Colombia In The Shadow Of
Human Rights Abuses
A Special Report by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)
A special section filled with useful resources and information on the historic relationship between Canada and Colombia.
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Canadian NGOs that were part of a recent delegation to Colombia are speaking out against attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Colombia on August 19th. Copies of the letters are available for download below.
Estimados luchadores y luchadoras del Continente Americano
A partir de los años 90 y en los primeros años de la década de 2000, muchos de nosotros organizamos, vivenciamos o por los menos “escuchamos hablar” de la Campaña Continental contra el ALCA. Fueron realizadas diversas acciones en nuestros países: encuentros, movilizaciones en las calles, Plebiscitos Populares, campañas comunicacionales, entre tantas otras acciones que resultaron en una increíble rede de activistas contra el neoliberalismo. Esta Campaña tuvo su punto máximo de concreción con el “entierro del ALCA”, en las palabras de Hugo Chávez, en Noviembre de 2005, en la Cumbre de la OEA, en Mar del Plata Argentina, donde los Movimientos Sociales estaban presionando desde la “Cumbre de los Pueblos” realizada en paralelo.
Desde entonces han pasado diez años y muchas cosas han cambiado. Vivimos un nuevo momento de la correlación de fuerzas en nuestro Continente, hay una contraofensiva del Imperialismo frente a los pueblos del Continente y principalmente en contra los gobiernos progresistas electos en los últimos diez años. Asistimos un reagrupamiento de la Derecha y sectores conservadores, aliados a los Grandes Medios de Comunicación, con una gran ofensiva política, cultural e ideológica. Con la crisis económica internacional, se intensifica la ofensiva de las multinacionales sobre nuestros territorios y recursos naturales, principalmente en Centro América y Caribe. Frente a los nuevos mecanismos de integración, como ALBA, CELAC y UNASUR, se articula, en contraposición, la Alianza del Pacífico. Presenciamos nuevas formas de guerra y ocupación de los territorios, como en Colombia y Haití. Sentimos las profundas consecuencias de los TLC´s en México, Centroamérica, Colombia, Perú y Chile, como el desempleo, la pobreza y la migración, y además nos amenazan negociaciones de TLC´s Bilaterales con EUA y Unión Europea, en los mismos moldes de la fallecida propuesta del ALCA.
Nuestros pueblos siguen dando ejemplos diarios de lucha y resistencia frente a esa coyuntura, pero aún tenemos el gran desafío de avanzar rumbo a una integración popular en todo el Continente Nuestro Americano.
Por ello, invitamos a todos los luchadores y luchadoras del Continente Americano a construir un proceso que culmine en la Jornada Continental de Lucha Antiimperialista, del 05 a 22 de Noviembre de 2015. La Jornada se coloca en estas fechas porque justamente el 5 de Noviembre de 2015 se cumplen los 10 años de la derrota del ALCA en Mar del Plata, hecho que representa una gran victoria de todos los trabajadores y trabajadoras de nuestros países y el 22 de noviembre finalizaremos con un encuentro continental en La Habana, cuna de las resistencias y lucha contra el imperialismo.
En este sentido queremos realizar una profunda reflexión de cómo se configura la acción del Imperialismo, del capital y de la derecha en nuestro continente, y por supuesto, cómo nuestros pueblos se han organizado y luchado en este período, y cuáles son nuestros desafíos comunes frente a esta nueva coyuntura. Además, invitamos a todos y todas a organizar movilizaciones masivas en el período de la Jornada, acciones diversas según contexto y posibilidades, con el propósito de dialogar e influir más allá de los Movimientos Sociales y Populares organizados.
By Denis Rogatyuk
Green Left Weekly
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and social movements behind Ecuador’s “Citizens' Revolution” are engaged in yet another battle against the South American country's entrenched elites.
Supporters of Correa marched through the capital of Quito on August 12 to the presidential palace, where they intend to maintain a permanent presence to help defend the elected government.
The next day, violent opposition protests led to 86 police officers being injured, the interior ministry said, along with 20 civilians and three members of the press.
What originally began as demonstrations by the country's right-wing opposition against a proposed new inheritance tax laws targetting the country's richest 2% have now turned into a full-blown attempt at a “soft coup”.
Having observed the strategy of Venezuela's far right during last year's violent demonstrations, the Ecuadorian opposition movement has combined tactics of peaceful protests and demands for Correa's resignation with open calls for a coup and even alleged terrorist attacks.
The headquarters of the governing Allianza Pais (Country Alliance) party were bombed on July 14 in the city of Guayacuil. Packages containing explosives were sent to the headquarters of the publicly-owned El Telegrafo and privately-owned El Universal newspapers.
All of this has been done under the umbrella of “defending family values” and protesting against the Correa-pushed economic model that seeks to create a “socialism of 21st century”.
Key opposition leaders are Guayaquil's conservative mayor Jaime Nebout and failed right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso. They have called for a “national strike” on August 13 involving right-wing parties, business groups and some trade unions and indigenous groups.
From CTV News
(click on the image to view video)
A Special Report prepared by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)
In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s new “Americas Policy,” through which Canada would build trade ties with governments that shared Canada’s values of “democracy, human rights, rule-of-law and good governance.” The Canadian government then announced negotiations for a free trade and investment deal with Colombia, the country with the worst human rights record in the hemisphere.
The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA), implemented in 2011, resolved to “protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights,” and affirmed a commitment to the “protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Instead, like Canada’s previous trade deals it proved to be a standard neoliberal agreement that promotes market liberalization, privatization and deregulation, and includes no binding obligations regarding human and democratic rights. The FTA raised serious human rights concerns for vulnerable populations amid Colombia’s internal conflict, including fears that it could foment and protect investments associated with militarization, violence and forced displacement. The CCOFTA’s investment chapter accorded investors powerful new rights, but no binding human rights obligations for private companies. Civil society groups that had worked in solidarity with Colombian counterparts for decades feared that introducing an FTA into the Colombian context would tilt the scales further against persecuted labour and human rights advocates.
To counter these widespread concerns, the Canadian and Colombian governments agreed to table in their respective parliaments a yearly report on the agreement’s human rights impacts. This fell short of expectations for a prior, independent, impartial and comprehensive human rights impact assessment (HRIA) as called for by international experts and the Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT).
A review of the annual human rights reports filed since 2011 exposes their shortcomings and supports the claim by human rights monitors that the Canadian government has chosen to turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis in Colombia. The reports contain little acknowledgment of human rights problems, and do not examine the impact of Canadian investment in oil, gas and mining. This contradicts the very essence of the exercise, since Canadian extractive interests in Colombia were one of the government’s primary motivations for pursuing the trade deal – and the most pressing concern voiced by human rights groups worried about the agreement.
This report, "Colombia in the Shadow of Human Right Abuses," and its accompanying fact sheets paint a different picture from the Canadian government narrative that trade is the best way to improve Colombia’s human rights record. Credible human rights groups, labour unions, NGOs in Colombia and Canada, and the United Nations have compiled compelling documentation demonstrating that human rights violations against trade unionists, human rights defenders, Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities have not abated over the past four years.
This report also documents the role played by the Canadian state and Canadian multinational corporations. The latter have in some cases reaped benefits by disregarding labour rights, through dangerous and contaminating environmental practices, and by bolstering militarization that has resulted in human rights abuses.
Canadian investors have exploited a controversial mechanism in international investment treaties to challenge public interest regulations in 24 different countries, according to a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
The report, by trade and investment researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, documents the 55 known cases of Canadian investors using the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system to sue foreign governments in international trade tribunals. It finds that the ISDS process has overwhelmingly been used by Canadian resource companies to dispute resource management and environmental protection measures in developing countries.
The study comes out on the heels of a request for investor-state arbitration, filed at the World Bank on July 30, by Canadian mining firm Gabriel Resources Ltd. The company is claiming that delays to the controversial Rosia Montana gold mine in Romania have violated the government’s investment treaty rights.
“ISDS is supposed to protect foreign investors from arbitrary government actions, but in practice it is being used by multinational corporations to bully democratic governments into backtracking on actions taken in the public interest,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “Canadian companies—particularly Canadian mining companies—are among the worst in the world when it comes to ISDS.”
Among the study’s findings:
The federal government claims it has aggressively pursued new investment treaties containing ISDS in order to provide a more “transparent and predictable climate for Canadian investors abroad.” However, the study finds that it is not at all evident that the supposed benefits of these treaties for Canadian investors outweigh the proven social, political and economic costs incurred by ISDS disputes at home and abroad.
Of the 55 cases identified in the study, only four resulted in a favourable outcome for the Canadian investor. In comparison, Canada has lost nearly half the ISDS cases it has faced from foreign investors, and has been pressured into backtracking on important public health and environmental regulations as a result of those losses.
"Investment treaties have compromised Canadian democracy and the democratic policy space of Canada’s trading partners—yet historically, and in aggregate, these deals have also not created a 'transparent and predictable' investment environment for Canadian investors,” says Mertins-Kirkwood.
“Given these high costs and meagre benefits, the evidence does not support the continued expansion and intensification of Canadian investment treaties, or the inclusion of ISDS in larger free trade deals such as CETA and the TPP.”
Participants stand in solidarity with the families of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students in their struggle against State and cartel terrorism, and in opposition to Canada's support of the Mexican government.
Toronto — Activists will hold a procession and vigil outside the closing ceremony of Toronto's Pan Am Games on Sunday, July 26th at 4pm. The Toronto residents are outraged by the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa Teacher's College students perpetrated by Mexican police and cartel members. With their procession and vigil, they will join the massive, pan-American movement of people across Mexico and throughout the hemisphere demanding that the students be returned alive.
On September 26, 2014 students from the Ayotzinapa Teacher's College (Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College) were raising money to attend a protest in Mexico City when police and gunmen attacked them in the town of Iguala, Mexico. Three were killed, dozens were injured, and 43 student-teachers were forcefully disappeared, never to be seen again. The Mexican authorities' bungled investigation only proved their desire to sweep away the problem, while families of the 43 disappeared students continue searching for their sons and exposing complicity at all levels of government and law enforcement in the crime. Since the Mexican government began its War on Drugs in 2006, an astounding 24,000 people have been disappeared and 150,000 confirmed dead. In response to the disappearance of the 43 students and the impunity that has defined the War on Drugs, people throughout the Americas proclaim:
“It was the State!” “They took them alive, we want them back alive!”
The organizers of the July 26 vigil and procession ask people to join them outside the Pan Am Games closing ceremony and show that solidarity – and not just sport – stretches across the Americas.
WHEN and WHERE:
Meet at Sunday, July 26 at 4pm in Clarence Square (Spadina Ave and Wellington St)
4:30pm- Procession departs south on Spadina Ave, east on Front St, south on Simcoe St, and west on Bremner Blvd
5pm- Vigil outside Rogers Centre on Bremner Blvd, near Roundhouse Park
6pm- Vigil ends
Before day of event: William Payne – 416.536.9511 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Day of event: Stuart Schussler 416.625.2966
(Ottawa) Canadian, US and other international civil society organizations welcome Infinito Gold’s announcement that it is calling it quits on its tortuous quest to open the Crucitas mine in Costa Rica in spite of the determined opposition of the Costa Rican people and repeated court decisions against it.
On July 15, Infinito Gold announced that all of the company’s directors and officers have resigned and that its principal shareholder and creditor is no longer willing to put up money for this sinking ship that was reporting a deficit of over $160 million. Ronald Mannix, Infinito Gold’s longtime angel investor, finally pulled the plug after putting up some $70 million in loans.
For some fifteen years, against the wishes of the Costa Rican people, this junior Canadian mining company has sought to develop an open-pit gold mine in the north of Costa Rica, near the San Juan River on the border with Nicaragua.
Polls have shown that some 80 per cent of the Costa Rican population rejected the proposed Crucitas mine. On three occasions, from 2010 to 2013, the Supreme Court of Costa Rica denied permission to Infinito to proceed with its project.
In February 2014, after having lost its mining concessions, Infinito Gold lodged a $94 million investor-state lawsuit against the Costa Rican government in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The company was contesting Costa Rica’s legitimate rejection of the proposed Crucitas open-pit gold mine on the terms of the Canada-Costa Rica Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) signed in 1998. Legal costs to date have been estimated at $1,7 million USD. The precise status of this suit following the shuttering of Infinito Gold is not clear.
Infinito’s tenure in Costa Rica was also marred with allegations of corruption. Although the investigation was eventually dropped for lack of evidence, ex-President Oscar Arias was accused of inappropriately granting Infinito Gold a licence in 2008 when there was already a moratorium in effect on all large-scale mining in the country dating back to 2002. We have long questioned the potential influence that an alleged donation of $200,000 USD from Ronald Mannix’s Norlien Foundation to the Arias Foundation in 2008 could have had on this decision. When it was still trying to get to the bottom of these questions, the Costa Rican Attorney General stated that the Canadian Department of Justice did not answer all of its questions, which were important to proceeding with the investigation. Infinito was also accused of interfering in a Costa Rican election campaign, and in 2010 was barred from referring to municipal elections in its publicity.
This litigious company also went after its critics. Over the years, Infinito Gold initiated five lower court actions for defamation against two university professors, a lawyer for an environmental group, and two Congressional Deputies. All failed or were withdrawn.
Infinito Gold’s decision to finally fold should have come years ago. Indeed, it is a mystery why anyone would have wanted to try to push this project after Canadian mining ‘major’ Placer Dome (since merged with Barrick Gold) walked away from it in May 1998, in the face of massive public opposition. This is another victory for the people of Costa Rica who have fought long and hard to keep their country free of open-pit gold mining. We hope it is more permanent this time.
The policies and protections that Canada has been promoting to protect Canadian mining companies, however, remain in place, for which reason our fight is not over. For more than 20 years, Canada has pursued and negotiated trade and investment agreements that promote and protect the rights of investors at the expense of human rights, labour rights, and environmental standards. Even though foreign corporations have repeatedly won suits against Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canadian government has paid this high price in order to provide at least the appearance of security to Canadian companies operating abroad. The conduct of Canadian mining companies such as Infinito Gold is one of the results of that agenda. Canada must rescind, revise or renegotiate its existing trade and investment agreements and pursue an investment agenda based on respect for human, community, labour, and environmental rights.
As we continue the fight at home against such unjust corporate protections, we offer our congratulations to the Costa Rican people, and our “good riddance” to this shameful, and shameless, Canadian mining company.
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN) (Canada)
Blue Planet Project (Canada)
Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy (US)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) (US)
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique Latine (CDHAL) (Québec)
Common Frontiers (Canada)
Council of Canadians
Information Group on Latin America (IGLA) (Austria)
Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Program (US)
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) (Canada)
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) (Canada)
Mining Justice Alliance (Canada)
Trade Justice Network (Canada)
TPP Canada (Permanent Peoples Tribunal on the Canadian mining industry)
On July 8, 2015, 15 people were detained in the city of Bogotá simultaneously in operations conducted by the District Attorney of the Nation, along with the National Police. The detained were accused of being responsible for the explosions that occurred last week in Bogotá. Even without a judiciary order, official pronouncements of the Presidency, local authorities and massive media were already targeting these 15 people as responsible of such attacks.
Regarding these incidents, we denounce that the majority of the detained and accused are well known student leaders, peasants, journalists, public servants and human rights defenders who have been publicly fighting for the rights to public education, the rights of peasants, and the construction of peace. Furthermore, eleven of the detained people are part of organizations that make up "Congreso de los Pueblos" (The People’s Congress).
Despite all their help and work for Colombia, different media characterized them as “terrorists”, considering their social engagement and activism as an indicator of violent actions. Besides the stigmatization and discrimination against these people, authorities are undermining the presumption of innocence and criminalizing the freedom of expression in Colombia.
In solidarity with this situation, the Latin American Movement Assembly denounces the violation of these people’s basic human rights and demands for their immediate release until the case is investigated according to the article 8 of the Human Rights Inter-American Convention, ratified by Colombia in 1985. We are worried about the multiple cases of legal false positives that have happened and continue to happen since last year and have been generating stigmatizations and risks to the members of the social movement in Colombia.
We demand justice for these 15 activists who, through their hard work and commitment have greatly contributed to the creation of a social and political movement that promotes peace and social justice and who represent structural changes for the country.
We demand the freedom of the people deprived of their liberty with the guarantee of a due process and the recognition of the legitimacy and legality of their actions.
We call on the General Prosecutors of the nation to act in line with the principal of judicial independence by making a reasonable and technical assessment of the alleged evidence that has been collected, as they were in public and work-related activities to testify and provide justification.
We demand guarantees to political participation, the exercise of social protest and the freedom of expression in Colombia, and to detain all the mechanisms that obstruct the defense of human rights.
By Maude Barlow and Paul Moist
Council of Canadians
As the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement vote was postponed in the European Parliament on June 10th, the European Union is on the precipice of a major decision. Lurking in the background is another key decision about the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
We Canadians are writing to you, the Socialists, New European Left, and Greens, because you have the power to stop these dangerous trade deals. With this type of trade agreement, we have a choice: Do we accept rising inequality, unchecked corporate power, and lowered social and environmental standards, allowing the one per cent to become richer at our expense, or do we draw a line in the sand?
As Canadians, we have first-hand experience with these kinds of deals, having passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the U.S. and Mexico. And we have some tales to tell.
In 1988, many of us took to the streets to fight the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, later expanded to include Mexico. NAFTA included one of the first investor-state dispute settle provisions, the infamous clause that allows foreign corporations to sue governments for lost profits. We worried about losing our public services, our water, and our environmental and safety standards.
Free trade was a defining issue in the Canadian election of 1988. But while a majority of Canadians voted against the agreement, our first-past-the-post electoral system delivered a Conservative government that signed the deal.
Fast forward 27 years to present-day Canada. We now face more investor-state lawsuits than any other developed country.
Even the historic St. Lawrence River, the river that European settlers sailed down when they first explored Canada, is affected. The province of Quebec put a moratorium on petroleum exploration on the river to prevent hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a controversial extraction technique banned in France and other jurisdictions. As a result, the Canadian government was sued for $250 million by a company headquartered in Canada but registered in the United States.
To the national and international community, once again we are obligated to report on the difficult situation experienced by university employees and union members in Honduras. Last night, June 17, 2015, Héctor Orlando Martínez Motiño, President of the Workers Union for the Centro Universitario del Litoral Pacífico (CURLP) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) was murdered. Martínez Motiño was a beneficiary of protective measure, No. MC-253-14, issued by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. His murder occurs 69 days after the forced disappearance of union leader Donatilo Jiménez, ex President of this same union at Centro Universitario del Litoral Atlántico (CURLA) in La Ceiba, Atlántida.
Héctor Martínez, a university professor, was gunned down by 12 bullets fired by unknown actors riding a motorcycle who allegedly followed him when he left his workplace at 9:00 pm, heading for his home in Marcovia, when he was overtaken by the gunmen.
On January 31, 2015, the Human Rights Unit of the Secretary of Security notified him of the protective measures and documented the hostile labor environment he experienced at the CURLP. Martínez denounced before the Inter American Commission (IACHR) that these measures were not sufficient, that he was suspicious and afraid. On Facebook, he wrote:
“Despite these measures, I continue to be harassed, followed, threatened and the target of attempts against my life. I ask God and all of you to keep us in permanent prayer.”
On July 9, 2014, Martínez was the victim of an attempt on the university campus when unknown actors sabotaged his vehicle, parked in the university parking lot, five meters from the private security guard post. Unknown actors loosened the bolts on the rear tire of his vehicle which after advancing eight meters, fell off the axle. Motiño registered a complaint with the National Direction of Criminal Investigation and stated that this was the third incident of this type that he had suffered.
Prior to this attack, on May 16, 2014, he had denounced abuses on the part of university authorities including, harassment, campaigns to discredit, problems with disabilities due to health, and persecution on the part of unknown actors driving a white SUV from which photographs had been take of him. The university persecution was to such a degree that authorities requested immigration records to confirm if he was really receiving medical attention outside of Honduras and also requested that the IHSS provide doctors evaluations confirming that he required medical disability. In one instance, the attending doctor ordered his immediate hospital admission to control blood pressure.
On repeated occasions, SITRAUNAH has denounced that its members have been victims of permanent surveillance, harassment and persecution on eight university campuses.
On August 4, 2011, they publicly denounced that Mr. Donatilo Jiménez and three other members of SITRAUNAH, in different sections, were victims of death threats and that hit men in the atlántica zone had been contracted to kill the four unionists. Today, Donatilo remains disappeared.
On the same date, the union denounced that UNAH Security personnel, that were not members of the Private Security Company, Bacilides Baca y Javier Brooks, contracted by the university, were murdered in unclear circumstances. And that Rafael Arambú Rico, security supervisor, received death threats.
On March 10, 2011 the Director of the Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlántico (CURLA), Magda Hernández, was the victim of a criminal attempt according to news reports, when two subjects on motorcycles, fired at her face in the morning, at the CURLA entrance gate.
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., June 18, 2015
DE LOS HECHOS Y DE LOS HECHORES
NI OLVIDO NI PERDÓN
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras
As a follow up to the very successful People Social Forum, we are hosting a Social Forum in Toronto to counter the Pan American Economic Summit that will bring the heads of Shell, Rockefeller Foundation, US, Canadian and European Chambers of Commerce, as well as Canada's Finance Minister, ex-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and John Negroponte to Toronto from July 8 to the 10th, 2015.
Starting July 10, the Peoples' Social Forum will be hosting a counter summit in Toronto, bringing together activists, students, unions, Indigenous peoples, youth, environmentalists, and hundreds of ordinary individuals to oppose the current political and economic direction of this country, and propose a plurality of alternative paths towards a better world.
This gathering will take place on Missassauga Anishinaabe territory. It has been a home and hunting grounds to many peoples, including the Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. It is the territory of the One Dish One Spoon treaty, which was made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenausonee in order to share hunting and fishing territories. What belongs to one belongs to all. In this spirit, we will come together to find ways to work together towards a more just and joyful world.
Host A Workshop
This is what the forum is all about – groups and individuals propose workshops within 17 themes, and the social forum organizes these into a schedule that has something for everyone. Saturday, July 11 will be the day of workshops. Most workshops will be 1.5 hours, but we can accommodate 3 hour slots if groups want to propose a Movement Assembly. June 19 is the deadline for workshop submissions. Fill out our simple workshop registration form and we'll figure out the rest!
Tabling At The Forum
Take part in the alternative media and vendors space at the PSF Counter Summit. Contact email@example.com for details.
Endorse The Forum
Add your organization's name to a growing list of PSF endorsers. Support the forum and join this on-going, Canada-wide movement building process. To endorse, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer For The Forum
E-mail email@example.com if you are interested in joining the Toronto PSF team to make this ambitious gathering a success.
House An Activist During The Forum
Do you have a spare room or a couch to share? Activists from across the country are traveling to Toronto for the counter summit and the PSF General Assembly (which will happen on Sunday, July 12). If you can spare some space in your place, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What Is The Peoples' Social Forum?
The Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) is a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. The first PSF was held in Ottawa on August 21-24, 2014 and attracted over 5000 participants from across Canada.
The PSF is a space for social movements to meet and converge for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges. It seeks to inspire practical involvement in social movements and develop networked action strategies aimed at creating convergence of struggles, toward building a broad strategic alliance against neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies in Canada. Social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy are at the centre of its concerns.The PSF is an inclusive space that must be occupied by all people and activist organizations convinced that another Canada is not only possible, but above all, necessary.
Objectives of the Peoples’ Social Forum
The PSF is part of the global movement of social forums that have emerged at different levels since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in January 2001, which was conceived as a summit to counter the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Sunday the June 7 is election day in Mexico . Elections are being held to elect governors in 9 states, mayors, local deputies in 17 states and federal deputies throughout the country. The run up to this election has been marred by extensive violence; 20 political assassinations in 10 states, 6 civilian murders (4 in Ixcaputzalgo, Guerrero and 2 in Peto, Yucatan) and 6 civilian injuries as a result of an armed confrontation with government forces in Peto and Yucatán. Furthermore, 70 kidnappings and extortion cases and death threats to people have also been reported by groups linked to electoral interest.
Most importantly, delegations of the National Electoral Institute (INE) have been reportedly attacked by dissident groups in at least six states (Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz), while electoral documentation has been destroyed or burned, in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Mexico presently, is amidst a grave human rights crisis which has been brought to the attention of the international community and human rights watch dogs by the relentless efforts of the nation’s vibrant civil society. There has been a demand of justice in the case of the 43 students who went missing last September, and also in the case of the recent targeted killings and extrajudicial murders allegedly carried out by the Mexican army, federal and local police in Tlatlaya , Apatzingan and Tanhuato. All of these cases and the callous attitude of the government has prompted protesting organisations backed by the Mexican civil society to boycott the elections. The principle demand being the safe return of the 43 missing students belonging to the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa. These innocent students were kidnapped by the local police in collusion with the federal police and the national army. We should not forget that this landmark case adds itself to the long and cruel list of more than 24,000 cases of disappearances and kidnappings at the hand of the state since 2006; with an average13 disappearances per day, 100, 000 murders and 250 000 forced displacements, the government led by Peña Nieto ,is nothing short of an oppressive, cruel and corrupt military state running under the garb of pseudo democracy.
A statement issued on June 1, 2015 by the People's Council Tixtla, denounced the curtailing of human rights and harassment suffered by its organization by the ministerial police who as a ploy, repeatedly infiltrated the organization in plainclothes to monitor and intimidate people linked to the organization . Moreover, the Committee of students from the Normal School of Ayotzinapa say that on June 2, 2015 the federal police illegaly stormed their premises without provocation and arrested 3 students , who had to be released 24 hours later under immense pressure from the public. Continuing the string of cruelty on Wednesday, the 3rd of June, more than 1000 armed federal police personnel were stationed near the Normal School and also reportedly attacked a civilian bus carrying students and relatives of the 43 missing students, bound for Chilpancingo in Tixtla, Guerrero; this unprovoked attack left several people grievously injured.
The civil organizations on 2nd June also reported the arrival of military tanks and fully armed contingents in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan. So far the current Mexican government has behaved like a military state using the path of intimidation, oppression and torture to resolve public issues and to suppress any conflict or voice of dissent. People have been baselessly arrested, persecuted and inhumanly tortured as revealed by Juan Mendez, in his report published in December 2014 which paints a a grim picture of innocent civilians and peaceful protesters being inhumanly treated and put through misery in Mexico at the hands of the state machinery.
In the background of the atrocities, repression and the policy of criminalisation of social protest by the Mexican government, the undersigned organizations through this letter express our grave concern about the anti-democratic measures, oppression, torture and killings that may be carried out by the Mexican government in the context of maintaining order during the elections scheduled on Sunday June 7, 2015. We also demand an immediate end to the abuse of public power and strict compliance with the constitution. Most importantly, we call upon the international community to pay heed and attention to this humanitarian crisis in the making, be wary of these developments and vociferously condemn any act of oppression by any group linked to the Mexican government.
Montreal, Quebec on the 4th day of June 2015.
Centro de medios libres. “3 de junio ALERTA AYOTZINAPA: Continua y arrecia el sitio y represión federal a escuela normal Isidro Burgos”. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.
Elecciones en México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015
Proceso. “Elecciones 2015, el sello de la violencia”. 2 de junio del 2015. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.
Proceso. “Con Peña Nieto, 13 desaparecidos al día”. 7 de febrero del 2015. Fecha de consulta: 3 de junio del 2015.
Regeneración Radio. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.
Informe México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Comité de solidarité québécoise avec Ayotzinapa
GENEVA - A number of free trade and investment agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are currently being negotiated. A group of UN experts* have issued the following statement to express concern about the secret nature of drawing up and negotiating many of these agreements and the potential adverse impact of these agreements on human rights:
"While trade and investment agreements can create new economic opportunities, we draw attention to the potential detrimental impact these treaties and agreements may have on the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in legally binding instruments, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social. Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labour standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement.
As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not constrain their ability to meet their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9).
Observers are concerned that these treaties and agreements are likely to have a number of retrogressive effects on the protection and promotion of human rights, including by lowering the threshold of health protection, food safety, and labour standards, by catering to the business interests of pharmaceutical monopolies and extending intellectual property protection.
There is a legitimate concern that both bilateral and multilateral investment treaties might aggravate the problem of extreme poverty, jeopardize fair and efficient foreign debt renegotiation, and affect the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, and other persons leaving in vulnerable situations. Undoubtedly, globalization and the many Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) can have positive but also negative impacts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, which entails practical international solidarity.
Investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) chapters in BITs and FTAs are also increasingly problematic given the experience of decades related arbitrations conducted before ISDS tribunals. The experience demonstrates that the regulatory function of many States and their ability to legislate in the public interest have been put at risk.
We believe the problem has been aggravated by the “chilling effect” that intrusive ISDS awards have had, when States have been penalized for adopting regulations, for example to protect the environment, food security, access to generic and essential medicines, and reduction of smoking, as required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or raising the minimum wage.
ISDS chapters are anomalous in that they provide protection for investors but not for States or for the population. They allow investors to sue States but not vice-versa. The adoption in 2014 of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration is an important step to address the problem of the typically confidential and non-participatory nature of investor-State agreements. Greater transparency should serve to remedy incoherence between current modes of investment with human rights considerations.
We invite States to revisit the treaties under negotiation and ensure that they foster and do not hinder human rights. If the treaties in question include a chapter on investor-State-dispute-settlement, the terms of reference of the arbitrators must be so drafted that interference in the domestic regulation of budgetary, fiscal, health and environmental and other public policies are not allowed.
Moreover arbitration tribunals should allow public review and its awards must be appealable before the International Court of Justice or a yet to be created an International Investment Court working transparently and with accountability. There must be a just balance between the protection afforded to investors and the States’ responsibility to protect all persons under their jurisdiction.
We recommend that:
All current negotiations of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements should be conducted transparently with consultation and participation of all relevant stakeholders including labour unions, consumer unions, environmental protection groups and health professionals.
All draft treaty texts should be published so that Parliamentarians and civil society have sufficient time to review them and to weigh the pros and cons in a democratic manner.
Ex ante and ex post human rights impact assessments should be conducted with regard to existing and proposed BITs and FTAs.
The Parties should detail how they will uphold their human rights obligations if they ratify the BITs and FTA’s under negotiation.
Given the breadth and scope of the agreements currently under negotiation, robust safeguards must be embedded to ensure full protection and enjoyment of human rights.”
(*) The experts:
Mr Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order,
Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities,
Mr Dainus Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,
Ms Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights,
Ms Gabriella Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,
Ms Hilal Helver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food,
Mr Juan Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debts and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights,
Mr Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drink water and sanitation,
Ms Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,
Ms Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity.
For further information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / email@example.com ) or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Term: 8 weeks
Start date: ASAP
Rate: $5,000 (per coordinator)
Reporting to: Social Forum Steering Committee
Position Summary: Peoples’ Social Forum General Assembly Coordinator
The coordinators will help build, promote and roll out the Toronto Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) General Assembly and linked activities that will take place in Toronto from July 10th to July 12th 2015.
The coordinators will work as a team coordinating all aspects of the General Assembly with external partners in Toronto (i.e. community groups, labour, NGOs) and liaise with internal committees such as the Steering Committee, national committees, expansion commissions and national caucuses.
The deadline for application is May 26th 2015. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Download the complete job description (PDF 452 kb)
"The OSSTF/BCTF delegation was greeted at the Cochabamba airport with flowers, photographers and a videographer hired to document the arrival of the presidents and their staff!
"Feeling like rock stars, Nancy Knickerbocker and I (Domenic Bellissimo) proceeded to accept the flowers and thanks on behalf of Jim Iker (BCTF President) and Paul Elliott (OSSTF/FEESO President). Throughout the visit, explanations were well received about the circumstances which prevented Paul from coming and Jim from staying in Bolivia for the graduation ceremony on May 1.
"In fact, the education struggles we are currently engaged in became the high points in our speeches to the graduates during the opening of their ceremony. Bolivians, especially rural ones, seem to be inherently combative as witnessed by the fact that the right to strike and blockade roads is enshrined in their constitution. They were quite proud of their anti-colonial stories of resistance and in fact the main square in La Paz features a town hall clock which appears to be counting backwards—as a reminder of the need to erase a colonial legacy."
Read the complete report (PDF 2.8MB)
by Janet M Eaton, PhD.
Originally Published May 11, 2015
The announcement that a NAFTA Investor State Tribunal had overturned the decision of a Canadian Federal Provincial Environmental Joint Review Panel decision to reject a US mega-quarry proposed by Bilcon of Delaware Inc. for Whites Point, Digby Neck, Nova Scotia has sent shock waves across the
The decision has caused indignation amongst the many Nova Scotians who had been involved in the lengthy and hard fought struggle to preserve the small scale scenic, rural fishing community and economy on the ecologically sensitive and unique Bay of Fundy with its endangered right whales.
At the same time the Bilcon decision has been making waves internationally, sparking a new level of long standing debate about the failures of NAFTA Chapter 11 to safeguard laws put in place by democratic nations.
In this regard it has been providing ammunition for the tireless crusade of activist lawyers, researchers and NGOs fighting to have this mechanism removed from the upcoming mega-trade agreements under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Trade and Investment Agreement (TPPA), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Canada
- EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Read an analysis of the decision by Janet Eaton, PhD. (PDF 41kb)
Janet M Eaton, PhD [Marine Biology] Dalhousie University, is an independent researcher, and part-time academic who has taught courses in Critical perspectives on Globalization, Community Political Power and Environment and Sustainable Society. She has been a volunteer with Sierra Club Canada for over a decade, was one of four SCC researchers who contributed to the Terms of Reference for the proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] and to Sierra Club Canada’s lengthy response to Bilcon’s EIS. She also testified twice before the Joint Review Panel.
By Rick Arnold
The Tico Times
Most of us are familiar with zombies featured in scary B movies, otherwise known as the living dead. Now a recent study by Tony Simon, co-founder of the Canadian entity Venture Capital Markets Association, has found that there are some 588 junior resource firms with negative working capital (more dead than alive) listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange Venture Exchange (TSXV).
These include Infinito Gold, the Calgary-based mining company that is still fighting over its defunct open-pit gold mine project in Costa Rica.
This appears to be contrary to the Venture Exchange’s continued listing requirements, which stipulate that firms have to be able to show at least 50,000 Canadian dollars ($41,000) in working capital (more alive than dead). Mr. Simon uses the term “zombie company” for corporations bleeding red ink and suggests that the TSXV follow its own rules and de-list them right away (and protect the small investor).
Mr. Simon has Infinito Gold sitting at #587 on his “zombie” list — sporting the second greatest negative working capital, a whopping negative $127 million.
With no functioning mines to draw capital from, and its own CFO cautioning trouble if any of the long overdue loans are called in, Infinito Gold should be six feet under, except for a major shareholder who from behind the scenes keeps loaning money to keep the firm on life support.
Some 15 years ago Infinito Gold bought previously prospected land in northern Costa Rica (Las Crucitas) thinking to establish an open-pit gold mine. But from the get-go the company chose to ignore the many signs that this Central American nation sees itself as an eco-friendly destination, wishing to avoid the damage that mining can unleash on pristine rivers and forests.
For Infinito Gold a “No” from Costa Rica has never meant “No.” This despite the fact that polls have shown that 80 percent of Costa Ricans oppose the mine, a statistic backed by large street demonstrations.
A single-minded Infinito has lumbered on over the years employing a battery of local lawyers to unsuccessfully challenge Supreme Court decisions ordering (and then re-confirming) the mine’s closure, while simultaneously trying to intimidate Costa Rican academics and environmentalists by suing those who dared to speak out (Infinito lost all six of these court cases).
You might think that after scoring zero in the country’s domestic court system, Infinito would have called it quits. Not so! The company’s main backer has sought to up the ante by bankrolling this shell of a company to try and land a $94 million mega-award against Costa Rica via a private, investor-friendly, World Bank tribunal, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Canada has felt the fiscal pain of being the biggest loser of international investor challenges to domestic public policy under the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But apparently no lessons have been learned here as the country is now providing cover for this ICSID challenge by a zombie Canadian firm determined to make Costa Rica pay for the courage shown by its judges in upholding the country’s environmental legislation.
Rick Arnold is a retired Canadian social activist who has lived and worked in Costa Rica.
Editor’s note: The Tico Times sought a response from Infinito Gold to this opinion piece. Calls made to the company’s Costa Rica office and to its Canadian headquarters were not returned, and emails were unanswered.
Stop the Suits tour officially drew to a close last night. We started the day downtown with street theatre in front of Ocean gold offices and ended with an evening event with the Salvadorian community in Toronto. The tour was very well received in all cities with good media coverage and well attended events. Click on any of the pics below to see a larger version.
A major accomplishment from the Mexican caravan. A letter from the official opposition to the minister of Foreign affairs, Rob Nicholson asking the gov. of Canada to heed our requests during the caravan
Dear Minister Nicholson
We write to you today on behalf of the Official Opposition concerning the situation of the 43 students forcibly disappeared in Guerrero State, Mexico, in September of last year.
On September 26, Mexican police and gunmen attacked a group of students from a teachers' college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, killing 6 people and forcibly disappearing 43 others. This crime has become emblematic of the acute human rights crisis in Mexico. The disappearances and the ensuing investigation have made headlines throughout the world, and drawn the attention of many Canadians.
Thus far, the various investigations into the disappearances have uncovered more than 15 mass graves in Guerrero - one of which contained the bodies of 28 people - yet so far the body of only one missing student has been conclusively identified through DNA analysis.
Unhappy with the slow and partial progress of the Mexican government's investigation, representatives of the parents of the missing have enlisted the help of a team of Argentinean forensics experts to study the available evidence. This team recently issued a statement pointing out a number of discrepancies in the government's investigation, and claiming that the government had presented biased analyses of the scientific evidence to support its (most recent) conclusion that the youths were killed, their bodies burned to ashes and their remains thrown into a river to hide the evidence.
Unfortunately, the Ayotzinapa disappearances are not an isolated case. According to Human Rights Watch, roughly 26,000 people have been reported missing or forcibly disappeared in Mexico during the period of 2007-2014. Prosecutions have been few and the the overwhelming majority of the victims have not been located.
(Montreal/Ottawa/Toronto) In anticipation of an imminent ruling from a little-known arbitration tribunal at the World Bank that could force El Salvador to pay Canadian-Australian mining firm OceanaGold US$301 million, a Salvadoran delegation will visit Canada next week to discuss how investor-state arbitration threatens democratic decision-making, public health and the environment here and beyond our borders.
OceanaGold is suing El Salvador for an amount equivalent to 5% of its gross domestic product for not having granted it a permit to put a gold mine into operation, despite its project not having met regulatory requirements. Originally, Pacific Rim Mining launched the suit in 2009 after the first of three successive Salvadoran Presidents committed to an effective moratorium on new mining projects given concerns over potential impacts on already taxed water supplies. OceanaGold purchased Pacific Rim Mining in 2013, narrowly saving it from bankruptcy, and has stubbornly continued with the case. The International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) at the World Bank could release its decision on the suit any day.
From May 11 to 15, Yanira Cortez, Deputy Attorney for the Environment for El Salvador’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office and Marcos Gálvez, President of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES, a founding member of the National Roundtable against Metal Mining) will travel to Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto. They will speak publicly and meet with Members of Parliament to request support for the Salvadoran people’s struggle and warn of dangers that Canadians face through investor provisions in existing and proposed free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Canadian taxpayers have already paid out tens of millions to foreign corporations and could be on the hook for tens of millions more in suits brought under NAFTA for decisions made in the public interest. In a case eerily similar to the one El Salvador faces, Lone Pine Resources is suing Canada for $250 million in response to Quebec’s decision to put a moratorium on shale gas mining, better known as fracking. This measure, broadly supported in Quebec, is premised on concern for people’s health and the environment. Calgary-based Lone Pine Resources is using a US affiliate to bring the suit and has insisted that it will continue to pursue the case unless Quebec lifts its moratorium.
By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The mother of one of 43 missing Mexican students who vanished last fall is in Canada to seek the federal government's help in pressuring Mexico for answers.
Hilda Legideno Vargas's 20 year-old-son disappeared in Mexico, likely at the hands of drug cartels, in a case that human rights groups say the Mexican government is covering up.
She wants the government to pressure the Mexicans to find answers in the case so she can get justice for her son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa.
Tizapa was among the 43 students who disappeared Sept. 26 from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College in the city of Inguala.
The Mexican government says it wants to see the case resolved and justice done , but Legideno Vargas doesn't believe it, and wonders whether the local authorities were somehow complicit in the attack.
"Everything that I am doing here I'm doing out of love for my son," the 43-year-old single mother said Friday in an interview conducted through an interpreter.
"We've had to come here to Canada to have our voices heard because the Mexican government is not doing what it needs to do."
Legideno Vargas met with Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson's senior foreign policy adviser, Monika Le Roy, to press her case. She also testified in earlier in the week to the House of Commons human rights subcommittee.
(01 de mayo, 2015. Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO).- La diputada representante del Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Morena), Luisa María Alcalde Luján declaró que el Estado mexicano ha ignorado sistemáticamente la crisis de derechos humanos que se vive en el país, pues en el caso específico de la desaparición de 43 normalistas de Ayotzinapa, no ha respondido con acciones concretas para solucionar la desaparición forzada de los estudiantes.
“Este no es un hecho aislado y, como muchos otros similares, forma parte de la constante actuación autoritaria y contraria a derechos humanos por parte del Estado mexicano”, argumentó la legisladora.
Recordó que Amnistía Internacional ha señalado que existe una discrepancia entre la versión oficial del gobierno de la República y lo que se presume que verdaderamente pasó la noche del 26 y madrugada del 27 de septiembre de 2014 en el municipio de Iguala, Guerrero, donde elementos de la policía municipal de la comunidad, en contubernio con el crimen organizado, desaparecieron a los normalistas.
Periódico La Jornada
Una delegación de padres, madres y compañeros de los normalistas de Ayotzinapa desaparecidos visitó ayer en Montreal, Canadá, la Asamblea Nacional de la provincia de Quebec, donde legisladores de todos los partidos representados aprobaron una moción por unanimidad donde expresan su preocupación por los estudiantes y sus familias y llaman al gobierno mexicano a hacer una investigación ‘‘completa y transparente’’ sobre el caso.
Marie-Eve Marleau, coordinadora en Montreal del Comité por los Derechos Humanos en América Latina, indicó en entrevista con La Jornada que el órgano legislativo expresó su ‘‘viva preocupación’’ por los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos desde septiembre de 2014 y su solidaridad con las víctimas de estos hechos, además de subrayar la importancia de hacer una investigación eficiente para identificar y castigar a los responsables.
Lo ocurrido en Ayotzinapa, indicó la activista, ‘‘nos preocupa bastante porque se trata de un caso emblemático que habla de una grave crisis de derechos humanos en México, y escuchando sus testimonios estamos todavía más preocupados. No son sólo los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos (en Iguala), sino las más de 26 mil personas que han sufrido este crimen desde 2007’’.
De igual forma, deploró que el gobierno canadiense haya incluido en 2013 a México en la lista de ‘‘países seguros’’, que pueden hacerse cargo de la integridad de sus ciudadanos, pues de esta forma se niega a los mexicanos la posibilidad de solicitar asilo político. Por último, Marleau dijo que si bien no se comprometieron de forma clara a visitar el país, los integrantes de la Asamblea de Quebec sí mencionaron la posibilidad de enviar un grupo de parlamentarios a México, como parte de la moción de solidaridad con Ayotzinapa.
Por su parte, Hilda Legideño, madre del normalista Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, explicó que los legisladores quebequenses les dieron una buena recepción y se comprometieron a pedir a las autoridades de México que sigan buscando a los estudiantes desaparecidos y respeten las garantías básicas de los familiares de las víctimas.
Las actividades de la comisión que se encuentra de gira por Canadá desde el 12 de abril y hasta el 2 de mayo, de la cual también forma parte el estudiante Jorge Luis Balbuena, ‘‘se están desarrollando muy bien, hemos tenido cobertura de los medios y hay mucha solidaridad y sensibilidad para el tema’’, encomió.
‘‘Para nosotros es muy importante salir a difundir lo que pasó porque queremos ver a nuestros hijos. Lo que queremos es encontrarlos; no creemos en la versión del gobierno (de que fueron asesinados y quemados) y por eso vamos a seguir buscando. No nos conformamos y nuestra lucha es por encontrarlos a ellos y a la verdad’’, enfatizó.
El próximo 28 de abril, la delegación visitará la sede del Parlamento Federal de Canadá, en la ciudad de Ottawa.
On September 26, 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College, in Iguala, went missing after they were attacked by state police and gunmen. Three students were killed and forty three “disappeared.” The bodies of the disappeared students have never been found and the Mexican government has not undertaken a credible investigation into the disappearance. The families keep struggling to find out what happened to the students.
This atrocity is part of a landscape of violence and impunity carried out through alliances between elements of the Mexican state and organized crime. The search for the students has uncovered more than 15 mass graves in neighbouring areas of the state of Guerrero, none of them containing the bodies of the students. In response, a national movement of resistance has emerged.
Idle No More organizers stand in solidarity with the missing 43 students and their families and the Caravan to Ottawa delegation travelling to share their story of resistance and hope. Their struggle and search for their loved one’s resonates with us as we seek justice for the murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirits in Canada. The murder of Indigenous people’s across the Americas is at epidemic proportions and it’s time for governments to take action to protect Indigenous lives.
Canada plays a critical role in supporting the Mexican state’s responsibility for the disappearances. In 2012, two way trade between Mexico and Canada totalled $20 billion. As a signatory to NAFTA, Mexico is Canada’s 5th largest export destination. Despite the human rights crisis in Mexico, Canada’s refugee system has deemed it a ‘safe country.’
Grand Chief Philip Stewart, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out Canada’s involvement: “I call onThomas Mulcair, the leader of the official opposition to raise this issue in the house. I call on the Conservative government to make a statement about the situation in Mexico and cut off relations with Mexico until human rights are respected."
Join Idle No More at the Public Forum With Leaders of Mexican Social Uprising - Ayotzinapa to Toronto as we join the delegation and lift our voices together and speak out against state violence.
April 29, 7pm: Public Forum With Leaders of Mexican Social Uprising - Ayotzinapa to Toronto at Ryerson University - 350 Victoria Street (@ Gould), Library Lecture Theatre, Room 72
- For further information about the caravan to Ottawa visit this page
For media requests contact:
- Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers, (416) 522-8615, email@example.com
Community organizers are putting together a Public Forum on April 28, at 6h30 PM at the PSAC building (233 Gilmour). Click on the image of the poster for complete details.
Background: On September 26, 2014, Mexican state security forces attacked a group of students from the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, killing 6 people and forcibly disappearing 43 others who were never seen again.
The crime has pulled the veil off an acute human rights crisis in Mexico. The search for the students has uncovered more than 15 mass graves, none of them containing the bodies of the students.
Now, Canadian solidarity and human-rights organizations are organizing a Caravan from Ayotzinapa to Ottawa that will bring a student leader from Ayotzinapa, a parent of one of the disappeared students, and a human-rights lawyer representing the students’ families to Canada in order to tell their story to the public and to Canadian policy makers.
The caravan will take place from 11 April to 2 May 2015 and encompass events in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario.
This will be a bilingual event (English Spanish). Admission by Donation, but no one will be turned down for lack of funds. Free parking at the back of the building.
- For more information visit this page
On September 26, 2014, 43 Mexican student-teachers, were kidnapped by Mexican state authorities in Ayotzinapa, Iguala district, Mexico. The resulting social movement has seen millions of people take to the streets in over 100 cities around the world. Now, for the first time, organizers from Ayotzinapa will be speaking in Toronto about their experiences, and calling for support.
Canada plays a critical role in supporting the Mexican state responsible for the disappearances. In 2012, two way trade between Mexico and Canada totalled $20 billion. As a signatory to NAFTA, Mexico is Canada’s 5th largest export destination. Despite the human rights crisis in Mexico, Canada’s refugee system has deemed it a ‘safe country’.
In the lead up the Pan-Am Games, the Pan-Am Economic Summit and the Pan-Am Climate Summit, join us on April 29th to learn about what's happening in Mexico and how we can support them from here in Toronto.
Supported by: CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and Common Frontiers
Endorsed by: No One Is Illegal | Personne n'est illégal | Nadie es ilegal - Toronto, United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada, Amnesty International Toronto Organization and Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network.
(CNNMéxico) — Una delegación de familiares de los 43 normalistas desaparecidos en Iguala, Guerrero, llegó a la ciudad de Vancouver, Canadá, para iniciar un recorrido en diferentes ciudades de ese país.
El recorrido comenzará este domingo y finalizará el 2 de mayo, anunció el centro de derechos humanos Tlachinotlan en un comunicado.
La delegación se reunirá con legisladores y organizaciones de la sociedad civil en Columbia Británica, Quebec y Ontario, para presionar a los parlamentarios canadienses y los responsables políticos a que reconozcan la crisis de derechos humanos en México.
También realizarán una serie de actividades informativas como conferencias y reuniones con académicos, estudiantes, sindicatos y organizaciones no gubernamentales, detalla el comunicado de prensa.
El grupo lo conforman la señora Hilda Legideño Vargas, madre de Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, uno de los normalistas desparecidos; José Luis Clemente Balbuena, integrante del comité estudiantil de la Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa.
El abogado que representa legalmente a los familiares de los normalistas, Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, se sumará a la comitiva a finales de mes.
La delegación tendrá actividades en la Universidad de Quebec, en Montreal, además de una reunión con el subcomité de Derechos Humanos del Parlamento canadiense en Ottawa.
Canada -- Hilda Legideño Vargas, a single mother and crafts seller whose son was disappeared in the September 26th attack; Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a member of the student committee of the Ayotzinapa teachers' college; and Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, a lawyer from the human-rights center Tlachinollan who is the legal representative of the families of the 43 disappeared students will be touring across Canada, meeting with law-makers and civil society groups in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario to press Canadian parliamentarians and policy makers to acknowledge the human rights crisis in Mexico. On April 28th, they will testify before the Subcommittee for International Human Rights at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
Public events & media briefings
April 12, 2pm: Presentation at SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver
April 13, 10am: Media briefing outside Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (Union of BC Indian Chiefs) and Vancouver-East MP Libby Davies
April 17, 6pm: Fundraiser at Commercial Dr. Royal Canadian Legion Hall, Vancouver
April 22, 6pm: Presentation at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Quebec
April 23, 9am: Media Briefing at the Quebec National Assembly, Quebec
April 24, 7pm: Cultural event and solidarity night at Parroquia San Esteban, Toronto
April 26, 12pm: Community gathering at Six Nations
April 29, 5pm: Dinner and presentation, Shelldale Community Centre, Guelph
The crucible of North American neo-liberal transformation is heating up, but its outcome is far from clear. Continental Crucible examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pan-continental and a class struggle perspective. This book also illustrates the ways in which the capitalist classes in Canada, Mexico and the United States used free trade agreements to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally.
The failure of traditional labour responses to stop the continental offensive being waged by big business has led workers and unions to explore new strategies of struggle and organization, pointing to the beginnings of a continental labour movement across North America. The battle for the future of North America has begun.
Click the image for more details about the book
Upcoming Book Launches:
VICTORIA, APRIL 13
At Fernwood Community Association, 1923 Fernwood Road, Victoria, British Columbia, V8T 2Y6.
Monday night, April 13, 7-9:30
VANCOUVER, APRIL 28
Corporate Offensive: Continental Perspectives:
A Panel Discussion of Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America, 2nd edition, 2015
Monday April 28, 2015 7–9:00pm
People’s Co-op Bookstore
1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
April 7, 2015
Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
President of the Republic of Colombia
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) wishes to associate itself to the demonstrations this week in Colombia, which aim to build support for the peace process between your government and the FARC.
We join the call from broad sectors of the Colombian society in expressing our support for positive outcomes from the negotiations that are now taking place in Cuba.
We believe the historical moment to end the long-standing conflict has arrived and we join the call from throughout the Americas for support of the peace process.
We also call on you to strengthen your resolve in promoting peace through the current negotiations and in supporting this week’s demonstrations by ensuring the safety of participants and integrity of their aims.
The CLC calls for a bilateral ceasefire and for an inclusive process that seeks to bring social justice to all Colombians.
Hassan Yussuff, President
cc: La Confederación Sindical de las Américas (CSA)
Frente Amplio por la Paz Colombia
CLC Colombia Working Group
Solidarity with the April 9th, 2015 mobilizations in support of peace, social justice and democracy in Colombia. This mobilization is an important expression of unity and desire of all Colombians for peace.
By Giles Tremlett
At the start of the 2008 academic year, Pablo Iglesias, a 29-year-old lecturer with a pierced eyebrow and a ponytail greeted his students at the political sciences faculty of the Complutense University in Madrid by inviting them to stand on their chairs. The idea was to re-enact a scene from the film Dead Poets Society. Iglesias’s message was simple. His students were there to study power, and the powerful can be challenged. This stunt was typical of him. Politics, Iglesias thought, was not just something to be studied. It was something you either did, or let others do to you. As a professor, he was smart, hyperactive and – as a founder of a university organisation called Counter-Power – quick to back student protest. He did not fit the classic profile of a doctrinaire intellectual from Spain’s communist-led left. But he was clear about what was to blame for the world’s ills: the unfettered, globalised capitalism that, in the wake of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, had installed itself as the developed world’s dominant ideology.
Iglesias and the students, ex-students and faculty academics worked hard to spread their ideas. They produced political television shows and collaborated with their Latin American heroes – left-leaning populist leaders such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador or Evo Morales of Bolivia. But when they launched their own political party on 17 January 2014 and gave it the name Podemos (“We Can”), many dismissed it. With no money, no structure and few concrete policies, it looked like just one of several angry, anti-austerity parties destined to fade away within months.
A year later, on 31 January 2015, Iglesias strode across a stage in Madrid’s emblematic central square, the Puerta del Sol. It was filled with 150,000 people, squeezed in so tightly that it was impossible to move. He addressed the crowd with the impassioned rhetoric for which opponents have branded him a dangerous leftwing populist. He railed against the monsters of “financial totalitarianism” who had humiliated them all. He told Podemos’s followers to dream and, like that noble madman Don Quixote, “take their dreams seriously”. Spain was in the grip of historic, convulsive change. The serried crowd were heirs to the common folk who – armed with knives, flowerpots and stones – had rebelled against Napoleonic troops in nearby streets two centuries earlier. “We can dream, we can win!” he shouted.
Polls suggest that he is right. Since 1982, Spain has been governed by only two parties. Yet El País newspaper now places Podemos at 22%, ahead of both the ruling conservative Partido Popular (PP) and its leftwing opposition Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). If Podemos can grow further, Iglesias could become prime minister after elections that are expected in November. This would be an almost unheard-of achievement for such a young party.
The union representing 51,000 postal workers, which has a lengthy history of allegedly being spied upon by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP, warned that Conservative government’s sweeping anti-terrorism legislation Bill C-51 would bring back the days of out-of-control state surveillance.
“The Canadian Union of Postal Workers knows what it is like to experience out-of-control state surveillance,” Denis Lemelin, National President of Canadian Union of Postal Workers said.
In the early days of the union, the CSIS mole Grant Bristow, was discovered to be working at a postal plant and in the 1980s, CUPW’s national office was bugged by the RCMP.
In the 1990s, the union asked for its security files under the Access to Information Act, only to be denied the bulk of the records, deemed “harmful to the defence of Canada.”
What was released revealed not only a massive surveillance operation on the daily activities of union members, but also collusion between the RCMP and Canada Post management.
The postal workers warn that Bill C-51 would give CSIS even broader powers to invade the privacy of Canadians in the name of combating terrorism
Similar concerns over the bill’s overly sweeping reach was raised by the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Hassan Yussuff, who appeared today before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU).
“Increasing the powers of the security establishment will not necessarily make us safer,” Lemelin said. “The lack of civilian oversight and the dearth of monitoring information-sharing between government agencies in this bill is very disturbing.”
“Bill C-51 would make it all too easy to target ordinary working people or any marginalized group and label them ‘terrorists’,” Lemelin concluded. “We should accept no violations of our human rights and freedoms in the name of national security.”
Former Prime Ministers, legal scholars, academics, labour leaders and First Nations chiefs, have joined thousands of citizens across Canada protesting against the bill, which is supported by the Liberal Party but opposed by New Democrats and the Greens.
The most violent country on the planet isn’t halfway across the globe; it is a 2.5 hour flight from Houston. Most U.S. citizens are at best dimly aware of the bloodshed that is the defining feature of present-day Honduras. Last summer, 2014, Honduran children surfaced on the southern U.S. border by the tens of thousands, prompting a Texas congressman to decry this “invasion of our nation.” Likewise, protesters in California met the young immigrants with angry slogans like “return to sender!” But did protesters have any understanding of the situation these youth were escaping? The violence they’d be thrown back into if they were indeed “returned to sender”?
La Voz Del Pueblo is an 18-minute documentary that explores the difficult and violent Honduran reality through the perspective of journalists at the Jesuit-run radio station, Radio Progreso.
By Rick Salutin
Published in the Toronto Star
Luis Hernandez Navarro was in Toronto this week to speak about the crisis in Mexico after the deaths and kidnappings of student teachers last fall. He’s an eminent journalist and opinion editor at La Jornada, Mexico’s second largest daily. It’s well to the left of leftish papers elsewhere like the Star or Guardian.
He’s exhaustively reported those events in the small city of Iguala in the turbulent state of Guerrero. The students were from one of Mexico’s fabled rural teachers’ colleges, which have been crucial to social progress since the revolution 100 years ago. They were exploring ways to travel to Mexico City to mark the anniversary of a 1968 massacre of student protesters. That included “fishing” for busses which they would “borrow,” and then return. It’s a bit loosey-goosey but so has social order been during the “drug wars” of the last decade. Probably over 120,000 killed; 23,000-30,000 missing. People tolerate informal arrangements. But six of the students were killed in encounters with police and military; 43 disappeared, or were kidnapped. It wasn’t the first or last time but for some reason it resonated nationally and sparked outrage.
It’s routinely mysterious what ignites social explosions, though you can always speculate afterward. In Tunisia in 2010, a street vendor, humiliated by police, set himself afire and the Arab Spring immediately followed. He wasn’t the first or last either. It’s one reason I drifted from my early Marxist leanings: you just can’t “analyze” history well enough to anticipate or manipulate it.
Luis says (in retrospect) that the Iguala events were “the last straw.” Mexico has been deteriorating from a “narco-state” — strong central government colluding with crime cartels — to a “mafia state” — numerous political and criminal elements battling each other chaotically. What resonated from Iguala wasn’t the brutal deaths (face of one student ripped off his skull) but the missing. You can’t stop hoping they’re still alive, though it’s hopeless. And the authorities do nothing, or less: they cover it up, generating more rage. Half of Guerrero’s municipalities have now been seized and governed by local, unofficial groups.
There’s also the resonance of the rural teachers’ colleges. They were part of the two key elements in the original revolution: free universal education and land reform. They brought literacy and hygiene to peasants and still do — though they’ve been under attack since the ’68 protest. They have a legendary status.
And there’s this: in Mexico the revolution never dies away. In the U.S. their revolution is a faded memory, preserved mainly by laughable “re-enactors.” In Canada our relation to our past is so tenuous we must be constantly reminded to recall it. (Remember the War of 1812? Remember last year’s commemoration of it?) In Mexico, history — especially the revolution — always seems right there.
Luis says the momentum from last fall appears to have stalled. The struggle is now between memory and forgetting of that particular event, though others will surely take their place. I asked what keeps him going. He sighed and said, “Right now I am feeling great anger.” He used the word indignation, an interesting term that has recurred in social justice movements lately. I think its appeal is that it contains the term for dignity. Tunisians called their movement the dignity revolution though media tried to label it the “jasmine revolution.”
But he said youth give him hope. In Mexico City, dentistry students asked him to speak about Iguala, to describe “what wasn’t on TV.” They thanked him for telling them what they already felt but didn’t fully know. It’s surprising where you can find hope for a nobler future: dentists. Take note, Dalhousie.
Then he asked why this interested me. Without a ready answer, I said too glibly, Because nothing human is alien to me. Aha, he replied, “Carlos Marx said that too. You’re not as far from him as you think.” It’s true, there was a 19th-century version of the lightning round and Marx gave that line, in the original Latin, as his favourite saying. And glibness aside, I believe it. You don’t have to be an expert or linguist to find things that are common and even inspiring in distant settings. Besides, we’re cellmates, us and the Mexicans, in NAFTA.
IndustriALL Global Union strongly denounces yesterday’s abhorrent terrorist attack in Tunis, which has killed at least 22 people and injured more than 40.
The brutal attack at the Bardo museum in the Tunisian capital is a bitter blow to the country, which has had two peaceful democratic elections since dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted by a popular uprising in 2011.
“We will not let you steal our revolution,” was the message being shouted on the streets of Tunis in an immediate reaction to the attacks, said Tahar Berberi, leader of IndustriALL-affiliated metal and electronics workers' union FGME-UGTT.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of the murdered victims and hope that the many who are injured make a quick recovery. Terrorists must never be allowed to undermine the Tunisian people’s desire for democracy and peace, for which the unions have fought so hard,” said IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina.
To show their anger, the national trade union centre, UGTT, is leading a sit-in of unionists and citizens outside the national parliament this afternoon, to express solidarity for the victims and their rejection of terrorism.
“Unions in Tunisia are united in condemnation of this cowardly attack, which will only strengthen our solidarity. We will emerge stronger than before,” said Berberi.
Unions have played a pivotal role in achieving democracy in Tunisia and toppling the dictatorship four years ago.
“All the civic and political parties have cast aside their differences and are behind the President and the Tunisian government,” said Berberi.
Twenty of the dead were foreign tourists, according to Tunisian authorities.
“In addition to the human tragedy, it will harm the country and its economy,” said Berberi. “Tourist agencies are already cancelling trips.”
On Sunday, the UGTT executive committee will discuss a call for an international conference to fight terrorism which would include global social forces and civil society, said Berberi.
In recognition of unions’ contribution to democracy, IndustriALL held its Executive Committee meeting in Tunis last December to support building a new society in which trade unions and workers are important players.
Next week IndustriALL will send a sizeable delegation to the World Social Forum taking place in Tunis next week from 25–28 March. “The social movement in Tunisia and the region counts on the global support of democratic forces to oppose violence and terrorism,” said the Forum’s coordinator Abderrahmane Hedhili.
IndustriALL will be participating in several workshops with affiliates and social partners at the event.
“Now, more than ever, the international community must show its solidarity for Tunisia,” said Raina.
There has been a call out to protest Bill C-51 on March 14, 2015 in cities across the country.
The proposed legislation Bill C-51 would clearly allow for the violation of Charter Rights, facilitate spying on innocent Canadians, and create a secret police force with little oversight or accountability.
This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials. This bill will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people.
C-51 is reckless, irresponsible and ineffective.
We are calling on the government to withdraw the legislation.
We are calling on everyone to do what they can to bring attention to this governments attempt to compromise privacy for false security, while promoting a culture of fear and racism.
Please send a message to your MP, share this event, and join us on March 14!
To find an event near you click here
In a letter from Staff Sergeant Les Dolhun, team leader for the K Division Federal Policing South’s Financial Integry Team, based in Calgary, Alberta and dated February 18, 2015 (Reference: 2009-479985) to MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian government delivered its response to the case of Blackfire Exploration Ltd. and Blackfire Exploration Mexico S. de R.L. de C.V. with regard to the bribery and corruption in 2008 of then Municipal President in Chicomuselo, Chiapas - Julio César Velázquez Calderón - from the PRD party.
“Thank you for your referral. We have completed our investigation into this matter. The assessment of the evidence does not support criminal charges and accordingly, we will be concluding our file. Please be advised that the RCMP does not comment on concluded investigations which do not result in criminal charges,” is the response. This letter concludes the investigation into a conflict that culminated with the murder of Mariano Abarca Roblero, a member of the Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples (REMA by its initials in Spanish). Since 2010, it was clear that the RCMP should carry out an investigation in situ, but that was never done.
Rather, since five years ago when Canadian organizations MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers, United Steelworkers and others submitted irrefutable evidence, including copies of cheques paid out to the then Municipal President, the Canadian government has continually demonstrating its partiality toward Canadian companies beyond its borders allowing them to operate with impunity and without respect for human rights. On the basis of the recent report about Canadian Embassy support for Excellon Resources in Durango and other companies in Mexico, it is clear that the Canadian government backs human rights violations in connection with its companies, making it complicit in violence, corruption and bribery.
The Mariano Abarca Environmental Foundation (FAMA by its initials in Spanish) and Otros Mundos, A.C., both members of REMA in Chiapas, denounce the lack of commitment on the part of the Canadian government to protect and promote human rights enshrined in international conventions in the framework of the United Nations. This decision to leave this case in impunity clears the way for Blackfire, which still has mining concessions in Chiapas, to continue with business as usual in a municipality where the installation of a military barracks has just been announced. The VII Military Region of the State in White Rock (Predio Piedra Blanca) will occupy 60 hectares where a batallion will operate and reside. Given this, we also denounce the militarization of a region plagued with mining concessions.
As peoples, organizations and social movements we will continue struggling in defense of land and territory. We will not allow more Canadian mining companies on our territories.
For a Chiapas free of mining!
Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Peoples – Chiapas (REMA Chiapas)
Translated from the original in Spanish: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/temas-analisis/32-32-mineria/1912-la-rema-deplora-el-resultado-del-gobierno-canadiense-sobre-el-caso-blackfire-en-chicomuselo-chiapas
We are popular movements, social and cultural centres, community media, solidarity circles, Union groupings, cooperation networks; accompanied by intellectuals, artists and by people in general who are supportive of the popular cause and identified with revolutionary processes, we are fighting for independence, sovereignty and social justice.
Faced with the attacks on Venezuela by capitalism’s power nexus, we are called on and we call on others to organize a simultaneous week of solidarity with Venezuela. Through exchanging and articulating cultural activities, this initiative aims to bring together expressions of world solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.
These activities, which will take place between 1 and 8 March, plan to create spaces where various peoples can showcase their own cultural expressions: cine-fora, places for debate, rallies, artistic activities, etc.
Organising the ideological and cultural battle
The attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution is an extremely important goal for the international right. It includes systematic propaganda by the privately owned international media linked to other aspects of the capitalist offensive. The ideological arena, the battle of ideas, is a key area for the Revolution, both nationally and internationally.
Expressions of solidarity from millions of people, and in some case, from their governments, is the main international support for the Venezuela, attacked on all sides by imperialism, especially by the most conservative sectors in the US and their accomplices.
This is why we must coordinate this force so that it can have a greater impact. Every advance made in unity and brotherhood among peoples is an achievement that works in favour of the profound social changes that we need all over the planet. Defending the Bolivarian Revolution means contributing to those advances, therefore, we call on all to coordinate our efforts, adding our voice in all five continents.
For more information or to join the campaign send an e-mail to LosPueblosConVenezuela@gmail.com
Common Frontiers is one of hundreds of organizations around the world (and possibly the only Canadian organization, so far) to sign on to this week of solidarity. To see the complete list, click on the link below:
-List of signatories (PDF)
Presented by: The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
On September 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College were attacked by police and gunmen in the town of Iguala. Three were killed, dozens injured and 43 student-teachers were taken away, never to be seen again. This atrocity is part of a landscape of violence and impunity carried out through alliances among elements of the Mexican state and organized crime. In response, a national movement of resistance has emerged. This panel of experts on contemporary Mexico explores the context surrounding these events including the rise of drug violence, long standing popular movements among teachers and students, meaningful democracy, and the links between powerful interests in licit and illicit industries.
Note Change of Location:
87 Elm St
Date and Time: March 18th, 2015 from 5:00 - 8:00
Reception to follow - Food and refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by CERLAC, York University, Common Frontiers, and Amnesty International
Common Frontiers condemns the attempted coup plot orchestrated by anti-government forces to coincide with the commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the violent opposition-led demonstrations that saw more than 43 people killed.
As anti-government demonstrations once again clash with police on the streets, hurling Molotov cocktails injuring five security officials and three demonstrators, behind the scenes the architects of the failed coup were meticulously planning. Details released by government sources indicate that a small group of civilians and air force officials were recruited to carry out the plan, which included bombing the Presidential Palace, the offices of teleSUR, assassinating President Maduro, and installing a “transitional government”. The leader of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello revealed the government has confiscated grenades, military and Sebin (intelligence) uniforms, and a video with masked military officials speaking out against the government and detailing the plan.
The Bolivarian project has undertaken 18 internationally recognized democratic elections over the past fifteen years winning all but one. In 2013, pro-government candidates obtained 54% of the national vote in nation-wide municipal elections winning in over three-fourths of the municipalities. These victories are testament to the overwhelming support for the Bolivarian project in Venezuela. The failure of the opposition in the electoral arena has motivated them to undertake extreme measures to challenge the government. Under a campaign called “the exit” they have publicly called for regime change and aligned with the business elites engaging in economic destabilization through hording of products as part of a psychological war to create fear and chaos.
Common Frontiers stands in Solidarity with the people of Venezuela and rejects attempts at undermining Venezuela's sovereignty. We oppose any efforts both locally or internationally that seek to rupture the Constitutional order in Venezuela.
We call on the Canadian government and Parliament to:
We were delighted to read that your party participated in an event advocating the promotion and protection of human rights on the eve of the first anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. We were however, dismayed to see included in the list of political prisoners, Mr. Leopoldo López referred to as a “distinguished” Venezuelan by Conservative MP Scott Reid. López is indeed distinguished but not for being a democrat or respectful of his country’s constitution but rather for his long history of violence and corruption while seeking to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected governments of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His own allies, staff at the US embassy in Caracas described him as “arrogant, vengeful, and thirsty for power” according to documents released by Wikileaks.
He is the de facto leader of the extreme right wing opposition leading demonstrations organized as part of a strategy launched by him and other hard-line opposition members, called “the exit” in English. The strategy led to 43 deaths and hundreds wounded, including security officers, civilian bystanders and members from both sides.
López has made no secret of his intention to ultimately remove President Maduro from office and was arrested after leading a large opposition demonstration in central Caracas on the 12th of February 2014, which led to three deaths and the destruction of the Attorney General’s office. The state maintains that the march’s main aim was to destabilize the country by provoking a coup d'etat. Even fellow opposition members called his “push for street demonstrations as irresponsible”.
Like in Canada, the judicial system in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is autonomous and President Maduro cannot interfere in judicial proceedings; any attempt to do so would be a flagrant violation of judicial sovereignty and autonomy. The government has indicated that proceedings against López are being conducted within the framework of the law and have nothing to do with the president. An independent judge found enough evidence to have López stand trial for serious charges that include public incitement (to violence), criminal association, and property and fire damage. The prosecution presented more than 108 witnesses to support their case. López supporters claim that the delay in his trial is tantamount to political repression. However, Venezuelan constitutional lawyer, Jesus Silva points out that it’s the defense’s own tactic to repeatedly delay proceedings to avoid going to trial and use it “as an international political platform”.
López is no stranger to the criminal system in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and his distinguished criminal record dates back to when he was Mayor of Chacao. In 2008, he was accused of corruption stemming from his majorship when it was uncovered he had diverted public funds from the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A to his political party, Primera Justicia. He was barred from seeking public office for 6 years by the national comptroller-general. López challenged these charges in 2011 but lost when the Supreme Court upheld the ban.
López has been engaged in destabilizing activities against the Bolivarian government for many years. There is well documented evidence that he has received extensive funding from US agencies, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) whose end goal is regime change.
Lopez is infamous for orchestrating and leading violent protests that lead to the coup d'etat against former president Hugo Chavez in 2002. He played a key role in the illegal arrest of Chavez's interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín and signed the now infamous “Carmona Decree” which dissolved the Venezuelan constitution and appointed Pedro Carmona as interim president. After the failed coup, López and his co-conspirators were charged but were fortunate that former president Chavez issued a general amnesty to all those involved in the coup.
Most recently, Leopoldo made headlines again but this time in Singapore where the Singapore Research Department opened an investigation against several people for fraud, including himself and his father, for money laundering.
If any Venezuelans deserve to be honoured, they are the victims of violence caused during the protests that were led by extreme right wing leaders like López. The relatives of victims of the opposition violence have announced that they have formed an action committee to seek justice and raise awareness about the right-wing violence.
We applaud efforts to draw attention to political repression around the world but not when it serves the interests of the right-wing agenda in Canada and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Common Frontiers – Program Director
After losing the elections of April 14, 2013, and having failed in their efforts to cast doubt on the electoral results, the Venezuelan right-wing, with the advice of U.S. agents, changed its tactic: they recycled a plan of action formerly used against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and launched an economic sabotage aimed at bringing down the Venezuelan government on the eve of the municipal elections of December 8. As a response, the Bolivarian government is working through its institutions to form an alliance with workers and other sectors of the organized population. The aim of this alliance is to combat hoarding and speculation, which are the principal elements of the economic struggle that is now taking place in Venezuela
By Judith Marshall
During a visit to Mozambique in September 2014, I witnessed a protest against Brazilian mining giant, Vale. Villagers from Bagamoyo, adjacent to Vale’s coal mine, were fighting construction of a chain met- al fence through their community. Vale claimed it was fencing off “unoccupied land” leased from the Mozambican government. If a “trespasser” had an accident, Vale would be liable!
Chatting with community members as they made their protest signs, it became abundantly clear that this “unoccupied” land was, in fact, the village “commons”. While their houses were within the village, they and generations before them had lived off land on the village outskirts and even used part of the land as a cemetery. The Mozambican government had included this land in the leasehold with Vale for its mining operations without informing the Bagamoyo community members. Their farms and their mango trees were on this land. They raised their goats and cattle there. This land was a source of firewood and charcoal for cooking, thatch for roofing and sticks for drying racks for cassava roots, and clay for building blocks. Vale had already bulldozed some of their kilns built next to the clay deposits.
What has given big mining companies the power to grab land already under traditional communal usage all around the globe? Why do governments of every stripe – dictatorial, liberal, socialist – baptise these extractive sector companies as ‘development partners’ and abdicate any stewardship role over their country’s natural resources and the rights and well-being of their own citizens?
-download the complete article (pdf 358KB)
Abog. Óscar Fernando Chinchilla
Fiscal General de la República
Tel. (504) 22215665
Correo electrónico: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Abog. Oscar Chinchilla,
On January 5 of this year, Juan Francisco Martínez, a member of the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz (MILPAH), was found murdered in his community of Tapuyman in Santa Elena, La Paz, Honduras. According to the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC), his body was found with burn marks and his hands were bound with laces from military boots. Based on this evidence, Juan Francisco is believed to have been assassinated. Since August, Juan Francisco’s family has also received repeated threats of violence.
The below-signed organizations and individuals share the worry of Honduran organizations that Juan Francisco’s murder was a direct result of his efforts in defense of collective Indigenous land. In particular, the organization to which he belonged, the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz (MILPAH), has been very active in challenging a high-profile hydroelectric energy project that has made the organization and its supporters targets of similar assassinations, and left many the victims of death threats, kidnapping, and vandalism. The Los Encinos S.A. dam is part of an energy project funded by Gladys Aurora López, a National Party Deputy and Vice President of the Honduran Congress. Permission to build the project was granted without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected community. This is a blatant violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Honduras has endorsed, as well as the International Labour Organization Convention 169 and other international jurisprudence.
OVER MORE THAN A YEAR AGO, JUSTICE CANADA REPRESENTATIVES SENT INFORMATION TO THE COSTA RICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL ABOUT THE CASE
Canadian MP, Peter Julian, asks his government for the report on the alleged donation to Fundación Arias.
New Democratic Party member criticizes his government for not being open and for not releasing information of public interest.
After two requests for information, the Costa Rican Attorney General asked for the case against the ex-president of Arias to be dismissed.
by Manuel Sancho,
published by CRHoy.com in Costa Rica
-To enable captions, click on CC in the menubar. -more help
by Gareth Kirkby
From The Huffington Post
It's what charities have feared. The results are trickling in from the Harper government's program of stepped-up Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audits of charities that tend to have different policy ideas than those of this government -- and it ain't pretty.
Sadly, the early results are in sync with the findings of my recent thesis, which triggered a national conversation about political interference by the Harper government in the workings of the taxman and causing an advocacy chill in charity communications. And that in turn impacts on Canada's public discussions and thus on the vigour of democracy itself.
The first of the latest two charities to make the news include Alternatives, a small Montreal-based development and human rights organization, which has been around since 1994 doing work through partners in developing nations.
Toronto-based Environmental Defence a three decades-old and highly regarded Ontario environmental charity, is the other group to be given bad news, though it has received a reprieve from being closed down so that it can appeal a death sentence. While the main focus of media attention has been on whether charities will lose tax receipting privileges because of CRA's changing interpretations of acceptable activities, the problems faced by these two organizations is of a different, though very disturbing, nature.
CRA is telling them that they will lose their charitable status because their very activities have been reclassified as "non-charitable," that previous finding them in good stead were wrong, and that they should not have been given charitable status in the first place.
Alternatives is expecting to close shop, and it's understandable. Executive Director Michel Lambert told CBC News reporter Dean Beebie, that he expects CRA to offer them a contract in order to continue their work but that he expects the terms will not be ethically acceptable. That's because Alternatives has an approach to its work with Third World partners that respects the ability of the partner to run the programs funded by Alternatives.
Alternatives' approach to partnerships may seem obvious to readers, who cannot imagine that Montreal staff of a Canadian charity would know the details of what is best for Third World partners and their clients. Are charities expected to duplicate former Colonialist power structures by micromanaging the work of Third World locals in order to satisfy the Canadian taxman?
Well, actually, yes. Media reported last summer on the experience of CoDev, a very small Vancouver development charity that works to empower Latin American communities. But CRA upbraided them for not having sufficient control over their partners. Shocking but true. But also, I suspect, also unworkable and so, ultimately, likely to lead to CoDev losing its charitable status in a future audit unless CRA comes to its senses.
Written testimony of Alexander Main to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons of Canada; December 9, 2014.
Center for Economic Policy and Research
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss with you the current situation of human rights and democracy in Honduras. In my work as an analyst for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, I focus primarily on political, economic and social developments in Latin America and the Caribbean. For the past five years I have been closely monitoring developments in Honduras and have had frequent interaction with human rights defenders, academics, journalists and officials located in that country.
On June 28, 2009, a coup d’Etat led to the forced removal of democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya. The coup was followed by widespread repression, media closures and censorship and a prolonged political crisis. Elections held under the coup government of Roberto Micheletti in late 2009 were boycotted by opposition groups and were recognized by only a small number of the region’s governments, among them the U.S. and Canada.
Honduras has long been plagued by poverty, high levels of crime, and weak and corrupt institutions. The 2009 coup dramatically escalated these problems and has sparked significant regression in other areas. Following the coup, the Honduran government’s democratic legitimacy was severely compromised; targeted killings, violent attacks and threats against members of at-risk sectors of society escalated; impunity reached record levels; and law enforcement became increasingly militarized.
In November of 2013, new elections were held. Opposition parties participated, the European Union and Organization of American States sent electoral monitors, and human rights groups expressed hope that the elections would allow the country to begin turning the page on the coup and its bitter aftermath. This hope was dampened by political violence and reports of irregularities and fraud.
My presentation today will focus on the 12 months that have transpired since these elections. I'll offer my assessment of whether or not the country’s negative trends in the areas of human rights and democracy have begun to reverse course under the government of the contested winner of the 2013 elections, Juan Orlando Hernández. I’ll focus on addressing the issues that the Subcommittee has expressed particular interest in, and will also touch on additional aspects that I believe can help provide a better understanding of the overall situation.
Since the 2012 Refugee Exclusion Act, Mexico and forty other countries have been placed on the "Designated Countries of Origin" list. Refugee claimants from these countries face a different legal system: they have fewer rights and the timelines for their claims are shorter. This enables Canada to fast-tracks deportations to these countries.
Common Frontiers has joined many other organizations and individuals in sponsoring a petition calling on the Canadian government to remove Mexisco from the refugee list of safe countries.
by Rachel Warden
Originally posted to www.kairoscanada.org on Dec 4
I have been in Quito, Ecuador meeting with KAIROS partners Acción Ecológica and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) before heading to Lima, Peru for the Peoples’ summit and the 20th UN Conference on climate change, known as COP20.
Today, I visited the offices of Acción Ecológica. I was anticipating a celebratory mood as the team prepares for the gatherings in Lima, but instead I found a strong, collective feeling of concern and grief over two disturbing and tragic events.
Ecuador Youth Caravan SoldiersThe caravan with members of the movement defending Ecuador’s Yasuni national park against the destructive oil extraction (Yasunidos) was heading to Lima from Quito (about a 4 day journey) in a very visible, colourfully painted bus when it was detained several times by police in Ecuador. The Yasunidos is a movement of mainly young people, students and artists who are committed to protecting the Yasuni and keeping the oil in the ground. They are on their way to Lima to present the Yasuni’s case at a Tribunal on the Rights of Nature on Friday Dec 5.
Being young and savvy in social media, the group disseminated information about their harassment and detention. Esperanza Morales, part of the Acción Ecológica team, explained that the caravan had been detained several times, that the Yasunidos had been harassed, and that their documents and cell phones were confiscated. At about 4am, when the bus was detained for a 5th time and they were forced off course and into a small town, the delegation, still determined to get to Lima, decided to complete the journey on local buses and left two representatives with their beloved bus. Esperanza said the government is trying to prevent the caravan from getting to Lima. “These youth, students and artists are the new political prisoners here,” she added. She shared photos of the students being detained, kneeling with their hands on the bus, and of members of the police and military occupying the bus. Acción Ecológica asked me to share this information widely to protect the caravan. The Yasunidos were shaken and delayed, but thankfully no one was hurt. However, these events demonstrate the lengths to which the government is willing to go to prevent those voices from being heard in Lima, as well as the sheer determination of the students.
The Acción Ecológica team was also reeling from news received that morning of the killing of Shuar leader, Jose Isidro Tebdetza. Jose Isidro was president of a community in the Cordillera del Condor, in southeast Ecuador, that is impacted by the Mirador Copper mine. The mine was owned by a Canadian company, Corriente Resources, until 2010 when it was bought by a Chinese-owned enterprise. Jose Isidro was a visible and outspoken critic of the mine, which generated a lot of tension and conflict in the community. Gloria Chicaiza, coordinator of Acción Ecológica’s mining work, shared the horrific details of Jose Isidro’s death. He had disappeared last Friday on his way to a community meeting. That morning, family members identified his body from photos. His hands were tied and there were signs of torture. Acción Ecológica was working on a bulletin and urgent action and I will circulate this information when it becomes available.
What was meant to be a celebratory launch for Acción Ecológica’s delegation to the Peoples’ Summit and COP20 in Lima had become an emergency meeting as they struggled to respond to these terrible events, which are further evidence of the repression and threats facing the ecological justice movement and Indigenous leaders in Ecuador.
Tomorrow I leave for Lima. I will be joining a delegation of 30 women from Ecuador and 11 from the rest of Latin America who will focus on the gendered impacts of resource extraction and climate change. KAIROS has supported this work through our partnership with Acción Ecológica, and I feel privileged to be able to accompany the delegation. On Friday, I will be participating in the Tribunal on the Rights of Nature in which the case of the Yasuni will be presented. I hope the Yasunidos will arrive safe and sound and on time to share their testimonies.
By Asad Ismi
The Latin American Revolution continued to score major victories in 2014 with the re-election of leftist parties in Brazil, Bolivia and El Salvador. This is the left’s fourth consecutive term in Brazil, its third in Bolivia, and its first re-election in El Salvador (see “Social movements and the FMLN’s second term,” October 2014). Altogether leftist parties now govern in 10 Latin American countries, with these latest victories showing a deepening of the revolution, and a growing political maturity and confidence on the left.
On October 26, President Dilma Rousseff of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), which has been in power for the past 12 years, narrowly defeated pro-business rival Aécio Neves by 3.5 million votes. Rousseff describes herself as an economist, a mother, grandmother and wife who has overcome lymphatic cancer. She is also a former member of the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard, a Cuban Revolution–inspired urban guerrilla organization that fought the brutal 20-year U.S.-backed military dictatorship that seized power in 1964. She was imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship.
The close margin of Rousseff’s victory is not particularly unusual, since many U.S. presidents have won with similar numbers. This was, when all is considered, a vote for continuity. However, the tight race does signify important changes in the composition of the PT’s base. Where previous elections were won with support from the middle class in the south of the country, this time Rousseff can thank the poor who live mainly in the north of Brazil.
According to Manuel Larrabure, a PhD candidate in political science at York University who is writing his thesis on alternatives to neoliberalism in Brazil and Venezuela, the Brazilian middle class is split: one faction still supports the PT while another has gone over to the neoliberal opposition represented by Neves.
“The pro-PT middle class could be called the ‘progressive’ middle class,” Larrabure explains. “Although there is some disappointment with the PT in this section of the middle class, most of it voted PT. However, some of this section has drifted to [other parties on] the left.
“The anti-PT middle class opposes the PT’s social programs and could be called the ‘centrist’ middle class. Some of this middle class voted PT in the past hoping for growth and employment. However, a significant part of this middle class switched to Neves in this election in part because of the slowing economy and in part because of the fear and demonization campaigns launched by the corporate media against the PT.”
-read the entire article
Asad Ismi is an international affairs correspondent for The Monitor and the author of the anthology The Latin American Revolution, which can be ordered from the CCPA by writing email@example.com. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.
The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial organizations (AFL-CIO) has sent a letter to the president of Equitable Origin expressing "serious concerns" regarding Equitable Origin’s recent certification of the Pacific Rubiales and Quifa production sites of Pacific Rubiales and the process that led to it.
"Our organization represents 12.5 million workers in the United States, including many thousands in the petroleum and gas sectors. We also coordinate actions with institutional investors that make serious efforts to encourage socially responsible investment. For reasons detailed below, we strongly believe that certifying these Pacific Rubiales sites was an egregious mistake that will damage the credibility of Equitable Origin's incipient efforts to certify oil and gas produ ers as socially and environmentally responsible."
On September 26th 2014, over 100 students from a rural teacher’s college were passing through the nearby town of Iguala in Guerrero en route to a demonstration in Mexico City. Three were killed along with three bystanders and 43 are still missing. The families of the students continue to demand that their children be returned alive.
The search for the students has unearthed a number of mass graves and has lead to an eruption of p...rotests across the country. The parents of the missing students have traveled throughout the country meeting with communities that have also experienced killings and disappearances. The family insists it was not simply a local occurrence but something that happens in many places, and that the responsibility lies with the state.
The incident has highlighted this ongoing problem in the country – exceedingly high rate of disappearances and murders related both to the drug war and the state’s attempt to suppress opposition to neo-liberal reforms, reforms which have been intensified under the current Peña Nieto regime.
Despite the human rights violations and repression by the state, the U.S. continues to praise the Mexican President and fund the drug war. Canada is also complicit in backing the state and pushing for business-friendly policies.
At the end of 2013, reforms were passed to open Mexico's petroleum sector to foreign investment and to make it easier for mining companies, many of which are Canadian, to displace local populations for mining projects.
Please join us as our panel explores these and other issues underlying the recent tragedy.
Anna Zalik, Associate Professor at York University, writes extensively on the oil sector and capitalist development in Mexico, Nigeria, and Canada.
Richard Roman, co-author of Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers, and Unions in the Transformation of North America.
Judith Adler Hellman, Professor of Political Science at York University and author of The World of Mexican Migrants (2008), Mexican Lives (1999) and Mexico in Crisis (1988).
Ricardo Bocanegra Meza, Student at York University, organizer of Mexico solidarity actions in Toronto
For more information see the Facebook event
Sponsored by: Centre for Social Justice and Common Frontiers
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