By Jen Soriano, April 17, 2013. Source: Yes! Magazine
Goldman Prize recipient Nohra Padilla at a recycling facility. Photo: the Goldman Prize.
There is a growing global movement to significantly reduce the amount of trash we produce as communities, cities, countries and even regions. It’s called the zero-waste movement, and it received a major boost this week as two of its leaders were awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
Nohra Padilla and Rossano Ercolini are two of the winners of this year’s Goldman Prize, which awards $150,000 to each of six grassroots environmentalists who have achieved great impact, often against great odds. On the surface, Padilla and Ercolini seem to have little in common. Padilla is a grassroots recycler—also known as a waste picker—from the embattled city of Bogotá, Colombia. Ercolini is an elementary school teacher from the rustic farmlands of Capannori, Italy.
Though their experiences are different, they share a common cause: organizing to reduce the amount of trash—everything from cans and bottles to cell phones and apple cores—that ends up buried in landfills or burned in incinerators. Continue reading
By James Bargent, April 4 2013. Source: Toward Freedom
Palm oil plantation in Colombia. Photo: Toward Freedom
The first of the displaced people to return to their homes in Curvarado, north Colombia found the forests they had known cut down, the rivers and streams diverted and the native wildlife long gone. It was a desert, they say – not of sand but of African-palm and cattle ranches.
Standing in the shadows behind the palm businesses and ranchers that had taken over the region were the same paramilitaries that had forced them from their homes several years before.
But still the people came. They built new communities known as “Humanitarian Zones,” which are now legally recognized as neutral zones where all armed actors, legal and illegal are prohibited from entering. They also began the process of reclaiming the land exhausted by the agri-business onslaught, dividing recovered territory into “Biodiversity Zones.”
However, over 15 years after they were first displaced, the Humanitarian Zone communities still live with the ever-present threat of violence, while the Biodiversity Zones have become a target for interests looking to force them from their lands again. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
By Jacob Stringer, February 19, 2013. Source: Colombia Reports
The multinational gold mining company, AngloGold Ashanti, on Monday took legal action against a small town in central Colombia after its citizens allegedly prohibited the mining company’s employees’ freedom of movement.
The Colombian branch of the South African-based gold mining conglomerate AngloGold Ashanti is taking the municipality of Piedras in the central Colombian department of Tolima to court claiming that the town is breaching the right of their employees’ freedom of movement.
Citizens of Piedras started a road block around the municipality two weeks ago. Protestors were up in arms over the company’s plans to build a large ore processing plant for their proposed “La Colosa” mine nearby.
By Vladimir Nardin, February 12, 2013. Source: pissedconsumer.com
Valentine’s Day reminds us each year that romance isn’t dead. We hope.
Ah, but that red rose you receive will be dead in days. Its petals will wilt and fall, its novelty will wear off. Its innocence died long before. Your sweetheart did not pick the rose from a neighbor’s lawn; more likely it was picked in Colombia or Ecuador by an underpaid and possibly underage laborer, then imported and marked up for the masses.
From Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, 2012, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency processed approximately 842 million cut flower stems grown abroad. Sixty-seven percent came from Colombia and 23 percent came from Ecuador. Its country of origin isn’t stamped on each petal, but a Valentine’s flower is like a garden-variety cell phone or designer shoe: Rarely made in the USA.
The reason, of course, is cheap labor. In 2003, the International Labor Rights Forum launched the “Fairness in Flowers campaign” in response to the substandard working conditions in South America. There, ILRF reports a litany of labor issues. The right to organize is routinely denied. Sexual harassment and forced pregnancy tests are part of the “office culture.” Toxic pesticides and fungicides cause health problems – particularly in Ecuador, where an estimated 20 percent of the flower workers are children.
Note: Palm oil production is a main driver of deforestation in Indonesia. It will certainly have the same impact in Peru and Colombia. Using monoculture tree plantations to replace our insatiable need for fossil fuels is dangerous. Increasing the presence of palm oil plantations also supports the development of new genetically engineered tree species, like GE Eucalyptus, which are more suited to thrive in fast growing plantations. Sign the petition to stop GE trees here. And sign on to stop the free trade agreement between the EU, Peru and Colombia here
-The GJEP Team
December 4, 2012. Source: Rainforest-Rescue
Conflicts between local residents and mining companies over land and water in Peru and Colombia have worsened steadily in recent years. In August 2012, 148 environmental conflicts that cost 16 human lives were listed in Peru. The situation is even worse in Colombia. Transnational corporations are destroying the environment while maintaining documented connections to paramilitary organizations that silence critical voices. 34 trade unionists were killed in 2012 alone.
The situation threatens to escalate further with the adoption of a free trade agreement between the EU, Colombia and Peru. Binding environmental and human rights standards were removed from the agreement under pressure from the industry – despite the fact that the EU itself has noted in a report that without such standards, the free trade agreement would endanger water quality and biodiversity in both countries and promote the destruction of fragile ecosystems. Even in prior trade agreements with Colombia and Peru, these standards were more pronounced.
In addition to mining and oil drilling, palm oil plays an important role in the agreement – it is slated for duty-free import in order to satisfy Europe’s hunger for cheap vegetable oil. This is an incentive to expand the plantations in both countries. In Colombia, oil palm plantations already cover 360,000 hectares. The palm oil boom has spared Peru so far. Yet plans have been drawn up that mark over 4.3 million hectares of rainforest territory as suitable for oil palm plantations. Pilot projects are already showing the devastating effects of monocultures on the people and environment in Peru.
Please urge EU parliamentarians to reject the free trade agreement for social and environmental reasons.
Note: From our colleague Diego at Censat (Friends of the Earth Colombia):
We write to request your support in a painful situation in Colombia, the disappearance of a leader of the communities affected by dams. Below is a description of what happened. Please send a letter to authorities demanding the corresponding action by clicking here (the action alert is in Spanish).
Miguel Ángel Pabón Pabón, 36 years old, father of two girls, has been a dedicated and prominent environmentalist and defender of the Sogamoso River and the local fishing and farming communities. Since 2007, he has lived in the Asentamiento El Peaje (Toll Area Settlement) of the Betulia town, near the construction works of the Hidrosogamoso dam, where he began his struggle alongside the community for Housing Rights of Internal Refugees in the region of Magdalena Medio. He has constantly denounced the social, cultural and environmental impacts, and the violation of human rights of communities living nearby the Company Isagen, constructor of this hydroelectric dam. Since 2008, together with other leaders in the region, the Social Movement for the Defense of the Sogamoso River was formed, allowing communities to become aware of the dire consequences of this hydropower construction project. He has participated in demonstrations against the Company Isagen, denouncing the environmental and social suffering of farmer and fisherfolk communities, and the appalling labour conditions of the workers who are building this hydropower dam.
He participated in two public hearings on the Hidrosogamoso project, cited by the Departmental Assembly of Santander, where he was a spokesman for the communities. He participated prominently in the Civic Strike against Isagen held from the 14th – 16th of March, 2011 which was in held in the construction area of Hidrosogamoso. This brave action by Miguel Pabón and the affected communities urged Isagen, as the company in charge of the mega project, to sit down at a negotiating table where a 17-point agreement was reached and whose fulfillment is still being awaited by the entire community.
August 16, 2012. Source: WW4 Report
The Nasa indigenous people in Cauca, Colombia, have launched a campaign to press their demands that all armed actors stay off their territories and respect their constitutional right to autonomy. The Indigenous Guard, a traditional self-defense patrol armed only with staffs, has occupied an army base and evicted the troops, as well as confronting FARC guerillas at their encampments within Nasa territory. Photo: DulCeCAriTo via Flickr
A landmine believed to have been placed by FARC guerillas exploded Aug. 15, killing an indigenous man and two workers who were repairing an power pylon that had been knocked down last week in an attack also attributed to the guerrillas in a rural area of Tumaco municipality of southwest Colombia’s Nariño department. The indigenous man was a member of the Awá people who had been hired as a guide by the Central Nariño Electric company. Tumaco, a city of some 170,000, has been without electricity for five days due to attacks on pylons. (EFE, Aug. 15) One week earlier, Embera and other indigenous peoples up the Pacific coast in Chocó reported that their communities had come under aerial bombardment by army helicopters in the Alto Andágueda area. A statement from the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of Chocó (OREWA) said some 360 families, comprising about 1,500 people, were forced to flee the villages of La Palma, Masura, Unipa and Santa Isabel. No casualties were reported, but the statement said the displaced families were “constantly menaced” by forced of the national army, FARC and ELN guerillas. (OREWA, Aug. 6)
On July 21, the Indigenous Guard from the Awá community of Peña Caraño, Nariño, confronted a gold mining operation that had been illegally set up on their lands, within resguardo (indigenous reserve) Hojal la Turbia. The informal mining camp, of some 50 people, was using dredging technology (minería de aluvión) on the Río Mayasquer (a tributary of the San Juan, which forms the Ecuadoran border for several kilometers before joining the Mira that flows back into Colombian territory, meeting the Pacific south of Tumaco). The camp was subsequently abandoned, although the dredging equipment was left behind, and the miners threatened the Indigenous Guard, saying “We are going to get rid of you one by one” (a uno por uno los vamos ir acabando). The Indigenous Guard statement said, “[W]e do not permit legal or illegal extraction of the elements of nature in Inkal Awá territory, exercising our original law and the special indigenous jurisdiction that governs us.” (UNIPA, Aug. 6)
08/09/2012. Source: World War 4 Report
The UN representative for indigenous rights, James Anaya, called on the Colombian government Aug. 9 to advance in dialogues with the indigenous movement in southwestern Cauca department that has been calling for the military to leave its territory. In a message commemorating the International Day of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Anaya highlighted “the rights of property and autonomy the indigenous peoples have over their own traditional territories,” while stressing that the Colombian state needed to consult the indigenous movements before establishing military presence on their territories. Anaya emphasized that “the presence of the army should not contribute to putting the indigenous in danger.”
Colombian Interior Minister Federico Renjifo arrived in Cauca that day to try to facilitate a renewed dialogue, following indigenous leaders’ demands for cabinet ministers to be present. Talks were suspended in late July when both Renjifo and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón failed to attend a scheduled meeting. (Colombia Reports, Aug. 9)
By Steve Cagan, August 2, 2012. Source: Steve Cagan’s blog
Yesterday, August 1, as part of a Hemispheric Day of Action against Transnational Mining, thousands of Colombian miners marched in the town of Quibdó, in the El Chocó region of northwestern Colombia. The coming of transnational companies exposes the problems that mining has already produced for the population. Photographer Steve Cagan reports from Quibdó:
Here in Colombia, the issue is the push to bring transnational mining companies (primarily Canadian, British and South African, but from other places as well) into various areas, some of which have been protected from this type of exploitation in the past. For a number of reasons, the issue has been posed as “small-scale” Colombian miners versus transnationals. While there is some truth to this description, and it’s certainly true that the “small-scale” miners will be wiped out if this push succeeds, it’s also true that at least here in Chocó, they have also been responsible for a lot of damage, both environmental and social.
Yesterday was going to be a nationwide one-day work stoppage, with marches and demonstrations in a number of cities—and we heard that communities near Quibdó were advised to do food shopping in advance. However, the day before, an agreement was reached between miners and the national government. The miners will no longer be referred to or treated as “illegal,” but rather “informal.” Treating them as illegal was a government ploy, part of a program of supporting the arrival of multi-nationals. In fact, in El Chocó, much of their behavior has been illegal… although this doesn’t justify bringing in the big mining firms, and all the damage they are going to do.
Cross posted from WW4 Report, 07/12/2012
After hundreds of Embera Chamí and Embera Katío indigenous people from Colombia’s departments of Chocó and Risaralda marched in Bogotá July 11, the city government met with their leaders and brokered a deal for them to return to their lands which were usurped some 10 years ago by paramilitary groups.
Under the deal, the some 70 Embera families are to return to their lands within 60 days, accompanied by a delegation from the national government to assure their security. (Radio Caracol, El Espectador, Bogotá, July 12) But just days earlier, Embera leader José Vicente Jarupia Domicó in Los Canales de Tierralta community, Córdoba department, was assassinated in a hail of bullets fired by two men on a motorcycle. (El Universal, Cartagena, July 5)