CASA: 15 Anniversary Celebration!


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


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





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”


Special Guest performance by Lady Son


DJs La Rumba Buena and

DJ Siez Swift





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.


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”.





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.


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.



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.


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!