Colombia Solidarity Campaign

- Fighting for Peace with Justice -

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Our solidarity with the condemned Paraguayan campesinos

July 2016

http://foroddhhmercosur.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/our-solidarity-with-condemned.html

SOA Watch wishes to make known to the international community our complete repudiation of the convictions — ranging from 4 years to 35 years in prison — which were recently passed on landless campesinos in Paraguay as a judgment for the “Massacre of Curuguaty”. That massacre took place on June 15, 2012, during the process of an eviction which had been ordered by local authorities, and in which six policemen and 11 campesinos were killed.

These unfortunate events, it is recalled, were used as the pretext to initiate an “express train” impeachment of the democratically elected  President Fernando Lugo, removed without due process and without a fair and impartial trial.   The result, that President Lugo was removed from office,  is considered by many to be, effectively, a coup d’etat.

Regarding the trail of the Paraguayan campesinos, it is important to keep in mind that no official of the Paraguayan police was ever charged or investigated  for the death of any of the 11 campesinos in the “Massacre of Curuguaty”, despite the strong suspicion that several of the injured​ campesinos were ​then ​extrajudicially executed at point blank range soon after the original rain of bullets.

We also bear in mind the report of the SOA Watch Human Rights Observation delegation,​ which visited Paraguay in April 2013, and expressed grave concerns about this case in a written report and public media interviews.  We wrote that “people must not be deprived of their freedom because of generic accusations, without conclusive evidence or without certainty of identification of the alleged perpetrators.  We consider it a grave violation of human rights to keep people in prison without proof and in many cases simply arbitrarily detained”.

The SOAW Observation Mission heard testimony of torture against the detained campesinos and"various testimonies, in parallel to the prosecution, that complained of the summary execution of several of the 11 deceased campesinos”.

"We believe that the tragedy of Curuguaty, starting from the murky legal (land title) arrangements which set the background, has serious irregularities which demonstrate the manipulation of the State apparatus by those with true power and by mobsters. As declared by the Justices of the Supreme Court, the lands of Marina Cue were not the property of the Riquelme Family but were donated years before by a company,  Industrial Paraguaya, to the Paraguayan state, who nonetheless neglected to put their name on the title to the land. That is, neither the Paraguayan state nor the Riquelme family held the titles to the property. In this way, the police invasion (disguised as a raid) to evict the occupants was clearly illegal. In our report  we pointedly  questioned the legality of police action which led to the slaughter. More than four years after these occurrences, we must conclude that justice has not been served for the condemned campesinos ​n​or for the dead.

One of the defense lawyers, Victor Azuaga, told the press that the sentence is deplorable for its lack of evidence: "There is no corroborating evidence.   And the material evidence is not reliable either. The weapons which were seized, according to the prosecution itself,  had not be shot, as shown by the paraffin tests on the dead campesinos  (who had allegedly fired at the policemen). The tests were negative and that means those people could not have been responsible for offenses ".

Therefore, we again express our solidarity with the convicted campesinos and with their families, and with the social organizations and human rights organizations who have accompanied them all these years crying out for justice.

We join our allies SERPAJ-Paraguay who “roundly reject the sentences" and together with ​SERPAJ-Paraguay​ we demand ”a review of the case, and for a mistrial to be declared in the case, because defects at the origin of the case prevent the basic conditions of fairness and thoroughness".

Finally, there remains open and pending the burning question to which ​the Paraguayan state ​still ​needs to  respond, ​clearly and objectively: “What really happened at Curuguaty?

Justice is still pending...

In solidarity,
SOA Watch

 

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

 

 
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