The international community, human rights organisms, civil organizations and democratic governments all witness with great concern the escalation of low intensity war that is being once again unleashed upon the civilian population of Colombia, similar to what was experienced during the two periods of the nefarious government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, 2002-2010.

 

According to Erika Rojas, Rapporteur for the Americas of Amnesty International , “The murder of those who defend human rights is destroying the social fabric of communities that have historically faced the cruel consequences of armed conflict, and now are at greater risk because of the reorganization of paramilitary groups that are being recycled and reemerging with force, reviving the suffering caused in the country”. Amnesty International, the UN and the International Red Cross have all called attention to the fragile situation of social leaders and defenders of human rights.

 

President Iván Duque, in his less than one year in power, has promoted a strategy essentially of militarization of the Colombian territory within the so-called “Peace with legality”. Despite this militarization, paramilitary groups continue to operate with almost complete freedom, threatening not only social leaders but also political opponents, as has been the case of the members of opposition political movement “Colombia Humana” and of many peasants who defend their territory, who call for compliance with the Peace Agreement, or who lead community processes in defense of their communities.

 

As noted in the report on human rights within the framework of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (TLC-CC), impunity in the country is among the highest in the world, occupying 9th ranking within the set of nations. The judicial authorities do not exercise their task of investigation and prosecution of the intellectuals actors, a factor that increases the latter’s capacity for criminal activities against social leaders.

 

The government party systematically attacks defenders of human rights and social leaders, stigmatizes their protests and hinders the development of the institutions agreed upon to achieve peace . As you yourselves also pointed out in your report about the FTA-CC, their actions generate strong security problems for people in the regions who continue to support the peace process.

 

In a recent article, the New York Times described current repression by the Colombian Army as being at a level similar to that unleashed during the period of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, which was characterized by the murder by the Colombian Army of thousands of innocent young people who were later presented as guerrillas in order to inflate statistics. (Colombian Army’s Kill orders put civilians at risk, officers say. New York Times, May 18 of 2019 ).

 

__________Throughout the process of the adoption on the part of the Canadian Parliament of the Tratado de Libre Comercio Canadá-Colombia (TLC-CC), SOS-Colombia, a coalition of different movements and of social and trade union organizations in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, along with political opposition groups, notably the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois, led a strong opposition to the TLC-CC.

 

“Ratifying a trade agreement with the Uribe regime is not the best way to give priority to human rights and democracy in the Americas: it is to deny the values and principles that we defend deeply”, said then representatives of SOS-COLOMBIA. (Protestas en Montreal y Ottawa contra la visita de Uribe y contra El TLC Canadá-Colombia, 13 de junio de 2009).

 

During the week following the ratification of the TLC Canada-Colombia José Reinel Restrepo, parish priest of Marmoto was assassinated. This priest led a civic movement in Marmato along with small-scale miners who rejected the exploitation of gold by open-pit mining. It was he, along with the committee prodefense of Marmato, who had urged communities to organize to oppose the proposals of the large mining companies. His murder has gone unpunished. The Canadian mining company Colombia GoldFields Ltd, was behind the exploitation of gold in Marmato. According to their calculations, they expected to extract gold worth 20 billion dollars (Canadian mining in Colombia, CBC documentary. March 31, 2008).

 

Coincidence?

 

Peter Julien of the NDP denounced before the Canadian Parliament the fact that the Harper government, with the support of the liberals, was extending the red carpet to the regime of Alvaro Uribe, whom he described as having the worst record in the hemisphere in violation of human rights and who, according to a 1991 report by the US Central Intelligence Agency, was described as a politician who was dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin Cartel at high government levels, and who was then a personal friend of Pablo Escobar (U.S. Intelligence Listed Colombian President Uribe Among Important Colombian NarcoTraffickers” in 1991).

 

Extractive processes in Colombia – of gold, coal, wood, etc. – accelerated and intensified following the signing of the Canada-Colombia FTA, have exacerbated the violence against the leaders and communities who oppose such processes. As conceived, the Canada-Colombia FTA is contributing to the plunder of the resources of our country, to the impoverishment of communities, the destruction of the environment and the exacerbation of violence.

 

Shouldn’t the government of Canada be seriously concerned about investments in Colombia? Shouldn’t it not only protect big economic interests but also help protect the lives and human rights of Colombians?

 

When business exchanges are clean, sustainable, and carried out with honest counterparts for mutual benefit in pursuit of the common good, they can play a positive role in the development, beyond that of private companies, of society in general and should be supported by governments. When business is conducted with dark counterparts involved in serious crimes against humanity, in violence, looting of resources, displacement and destruction of communities, we must ask ourselves if government is rather acting as an accomplice!

 

What position do the political leaders of this Parliament wish to play in the face of this genocide? On what side of history does the government of Canada want to be?

 

We demand that the Parliament and the government of Canada act immediately and as effectively as possible to ensure the protection and life and the human rights of social leaders in Colombia who are exposed to violence related to extractive processes, and that they review carefully any process to develop bilateral trade between our countries.

 

LIFE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ARE ABOVE BUSINESS!

 

In light of the above, the organizations of Colombians here signatories, ask the Honorable Parliament of Canada and those of other countries in the Americas:

 

– To initiate an emergency session on human rights in Colombia.

 

– That a Commission of Verification be named to investigate the compliance on human rights undertaken by Colombia at the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with Canada, taking into account the annual reports on human rights submitted since the signing of the FTA-CC on 21 of November of 2008 and its entry into force on 15 August 2011.

 

– We request the reopening of the Shelter Program for Colombian leaders who have been threatened and are in danger of death in Colombia.

 

– We ask for monitoring, control and surveillance through the implementation of an Ombudsman on mining companies abroad, of the economic damage and the social and environmental impacts that Canadian financial and mining companies are producing in certain regions of Colombia, which are the subject of denunciations by defenders of human rights whose lives are then endangered, a fact to which the Government of Canada should not be indifferent,

 

_____________

 

Signatory Organizations

Ríos Vivos – Antioquia

Cabildo indígena Káamash Hu de Barranquilla

Colombia Conciente

Colombia Humana New York

Colombia Humana New Jersey

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)

Projet accompagnement solidarité Colombie (PASC)

Somos Uno Solo / Arraigo

Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance – CASA

 

CASA: 15 Anniversary Celebration!

 

15 Years Building Solidarity with Social Struggles in Colombia for a Better World!

Facebook

Browse our last 30 years of solidarity work with Colombia here:

Presentation

 

 

 

Saturday, November 24, 2018 – Casa Maíz, 1280 Finch Av. # 204 – 2nd Floor (Subway: Finch West)

Doors open @ 8:00 pm with Solidarity messages; 9:00 – 2:00 Celebration

Tickets $15

 

Performance by 2018 JUNO Award Nominated Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra and the New Tradition Music, releasing their first official music video: “Bounce Right Back”

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Special Guest performance by Lady Son

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DJs La Rumba Buena and

DJ Siez Swift

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SOLIDARITY MESSAGES — MENSAJES DE SOLIDARIDAD

 

Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, internationally known trade unionist leader and lawyer.  Former president of SINTRAMINERCOL and current member of CUT, legal Dept.  Francisco is also a member of the national executive committee of FUNTRAENERGETICA, and lead the process which condemned US based coal company Drummond for their involvement in the assassination and displacement of thousands of Colombians.  Having already escaped eight attempts on his life, Canadian solidarity organizations are asking the government of Colombia to protect his life and to identify those responsible for the attacks and threats against him.

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María Ubilerma Sanabria, is one of the “Mothers of Soacha”. The children of these mothers were murdered by members of the Colombian National Army and presented as guerrillas killed in combat.  Today, they denounce the death of 19 young residents in the municipality of Soacha and Bogotá, whose bodies appeared in a common grave in the north-east of the country, in the department of Norte de Santander, more than 700 kilometers from Soacha.  Since 2008, the Mothers of Soacha, denounce the murders and the impunity of the crimes committed against their children, today sadly known as “False positives”.

 

 

 

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Kathy Price is a campaigner responsible for Amnesty Canada’s work on Mexico, Colombia and Honduras. She works closely with human rights defenders in those countries and believes passionately in the importance of visible action from Canada in support of their inspiring efforts.

Dear friends, I wish I was here to celebrate with you tonight but sadly, I am not able because of a death in my family.  However, I am with you in spirit and solidarity. I send warm greetings and heartfelt congratulations on this important anniversary, on behalf of your friends at Amnesty International Canada.
The commitment, creativity, profound solidarity, and tireless work of the members of the Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance over these past 15 years is deeply inspiring. You have opened many eyes in Canada with your events, vigils and rallies and mobilized many people to take action with you. Your activism and your voices are so, so important.
At Amnesty International Canada, we share the same goal of working to support courageous grassroots organizations in Colombia and their efforts to achieve rights, justice and dignity.  It has been a great privilege on countless occasions to collaborate and join our energies to make visible terrible human rights violations and press for action to bring them to justice, with the hope of ensuring they never happen again.
Sadly, despite the signing of a peace agreement, our collective energies are still urgently needed as armed conflict and paramilitary repression continue in Colombia. Those who courageously defend human rights and social justice in Colombia are under relentless attack, with a wave of assassinations of social leaders. Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities are facing new forced displacement from land desired for its economic potential.
They do not give up and neither do we.  There is no doubt that the work of the Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance is needed now more than ever, not only to focus on the responsibilities of Colombian authorities. But also to focus on the obligations and responsibilities of Canada and Canadian corporations.
Congratulations CASA for your history of struggle! Animo for the struggles yet ahead!  We look forward to collaborating again and strengthening our solidarity.
Abrazos y saludos,
Kathy Price, Colombia Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

 

*****

Bill Fairbairn became deeply involved with solidarity work – in particular around Latin America – after spending time with Argentinean and Chilean refugees fleeing the military regimes in their countries in the late 1970’s  and studying in Guatemala in the early 1980s during the Lucas Garcia dictatorship. Since then, his work has largely focused on the defense of human rights in Latin America and the promotion of Canadian solidarity.  He has worked with the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA), KAIROS, York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and Horizons of Friendship.  Bill joined the staff at Inter Pares in 2011 and is part of the Latin America team with main responsibilities for Inter Pares’ work in Peru and Colombia.

Dear compañeras and compañeros,  I am sending warm greetings to you from Colombia where I have been for the past two weeks, visiting a number of Inter Pares’ partners throughout the country. As always, it has been a very moving time: hearing stories of profound courage from activists coming from many different social movements – women, Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, campesino and LGBTQ2, among others – who continue to persevere in the midst of an ongoing human rights crisis.
The important work that the Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance has undertaken over the past fifteen years has helped forge and deepen strong bonds of friendship and solidarity between Canadians and Colombians from many of these same social movements. Together with my colleagues at Inter Pares and so many others, I congratulate you for your dedication and steadfast commitment in helping to raise awareness and mobilize Canadians to take action in support of our Colombian sisters and brothers.
I have had the great pleasure of working with many of you over the years – in fact, the Canadian Colombian community in Toronto (at that point, grouped under the Canadian Colombian Association) played a huge role in helping the organization I worked for at that time, the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America, understand the urgent need to engage with Colombia. This led to my first trip to the country in 1989 and to both institutional as well as personal engagements that continue to this day. On a personal note, I can say without a doubt that I have rarely encountered such courage and resilience as well as warmth and generosity of heart as during my encounters with the peoples of Colombia.
There have been many advances over the years, but as everyone is telling me on this trip, the situation in Colombia remains critical and international solidarity is needed now more than ever. These past weeks I have heard account after account of an increase in attacks against the country’s social movements and leaders, growing militarization, and a new government that seems bent on reversing the progress made in the peace accords reached with the FARC.
As CASA and its allies gather together to mark this important anniversary, I send my best wishes to you and assure you of Inter Pares and my own personal commitment to continue working with you and others to accompany the peoples of Colombia. This includes both maintaining pressure on the Colombian government and taking a hard look at the way Canadian corporations and Canadian government policies are contributing to the violence and insecurity that our Colombian sisters and brothers are experiencing on a daily basis.
Abrazos solidarios,
Bill Fairbairn, Inter Pares

*****

Jorge Garcia-Orgales (Researcher, United Steelworkers) at the Industry, Science and Technology Committee, came to Canada from Argentina as a refugee in the early 1980s.  Soon, he became actively involved in program development and training for union members, the unemployed and immigrant workers. His training experience encompassed language training, life skills support and new workplace technology awareness. His clients include the Communications, Energy and Paper Workers; Metro Labour Education; the Canadian Auto Workers Union; and the Doris Marshall Institute for Education and Action.

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Luis Alberto Mata is a convention refugee writer, researcher and human rights activist from Colombia. He has lived in and contributed to Canadian society since his arrival in 2002 and was recognized as a Convention Refugee in 2003. Luis Alberto fled Colombia when his life and that of his wife and their young son were under threat. He was at risk due to his work as a social justice advocate, journalist and author as he exposed some of the worst human rights violations in Colombia. Luis Alberto has become a pillar of our community advocating for dispossessed people and helping immigrants and refugees to settle in Canada.

Querid@s amig@s, La organización CASA desde su origen ha estado presente en mi vida canadiense, diría desde la primavera del 2003, luego de que conociera a Darío en una actividad y me invitara a reunirme. Días más tarde conocí a Ilian, y no mucho después a Martha, y también a Sandra, que también recien llegaba como refugiada al Canadá (si mal no estoy, en una actividad organizada por UFCW, que nos apoyaba por aquellos días), y también, coincidimos en una actividad de Amnistía Internacional.
No muy tarde, desde 2003 he estado vinculado con este grupo de compañer@s. He disfrutado todas las etapas, y participado en casi todas nuestras actividades de solidaridad, no solo con las organizaciones sociales de base defensoras de la paz y los derechos humanos en Colombia, también y a menudo apoyando actividades pro derechos humanos internacionalistas, principalmente con luchas por justicia social en América Latina. He participado haciendo lobbying o en giras y reuniones más allá de Ontario.
Ha sido una relación feliz, porque también recibí el apoyo de varios miembros de CASA durante mi dificil y prolongado proceso de refugio y residencia junto a mi familia en Canadá. En días de soledad durante esos largos 12 años de limbo migratorio, tuve en mis compas de CASA la voz de aliento que necesitaba.
Hemos también impulsado, por fuera de CASA, pero con miembros de la organización, iniciativas políticas como la del Polo Democrático, especialmente en sus orígenes como proceso de unidad. No puedo ni podré olvidar la incansable y feliz actividad a favor del Sí en el referendo para aprobar los acuerdos de paz firmados en La Habana, que para nosotros, pese a todas las tendencias y el triste resultado final, significó una gran victoria para nosotros en Toronto. Dimos una muestra formidable de trabajo amplio y colectivo, y sobre todo demostramos cuanto amamos y deseamos  la paz con justicia social y ddhh.
Escribo todo esto para decirles a tod@s con profundo aprecio, que llevo a CASA, incluyendo las necesarias tensiones y polémicas internas, y su valioso trabajo de solidaridad en mi corazón. CASA es un ejemplo sencillo de trabajo voluntario e internacionalista con los más necesitados en Colombia,esopecialmente l@s necesitad@s de paz y justicia social.
Gracias a todos y todas por ser parte de este noble esfuerzo colectivo. Gratitud especial con Darío, Martha e Ilian por contribuir a mantener viva la idea, especialmente en épocas duras y de confrontación política e ideológica. Gratitud por haberme invitado a ser parte de este proceso desde sus comienzos, y por continuar aceptándome.
Un inmenso abrazo para todas y todos nuestros amigos, con un grito: Hasta la Victoria!
Fraternalmente Luis Alberto Mata.

 

*****

Professor Rebbeca Bartel is a scholar of Religion in the Americas, she has received her B.A. from the Canadian Mennonite University (Theology and Music), her M.A. from the Colombian university, Los Andes (Political Science) and her PhD from the University of Toronto (Religion). Her last research considers the political economy of Colombia’s armed conflict, the Christian morality that supports political processes of forgiveness, as well as the effects of Canadian mining on human rights discourse in Colombia.

Javier Augusto Núñez is a passionate and experienced filmmaker with more than 10 years of experience in audiovisual, multimedia, and film production with an international track record in Canada, Colombia and United States.  He has participated as a Producer in the 2012 Short Film Corner of Cannes Film Festival with two short films and was selected in the 2011 Havana Film Festival as a producer in the industry section “Nuevas Miradas 5” with an animated feature film project. Four short films directed and produced by Javier were selected for the Canadian Film Centre to be screened at the Short Non Stop Online Film Festival in October 2011. 

 

*****

Kyla Sankey is a London-based activist and political commentator. She is a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London.

 

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Sandra Cordero, CASA member and a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at ParaMed Home Health Care Toronto is passionate about humanity and social justice and at 18 years old became the youngest leader in her healthcare union while working as a medical assistant

-Felicitaciones por Nuestros Quince CASA- Buenos dias companeras y companeros:  Deseo expresar mi alegria por este cumpleanos tan lindo que tuvimos. Se siente el gran corazon de todos. El esfuerzo de todos. La intergeneracionalidad, el ver los ninos, mi nieta hermosa, el aporte artistico de New Tradition, los companeros adultos y nuestras companeras hermosas todo este grandioso valor humano son la motivacion para seguir con el proceso de sensibilidad humana, en el proceso de seguir sonando con un mundo mejor.
Ayer al verlos mi segunda familia CASA, participe con mucho amor, alegria, baile hasta sudar, rei y renove mis energias, nuevamente me senti apoyada por su solidaridad infinita en momentos dificiles con sus abrazos en demostracion de empatia con Deybi. La abuela me enseno siempre hay que reir en momentos dificiles aunque por dentro estemos llorando….
Companeras y companeros les envio un abrazo y nuevamente felicitaciones por su sensibilidad humana porque hemos formado una familia inclusiva e intergeneracional.

*****

Luis van Isschot is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in the study of social movements, popular radicalism, political violence and human rights. His first book “The Social Origins of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence in Colombia’s Oil Capital, 1919-2010”, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2015 as part of their Critical Human Rights series. It is being published in Spanish by Editorial Universidad del Rosario.  His newest research project concerns Latin American participation in global anti-colonial movements in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also working on a history of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUDgieFAcNA

 

and our final message!!

 

Hey Beautiful people! Thanks to everyone who came out Saturday night. We were very happy with the great turnout, support and positive vibe throughout the evening.

Thanks to Luis Rojas and Casa Maiz for graciously hosting us in the heart of Toronto’s Latin American community.

Big up to Ruben “Benny” Esguerra and New Tradition on the release of their new music video and for always giving back to the different communities that they draw their inspiration from.

Lady Son and New Tradition brought the house down with their rendition of Fruko’s Colombian salsa anthem “El Preso” (Prisoner):

Listen, I speak to you from prison
From the world in which I’m living
There are always four corners
But between corner and corner
There will always be the same
For me, there’s no sky
Neither moon nor stars
For me, the sun doesn’t shine
For me everything is darkness

La Rumba Buena DJs brought it home keeping it real, always drawing from the musical source that keeps the salsa river flowing.

P’alante hasta la proxima!

Académicos del mundo piden a Duque políticas serias de DDHH

Resumen Latinoamericano / 26 de mayo de 2019

 

A través de una carta abierta, más de 250 académicos del mundo criticaron fuertemente las políticas del gobierno del Presidente Iván Duque, que han fallado en detener una escalada en agresiones en contra de defensores de derechos humanos y reincorporados. En lo que va corrido de 2019, han sido asesinados al menos 62 líderes sociales, de acuerdo a un reporte del Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular.

«Frente a estos hechos, nos declaramos indignados por la falta de reconocimiento de esta situación por parte del gobierno y reclamamos acciones de fondo que eviten este continuo y sistemático derramamiento de sangre, así como nuevos sucesos lamentables como el atentado ocurrido el 4 de mayo contra Francia Márquez y otros líderes y lideresas del norte del Cauca», dice la carta.

Según el documento, esta ola de violencia se debe a las disputas por varios sectores de territorios en que se busca establecer proyectos extractivistas de gran escala. Los académicos sostuvieron que el interés económico en estas regiones genera la escalada de conflictos socio-ambientales, en el cual grupos armados legales e ilegales trabajan juntos para despojar las comunidades de su territorios.

Finalmente, la carta invitó al Presidente a responder a esta denuncia con las medidas que el gobierno ha tomado para frenar el recrudecimiento del conflicto. Además, concluyó la necesidad de entidades internacionales como Human Rights Watch y Amnistía Internacional organizar comisiones de verificación  para generar información veraz que permita prevenir nuevos casos y hacer justicia para los hechos ya ocurridos.

 

 

Bogotá, D. C., Colombia,

21 mayo de 2019

Señor

Iván Duque Márquez

Presidente de la República de Colombia

Carta Abierta

 

Académicos de Colombia y del mundo, miramos con gran preocupación los acontecimientos relacionados con las amenazas, persecuciones judiciales, y asesinatos de líderes y lideresas sociales, de excombatientes, así como defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos y del medio ambiente en Colombia. De acuerdo con el Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP/Programa por la paz, en 2018 dentro de la categoría de violencia política, se perpetraron 648 asesinatos, 1151 casos de amenaza de muerte, 304 lesionados, 48 atentados, 22 desapariciones forzadas, tres agresiones sexuales y 243 detenciones arbitrarias. En lo que va corrido de 2019, han sido asesinados al menos 62 líderes sociales.

 

Frente a estos hechos, nos declaramos indignados por la falta de reconocimiento de esta situación por parte del gobierno y reclamamos acciones de fondo que eviten este continuo y sistemático derramamiento de sangre, así como nuevos sucesos lamentables como el atentado ocurrido el 4 de mayo contra Francia Márquez y otros líderes y lideresas del norte del Cauca.

 

Observamos que, desde los lugares de poder gubernamental y los medios de comunicación, se incita a una escalada de odio y violencia que rompe la poca paz alcanzada, pero aún más, como señala Daniel Pécaut (2001), se declara una guerra contra la sociedad.

 

A lo largo de nuestros trabajos académicos sobre las dinámicas locales, regionales e internacionales, advertimos que los territorios de interés geopolítico se convierten en foco que propicia la escalada de conflictos por expansión extractiva. Hemos planteado que existen vínculos perversos entre fuerzas legales e ilegales para expulsar a las poblaciones de sus territorios, evidenciando las mismas relaciones expuestas por académicos como Sassen (2015), Harvey (2004), Escobar (2014), el analista de defensa Herold (2007), entre otros, sobre la expulsión, el vaciamiento y la desposesión de territorios, para el avance de la acumulación a gran escala de los proyectos extractivos.

 

En el caso de Colombia se advierte esta situación en relación con la política económica que promueve las medidas extractivas como eje de desarrollo, lo cual incentiva y facilita que sectores de poder que representan intereses diversos copen los territorios, instalándose una escalada de asesinatos contra líderes y lideresas quienes defienden los derechos de los pueblos y las comunidades locales. Es una realidad de tiempo atrás, pero que se presenta Página 1 de 53 Carta Abierta al Presidente Iván Duque Márquez de Académicos del mundo y de Colombia con mayor impacto a partir de la firma de los acuerdos con las FARC – EP desde 2016, en contraposición con los propósitos de la paz territorial esperada.

 

Lo anterior permite inferir que la causa de amenazas y asesinatos se relaciona con intereses de varios sectores en los territorios en que se proyectan actividades extractivas a gran escala, lo cual coincide con las versiones en procesos de justicia transicional, esclarecimiento de la verdad, y en Sentencias de la Corte Constitucional, como la del Alto Andágueda, que llevan a deducir la relación de vulneración de derechos humanos con estas actividades.

 

Frases recurrentes en los mensajes amenazantes como: “acabar con cualquiera que se interponga al desarrollo en el país”, ubica a los pobladores como objetivo militar, porque son muchos de ellos representados por sus líderes y lideresas quienes se oponen a los proyectos extractivos, buscando evitar impactos negativos en ecosistemas y poblaciones.

 

Por lo mismo, nos llama la atención el abandono tanto de las instituciones del Estado como de la gran prensa, frente a este fenómeno de amenazas, persecución judicial y asesinatos, pero al mismo tiempo, no dudan en señalar y estigmatizar la protesta social, las actividades de liderazgo social y la oposición a las políticas de gobierno.

 

Resulta preocupante que sólo hasta cuando se atenta contra Francia Márquez, una lideresa reconocida internacionalmente y premio Goldman, quien se encontraba con un destacado grupo de líderes, hecho que trascendió internacionalmente, usted se pronuncie como gobernante. Su gobierno no nos permite entender cuáles son los esfuerzos para responder a esta grave crisis; observamos que las medidas hasta ahora tomadas son insuficientes y se limitan a esquemas de seguridad precarios y a una búsqueda, las más de las veces infructuosa de los autores materiales, sin indagar el fenómeno en su integralidad, para reconocer los autores intelectuales y los sectores que están detrás de esta estrategia de despojo y exterminio.

 

Como académicos le pedimos que, en su calidad de jefe de gobierno ordene abrir una investigación profunda, transparente y de cara al mundo, que muestre lo que verdaderamente ocurre frente a estas circunstancias que nos enlutan a diario.

 

Al mismo tiempo, dada la falta de acción de su gobierno y la magnitud del problema, consideramos necesario y urgente que entidades internacionales como Human Rights Watch y Amnistía Internacional, organicen comisiones de verificación e investigaciones de fondo sobre el particular, para que podamos tener información veraz que permita prevenir nuevos casos y hacer justicia para los hechos ya ocurridos.

 

De su parte esperamos que reconozca que estamos en un momento histórico en el que es posible cambiar el rumbo de la economía nacional y de la política social, por una opción de protección de la vida y del medio ambiente con réditos traducidos en buen vivir para las generaciones venideras. Página 2 de 53 Carta Abierta al Presidente Iván Duque Márquez de Académicos del mundo y de Colombia.

 

Lo invitamos a que responda abiertamente a esta carta y nos cuente cuáles han sido los avances y decisiones para evitar este derramamiento de sangre y cuáles las nuevas medidas para esclarecer esta dolorosa e inaudita situación humanitaria. A la espera de su respuesta, los abajo firmantes le seguiremos apostando a la paz mundial, a la paz territorial integral, una paz anhelada en cualquier lugar del mundo y en esta Colombia sufrida.

 

Con copia a: Su Santidad Papa Francisco. Human Rights Watch y Amnistía Internacional.