Current Activity Updates
December 26, 2010
Cancun Climate Summit
“Change the System, Not the climate”
Report from the International Forum on Climate Justice – Cancun, Dec. 5-10, 2010
For six days between Dec 6th and 10th hundreds of Mexican and International organizations collaborated to hold the International Forum on Climate Justice (IFCJ) in Cancun, Mexico. This event ran parallel to the official 16th meeting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – commonly referred to as COP-16.
The IFCJ events were held at Super Manzana 21 (Manzana = Block) in Cancun, a complex that included a gym, cultural centre and some open land where large meeting tents were pitched. Opening day (December 5th) began with a couple of panels that were introductory in nature, structured to accommodate a varied knowledge base among those in attendance. John Dillon from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, spoke on the second panel addressing the topic of ‘Free Trade and Climate Change’. Not surprisingly, the Canadian tar sands debacle came in for more than one mention! Following this panel John also chaired a small group discussion that looked at the international financial system and its responsibility for the climate crisis. The three panels held on December 6th focused on natural resources, forests, and indigenous nations.
December 11, 2010
Cancun Climate Summit
COP 16 ends: Cancun climate change talks disappoint global expectations
In the early morning hours of December 11, 2010 a COP 16 Accord was
announced. However the text of this Accord did not represent an advance on
what came out of last year´s "Copenhagen Accord", and instead signalled an
acceptance of the earlier ´agreement´ thereby evading any real solutions
to the climate change crisis.
December 6, 2010
Cancun Climate Summit
HSA Report From Cancun:
Balance after the first week of the COP 16: the significant threat of a Copenhagen Plus Accord
Following the first week of negotiations in Cancun, the key conclusion that civil society groups have reached is that the same actors behind the Copenhagen Accord are the ones who continue to collude – this has been their plan from the beginning – to put the negotiations into a blind alleyway. It is necessary to spell out what is happening in these climate change negotiations and to get the word out internationally regarding the risks at play. In last year´s COP 15 in Denmark, finalizing the draft agreement only kicked into high gear just as the Presidents were arriving, some three days before the negotiations were scheduled to end.
For Immediate Release
November 29, 2010
Second Postmedia newspaper refuses ‘In Memoriam’ for killed Mexican opponent of Canadian mine
An ‘In Memoriam’ classified ad to be run on November 27 on behalf of the family of murdered anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca R. was called "unsuitable" by the Calgary Herald, and then ‘propaganda’ by a representative of the Edmonton Journal although other Canadian newspapers including the Globe and Mail have published it.
For Immediate Release
November 26, 2010
‘In Memoriam’ for murdered Mexican anti-mining activist refused by Calgary Herald
An ‘In Memoriam’ classified ad to be run on November 27th on behalf of the family of murdered anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca R. has been called "unsuitable" by the Calgary Herald, though several other Canadian newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal, have agreed to print it. - UPDATE - Late on Nov 26, The Edmonton Jounal informed Common Frontiers that it would also refuse to print the item.
"We are confused about why the Calgary Herald would refuse a paid ‘In Memoriam’ on the anniversary of the death of Mariano Abarca. Former employees of Blackfire Exploration, a Calgary-based firm, are in jail in Chiapas, Mexico awaiting court appearances related to his murder. We sincerely hope the Herald is not simply trying to avoid controversy from a local company," says Rick Arnold, coordinator of Common Frontiers.
Cancun, December 5-10, 2010
International Forum on Climate Justice
The People’s Dialogue
Civil society organizations, social movements, nationally and internationally organized indigenous communities together in coordination with international networks and organizations and constituted as an International Committee call for discussion, mobilization and intervention in the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-16) in the city of Cancun, Mexico, December 3-11. This mobilization will be accompanied by a number of activities in Mexico and around the world and will include the national and international caravans that are expected to arrive in Cancun.
November 16, 2010
To all communities affected by Canadian mining operations:
As Canadians, we deeply regret the failure of our Members of Parliament to hold mining companies accountable for their human rights records and environmental practices abroad and to hold our government accountable for the financial and political support it provides to Canadian mining companies. On October 27, 2010, Bill C-300, entitled the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries Act, was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 140-134. If the bill had passed it would have created a framework of human rights and environmental standards for Canadian extractive companies operating in developing countries.
November 11, 2010
G-20 meeting in Seoul - the Hemispheric Social Alliance calls for real change
Since 2008, a date that marked the beginning of the most recent global crisis that started off in the U.S., the G-20 has unilaterally taken over the role as the key forum charged with global problem solving without either taking into account the other 172 countries represented in the United Nations, or listening to diverging opinion and analysis such as that represented in the Stiglitz report.
In its early days the G-20 debated themes such as development, employment and the environment with even some talk of fundamental solutions that would challenge the underpinnings of the international financial architecture such as regulating financial markets, combating fiscal paradises and the illicit flow of capital, and promoting the idea of a financial transaction tax. But over time we have witnessed that more conservative proposals have gained the upper hand based on the assumption that market forces are either resolving the crisis already, or have the capacity to do so.
August 19, 2010
Americas Social Forum (ASF)
Asuncion, Paraguay Aug 11 - 15
The most recent Americas Social Forum (ASF) took place in Asuncion, Paraguay August 11-15, 2010. Compared to some of the more massive (and chaotic) Social Forums of the previous decade, this version was a more intimate gathering of many of the key social forces from around our hemisphere. This event took place against a backdrop of uncertainty facing Paraguay and its social democratic President Fernando Lugo. Some feel that Paraguay may be next in line for a Honduras-style coup to return power to the oligarchy, a situation which may have been compounded by Lugo's recent diagnosis of lymphoma cancer. However Lugo got out of his hospital bed in Sao Paulo on August 14 and flew back to Asuncion in time to give a stirring speech that same afternoon to Social Forum participants that had packed a downtown gymnasium to hear him. This Social Forum also featured a colourful 8 kilometer march from one side of the capital city to city hall on the other, as well as dozens of self-generated workshops held mostly in tents set up for the purpose.
- Download a short report from the ASF in Paraguay with photos (PDF - 6.9MB)
July 15, 2010
Colombian Action Network on Free Trade
Free Trade Agreement with Canada
is Bad News for Colombia
Contrary to the euphoria displayed by the government of Uribe Velez over the ratification of the FTA with Canada, a glee that was also parroted by Colombian media outlets owned by foreign multinationals, this Treaty is bad news for the people of Colombia.
It is not true, as the Ministry of Commerce claims, that sales by Colombia to Canada will grow because of access to a large market. Exports to Canada don’t even represent 1% of the national total, and if we haven’t been exporting more it is not because of the lack of an FTA, but rather that the country just doesn’t produce what Canadians are interested in buying.
July 1, 2010
Witnessing resistance in Honduras
Quixote Centre Honduras Delegation update July 1st, 2010
Caitlin Power Hancey, Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)
This is the second report from Honduras by Caitlin Power Hancey, who was one of the Canadian delegates on a bi-national delegation.
The Honduran resistance movement is real—it is also strong, diverse, and decidedly non-violent.
This is the last day of our international accompaniment and observation delegation to Honduras. For the past week our delegation has been busy accompanying a range of events leading up to the anniversary of the coup on June 28th, or “the anniversary active of popular resistance in Honduras.” We also continued meetings with representatives from various sectors active in the resistance movement—including women’s rights organizations, LGBTI coalitions, youth groups, academics, teacher’s unions, and peace-building organizations.
June 24, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bi-national Delegation to Conduct Human Rights Accompaniment and
Observation in Lead-Up to the 1-year Anniversary of the Coup d’État in
Common Frontiers has been working with other organizations in Canada, Honduras and the USA to have delegates from Canada on a bi-national delegation that is in Honduras until the end of June. In addition there will be a Canadian lawyer sitting on the alternative People's Truth Commission that will be inaugurated on June 28 at a ceremony in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras.
UPDATE - JUNE 25 - The first report from the observers was filed today by Caitlin Power Hancey.
"Today was the second day of our international human rights accompaniment and observation delegation in Honduras. Initial meetings were held yesterday with representatives from the International Committee of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), the leadership of the FNRP, and Honduran Platform for Human Rights. They gave a general overview of the events leading up to the coup on June 28 of last year, the human rights situation in Honduras since the coup, and their continued work to reconstruct democracy in Honduras under increasing repression. This violent repression has continued under the government Porfirio Lobo, who was named president following a campaign and election process held under the auspices of the de facto coup government in the last half of 2009."
April 29, 2010
World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.
If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people.The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.
April 21, 2010
For Immediate Release
Canadian Fact-finding Delegation Discovers Mexican Community Devastated by Blackfire Mining Activities
OTTAWA, 21 April 2010 - A Canadian delegation that visited Chiapas, Mexico following the murder of social activist Mariano Abarca and the involvement of several employees of the Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration has concluded that Blackfire should leave Chiapas, and the Canadian Parliament needs to act now to prevent further international mining conflicts from turning deadly.
Blackfire's barite mining operation near the town of Chicomuselo in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas was closed by state environmental authorities on December 7, 2009. Mariano Abarca Roblero was shot dead in front of his house on November 27, 2009.
"What we found during our investigation was a community devastated by the ever-present intimidation, violence, bad mining practices, environmental destruction, and legal harassment - and the bloody murder of Mariano Abarca, who spoke up against this destruction," said Rick Arnold, of Common Frontiers.
- Chiapas Delegation Report Executive Summary
- Chiapas Delegation - Full Report
- Scan of Memorandum of Understanding between Grecia Ejido & Blackfire
- Scan of Lease Agreement between Grecia Ejido & Blackfire Exploration
- Scan of SEMAVI Report on Closure of Payback Mine
April 16, 2010
The world comes to Cochabamba..
Common Frontiers and its member groups will be sending 13 delegates to Bolivia for the World Climate Change Conference, which runs April 20-22. Below is a clip from the most recent note sent out by organizers:
When President Morales of Bolivia launched his invitation to the world to come to Bolivia to develop a Peoples’ Agenda for Climate Change, we never imagined the overwhelming response it would generate. With less than a week to go before the conference, here are some of the astonishing statistics related to the conference:
- At least 15,000 people are expected to attend from 126 countries
- Around 70 governments are expected to attend to listen to the voices of civil society, including Presidents of Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the Vice-President of Comoros Islands, government ministers, delegates and parliamentarians from Europe, Asia and Africa.
- International organisations include UNICEF, FAO, UNESCO, UNFPA, WTO, OICA, OPS, FIDA
- 180 self-organized events have been registered by different networks on every aspect of climate change policy
- More than 50 scientists, social movement leaders, researchers, academics and artists have agreed to speak on 14 panels
- More than 300 press have registered.
It is clear that the conference and its objective of putting forward a just and effective response to climate change have touched a chord worldwide. It shows more than ever, after the failure of Copenhagen, that the hope that we can address the climate crisis lies with the people of the world.
Watch for updates from those attending.
Groups File Documentation with RCMP on Canadian Mining Company’s Involvement in Mexican Corruption Case
(Ottawa and Toronto) A coalition of Canadian non-governmental groups today filed a memo with the RCMP asking it to investigate Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. and its Mexican subsidiary under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Blackfire had submitted documentation of its payments to the mayor of Chicomuselo in the state of Chiapas, Mexico to the state Congress in June, 2009. These documents are now in the hands of the RCMP. Bribing a foreign public official is illegal under the rarely-used Act, one of the few Canadian laws that applies internationally. Under this Act any person found guilty could face up to five years in jail.
“There are really no other legal controls on the activities of Canadian companies operating internationally,” said MiningWatch Canada spokesperson Jamie Kneen. “We’re especially interested to see if anything can be done in this particular case because it’s so appalling.” Rick Arnold, coordinator of Common Frontiers, added, “The company’s own documents show that it paid off the local Mayor and another municipal authority. We need to know – and the Mexicans deserve to know – that something can be done about this.”
For Immeditate Release
Feb 22, 2010
Blackfire adding threats to injury in Mexico
Canadian mining firm looks to pocket $800 million via NAFTA Ch. 11
OTTAWA and TORONTO--A coalition of Canadian organizations is condemning the use of NAFTA by Blackfire Explorations to extract 800 million dollars from the impoverished Mexican state of Chiapas. The Calgary-based mining company is embroiled in accusations of corruption of Mexican public officials and the murder of a prominent environmental activist in the Mexican State of Chiapas. Now, according to a recent report in the Mexican press, Blackfire is also threatening to sue the government of Chiapas for $800 million in compensation under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Chapter 11 for the closure of its barite mine in December 2009.
In response to this development, Rick Arnold of Common Frontiers states, "You’d think that Blackfire, mired as it is in controversy, would seek to mend fences with the affected communities in Chiapas by offering compensation. Instead the company is proceeding to bully Mexican public authorities by threatening a mega-million dollar NAFTA Ch. 11 action that the country could ill afford to pay".
Feb 19, 2010
Blackfire To Sue the Government of Chiapas
The Cynicism of Canadian Mining Companies
Chiapas, Mexico -- Under Chapter 11 of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian mining company Blackfire Exploration, linked to the death of opposition leader Mariano Abarca Roblero, intends to sue the government of Chiapas for almost $800 million, to repair the damage and injury caused by the closure last December 2009 of the barite mine in Grecia ejido in the municipality of Chicomuselo. The Canadian mining company has significant interests in the state and plans to create the infrastructure in the Port of Chiapas that would allow it to market the wealth they extract from the state to the Asian market, in this case supposedly the largest titanium mine in North America...
Jan 25, 2010
To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti
The recent tragedy in Haiti shocked the people of the world for its destructive impact, the environmental and social consequences, and especially for the loss of human lives. Unfortunately, natural disasters are not new in that Caribbean country, which was impacted in 2008 by hurricanes Hanna and Ike.
Nor is it the first time we have watched the international community make pledges of cooperation and assistance to Haiti. We are concerned, as organizations and social movements and on the basis of permanent contact and consultation with our partners there, that the international response be coordinated on the basis of respect for their sovereignty and in full accordance with the needs and demands of the Haitian people.
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