Colombia Solidarity Campaign

- Fighting for Peace with Justice -

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Support the ‘red mantas’ march to save La Guajira’s children

Guest blog by Emma Banks, Vanderbilt University, USA. Colombia Solidarity Campaign is planning a solidarity action in London on 9 August.

The children of La Guajira, Colombia are dying of malnutrition. On August 9, civil society groups will come together in the “Marcha de Mantas Rojas” – a follow-up to the Mantas Negras protest and the May 1 March to demand that the Cerrejón mining corporation and the Colombian government stop exploiting their territory and water.

Over the last 8 years in La Guajira, Colombia, almost 5000 children have died from malnutrition.  According to Colombia’s National Statistics Administration, almost 28% of children under 4 suffer from chronic malnutrition in La Guajira.  Media portrayals of La Guajira focus on the poverty and misery of Wayuu children, blaming state corruption and abandonment.

Yet La Guajira did not always have a chronic malnutrition problem.  Until the arrival of mining in the 1970s, La Guajira produced more food than it consumed.  Peasant, indigenous, and Afro-Descendant communities hunted, fished, planted crops, and participated in commercial agriculture.  Since 1984, the Cerrejón open pit coalmine has deforested 12, 000 hectares of land, displaced thousands of Afro-Colombian and indigenous people from their territories, and taken over traditional hunting and gathering lands.  Now the mine plans to divert the Arroyo Bruno, a tributary stream that provides life-sustaining water to thousands of people, animals, and small farms.

On August 9, unionists, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, peasants, and civil society groups will come to together to deliver the message: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”  They will march wearing red – the women in traditional “manta” dresses – to symbolize the connection between the death of Mother Earth and the death of Wayuu children from malnutrition.   They will deliver a petition to the Colombian state and the Cerrejón mine demanding the end of childhood deaths caused by irresponsible use of their territory and water by mining.  They are demanding an immediate halt to the Arroyo Bruno project, the creation of a development fund for La Guajira from mining profits, and a rural resettlement for displaced Afro-Colombian communities where they can become productive farmers once again.

Please consider donating to this important cause and sharing the information in your networks.

 

Colombia: a choice between mining and food?

By Richard Solly

Last month, I represented Colombia Solidarity Campaign on a delegation organised by US organisation Witness for Peace to La Guajira in northern Colombia. We went to visit communities and workers affected by the massive opencast Cerrejón coal mine, owned by London-listed companies Anglo AmericanBHP Billiton and Glencore.

Read more...
 

Urgent Action - Tolima

Original in Spanish: https://comiteambiental.com/comunicado-la-opinion-publica-nacional-e-internacional/

On 3 June in the department of Tolima over 120,000 people mobilised for the 8th Great Carnival March. In the departments of Caquetá and Quindío there were also cultural demonstrations against large scale mining projects (part of the Colombian government pro-mining policy known as the Mining Locomotive).

In a peaceful, cheerful, cultural but firm manner, we rejected the national government’s dictatorial imposition of an economic model based on extraction, the spread of which would affect the right to water of those of us living in this land of Colombia, and of future generations.

Our slogans, which call for the guarantee of the right to water, to a healthy environment, but above all the universal right to life of human beings and nature in general, continue to lead to persecution and stigmatisation, not only by the government, but also by armed groups that wish to perpetuate Colombia’s socio-environmental conflicts.

We reject the threats, made through pamphlets, that the self-proclaimed Águilas Negras (Black Eagles) paramilitary group are purportedly making against the Environmental Committee of Tolima, against the Congress of Peoples, the Patriotic March, the Regional Indigenous Council of Tolima (CRIT), the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), the Agrarian, Campesino, Ethnic and Popular Summit, organisations defending human rights and the mayor of Ibagué, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo.

 

Read more...
 

17 March General Strike

The three main union federations and many social organisations have called a general strike in

Colombia on 17 March against the policies of the Santos government.

The unions’ demands include:

  • · A decent increase in the minimum wage
  • · No to cuts in pension and health provisions
  • · Freeze prices of essential products
  • · Opposition to privatisation of major state asset, Isagen hydroelectric company
  • · That the government implements the agreement it made with farmer

and indigenous organisations.

The social organisations and trade unions repeated their support for the peace talks taking place between the government and the guerrilla groups (FARC and ELN), but they insist that the government has to adopt political, social and economic measures to alleviate the crisis facing ordinary Colombians.

 

 

LONDON PICKET 17 MARCH

SOLIDARITY WITH


GENERAL STRIKE IN COLOMBIA!

4pm – 5.30pm 17 March Picket of Colombian Embassy

3 Hans Crescent, London SW3 (back of Harrods)

Nearest tube Knightsbridge

Called by: Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Congreso de los Pueblos, Marcha Patriótica

 

 

CERREJON WORKERS ON STRIKE

Workers at Carbones del Cerrejón Limited (*) voted on 7 March 2016 over 98% in favor of a general strike. The workers’ union Sintracarbón states "It has not been the intention of the union to strike, we were confident that the company would understand the just demands of the workers and give a particular procedure and appropriate solution".

The workers’ problems are serious. Their most difficult issue is health. 900 of the mine’s 13,000 workers suffer from illnesses caused by mining activity. They have diseases such as cancer and silicosis, presented mostly by people under 40 years. Neither the company nor the Guajira department can treat due to lack of specialized health centers. The corporation denies the existence of such health problems.

Another issue is increasing workload this year without corresponding wage increase.

Cerrejon’s bosses have sought to deny workers participation in trade union activities, directly affecting the stability of Sintracarbón. This goes against Article 39 of the Constitution of Colombia which enshrines freedom of association workers in unions without state intervention.

The environmental problem facing the population in La Guajira is another union demand. Most rivers in the department are dry because of mining . The workers have called for measures to protect the environment and restore water sources.

Source: Colombia Informa

 

Berta Cáceres

We condemn the assassination of indigenous activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras, and demand security for witness Gustavo Castro Soto More info at http://movimientom4.org

 

 

MORE ASSASSINATIONS AND ATTACKS ON SOCIAL LEADERS

Four social activists were killed between 1 and 7 March in Colombia. Is this a post-conflict situation?

· Marisela Tombe campesino leader, Cauca

· Alexander Oime indigenous leader, Cauca

· Klaus Zapata youth organiser, JUCO Soacha

· William Castillo campesino leader, El Bagre, Antioquia

There were 682 documented attacks on human rights defenders in 2015. 63 of the defenders were assassinated. These attacks and assassinations have been increasing once again. The violations are occurring despite the suspension of armed hostilities between the state’s forces and the guerrillas. This indicates that the state’s paramilitary strategy is still in operation. verdadabierta.com

 

 
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