Tag Archives: colombia

Colombia’s U’wa Indigenous People call for international solidarity

By Amazon Watch, April 29, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Right now, the U’wa people of Colombia’s cloud forests are once again requesting international support. For over two decades they have fought to keep oil projects – and the inevitable environmental destruction – out of their ancestral territories. With the recent expansion of oil exploration next to their sacred Cubogón river (known as the Magallanes project) and bombing of the oil pipeline that runs through their lands, they are organizing an international advocacy delegation to the United Nations. Using video images taken on Earth Day (April 22nd), they explain why their case urgently requires your attention and support.

The last time Colombian armed forces evicted an U’wa protest, it ended in tragedy. On February 11th, 2000, three indigenous children drowned in the Cubogón River as they fled helicopter-bound National Police. The U’wa were peacefully blocking a road and stopping materials for an oil exploration project, not miles from where they are currently camped out in La China.

This situation is at risk of repeating itself once again. Though the U’wa held high-level talks last Friday with the Colombian government, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Amylkar Acosta, stated this morning in a Caracol Radio interview that the government might declare a State of Emergency given that the shut-down of the Caño Limón pipeline is causing significant economic losses. Some 2.5 million barrels of oil have not been exported since the pipeline was bombed on March 25th, resulting in an estimated $8 million in daily revenue losses for the government.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Oil, Political Repression

Colombia’s breadbasket feels the pinch of free trade

By Helda Martínez, April 8, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

“Things are getting worse and worse,” Enrique Muñoz, a 67-year-old farmer from the municipality of Cajamarca in the central Colombian department of Tolima, once known as the country’s breadbasket, said sadly.

“Over the past five decades, the situation took a radical turn for the worse,” activist Miguel Gordillo commented to IPS, referring to what is happening in Tolima, whose capital is Ibagué, 195 km southwest of Bogotá.

“Fifty years ago, Ibagué was a small city surrounded by crops – vast fields of cotton that looked from far away like a big white sheet,” said Gordillo, head of the non-governmental Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria(National Association to Save Agriculture).

“In Tolima we planted maize, tobacco, soy, sorghum and fruit trees, and the mountains that surrounded Cajamarca were covered with green coffee bushes protected by orange trees, maize and plantain, and surrounded by celery,” Muñoz said.

His voice lost in the past, he said the farms in the area also had “piggies, chickens, mules, cows; everything was so different.”

Gordillo said, “In the north of the department we had fruit trees of all kinds, and the rivers were chock full of fish. There’s still rice, some maize, coffee…but even the fish have disappeared.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Colombia: Farmers protest free trade agreements, violation of agriculture agreement,

By Marcela Estrada, March 19, 2014. Source: PanAm Post

Farmers march in Colombia. Poto: MDZ.

Farmers march in Colombia. Poto: MDZ.

On Monday, representatives of indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians, and campesinos held demonstrations in Plaza Bolívar, Bogotá, to demand a new agriculture policy seeking solutions to the problem of land access and greater protection from free trade agreements.

The movement was launched following the conclusion of the “Cumbre Agraria Campesina, Étnica y Popular” (Agrarian Summit of the Campesino, the Ethnic, and the Masses), which hosted 11 organizations, including the National Agrarian Coordination (CNA), the Black Community Movement (PCN), the Congress of the People, the Patriot March, the Roundtable of Dialogue and Agreement (MIA), and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean

Indigenous humanitarian commission attacked in Colombia

By Robin Llewellyn, February 26, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Members of the Indigenous Guard during the 43rd anniversary of the CRIC (Photo: Robin Llewellyn)

Members of the Indigenous Guard during the 43rd anniversary of the CRIC (Photo: Robin Llewellyn)

Guerrillas targeted the car of the Humanitarian Commission of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) on 20 February, injuring Yoiner Medina Talaga, an Indigenous Guard and Manager of ACIN’s human rights monitoring system; Germán Valencia Medina, ACIN Human Rights Coordinator; and Nelson Pilcué, Legal Advisor to ACIN’s Women’s Program.

The Commission had been attending to over 50 families displaced by an upsurge in fighting prior to their being attacked in Jambaló, Cauca, by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yoiner Medina Talaga, who was shot in the chest, remains in intensive care. Germán Valencia was shot in the arm while Nelson Pilcué was injured by shattering glass and metal.

The Nasa people of northern Cauca have consistently demanded that all armed groups leave their territory, which continues to be fought over by the FARC, theArmy, and paramilitary groups including the Aguilas NegrasUrabeños, andRastrojos. Nasa communities have developed the Indigenous Guard as an unarmed force that counters illegal activities in their territory, and also confronts all armed actors and asks them to leave. Continue reading

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

Colombia: Ecologists cut off talks on alpine mining

January 12, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo: Archivo / VANGUARDIA LIBERAL

Photo: Archivo / VANGUARDIA LIBERAL

The Páramo de Santurbán Water Defense Committee, made up of local residents in high Andean communities straddling the Colombian departments of Santander and Norte de Santander, announced Jan. 11 that they are walking out of talks with the national Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development aimed at securing consent for gold-mining operations in the high-altitude zone. The statement said the government failed to provide “clarity” on the proposed projects, or “security guarantees” for those participating in the dialogue.

The Páramo de Santurbán, an alpine plain above the timber line, protects the headwaters of several local rivers, and the Defense Committee says mining there could impact access to clean water for up to three million people in northern Colombia. The Ministry is currently demarcating the limits of watershed for supposed protection as a new Santurbán Regional Natural Park, with Vancouver-based gold company Eco Oro (formerly Greystar) awaiting the results to proceed with mining operations outside the protected zone. (Vanguardia Liberal, Bucaramanga, Jan. 11; Dinero.com, Bogotá, Dec. 30)

Mining opponents in Colombia have recently faced a wave of threats and assassinations. Protection of paramós is also at issue at pending projects in Huila and Tolima departments.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Water

Water Festival of El Carmen de Viboral: Communities resist water privatization and multinational mining in Colombia

By Gina Spigarelli, 13 November 2013. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Gina Spigarelli

Photo: Gina Spigarelli

“Queremos agua! Queremos maíz! Multinacionales fuera del país!” yelled the protesters on October 26th as they marched through the streets of El Carmen de Viboral in Eastern Antioquia, Colombia. The small town, about an hour east of Medellin, is located in a highly water-rich region of Colombia, and one where the local populations are fighting the threats of multinational companies taking over their territories. Around 1,000 people representing 60 grassroots organizations from 17 municipalities of the region traveled to participate in the fourth annual Water Festival, “for the autonomy, defense of territory, life and peace.”

Water privatization is the central theme of the annual festival, which intends to compile and share information about local social problems and human rights violations associated with the use of land for large scale multinational mining, electric, and water initiatives. The festival also serves to unite the communities from the various municipalities so they can struggle as a collaborative and united regional front against the threats to their territories.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water

Colombia: Gains seen as peasant strike ends, teacher strike begins

September 16, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Colombian campesinos on Sept. 10 ended their national strike after more than two weeks, and lifted the road blockades they were still maintaining, chiefly in Cauca, Nariño, Putumayo and elsewhere in the south of the country. The organization coordinating the strike in this region, the National Agricultural and Popular Table of Dialogue and Accord (MIA), agreed to recognize a pact already won in talks between the government and campesino organizations in Boyacá, Cundinamarca and elsewhere in the central region of the country. United Nations observers who had been brought in for the dialogue process confirmed that all protest roadblocks had been dismantled. (EFE, Sept. 11; El Tiempo, Bogotá, Sept. 7)

Among 15 demands of the campesino movement that the government agreed to under the pact are compensation to small domestic producers for income lost due to imports of potatoes, milk and other products under the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, and a two-year suspension of the most onerous provisions of the controversial Resolution 970, concerning the “intellectual property rights” of corporate seed producers. Resolution 970, approved in 2010, prohibited farmers from saving seeds, ostensibly to protect patented hybrids and GMOs. But the law applied to all seeds, essentially forcing farmers to buy new patented varieties each season. The law will still apply to imported seeds, but Colombian farmers will be free to save domestically produced or indigenous seed stock for two years while the law is rewritten. (El Tiempo, Sept. 7; GRAIN, Sept. 4)
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Political Repression, Politics

Colombia farmers’ uprising puts the spotlight on seeds

Note: For more on the nation-wide uprising in Colombia, as well as the violent crackdown that has been initiated by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, click here.

In Colombia, we see the very real implications of privatization and free trade.  The neoliberal doctrine threatens lives and livelihoods in the most tangible way when peasants and union leaders are murdered by state or private security forces, and when largely popular movements are met in the streets with military force.

-The GJEP Team

September 4, 2013. Source: GRAIN

On 19 August, Colombian farmers’ organisations initiated a massive nationwide strike. They blocked roads, dumped milk on cars and basically stopped producing food for the cities. The problem? Farmers are being driven out of existence by the government’s policies.

Colombia-ProtestasCacaoculturasThe state provides almost no support for the small-scale farming sector.1 Instead, it embraces a social and economic model that serves the interests of a wealthy elite minority. Recent free trade agreements (FTAs) signed with the US and the EU are undercutting Colombian producers, who can’t compete with subsidised imports.2 The Colombian government has been actively promoting land grabbing by large corporations, many of them foreign (Monica Semillas from Brazil, Merhav from Israel, Cargill from the US), to promote export-oriented agribusiness at the expense of family farming oriented towards food sovereignty.

But the farming sector needs real support, especially in the form of access to land and lower costs of production, protestors argue. Otherwise, Colombian potato and coffee farmers, dairy and meat producers, not to mention small fishers, will not be able to keep up. They are being evicted and exterminated.

With their backs against the wall, a movement of mobilisation began in one part of the country in June and grew into a coordinated national action for August. The farmers’ strike was soon supported by other sectors: oil industry workers, miners, truckers, health sector professionals and others. On 29 August, ten days into the strike, more than 20,000 students joined the movement and shut down the capital city, Bogotá.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression