support-hondurasColombia In The Shadow Of Human Rights Abuses

A Special Report by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)

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May 24, 2017

Open for Justice

We have the pleasure of inviting you to the 4th Annual Anti-Chevron Action! Indigenous people and farmers from the Ecuadorian Amazon are kicking off days of Anti-Chevron action against corporate impunity with events around the world. #AntiChevron #DiaAntiChevron #TexacoNuncaMas #JusticiaYa

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May 24, 2017

Media Release

NAFTA serves corporations: Civil Society will hold their own discussions in Mexico City May 26-28th

PosterMontreal, Ottawa and Toronto - While Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland undertakes private NAFTA renegotiation meetings in Mexico City, civil society will also hold their own discussions in the same city from May 26-28th.

Networks from Canada and Quebec, representing labour unions; Indigenous, farmers, and migrant groups; environmentalists; women’s organizations; international solidarity groups; student movements; and human rights organizations will join their American and Mexican counterparts at the historic Antiguo Palacio de Escuela de Medicina in Mexico City. 

“Since the implementation of NAFTA, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in profits, and economic inequality in Canada – it’s time for alternatives to the current neoliberal free trade model,” said Raul Burbano, Program Director of Common Frontiers.

“The economic, social and environmental impacts of NAFTA have been devastating to people in all three countries, including an increase in poverty and inequality, the weakening of labour rights while corporate rights have been strengthened, and the erosion of environmental protections," said Nadia Ibrahim of the Trade Justice Network.

“For 30 years, NAFTA has been a backroom deal for those at the top. So far, the pattern has repeated itself, with the Canadian government enlisting the support of corporate Canada and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Yet, NAFTA affects not only our jobs but the planet,” explained Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner from the Council of Canadians.

The renegotiation process has to be transparent and participatory and any NAFTA replacement must ensure respect for human rights, improve peoples’ lives and livelihoods, and protect the environment in all three countries,”  said Ronald Cameron, coordinator of the Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale.

A paradigm shift from the current global economic model is imperative in order to mitigate the threats of economic and environmental disaster.

- 30 -

Contact information:

Sujata Dey, Council of Canadians,, 613-796-7724 (ENG, FR)
Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers,, 416-522-8615 (ENG, ESP)
Nadia Ibrahim, Trade Justice Network,, 204-803-8133 (ENG)

Ronald Cameron,, Réseau québécois sur l'intégration continentale (RQIC), 
514-217-0264 (FR, ENG)

Participating organizations from Canada and Québec:

View Media Release in English   en français

May 20, 2017

Entrevista internacional de Radio Canadá con Jim Hodgson sobre las relaciones Canadá-Venezuela

“Sí, hay una polarización pero no debería haberla. Cuando hay dos polos, cuando hay dos fuerzas que se oponen, hay que buscar una forma de mediar, hay que buscar una forma de diálogo. Yo nunca he entendido por qué el gobierno de Canadá ha tomado una posición tan dura frente a Venezuela. Y esto no es solamente del último mes o dos meses, es de los últimos 10 años prácticamente y quizá más.” - Jim Hodgson

-Escuche la entrevista completa en RCI

May 19, 2017

Venezuela: a Threat to US Energy Hegemony?

By Raul Burbano
Common Frontiers

Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1999, Venezuela has achieved impressive gains in health care, education, and reduction in poverty, while at the same time wrestled economic and political control from the country’s elite. Today, soaring inflation, a shrinking economy and a hyper-politicized environment are contributing to unprecedented challenges economically and politically - threatening to undo some of the achievements of the past. These challenges can be attributed to many factors, some structural, such as an oil-dependent economy, and a complex monetary arrangement which has given rise to “bachaqueros” who resell price-controlled items at hugely inflated prices  on  the black market. Other challenges are more politically driven - they stem from the existence of a hardline sector of the opposition aligned with U.S. interests who oppose the Socialist government's policies of resource nationalism and wealth redistribution.

The international media with its biased coverage of the conflict in Venezuela has failed to adequately report on violent actions against government supporters by extremist sectors of the opposition. It has however, diligently perpetuated the opposition narrative that the crisis in Venezuela is the sole responsibility of the Maduro  government, a dictatorship on the brink of collapse resorting to violence against peaceful protesters in a desperate bid to hold on to power.  These allegations have little merit, and are similar to accusations made against former president Hugo Chávez. The hardline opposition has never accepted the electoral legitimacy of the Bolivarian governments, and its violent demonstrations have had the full support and backing of the U.S. government. In 2014 alone, U.S government documents show that Obama's administration channelled $5M dollars to opposition groups to help “strengthen” and “protect” democracy in Venezuela. The Trump administration, in turn, has provided unprecedented political support to jailed opposition leader,  Leopoldo López , who has been found guilty of public incitement to violence and association to commit a crime. There has been close coordination between opposition-led National Assembly leaders and White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster on how to address the political impasse in Venezuela.

The international media also puts the blame for the economic crisis facing Venezuela firmly on the government's shoulders. They fail to mention the role of business producers of goods who regularly hoard basic items to create shortages and public discontent. Some believe the economic war contributed to the PSUV’s defeat during the 2015 parliamentary elections - due to the lack of black beans. Black beans are a staple of the Venezuelan diet and for some time before election day these had disappeared completely but the day after voting they were back on supermarket shelves.

Similar to the crisis that precipitated the short-lived 2002 coup against Chávez, leaders of the hardline opposition have made it clear that their goal is “regime change”. Henry Ramos Allup of the opposition Democratic Action party and former National Assembly president declared on the first day he assumed that position that they would remove Maduro from power within six months.  The opposition referred to their march in October 2016 as the “Taking of Venezuela” (La Toma de Venezuela), an inflammatory title. During that march Jose Alejandro Molina Ramirez, a policeman, was killed by opposition gunfire and two others injured; which contradicts the opposition message that their marches are “peaceful”.

-read the complete article on

Raul Burbano is the program director of Common Frontiers.
This item original appeared in the May 18, 2017 edition of

May 11, 2017

Canada should support democracy, not just condemn the government, in Venezuela

Backing a mediation effort would be a good start

By Jim Hodgson & Steve Stewart

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, pictured at the UN in New York in 2015. Mark Garten photograph courtesy of the UN

“The Venezuelan people are again dying in the streets as they battle an ongoing coup d’état being carried out by a group of politicians who oppose our government, and who since April 19 have been carrying out acts of violence, killing people and destroying our national patrimony, just as they did in 2002 and 2014.”

These are the words of Bishop Elida Quevedo of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV), but hers is not a story that you will see in major media. Instead, facts are distorted to make it appear that it is government forces who repress a “pro-democracy” movement. Bishop Quevedo goes on to describe the April 20 attack on a maternal and child hospital, and sniper shootings of pro-government demonstrators and security forces.

As a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations long engaged in solidarity, social justice, and development work in the Americas, we call for a more even-handed approach to issues in Venezuela than that shown recently by Canada and several other members of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Since early April, opponents of the government of President Nicolás Maduro have participated in demonstrations—some of them peaceful, but many that have included acts of vandalism, arson, and attacks on security forces. Protests began after the Supreme Court suspended some powers of the opposition-dominated National Assembly after it refused to comply with court rulings on electoral corruption and foreign investment. Even though the court decision was almost immediately rescinded, protests continued.

Since then, as many as 37 people have been killed. In cases where public security forces have been linked to violence, investigations are carried out and in some cases, charges filed. The dead include trade union leader Esmin Ramírez, killed after being kidnapped April 23 in the southeastern state of Bolívar, and Jacqueline Ortega, an organizer of an alternative food distribution program in greater Caracas.

Clearly, the situation in Venezuela is marked by polarization. But instead of building bridges to enable dialogue between the government and sectors of the opposition that reject violence, the government of Canada and the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights have echoed the voice of the OAS secretary general, Luis Almagro, and taken up the cause of the hardline opposition.

On March 28, Almagro had pressed the OAS permanent council to expel Venezuela from the organization. When it was evident he could not rally a majority of members to apply the OAS Democratic Charter against Venezuela, the session ended without a vote.

But on April 3, without the presence of either Bolivia (president of the OAS Permanent Council) or Haiti (the vice-president), just 15 of the 35 members (including Canada) approved a resolution “by consensus”—despite opposition from four other members—declared an “alteration of the constitutional order” in Venezuela and resolved to “urge action by the Venezuelan government to safeguard the separation and independence of powers.”

On April 28, Venezuela served notice that it would begin a two-year process to withdraw from the OAS. With regard to Venezuela, the OAS has consistently failed to fulfil its role as a space for multilateral dialogue to resolve conflicts.

In challenging Venezuela’s democracy, Canada has aligned itself with the governments of Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras—all of which face serious human rights issues themselves— plus several others, including Brazil which, after the removal last year of the democratically- elected president, is also facing waves of popular protest.

The government of Canada should make clear its support for constitutional government, electoral democracy, and the rule of law in Venezuela. It could support a mediation initiative led by former heads of government from Panama, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Spain. This initiative proposed last year by the Union of South American Nations and has sparked the interest of Pope Francis.

Canada should condemn foreign intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs via the funding and training of groups and individuals seeking regime change through violence or other unconstitutional means, and support dialogue as the only appropriate means of achieving peace and reconciliation in Venezuela.

Jim Hodgson is a member of Common Frontiers, a Canadian civil society coalition on trade justice issues. Steve Stewart is executive director of CoDevelopment Canada, a Vancouver-based international development agency.

This item original appeared in the May 10, 2017 edition of The Hill Times

May 6, 2017

Common Ground of Indigenous Struggles in Colombia and Canada

By Heather Neun
From Quaker Concerns

CFSC supported a recent tour to Canada by Colombian Indigenous leader Luis Fernando, who came to raise awareness and make connections. Here he meets with Cree MP Romeo Saganash in Ottawa.

There are striking parallels between Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Colombia. This is a hemisphere where efforts have been made since contact to eliminate Indigenous Peoples through policies of physical and cultural genocide. While there are clear differences, the shared experiences are of structural discrimination and destructive policies leading to marginalization, displacement, and barriers to obtaining title and effective control over ancestral territories.
“We have serious conflicts with the State about their mining vision. They say that the subsoil is theirs; we say that the land is one with the subsoil; you cannot separate it from a spiritual point of view. This is the war we are waging… to have the air, the land, the subsoil, together.”1
This is a statement by the leader of the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reserve of the Embera Chamí people in western Colombia. His words reflect the clash of paradigms inherent in the decades long armed conflict and continuous threats to the survival of Colombian Indigenous Peoples. Colombia is home to more than 100 culturally distinct Indigenous Peoples. Around 70% live in rural areas, many on reservations that cover about 30% of the country’s territory.
Colombia’s 1991 constitution provides that the communal lands of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Descendant communities are “inalienable, inextinguishable, and immune from seizure”. And yet, as in Canada, despite constitutional protection of Indigenous rights, there is minimal enforcement through recognizing land title or obtaining consent to developments affecting their lands. This contrasts starkly with the government’s expedited processes for granting concessions to the extractive and resource sectors. A July 2010 mission of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues recorded that commercial concessions were granted in 80% of the Indigenous reserves without adequate consultation or consent, and without informing the affected communities.2
Indigenous communities are extremely vulnerable as a result of centuries of subjugation and dispossession. A 2009 landmark ruling of the Constitutional Court of Colombia3 found that more than one third of Colombia’s Indigenous Peoples are threatened with “physical and cultural extermination”. Of the 100 or more Indigenous groups, 66 were formally declared as being at high risk of disappearance, and 36 were at risk of extermination. These disproportionately heavy effects of the armed conflict are due to encroachment by extractive activities in the mining and energy sectors. Recent government efforts to try to restore lands to those dispossessed are failing – a storyline similar to the ‘land question’ in Canada.
In the current era, Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Colombia face increasing pressure from business interests in the energy, mining, and extractive sectors. The imposition of large scale “development” projects without consent is generating conflicts that threaten Indigenous Peoples’ very existence – both from a cosmological and cultural perspective, and through an economic model that imperils their territories, and ultimately, the planet. For the original land defenders, the latest wave of extractive activities has led to intensified conflicts, as respective governments back corporate access to land and resources. We see this in Canada too, where Indigenous Peoples are engaged in frontline struggles to demand that governments obtain their free, prior and informed consent to projects like pipelines and energy projects.
Indigenous Peoples in Canada are struggling to ensure that companies are accountable for the environmental harms and human rights abuses caused by their operations. The parallels to Colombia are evident as Canada’s justice system regularly fails, as in the case of the tailings pond spill in August 2014 at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley gold and copper mine in British Columbia. Indigenous Peoples living near the site rely on the region for food, medicines, and livelihoods, and they are still suffering. The BC government’s failure to investigate and take action against those responsible breaches the rights of those harmed under international human rights law.4 

Paramo de Santurban
Paramo de Santurban, where the company Eco Oro wanted to drill through mountains to extract gold deposits. Photo credit: Jorge W. Sanchez Latorre

In the past few years, the threats have been constant; the objective has been to dispossess the people of their territories. A recent Global Witness report5 chronicles the alarming acceleration of attacks on land defenders, citing Colombia as third in the number of killings in 2015. Indigenous Peoples were particularly vulnerable and made up 40%; at least nine Indigenous leaders were killed in Colombia.
The reason for this trend is clear. Those closest to the land are struggling to protect it from predatory businesses, both domestic and foreign. In truth, the armed conflict in Colombia has endured due to persistent conflict over access to land and resources. This intensified in recent years when government efforts to secure conditions for foreign investment perpetuated the violence to make way for megaprojects. Amnesty International observes that forced displacement and misappropriation of land is the “defining feature” of the internal armed conflict.6 These human rights violations were targeted primarily at Indigenous Peoples and other groups closely connected to the land.

This violent context presents another linkage between Canada and Colombia. Canadian corporate mining activity in Colombia is increasing, and according to the authors of Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America,7 Canadian mining is “deeply implicated in the war economy of violence and dispossession from which it benefits”. Put plainly, Canadian companies profit from processes that harm Indigenous Peoples.
I travelled in 2016 to northeast Colombia, where Indigenous communities and others have organized to oppose the activities of Canadian mining companies. The company Eco Oro was granted a mining concession in a high altitude wetland. This fragile ecosystem is the source of water for over 1.5 million Colombians. The company’s plan was to drill through the mountain to extract gold. Its exploration activities occurred alongside the dislocation of local communities, threatening their livelihoods, food and water security. Through the courageous and unrelenting efforts of land defenders and their international allies, this project has been stopped, although the company has since filed notice of its intention to sue the Colombian government for millions of dollars under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Recent victories in Colombia8 are signs of the promise we see here in Canada as well. This month saw the welcome decision of the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) to withhold their free, prior, and informed consent to the development of lands and resources at Pípsell (or Jacko) Lake (on the outskirts of Kamloops, BC) for KHGM International’s Ajax open-pit copper and gold mine.9 The SSN asserts an irreplaceable historical, cultural, and spiritual connection to Pípsell, which they believe would be irreversibly harmed by the proposed mining operation. The basis of their decision lies in their inherent rights, backed by international human rights law and Canadian law. It lies in the belief system that is shared with the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia, that their territorial rights are founded in sacred connections to lands and waters, which are fundamental and must be protected for the generations to come.
Heather Neun is a member of Vancouver Monthly Meeting and CFSC’s Indigenous rights program committee. 


  1. Chief Governor of Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reserve, cited in Forest Peoples Programme, Pushing for Peace in Colombia: Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Peoples join forces to uphold their rights, address mining related conflict, Executive Summary (2014-2015). (2015, December). p.5. 
  2. ONIC. (2015, July). “Datos extraídos de Informes anuales de Derechos Humanos y DIH 2013, Enero-Septiembre 2014”, procesados por OCHA Colombia, cited in Colombia Working Group, Colombia in the shadow of human rights abuses. p. 20 
  3.  Constitutional Court Order 004. (2009)  
  4.  Amnesty International. Mining and Human rights in BC.  
  5. Global Witness. (2016, June). On Dangerous Ground. 2015’s Deadly Environment: The Killing and Criminalization of Land and Environmental Defenders Worldwide. 
  6. Amnesty International. (2015, November). Colombia: Restoring the Land, Securing the Peace, Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Territorial Rights. (AMR 23/2615/2015). p.3  
  7. Gordon, Todd and Jeffery Webber. (2016). 
  8. The activities of another Canadian company, Gran Colombia Gold Corp, were recently ceased by a decision of the Constitutional Court on February 28, 2017, ordering the government to engage in consultation with the affected communities. TeleSUR. (2017, March 2). Big Win for Colombian Community Against Canadian Mining Giant.CaribFlame. 
  9. Zeidler, Maryse. (2017, March 4). First Nation-led environmental review panel rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops, B.C. CBC. 

May 1, 2017

Council of Canadians share thoughts on NAFTA

By Rick Arnold of the Trade Group,
Northumberland chapter of the Council of Canadians

NORTHUMBERLAND  - Many of us here in Northumberland County have been transfixed by US President Donald Trump's recent harsh rhetoric towards Canada and in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's attempt to placate the White House.

Free-trade proponents would have us believe that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) renegotiations is like a high-stakes game of poker to see who can gain advantage and out-manoeuvre the other. But let's not be fooled for a moment that it's a battle between equals. The renegotiation of NAFTA is not going to be a win-win proposition for either junior partner, Canada or Mexico.

Nor should w in Northumberland believe that these national-level trade negotiations will not affect us.

But before taking a look at what a renegotiated NAFTA might have in store for us down the road, we need to be aware of the impact tat two other recent free-trade deals will shortly have on milk and cheese producers in our area, as well as on our budding local-food movement. In case you haven't heard of these two deals before, they are CETA (Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and CFTA (Canadian Free Trade Agreement).

CETA is not a done deal, as all European Union nations have yet to ratify it. But effectively, Canada considers it done, and import quotas will soon allow for an increased flow of (for example) cheeses from mega-European factories.

Empire Cheese and Butter, located near Campbellford, is a small co-op that relies for its cheese production on milk provided by eight local dairy farms. Empire products are high-quality and are currently to be found on several shelves in food-related businesses in towns like Cobourg and Port Hope. However, under CETA, Empire's products are in danger of being supplanted by a flood of cheaper European cheeses. Multiply Northumberland's example by the 47 small and medium-sized cheese plants to be found in various parts of Ontario, and one can see that hundreds (if not thousands) of rural jobs are on the line.

CFTA was concluded in early April by Federal, provincial and territorial governments. Business groups argued (successfully) that internal trade barriers are costly to the Canadian economy (despite such barriers being few in number). However, scant media attention has been devoted to another aspect of this deal, one which Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives headlines as, “Local food policies are toast.”

Mr. Sinclair goes on to explain that, “...the new CFTA effectively eliminates the ability of provincial, municipal or broader public-sector institutions such as schools, universities and hospitals to use their procurement to favour local suppliers or to encourage any kind of local development.”

This policy direction embedded in the CFTA would appear to run counter to Northumberland's best interests, given that local public bodies should be given a free hand to use their purchasing power to give local food retail and local growers a boost. Were our municipalities consulted prior to this decision?

Washington is about to reopen NAFTA, with acquiescent Canadian and Mexican governments falling into line while trying to save fact by saying that it's time to “modernize” the 23-year-old deal. In reality, President Trump has thus far shown little interest in addressing any new developments since NAFTA was first implemented, focusing his ire instead on having a little give-and-take — where NAFTA's two junior partners to the giving, in order to rectify their having taken “unfair” commercial advantage of the US in the past.

Of course, these assertions by Trump rank high on the “baloney meter.” But we all know the old adage: thems that got the power make the rules.

Sadly, government leaders and their attendant free-trade promoters play down the fact that trade deals like NAFTA have contributed significantly to inequality, unemployment, migration, food dependency and pollution in all three nations.

On April 18, President Trump announced that he was coming after Canada's dairy policies, alleging that they were hurting 75 Wisconsin farmers. Had Trump dug a little deeper, he would have had to face the fact that over-production of mik in the US was pushing dairy prices down and driving those small US farmers into bankruptcy. In fact, the president of the National Farmers' Union Jan Slomp recently explained in a tweet to Trump that, if the US were to adopt their own version of a supply-management system like Canada's, “ could begin to restore prosperity to rural America.”

Unfortunately, the Trump administration does not appear to let facts stand in their way and, for this reason, both dairy farmers and milk-product consumers in Northumberland need to beware of the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations.

Small and medium-sized dairy farmers both here and across Canada should reconsider whether the traditional strategy of lobbying Ottawa will be sufficient to turn back the “give” tide when the US NAFTA negotiators apply the screws to their Canadian counterparts.

And those of us who enjoy cow's milk also need to be aware that opening up the Canadian market to US and other international dairy-production platforms will surely mean that bovine growth hormones and antibiotics will find their way into our currently unparalleled source of milk.

April 26, 2017

Stop killing social leaders in Colombia, so peace can flourish

stop killing

April 22, 2017

MayDayUnited May Day 2017 Toronto Celebration


Saturday April 29,
7:00 pm - 11:00 pm, Free
Steelworkers Hall,
25 Cecil Street
Toronto, ON

Doors open at 6:30

Food and Beverage will be for sale

The United May Day Committee keeps alive the tradition of International Workers’ Day by organizing an indoor rally to complement the annual march on the streets of Toronto.

The event brings together prominent labour, political, and international speakers with a rich array of talented dancers, singers, poets and musicians from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

-see event listing on Facebook for more info

April 19, 2017

Solidarity Declaration "One Year Later, Berta Lives, COPINH Continues On"

On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in an attempt to silence her voice, bring an end her important leadership and destroy the political project and struggle of a people acting in defence of their territory. The aim was not only to do away with her, but the organization of which she was a part for over 20 years, the Civic Counsel of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

But this crime did not succeed to stop this movement. Rather, Berta Cáceres, the legacy of her commitment, resistance and clarity continue to live on in peoples around the world who are confronting the threats of savage capitalism, patriarchy and of a predatory, racist and colonial system.

A year, later 90 organizations and 240 individuals in Canada, the US and other countries have released a "Solidarity Declaration" to support Berta's life and the continuing struggles of COPINH.

The declaration, with specific demands both to the state of Honduras and Canada, was officially delivered at the Honduran Embassy in Ottawa and the Honduran Consulate in Montreal on April 4th. In Canada, the declaration was also sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Trade, the Canadian Ambassador in Honduras and party critics responsible of international issues in the Parliament.

-read the Declaration in English    en español    en francés

March 31, 2017

Progressive Canadian Groups Slam Right-Wing Attacks on Democracy in Ecuador

Just days ahead of the highly anticipated second round of Ecuador’s elections, trade unions and other progressive organizations in Canada have called out right-wing opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso for raising the false spectre of election tampering.

“The high level of rhetoric by Lasso’s campaign, calling the government a ‘dictatorship’ and unsubstantiated claims of fraud are extremely concerning as they add fuel to an already tense political environment,” reads the statement signed by labor and other Canadian organizations.

Lasso and his contingent have been responsible for making claims of fraud in the election process, despite the Ecuadorean National Electoral Council and over 200 international observers continuing to reiterate that the elections were conducted with complete transparency and no formal reports of fraud.

In addition, on March 22, Ecuadorean journalists uncovered that Cedatos, an official polling company in the country, had published misleading polls that favored Lasso. Lasso, the former banker and a pro-business advocate of neoliberal policies, it was found, has close ties to the company.

“There is also an online petition which refers to the incident as an attack on the democracy in Ecuador and calls for the suspension of Cedatos as official pollster for the elections,” noted the statement, titled “Undermining Democracy in Ecuador.”

For left organizations in Canada that often extend international solidarity toward Latin America, these attacks on democracy by the right-wing opposition are concerning.

“We’re concerned with the process of legitimacy … we realize what’s at stake,” Mike Palecek from the CUPW told teleSUR.

“From Bolivia to Venezuela, throughout Latin America, we support the mass mobilization of people and their challenging of power,” he added, saying that the region is often subject to U.S. imperial interests.

The organizations’ statement highlighted leftist presidential candidate Lenin Moreno’s history of international activism, from his role as the U.N. Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility in 2013, to his promise to continue his party’s Citizen’s Revolution. Alianza Pais’ Citizen’s Revolution under current President Rafael Correa refers to the program of progressive social and economic transformation launched under the banner of 21st Century Socialism when his government took office in 2007.

In addition, the statement chided Lasso’s proposed changes, writing, “His neoliberal policies include the privatization of the education system through a ‘voucher’ system and firing some of the 300,000 public service employees in order to reduce the size of the state.”

Thus, the organizations conclude, “The attacks against the democratic order in Ecuador are extremely dangerous and unwarranted.”

“We call on Lasso and his party to respect the democratic institutions, process and refrain from unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and calls for street protests that could lead to social unrest,” they declared.

With Ecuador’s second round of presidential elections slated to take place April 2, the country stands at a critical crossroads. South America’s leftist resurgence — commonly referred to as the Pink Tide — has seen recent blows, with neoliberal governments in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil rolling back progressive gains of recent years. If Lasso is elected as president, Ecuador would be set to course through that same trajectory.

However, all of the latest polls predict a win for Moreno.

For leftists in the country, the hope is that Ecuador will stay on its left-wing path of the past decade.

-read the original post here


March 30, 2017

Undermining Democracy in Ecuador


This April 2nd, 2017, Ecuadorians will go to the polls to elect a new president in historic elections that could change the course of the country and have ripple effects across Latin America. The choices are between the left wing, Lenin Moreno from PAIS Alliance and conservative Guillermo Lasso from the Creating Opportunities party.

Lenin Moreno one of the world’s few disabled national leaders is well-known for his national and international activism for disability and human rights. In 2013 he was appointed UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Moreno promises to continue his parties’ “alternative policies” which include investing in healthcare, education and wealth redistribution. Policies that have contributed to an unprecedented cut in the poverty rate with extreme poverty down 47% under PAIS Alliance over the past decade.

His opponent Guillermo Lasso is a conservative former banker and one of the largest shareholders in Banco de Guayaquil. He was economy Minister during the 1999 financial crisis and critics denounce his links to 49 tax haven companies. Lasso’s campaign promises to implement “fiscal austerity” including large scale privatization. His neoliberal polices include the privatization of the education system through a “voucher” system and firing some of the 300,000 public service employees in order to reduce the size of the state.

On March 22nd Ecuadorian journalists uncovered an unprecedented scheme allegedly aimed at manipulating public opinion in the polls and influencing election results. Evidence leaked by an employee of CEDATOS, an official polling company demonstrated the company published misleading polls favoring Lasso and supressing advantageous polls in Moreno favour during the first round of elections. It was demonstrated that Lasso has close ties with the company through his business ties with Livercostas. CEDATOS for their part have denied any culpability and said it’s an attack on its good name, credibility and institutional image.

Following the revelations, Vice President of the National Assembly, Rosana Alvarado held a press conference detailing the evidence against CEDATOS and submitted a formal complaint to the Attorney General’s office. There is also an online petition which refers to the incident as an attack on the democracy in Ecuador and calls for the suspension of CEDATOS as official pollster for the elections, and an immediate investigation by the prosecutor’s office to determine any complicity by the company and its owner, Ángel Polibio Córdova.

Lasso and his allies consistently raised a false spectre of election tampering during the first round of elections, threatening destabilization if front-runner Moreno was pronounced the winner. Lasso attended protests outside the National Electoral Council (CNE) headquarters urging supporters to stay in the streets while his Vice -presidential candidate, Andrés Paez led a protest that turned violent in front of the CNE forcing employees to evacuate.

Despite the allegations no official complaints of fraud have been submitted to the CNE and the hundreds of electoral observers who partook in elections monitoring praised the elections as transparent.

The attacks against the democratic order in Ecuador are extremely dangerous and unwarranted. The high level of rhetoric by Lasso’s campaign, calling the government a “dictatorship” and un-substantiated claims of fraud are extremely concerning as they add fuel to an already tense political environment.

It is also extremely concerning the comments from Andrés Paez, Vice-presidential candidate indicating his party’s intention to set up a parallel electoral centre that would publish unofficial election results the day of the elections, prior to the CNE.

We the undersigned condemn any attempts to illegally influence voters, electoral institutions or the public perception of the election.

We call on Lasso and his party to respect the democratic institutions, process and refrain from unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and calls for street protests that could lead social unrest.

We condemn any attempt to publish election results without the authorization of the National Electoral Council.

We call on individuals and organizations both national and international to refrain from any attempts to engage in manipulation or subvert the integrity of the democratic system and respect the democratic will of the Ecuadorian people.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Ecuador who seek peaceful elections and the ability to determine their political future free from political interference.

ALBA Canada
America Latina Al Dia
Blue Planet Project
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
BC Government and Service Employees'
Casa Cultural Ecuatoriana
Caribbean Solidarity Network
Council of Canadians
Common Frontiers
Frente de Defensa de los Pueblos Hugo Chavez
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, Toronto
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Solidarity Halifax
Socialist Project
Students United in Representation of Latin America

-download this article in English   en español

March 22, 2017

The human rights cost of Canadian extractive industries in Central America:

Canada public speaking tour - March 19-28, 2017

Click on the images below for more details



March 17, 2017

March 21-26

Canada Public Speaking Tour:
The human rights costs of Canadian extractive industries in Central America

OttawaFrom March 21-26 this tour will raise awareness about the impacts of Canadian extractive projects in four countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua) in the Central America region through the testimonies of front line activists who are leading successful campaigns to defend their territory from corporate incursion.

With guest speakers:

-Full details of the tour:

Public Events in Canada:

Public conference
Tuesday, March 21 from 7-9 pm
Amnesty House, 312 Laurier Ave E.
-more details

Public Action « Pas de transition écologique sans justice »
Wednesday, 22 mars from 12pm - 2pm
Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle
-more details

MontrealPublic conference
Wednesday, March 22 from 6-9pm
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Room DS-R510, 405, rue Sainte-Catherine Est
-more details

Public conference
Sunday, March 26 from 2:25-3:45pm
Organizing Equality international Conference @ Museum London
-more details

Sponsoring Organizations:

March 5, 2017

Cultural, Gender and Territorial Rights
in the context of Colombia's Peace Accords

posterColombia’s Indigenous and Afrocolombian communities, and women in particular, have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the 52-plus year internal armed conflict in Colombia, yet have been playing a pivotal role in the resolution of conflict and building territorial peace. Ethno-territorial movement organizations successfully established an “Ethnic Chapter” to safeguard cultural, gender and territorial rights and to reinforce their autonomy and jurisdiction in relation to the recently passed Havana Peace Accords negotiated between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government. As the accords begin to be implemented in the territories over the coming weeks, strategies for increased visibility and protection of social leaders, community councils and territories – in the face of heightened violence - are underway.
    -click on pic for poster view

Saturday, March 11th 2017 at 6:30pm
Trinity St. Paul’s United Church and Centre for Faith
Main Floor (Chapel Room) 427 Bloor St. West


Charo Minas Rojas is an Afro-Colombian human rights defender, member of the Black Communities’ Process in Colombia (PCN), a grassroots nation-wide movement comprised for over 100 local Afro-descendant grassroots organizations and community councils, as well as a representative of the National Afrocolombian Peace Council and the Ethnic Commission for Peace and the Defense of Territorial Rights. She is one of the activists who helped to write the “ethnic chapter” of the Havana Peace Accords.

Sheila Gruner is an activist and professor of community development at Algoma University in Northern Ontario, has been accompanying the work of the Black Communities Process for many years, as well as the Ethnic Commission since its inception and is currently involved in solidarity and alliance building in support of the grassroots indigenous and Afrocolombian territorial movements in peace process and post accord period.

They will speak about the role of the Ethnic Commission in the pre and post peace accord period, as well as the potential role of Canada in monitoring its implementation. Topics to be covered include strategies for increased visibility and protection of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, communities and territories in the face of heightened violence, and other challenges.

Book Launch

The book Des/DIBUJANDO EL PAIS/aje: Aportes para la paz con los pueblos afrodescendientes e indigenas: Territorio, Autonomia y Buen Vivir (in Spanish) – a collection of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian community perspectives on systemic racism and discrimination in pre and post peace accord contexts will be launched

For more info -see Facebook event

February 27, 2017

Bastón de la Paz – Canadian tour March 5 -12, 2017

posterColombia’s Indigenous Peoples have suffered disproportionately during the conflict as much of the fighting has taken place in or around their territories. Many of these communities have been repeatedly forced off their lands after years of threats and killings carried out by the security forces, paramilitaries often acting in collusion with state forces and other armed actors. Displacement often takes place in areas with potential for economic exploitation, including mining.
   -click on image for poster view

The rights of Indigenous communities and their ability to access and use Colombia’s resource-rich land is central to a lasting peace. Precisely because indigenous People’s make up a disproportionate number of the victims and displaced communities of the conflict, their voices are especially essential for ensuring a just and lasting peace in Colombia.

Luis Fernando Arias of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) will travel to Canada for an educational tour. He will meet with Labour representatives, civil society organizations, government officials, students and the general public. A central priority of the tour will be to meet with Indigenous groups in Canada. Luis will travel to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal between March 5 – 12 2017.

- more details about the tour


TorontoToronto Event
-click on pic for poster view

Tuesday March 7th
University of Toronto,
100 St. George Street
Sidney Smith Hall 2098
Food will be served
-more details


montrealMontreal Events
-click on pic for poster view

Thursday March 9th
7-10 pm
local a-1824,
pavillon Hubert-Aquin,
-more details


Friday March 10th
12:15 to 1:45
McGill University
Room 102
New Chancellor Day Hall,
McGill Faculty of Law
Free vegan lunch will be provided
-more details

February 26, 2017

Mexico and the Trump Presidency

Implications for Human Rights, Democracy and Migration

posterDr. Sergio Aguayo
Colegio de México

March 9, 2017
7 - 8:30 p.m.
2017 Dunton Tower
Carleton University, Ottawa

(click on image for larger view)

Dr. Aguayo writes a weekly column in Reforma, as well as 14 other newspapers. Since March 2001, he has participated in Primer Plano, Canal 11's weekly TV show, and from 2009 to 2015 he participated in Carmen Aristegui's Mesa Política radio program broadcasted by MVS. He has written dozens of books and scholarly articles. In 2015 his latest book appeared: De Tlatelolco a Ayotzinapa. Las Violencias
del Estado.

All are welcome!

Sponsored by: Americas Policy Group, CCIC; Common Frontiers; Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Carleton University, PSAC Social Justice Fund; Nobel Women’s Initiative

February 14, 2017

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) Presents:

The Winter 2017 Michael Baptista Lecture:
Violence in Mexico and Canadian Refugee Policy

For its Winter 2017 Michael Baptista Lecture, CERLAC is delighted to host Dr. Sergio Aguayo along with a panel of Canadian immigration experts.

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Time: 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Place: Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theater – Accolade East – York University

Renowned scholar and human rights activist sergio Aguayo will speak on the deeping humanitarian crisis in Mexico, which has been marked by the targeted assaination of journalists, the mass disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers college, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands in a war between the state and powerful drug cartels.

To escape criminal violence as well as poverty, millions of Mexicans and Central Americans have fled north to the United States and Canada in recent years. A panel of immigration experts will examine the implications for Canadian immigration policy, at a time when Donald Trump enacts the immigration measures he has long promised, while the Trudeau government lifts the visa requirement for Mexican citizens introduced by its predecessor.

AguayoSergio Aguayo

Born in the State of Jalisco, Mexico, Sergio Aguayo is a research professor at the Centro de Estudios Internacionales (Center for International Studies) at El Colegio de Mexico, where he currently coordinates the Seminar on Violence and Peace. He has taught at universities in Mexico, the US, and Europe and holds a doctorate from John Hopkins University. A leading academic and journalist, Sergio Aguayo has published widely on human rights and violence in Mexico.

The session will be chaired by Alan Simmons and Luin Goldring from York University.

The Panel:

-More details

February 1, 2017

Upcoming Canadian Tour for Luis Fernando Arias

Watch for details coming soon.


January 31, 2017


A Lunch & Learn from the USW 1998 Next Gen Committee


How will the Trump administration affect Canada’s trade relations with the US? What can we expect from NAFTA renegotiations?

Please join us for a panel discussion about Canada’s trade agreements. Learn about how policies embedded in these agreements such as ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement) provisions will negatively impact Canadian workers – and be inspired by how civil society groups mounted successful resistance to the TPP!

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 @ 12:10-1:00pm
SS 2108, Sidney Smith Hall,
100 St. George St.
University of Toronto

RaulRaul Burbano is the Program Director for Common Frontiers Canada, a multi-sectoral working group based in Toronto that organizes research, educational campaigns, and political action on issues related to hemispheric economic, social, and climate justice.


BrittanyBrittany Smith is currently a campaigner with Leadnow and has been a human rights activist for many years, working with NGOs, grassroots groups and the United Nations. She led Leadnow's campaign against the TPP, and runs high-impact rapid response campaigns using a combination of field and digital tactics. This is all in the service of helping hundreds of thousands of people across the country come together to build an open democracy, fair economy and clean environment.


January 18, 2017

Media Release

The Canadian Government Should Replace NAFTA, or Scrap it

(Toronto, Ottawa): On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the new President of the United States. He has promised that one of his first acts will be to demand that Canada and Mexico renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signalled that Canada would accede to that request expecting that this country could "improve” NAFTA.

Common Frontiers, a 27 year old coalition of Canadian social organizations, unions, and environmental groups that has been advocating since the negotiation of NAFTA for a fairer trade model for North America has today issued a strongly worded Statement entitled, The Canadian Government Should Replace NAFTA, or Scrap it. This document highlights the damage that 23 years of NAFTA has already done to the Canadian economy. It also lists some major demands that coalition members insist must be on the negotiating table in replacing NAFTA with a trade arrangement that puts Canadians and human rights ahead of corporate profits.

The statement follows on the heels of the release of a Tri-national statement by groups from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. rejecting efforts to frame the debate in xenophobic and nationalist terms. They view the NAFTA model as an expansion of corporate power which has failed working people across all three countries.

Janet Eaton from Common Frontiers stated “evidence continues to grow showing corporate-led trade and investment agreements like NAFTA fail to benefit people and democratic governance systems while contributing to environmental decline, exacerbation of climate change, global inequality and economic failures”.

-read the Common Frontiers statement   en français  en español
-read the Tri-National statement

For more information or to arrange an interview:
Raul Burbano - Program Director - Common Frontiers, (416) 522-8615,

UPDATE - Listen to this interview from Radio Canada International
A favor de un nuevo paradigma de libre Comercio

January 6, 2017

The Rhetoric and Reality of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a view from China

by Sit Tsui, Erebus Wong, Lau Kin Chi and Wen Tiejun

TPP graphicSince announcing its foreign policy “pivot to Asia” shortly after the election of Barack Obama, the United States has made extensive use of its institutional and discursive power to encourage denationalization among developing countries whose economies chiefly rely on manufacturing and trade—part of its global strategic goal of expanding the hegemony of finance capital at the lowest possible cost. The development of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a case in point. This article analyzes the TPP’s strategy in targeting China, pointing out that the TPP is a battle for the terms of economic development and discourse in the twenty-first century, as well as an illustration of the ideology of technocracy and soft power. Lastly, we criticize the TPP’s erosion of economic sovereignty, which would effectively relegate the economies of developing countries to a form of semi-colonial extraterritoriality.

-read the entire article

January 5, 2017

Lands to Die For: The Garifuna Struggle in Honduras

You may not have heard of the Garifuna people. They’re people with a unique culture who live mostly in coastal Central America. Descendants of runaway African slaves and local indigenous groups, they have their own language, religion and lands.

But the Garifuna in Honduras say their land is under siege. Several of their leaders have been killed as they fight to defend it. Private investors and even Honduras' government are now after their land. Correspondent Gerry Hadden has their story.

Click on image below to watch the video (opens in a new window)

Lands To Die For

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