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PUBLIC HEARING ON THE WORLD BANK
Convened by the World Bank Campaign Europe, under the auspices of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
The Hague, 21 October, 2007
Upon request from the World Bank Campaign Europe, a Public Hearing was convened on October 15 in The Hague, The Netherlands under the auspices of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal to provide a forum to assess the performance of the World Bank in the last 15 years.
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) in continuity with the Russell Tribunal supported by the Lelio Basso Foundation, has the stated goal of giving public profile and a juridical qualification to violations of fundamental rights that do not find a proper redress at the institutional level. It bases its actions on the Universal Declaration of Peoples’ Rights of Algiers, 1976.
The PPT held specific sessions in Berlin in 1988 and Madrid in 1994 to assess World Bank and International Monetary Fund activities and roles against their impact on peoples’ rights. Other sessions have also taken place that are relevant to the specific area of work and analysis of this Hearing, addressing the challenges posed by the globalized economy to peoples’rights and self-determination.
The latest session held in Vienna in May 2006 within the Enlazando Alternativas 2 process, dealt with the responsibilities of European Transnational Companies (TNCs) in Latin America. It analysed cases of the privatisation of public utilities and the extraction of natural resources. It pointed out the “complicity of European governments that support their TNCs“ and the role of international institutions such as the World Bank, the WTO (the World Trade Organisation) and the International Monetary Fund. The last of a series of hearings held by the PPT Chapter in Colombia, focusing on the oil sector, acknowledged the relevance of the concept of ecological debt when dealing with the responsibilities of European transnational corporations (TNCs).
At the end of September 2007, an Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank took place in India. Finally, a few days before the The Hague Hearing, another PPT session was held in Managua, Nicaragua, on the Spanish Company Union Fenosa.
The Public Hearing in The Hague was an important opportunity to continue developing new approaches to the current area of activity, by deepening the analysis of the World Bank’s role in various countries of the Global South.
It took place on the first day of a Global Week of Action on Debt and the World Bank, launched by a broad platform of NGOs and social movements across the globe calling for a substantial change in World Bank policies and practices, an end to public financing of fossil fuel projects, an end to the imposition of strict conditionalities that instead of leading to poverty alleviation lead to further impoverishment, and a commitment by governments to launch public audits on foreign debt. It developed along two areas of work, namely the human, social and environmental consequences of the World Bank’s role in imposing economic and policy conditionalities, and the role of the Bank in support of fossil fuel extraction and use.
The expert panel was chaired by Francesco Martone, an Italian Senator in representation of the Permanent Peoples´ Tribunal and was further composed by Charles Abugre, development economist and head of policy and advocacy for Christian Aid from Ghana, Maartje Van Putten from The Netherlands, former member of the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, Marcos Arruda, development economist and author from Brazil, member of PACS and the Transnational Institute and Medha Patkar, from India, Founder of the Save Narmada (River Valley) Movement and National Convenor of The National Alliance of People’s Movements.
The expert panel heard testimonies by
Gonzalo Salgado, of the National Consumer Defence Network (Nicaragua) on the liberalisation of electricity services;
Collins Magalasi, of Action Aid Malawi, on the issue of food security;
Temo Tamboura, of CAD Mali, on the liberalisation of the cotton sector;
Miguel Palacin of the Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indigenas (CAOI), from Peru on reform of the mining laws in Peru;
Svetlana Anasova, of the Berezovka Initiative Group, Kazakhstan on “The Karachaganak Oil & Gas Field” (as she was unable to attend the Hearing in person, her submission was read aloud);
And Michael Karikpo, of Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria on the West African Gas Pipeline;
FINDINGS AND OUTCOMES OF TESTIMONIES
The World Bank came into existence after the World War II in order to rebuild Europe and with the purpose of creating new markets, mobilizing resources while supporting infrastructure and productive capacity. Notably after the creation of the International Development Association (IDA) it has repositioned itself in support of poverty alleviation, its avowed goal, while advancing a global free trade agenda through its lending and conditionalities. A parallel and unofficial history of the World Bank unveils years of resistance at the local and global level by social movements and communities eager to reclaim their right to self-determination and control over their resources.
The testimonies presented to the Panel in The Hague indicate that the World Bank’s policies have effectively eroded the role of the State and the public sector in borrowing countries. Its interventions have gone way beyond its formal limited role of a lending agency and went into policy-making, prioritizing, budgeting and planning in every sector of governmental action. This has enabled the Bank to generate and force a development paradigm that is market- and growth-oriented rather than aimed at meeting basic human needs while attaining social and environmental justice. Its lending conditionalities led to the conversion of life-supporting natural resources such as land, water, food, air, seeds and energy into merchandise.
In the case of Nicaragua the panelists listened to an extensive explanation of the developments in the energy sector which in brief showed a failure of the privatization process of public utilities in guaranteeing full and broad access to electricity for the poor majority of the country, while generating huge profits for the Spanish monopoly Union Fenosa while at the same time creating indebtedness for the State and high tariffs for the population.
In the case of Mali the Panel was told that Mali was forced to privatise the cotton sector in order to meet World Bank conditions with the purpose of receiving a debt reduction of 70 million dollars and eligibility for the Enhanced Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. As a result, according to the witnesses, the cotton prices were liberalised. The consequence was a decrease in cotton prices by 20%, cotton being the principal source of the country’s revenue. It is significant for the panellists that the timing of World Bank programs in Mali coincided with the cotton liberalisation negotiations at the WTO.
The Panel noted the remarks made by the witnesses as to how the World Bank is imposing conditions on countries negotiating a loan, leaving little or no room for these countries to choose their own development path. In at least two cases, the Panel noted that access to the HIPC debt reduction processes was conditioned to the implementation of structural adjustments and liberalization of economies, thereby producing a vicious circle of forced payment of increasing volumes of debt. An uneven distribution of resources and benefits resulted in a massive drain of national resources away from the imperatives that could ensure poverty reduction, distributional and social equity and sustainable self-reliance. In this process, the traditional, customary, cultural and territorial rights of local communities and indigenous peoples are compromised and sacrificed. International conventions and UN covenants such as ILO 169 on the rights of indigenous populations have been either ignored or violated.
The panel acknowledges the relevance of the concepts of ecological and social debt when dealing with the consequences of such a development paradigm. Additionally, evidence of odious and illegitimate debt - such as in the cases of Peru and Nigeria – has been presented, whereby foreign debt accumulated during dictatorial regimes is still being paid off by the victims of the past. Notwithstanding, the legal frameworks that can be applied to the concepts of illegitimate, odious and ecological debt need further articulation and development.
In many cases, the Panel noted the points made about violations of peoples’ right to be proactively engaged at all levels of the decision-making process as is laid down in several of the World Bank’s own policies. Besides the Panel notes this is not in free agreement with the principle of ‘prior informed consent’ in any policy or decision affecting their own lives, and territories.
Hence, through its policy advice, the Bank has prevented the full exercise of participatory and direct democracy, thereby widening the gap between governments and peoples, creating a fictional political space where genuine interests are overlooked if not ignored. In this context, the role of the national parliaments has frequently been undermined if not denied by imposing on them decisions already made by governmental authorities and Washington-based officials.
The Panel learnt however interestingly, that in certain cases, such as in Malawi countries might be able to find their own route to social justice, food sovereignty and food security, by rejecting World Bank conditionalities and continuing to subsidise local agriculture and markets, while fostering the inclusion of the poor. The Panel was told that the parliament of Malawi was forced to accept the closure of 400 local rural markets that according to the witness led to a dramatic loss of thousands of jobs including those of rural farmers, who lost access to markets. This decision in a later stage was turned over and the markets were re-opened. As a consequence, the food situation in rural areas improved substantially.
The cases of mining in Peru and oil and gas extraction in Nigeria and Kazakhstan show the link between World Bank developmental priorities and the advancement of the interests of transnational companies. Pollution resulting, from fossil fuel extraction has, according to the witnesses, resulted in the violation of peoples’ rights to health, a clean environment, and water. No compensation of losses or replacement of livelihoods was ever ensured either by the Bank or the government despite evidence of social strife and environmental destruction produced by the Bank itself.
More generally, the continued support of the World Bank to fossil fuel extraction and use, with the associated greenhouse gas emissions, rather than to small scale renewable energy, raises serious questions about the Bank’s role in and commitment to the Post-Kyoto process and support for eco-friendly technologies. It is yet another case of “institutional amnesia” considering that the Extractive Industries Review, 2004, published by the Bank itself, recommended a phase-out of Bank financing of fossil fuel projects, the adoption of the principle of free, prior informed consent and compensation for affected communities.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND NEXT STEPS
Drawing from the testimonies and its own experience and analyses, it is the Panel´s conviction that:
a. There is an urgent need to build upon local resistances and struggle for alternatives to the dominant economic free-trade and growth oriented paradigm, in order to strengthen alliances and movements, while confronting World Bank culture and ideology, challenging its political and economic role;
b. Commons are for the common good and not for corporate profit. Therefore, the Bank should abstain from supporting - or recommending - the privatisation of the commons and of life-supporting resources such as public energy services and drinking water systems;
c. Social-environmental and economic audits and impact assessments of the World Bank should be carried out in a participatory, transparent and timely fashion, so as to include the people that could be directly or indirectly affected by the projects funded by the World Bank. Moreover, a moratorium of projects causing conflict should be considered in order to allow for a meaningful assessment and compensation measures to be developed and implemented;
d. The recommendations of the 2004 Extractive Industries Review, the outcome of a multi-stakeholder exercise in global policymaking, on the request of the World Bank itself, are still valid and cogent and should be implemented in letter and spirit as a matter of urgency;
e. Parliaments and governments should initiate independent debt audits in order to identify historical responsibilities, the social, economic and environmental, as well as juridical implications of debt for peoples’ rights and self-determination and the legitimacy of the claim for reparation. Parliaments and governments should take the opportunity of the ongoing negotiations for the replenishment of IDA (International Development Association) to condition any new replenishment to a significant and urgent change in World Bank’s pratices and conditionalities currently aimed at fostering a pro-growth, pro-free trade agenda rather than social, economic and environmental justice;
f. No violations of UN conventions and covenants in any development project can be accepted, with or without bilateral and multilateral funding;
g. Any investment or operation by the World Bank must respect community rights by practising the principle of ‘free prior informed consent”.
Francesco Martone, Chair
Maartje Van Putten
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
REGIONAL AUDIENCE ON ARAUCA ON STATE CRIMES
Sent by Arauca human rights organizations
Breaking the gag
An opinion alternative
[Translated by Erick Gasca, La Chiva], a CSN translator
Department of Arauca, Colombia. September 25, 2007
FIRST REGIONAL AUDIENCE OF THE COLOMBIAN CONGRESS HUMAN RIGHTS COMISSION ABOUT VICTIMS OF STATE CRIMES AND THE PARAMILITARY DIRTY WAR
Yet again, the Araucan people, after insisting several times, call to have in the region the first hearing about paramilitaries’ victims, what we and other regions have called victims of state crimes because we have always maintain the position and report that the dirty paramilitary war is the government’ policy which historically has been known as state terrorism. It is executed by several antidemocratic ultra-right governments for the oligarchies allied with the empire. The hearing will take place on September 27 in Saravena, an emblematic town for its high level of organizational and also one of the most repressed by the “democratic security” policies. We hope to contribute with this effort to build a real national movement of victims of state crimes, to make public the horrendous moment of paramilitary imposition in the region, under the indulgence and shameless complicity of the Colombian Armed Forces, the multinational oilfield companies, the Pastrana and Uribe governments, and the local government imposed by “Parapolitics”, which left the horrifying aftermath of more than seven hundred civilian victims, among others, peasants, indigenous people, union workers, journalists, politicians and social leaders; a silent genocide with impunity.
The hidden truth behind the legalization process of state terrorism with its paramilitary death squads, in which Uribe’s government has insisted so much, must be unmasked. Paramilitary leaders have been confessing to horrifying numbers of people murdered, hundreds, thousands, and the truth coming to be more than three million victims. A half-truth with the impunity benefits from the “law of justice and peace”, for committing those abominable genocides they will only get a three or four years sentence in a five star jail and as dessert they will get as a prize the legalization of their fortunes, products of crime and drug trafficking. What they will never confess is: the reasons for that atrocious genocide and the economic and political interests behind the crimes, the state’s intellectual participation with the different governments and the top rank military officials, the participation of political leaders, livestock farmers, industrials, business people, landowners and multinational corporations. This part of the great truth is the criminals’ ace up one’s sleeve to blackmail and attain their legalization objective and also to still maintain their criminal structures, their great business of drug trafficking and the political manipulation of governments and institutions. In other words, state terrorism covered up for paramilitary gangs, to eliminate any vestige of opposition to the multinationals’ plundering, to the economic and anti-social policies imposed by the narco-oligarchy and the imperialist power of the US.
The atrocious genocide committed in Arauca during the last two years of Pastrana’s government and during the whole of Uribe Velez’s government under the paramilitary mask, was not committed because we are ugly or beautiful people. The truth is that Arauca has huge oil reserves under indigenous peoples’ and peasants’ land. It has the second greatest oil exploitation complex (Caño Limón) that represents a great deal for the government in power, for the oligarchic national companies with the multinational corporations. It has now projected a mega-road project, “path of liberators” or “marginal de la selva”. Also, for the United States, it represents a geo-strategic territory to install military bases to monitor a possible intervention against the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela. On the other hand, the socially organized Araucan people have been characterized always for opposing oil exploration. They mobilized persistently for the defense of the indigenous peoples’ territories and against oil exploration in the territory of the Uwa community. Who were those most interested in eliminating that opposition? The massacres and displacements had as an objective to clean the territory to be given to multinational corporations and their interests, to annihilate social organizations so that everything will remain unpunished. In Arauca, state crimes took place and still take place, where the national government, its military forces, the regional and local governments of Para-politics took and take part. We hope that the regional hearings of victims bring from anonymity this great truth and that justice prevails.
BREAKING THE GAG FOR PEOPLE’S RIGHTS, MAY WE GIVE OUR OPINION AND NOT BE SHUT UP!
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Uribe votes against recognition of Rights of Indigenous Peoples
September 14, 227
ONIC: Nacional Indigenous Organization of Colombia,
ONIC25 years of resistance for a more inclusive society!!!
[Translated by Lais Rumel, La Chiva], a CSN translator
The Uribista position on the declining situation of 92 ancestral towns in Colombia is finally on paper.
*OF ONLY 11 THAT ABSTAINED FROM VOTING, LATIN AMERICA EMPHASIZES THE UNILATERAL DECISION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF DEMOCRATIC SECURITY. *
HISITORICAL FACT! The 61st General Assembly of the UN accepted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This past September 13, 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with 143 countries voting in favor. Only four countries voted against it: Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Even though 11 abstained from voting, including our beloved country of the government of ‘democratic security,’ it is assured that we will continue to not be recognized as part of the ancestral-fundamental, not only in history, but also in the present and future of Colombia.
So as it was mentioned, Colombia was the only country in Latin America that abstained from signing it. Also, the government of Alvaro Uribe, in the name of all Colombians, literally abstained himself because several dispositions of the Declaration contradicted the Colombian juridical system and the power of the state.
The truth is shown about what the Uribe government thinks about us, the Indigenous peoples. That we are a hindrance for his risk transactions to sell at whatever price, including at the cost of our destruction, the riches that we possess today in our ancestral lands. As it was indicated by Luis Evelis Andrade Casama, who at his turn, manifested that the worse part is that we are called to talk about human rights and territory with little mirrors, while on the other hand, Uribe imposes his effort in the name of more than 40 million Colombians. For this, we stand away from the negotiation tables and territory, because the spirits show us the way, whose tracks are against the government of the so-called ‘democratic security.’
It must be brought to attention that the African status voted in favor in large majority, and a very small number (Nigeria, Kenya, and Burundi) did not.
The main opposing points of the text of the Declaration expressed in the interventions of the four countries that voted against are: The recognition of the presented text in the right of free determination of Indigenous peoples; the recognition in different sections of the Declaration on the rights to land, territories and natural resources; the right of Free and Informed Consent (interpreted as the right of veto for Indigenous peoples); the rights of Intellectual Property; and the recognition of the right of our customs that may be contrary to national laws. Proceed to the complete text approved in the section of the documents of our website www.onic.org.co <http://www.onic.org.co/> , and listen to our voices on the virtual radio Dachi Bedea
Nacional Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC
ONIC: 25 years of resistance for an inclusive society!!
May our silence convert into one single scream!!!
Before the gun, comes the word!!
Get on the move!!!
For our permanence, we cut the wire! We confirm our civil disobedience!!
315.8572995 PRESIDENTE ONIC / 312-6394123.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Good news from Tel Aviv/San Jose de Apartado
CSN is grateful to all who wrote letters of support
Today, on Tuesday, October 16th, six days after their detention upon entering Israel, the Columbian participants of the GRACE-Pilgrimage, namely Arley Tuberquia and Marta Irene Basquez, both representatives of the Peace Village San José de Apartado - and as such nominees for he Peace Nobel Price – have finally been released from detention at the airport of Tel Aviv today. Our lawyer was able to secure an out-of-court agreement with the authorities after guaranteeing that the young Columbians are not seeking illegal employment and will leave the country at the end of the pilgrimage. To support this guarantee, we had to bring by the incredible sum of 100.000 shekel (approx. EUR 20.000) in addition to the costs of the lawyer which are amounting to approx. EUR3000. The intricate difficulties imposed on peace workers from majority world countries, to prevent them from getting connected to peace networks, are increasing, however, in this case they were overcome!
We thank all of those who, with their faxes, calls and inquiries, have contributed to this successful outcome and helped that the Columbians were not deported and still today can be welcomed by us. It is especially important to have them with us both as inhabitants of a peace village that offers non-violent resistance in the midst of a civil war and as participants of a peace pilgrimage and a vision quest for the developments of a Pace Research Village in the Middle East.
We wish to take this opportunity to express our regrets to those who, due to our first reporting, have erroneously been led to the conclusion that the two Columbians were suspected of terrorism. This was not the case. We had received wrong information in the first place. In truth no reasons were given in the first place. Generally travellers from majority world countries to Israel are detained to been suspected of wanting to contact terrorist groups or to wanting to work in the country illegally. We ask pardon for all misunderstanding that might have occurred.
In the meantime, after four days of walking, the group of pilgrims has arrived at Kibbuz Samar.
The GRACE Organisation team
News from the Pilgrimage: www.grace-pilgrimage.com <http://www.grace-pilgrimage.com>
Institute for Global Peace Work -IGP-
[LAsolidarity] URGENT ACTION: ATTACK AGAINST THE SCHOOL "MARIO GONZALEZ". Piedecuesta, Santander, Colombia
From Latin American Solidarity lists
The Association SCHOOL OF ARTS AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT MARIO GONZALEZ, affiliated with the Movement of Christians for Peace, the Coalition of Social Movements, the Coalition of Social Movements, Women's Social
Movement, Secular Franciscans and other organizations that work in the region in pro of a life with dignity; Denounce and manifest against the following acts that have endangered the life of campesinos, students, women, youth, children and the inhabitants of the municipality of Piedecuesta that are involved with the different areas of formation of the school and assist daily with its process of skills building and construction of a space of solidarity.
We inform the general public, national and international, that this past Friday, Oct. 12th, 2007 at 4:30 am, unknown individuals placed in the entry way of the school and explosive device that generated an impact of great magnitude causing damages to the structure of the café theatre Kussihuayra, located within the school. The mentioned acts caused great concern and distress among the neighbors and inhabitants living close to the school. Neighbors who were witness to the act claimed to have seen two men that after installing the device ran towards the area of the central cemetery.
The SCHOOL OF ARTS AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT "MARIO GONZALEZ", has spent the last three years developing an honest, inclusive and participative
work in solidarity with the inhabitants of the surrounding rural and urban areas that are excluded from socio-economic conditions they have a right to, they have joined the school in a proposal to defend a life with dignity and search for spaces that allow for an basic development. The school has been built with the work, the volunteering and the solidarity of people and organizations that have shared with us the dream of a space where campesinos, students, men, women, planting yuca, tomatoes, corn, learning to weave, singing an emotional song, reading poetry, dancing to the son of a drum, laughing from behind a funny mask, telling the bad story again, or simply fraternity, friendship and love, we dream of building a country with dignified conditions, equal and just for all.
From the mentioned we denounce these acts so that the necessary actions are taken to identify those responsible of the attempt.
We urge the administrative authorities, the police and judicial correspondents to go ahead with celerity and efficiency in the necessary actions to bring to light to the act done, the identification and sanctions against the responsible actors and to adopt the measures necessary to project the life, dignity and well being of the people and organizations associated with the school; the
previous being in compliance with different accords and agreements international ratified by the Colombian state and under mandate by the constitution and law of the Colombian state.
We thank with all our strength the accompaniment and solidarity of the national and international organizations that are united with our cause and the cause of the campesinos, artists, students, women and men of the municipality of Piedecusta en the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga.
SCHOOL OF ARTS AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT "MARIO GONZALEZ"-PIEDECUESTA, SANTANDER
President of the Republic
Carrera 8 No 7-26. Palacio de Nariño, Bogotá DC
Fax: ( +57-1) 566 20 71
email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vice President of the Republic
Dr. Francisco Santos
E-mail: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Minister of Nacional Defense
Dr. Camilo Ospina Bernal
El Dorado con carrera 52 CAN. Bogotá D.C .
fax: (+57-1) 222 18 74
email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Procuraduría General de la Nación
Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón
Carrera 5 No 15-80 Bogotá D.C.
Fax: (+57-1) 342 97 93
email: reygon@procuraduría.gov.co <mailto:reygon@procuradur%C3%ADa.gov.co>
Presidencial Program of Human Rights
Dr. Carlos Franco
Calle 7 No 5-54
Teléfono (+57-1 336 03 11
Fax: (+ 337 46 67
email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> ,
Diagonal 22 B No. 52 - 01. Bogotá D.C.
Fax (+57-1) 570 20 00
email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> ,
Entity of Human Rights and International Human Rignts
Correo electrónico: elbsilva@fiscalía.gov.co
Defensoría del Pueblo
Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz.
Calle 55 No. 10-32. Bogotá D.C.
fax: (+57-1) 640 0491
email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
LAsolidarity mailing list
Communal Work to eradicate Coca
(Translated by Steve Cagan , a CSN volunteer translator
Communal Work (Minga) to Eradicate the Coca Plantations with Illicit Goals in the Collective Territory of the Yurumangui River
Municipio of Buenaventura
September 30, 2007
For centuries, Black communities have lived in the territory of the Pacific Region and have developed within the region a life project. Today they feel they are threatened by mega-projects, by monocultures like oil palm, and by the advance of illicit crops. These last are are the factors that currently constitute two of the greatest risks to territorial and environmental rights of the Afro-Colombians, and to biological and cultural diversity in this rich, important and strategic bioregion.
Conscious of the risk that the advance of illicit coca crops represent for the region, the Assembly of the Community Council of the Yurumangui River, carried out in 2000 as the highest authority there, made the decision not to allow planting or consumption of coca within the territory, and gave the organizational and delegated structures which are the Board of the Community Council, the territorial ethnic organization APONURY and the Process of Black Communities in Colombia (PCN) directives for the development of activities that would prevent the entrance of illicit coca plantings within the territory.
Despite this ruling and the efforts that have been realized, among which are the emitting of leaflets, soccer uniforms with messages about not planting or consuming coca, erecting some billboards, community workshops among others, in a hidden manner, and without the knowledge of the Board of the Community Council, persons who have lived a long time outside the community are “returning” with the goal of promoting these crops. That is why the beginning of these crops has been detected in the area of the lower zone of the river: La Dispensa, El Barranco and El Encanto.
The territory of the Region of the Biogeographic Pacific has always been a great school in which we all have the opportunity to learn from what happens in the different rivers and zones of the region. That is why the inhabitants of the Yurumnangui River know and we have learned with the sorrow experienced by other brothers and sisters of ours that:
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the government responds with fumigation, destroying the collectible food, and multiplying problems in health, access to potable water, environmental contamination and food crisis in the population.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the territories become more attractive and tend towards the intensification of the armed conflict, and the presence of the paramilitaries, subversives, common criminals and the public security forces increases and the risks of disappearances, massacres and desplacement of the population increase.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the risk of appropriation of collective territories increases. It’s known that for some time the government has been preparing legislation that permits the expropriation of collective territories that have these crops planted in them.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, makes it easier for colonizers to enter the territories, principally “paisas” (people from the coffee-growing departments) who promote these practices, which later ar assimilated by the natives
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, prostitution and houses of prostitution proliferate, increasing the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, among them AIDS, and increasing the loss of cultural values among the population.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, political organizational efforts are destroyed and the possibility of constructing a new Colombia based on the dreams, desires and costumes of the people is diminished. The cultural identity of the people is lost and life is destroyed.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the national government responds with the palms, presenting them and imposing them as the only alternative to substitute for coca, and not carrying out the agreements established with the people living there for the mnanul and voluntary eradication [of the coca].
Therefore, the Board of the Commnity Council of the Yurumangui River, following the orders of the general Assembly, has decided to autonomously call for a Minga (collective work) to eradicate the illicit coca plantings in the collective territory of the Yurumangui River.
We invite all those who believe that cultural diversity and biodiversity have a chance in this territory of free men and women who have learned that resistance is the only possibility for advancing our dreams, to accompany us in this affirmation of community will and autonomy.
For a Life of Dignity, Hope and Liberty!
The Board of the Community Council of the Yurumangui River
The Process of Black Communities in Colombia (PCN)
For information: email@example.com
Brotherhood and Solidarity Network—Colombia
Interview with Javier Giraldo
(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator )
Interview with Javier Giraldo, human rights defender: “The future in Colombia is one of domination by paramilitaries wearing ties.”
Eugenia Garcia Raya
Frontera Cero (“Frontier Zero”)
While violent deaths continue for opponents of the government in Colombia, President Álvaro Uribe works for the “legalization” of the paramilitaries, whose links with military and political figures are being proved in the courts, and whose cries continue to be the principal cause of internal displacement and exile of Colombians. The human rights defender, Javier Giraldo, a Jesuit priest and winner of the third Juan María Bandrés Price in 2003, continues struggling for the rights of the victims of the violence, especially the more than three million displaced persons.
FC: After decades of crimes, the complicity between the paramilitaries and Colombian military and political figures are being made public. But the projects to “normalize” these paramilitaries also move forward, to prevent their being judged for their atrocious crimes, as if everything could remain as one more “scandal” for the country to avoid. To what point can this paradoxical process go?
JG: In reconstructing the history of paramilitarism in Colombia in order to gat a glimpse of its future, we uncover a strategy of domination as intelligent as it is perverse, with a first phase of massacres and displacements, which later aligned itself with the structures of organization and power and always with a monstrous economic power which is being legalized an capable of buying the State. Such a strategy applies doses of violence according to its needs. There was even a moment in which diminishing the violence served to avoid the international censure that the monstrous nature of their crimes might produce.
Today, the impunity that Uribe is offering to the paramilitaries seeks to allow a legal access to state control via elections. In this current phase of “legalization,” we imagine that networks of close relations with the traditional and emerging political classes have been woven, especially with the parliament, the public safety forces, the judicial branch, the political parties and the mass media, all through the medium of their unusual economic power, which makes it possible to have manageable “scandals” that help to exorcise the past. I hope I am wrong, but what we can see of the future in four or five years is a legalized domination by the paramilitaries wearing ties, fully co-opted by society and able to express themselves through the “mass media.”
FC: Is this process understood by Colombian society? How to do evaluate the fact that according to the media, President Uribe has majority support?
JG: The matrix through which the great masses understand the process of legalizing the paramilitaries has many components. One is the “equalization” of the violence and the intensive demonization of the insurgency. An equivalency was drawn between guerrilla violence and paramilitary violence in order to transfer to the paramilitaries the judicial and ideological treatment that the insurgency gets, when in reality the paramilitaries were a semi-clandestine arm of the state. Then they deny that the insurgency had any political character, in order to define it entirely as “terrorist” and thereby negate the existence of a social armed conflict. Once the fictitious paramilitary “demobilization” was under way, with the boldest mechanisms for impunity, the necessity to “reinsert” these violent people in economic and security projects was declared. IN this way, in not a few cases, they were converted into the flag bearers of “social and economic justice” projects through the management of economic firms. In all of this the drug traffic, “laundered“ fortunes and internationals play a primary role. Meanwhile, the repression of any opposition is legitimized through the policy of “democratic security,” which justifies deaths and disappearances as the outcomes of “combats” with what remains of the insurgency and tries social leaders as “undercover insurgents.”
War weariness leads the great masses to support whoever has “succeeded” in lowering some indicators of violence and proclaims “democratic security.” On the other hand, the social movements have gotten t this point practically extinguished, because of the barbarity of their extermination and the terror of the survivors. Further, the very high levels of poverty have provided the government a fertile field for a new populist model; several million families receive checks from the Office of the President for signing up with programs that interest the government or as social support, such as eradicators of coca, forest wardens, members of network of informers or collaborators with the pubic security forces. While the income is very little, survival comes with a political endorsement. Along with this, the monstrous economic power of the paramilitaries, one of whose elements is the in no way repressed narco-traffic, and the avalanche of transnational capital that euphorically invades the country, irradiating projects for “progress” to which the great masses of unemployed are connected, and they later thank them with political support. But if anything has become clear in recent months, it is that Uribe’s electoral power was based on monstrous frauds carried out by the paramilitaries using terribly violent and extortionist methods. Everything points to the fact that such a mechanism remains intact and will define the electoral processes for a great deal of time to come.
FC: What role is being played by the organizations of victims of this violence?
We must not deny that the victims’ movement has become stronger, at east numerically, in the shadow of the “confession” rituals of the paradoxically named “Justice and Peace Law”—perhaps I order to hide its subtle and effective mechanisms to provide impunity. This law contains elements that proclaim, but do not make operational, “truth, justice and reparation,” which has made thousands of victims shake of the silence to which they had been reduced by terror, to militantly identify themselves and demands their rights. Some have risked so much that they have been murdered, displaced, exiled or once again reduced to terror and silence. But others stubbornly persevere.
By now several meetings have been organized and the work of recovering historical memory has spread/ Some have decided to participate in the trials of the paramilitary leaders with the expectation, almost always unrealized, to gain some datum that would allow them to discover the mortal remains, or at least some clue about the fate of their loved ones. Many more victims now no believe in those rituals and do not expect anything. One of the elements that most influence the skepticism is the corrupt backgrounds of high functionaries in the prosecutor’s office, who guaranteed impunity for horrendous crimes. In any event, among the victims alternative paths are opening. Like truth commissions and public opinion tribunals, which leave the corrupt judicial apparatus on the side, and also appealing to international organs that make universal justice effective.
FC: Colombians are the most numerous group in petitioning for asylum in Spain. On the other hand, one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world is being experienced by the internally displaced Colombians. You yourself have been displaced and have had to go into exile in the face of the grave threats you received. What does it mean to be forced to leave one’s home?
My memories of exile are extremely painful, despite the enormous privilege of being fraternally welcomed by my Jesuit brothers and of taking advantage of the time in research projects. The moral and psychic wounds are found in domains such as the blocking of your liberty and your most cherished life projects, which affect your most intimate identity and what is most human in our humanity. I’ve known many refugees who showed physical symptoms of these blockades in moving ways. I think that the refugee appeals not only to the generous compassion of god people, but is also the subject of rights that transcend national borders, whenever the governments of the world tolerate and support regimes, like the Colombian regime, that produce millions of victims in order to defend the privileges of minorities and in the majority of cases in order to guarantee the exploitation of resources by transnational capital, which reaps the benefit of those forms of barbarity.
FC: There is a lack of knowledge about the immense gravity of the human rights violations in Colombia. At this time, what should be the role of the international community, and especially of some European governments that seem to be ambiguous about the Uribe government?
It is very sad and worrisome that the truth about our tragedy is almost universally unknown. But I do not believe that the European governments, nor the North American ones, are unaware of what is going on. Nor are the big press agencies unaware. It is a problem of will and ethical principles, that world “public opinion” is regulated by enormous economic conglomerates for whom “the truth” is a commodity. The enormous business of international capital in Colombia block the denunciation of the regimen that opens the door for them and guarantees their transactions. The conscious population in solidarity is smaller and smaller, but at the same time richer in humanity. I profoundly admire the humanitarian organizations, the associations and individuals in solidarity who denounce our tragedy.
--Eugenia García Raya es the Public Information officer of the Spanish Commission to Help Refugees (Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado—CEAR)
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
SON OF COCA-COLA WORKER KIDNAPPED AND TORTURED
[Translated by Micheal O Tuathail, a volunteer CSN translator, La Chiva in Canada]
On 27 September 2007, at approximately 4pm, when ANDRES DAMIAN FLOREZ RODRIGUEZ (son of Coca-Cola worker and SINALTRAINAL leader JOSE DOMINGO FLOREZ) was returning home from his high school, he was stopped by three individuals in a red truck. They were carrying guns, had CB radios, and were wearing ski masks. Andres was pulled into the vehicle by force and pushed to the floor while one of the individuals made calls on the radio: “We have the son of a bitch. What do we do with him?” Someone responded, “Take him for a ride, beat him, and give him the message.” The man on the radio turned to Andres. “Tell your father that we won’t stop until you’re cut up into pieces.” Later, they threw him out of the vehicle in an industrial area.
This latest incident against Coca-Cola workers affiliated with SINALTRAINAL and their families comes following death threats received on the following dates: 10 February, 26 July, 9 August, 20 and 25 September of 2007.
It is necessary to point out that, on 24 September 2007, we stated to the Coca-Cola company that SINALTRAINAL will reinvigorate the international campaign, that we will continue to condemn multinational companies for policies that violate human rights, and that we will not cease in spite of the threats and anti-union violence directed against SINALTRAINAL members.
We demand that the Coca-Cola company and the Colombian government cease repression against workers, investigate those materially and intellectually responsible for these incidents, and guarantee the right to life, to association, and to organize.
LUIS JAVIER CORREA SUAREZ
Prior to this incident:
‘AGUILAS NEGRAS’ PARAMILITARIES THREATEN COCA-COLA WORKERS, SINALTRAINAL LEADERS
On 25 September of 2007, at approximately 12:30pm, Domingo Flores, Nelson Perez, and Luis Eduardo Garcia, after leaving a forum convened by ASTDEMP with the Bucaramanga mayoral and Santander gubernatorial candidates, opened the door of the SINALTRAINAL office in Bucaramanga and found a manila envelope. Upon opening it, they found the following message:
Every order is carried out.
Communist guerrillas disguised as unionists: Javier Correa, Luis Garcia El Alias.
Stop the ideological guerrilla talk.
Get out of the department.
If you don’t, we will have to carry out our military objective to give your families your bodies in a mass grave for Christmas.
The Public Prosecutor will not save your lives.
This is the last warning we will give.
Don’t make us kill more.
Terrorists of the multinationals.
The Aguilas Negras want blood.
Your philosophy to defend the unprotected is an impossible goal. Nobody believes it.
We know the movements of your families.
We want you without having to spill their blood.
The demobilized will carry out the social cleansing.
Fucking communists. You will be cut up into pieces.
Merry Christmas. Aguilas Negras.”
Other threats were received by SINALTRAINAL leaders Nelson Perez, Luis Eduardo Garcia, Domingo Flores, and Javier Correa on 10 February, 26 July, and 20 September of 2007.
This latest death threat comes the day after we were at a public hearing in Bogotá, convened by the Penal Court of Valledupar, where Luis Javier Correa Suarez and other SINALTRAINAL members were witnesses in the procedures against paramilitaries materially responsible for the murder of our brother, Luciano Romero.
This calls to attention that in the past days we reported to the authorities a phone call made to the Coca-Cola company by a ‘supposed paramilitary,’ asking for a company representative so that he may interview an ex-employee and former union leader currently held in prison. He wanted to make a deal in exchange for information about presumed illicit acts that some union members may have participated in.
We believe that these threats are means for creating terror, stigmatizing, and possibly trying to justify incriminating SINALTRAINAL members for not having given in to blackmail. From jail, the paramilitary Saúl Rincón and the policies of companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, among others, and the Colombian government work against those of us who are protesting violations against workers’ rights.
We demand that the Colombian government investigate these incidents, punish those materially and intellectually responsible, protect the lives of SINALTRAINAL members and those of our families, and guarantee the rights of association and to organize.
Send letters of protest to:
Vicepresidencia de la República
Dr. Francisco Santos
Vicepresidencia de la República
Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario.
Dr. Carlos Franco
Calle 7 N° 5-54
TEL: (+571) 336.03.11
FAX: (+57 1) 337.46.67
E- mail: firstname.lastname@example.org <http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com>
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org <http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com>
Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos
Representante Permanente de la OIT en Colombia
Dr. Marcelo Castro Fox
Dirección: Av. 82. No. 12-18 Oficina: 504.
Teléfono: 623 75 86.
Procuraduría General de la Nación
Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón
Carrera 5 No. 15-80
Santa Fe de Bogotá.
Fax: (+57 1)342.97.23
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org <http://es.f257.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com> ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiscalía General de la Nación
Dr. Mario Iguarán
Diagonal 22 B No.52-01
Santa fe de Bogotá.
Fax: (+571) 570 20 00
E-mail: email@example.com <http://es.f257.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org> ; email@example.com <http://es.f257.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org>
Unidad de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario
E - mail: email@example.com <http://es.f257.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org>
Defensoría del Pueblo
Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz.
Calle 55 No. 10-32
Santa Fe de Bogotá.
Fax: (+571) 640 04 91
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
WORKING IN THE NAME OF PARAMILITARIES IN ARAUCA
WORKING IN THE NAME OF PARAMILITARIES CONTINUES TO BE THE GOVERNMENT’S CENTRAL STRATEGY IN ARAUCA
Saravena, Arauca, 18 September, 2007
[Translated by Micheal O Tuathail, CSN, La Chiva]
In an attempt to avoid new violations of human rights, given our recent experiences and the incidents that we will detail below, we are sending this preemptive warning to the regional, national, and international community, insisting that the national government and institutions of control and justice activate the system designed to prevent and monitor such risks:
1. The civic councilor from the municipality of Saravena, ALGACEL NOVOA PARRADO, finds himself in imminent danger of death. This threat is related to some recent reports and disciplinary complaints he has filed regarding the irregular behavior of the municipal public administration and other incidents related to the participation of public servants in human rights violations. Their collusion in such activities is presumed through their participation as witnesses in precarious judicial processes, which have landed many social leaders and community members in jail and served the interests of paramilitaries, who have murdered, branded, threatened, intimidated and used extortion against members of the community.
2. Indeed, the town councilor and departmental assembly candidate for the Polo Democrático Alternativo (Polo), in a report made to the Attorney General of Colombia, describes the worrying events as follows:
“… On September 4, 2007, at 8:07am, I received a call from a private number on my cell phone (310 857 2053). I was told that there had been some disturbances at the Universidad del Valle and that some graffiti from the ELN had appeared on several walls. The person also said that, since I worked with human rights, I would be able to put that person in contact with the ELN. I responded that the person had better look again at the number he had dialed because it must be the wrong number. He responded that he meant to call Algacel Novoa. I told him that, indeed, he had, but he still must be wrong because I have nothing to do with the Universidad del Valle; I live in Saravena, Arauca. I told him that, if he had problems related to human rights violations, he ought to contact the Ministry of the Interior, who could better help him. Later, my wife, LUZ STELLA BARRIENTOS, told me that at 8:03am, she had also received a call from a private number on my line (310 238 8746) assigned to the Ministry of the Interior, which I had left at home to charge the battery. Upon answering, the person asked her for some one named ‘Gonzalo’ and hung up.
I am grateful to have had some contacts that helped me find out the owner of the equipment and the SINCARD I was called from. Since then, however, I have been followed by members of the SIJIN, the police, and the S2 of the army and suspected paramilitaries owing to reports I had made regarding various incidents involving the army and municipal administration, reports filed at the Attorney General’s Office (Nº 55782 dated 12-03-2007; Nº 16707 dated 26-01-2007; and Nº 244373 dated 19-10-2006), at the Office of the President (Nº EXT07-75203 dated 23-07-2007) and at the Municipal offices of Saravena (Nº 0736-04-06, 0736-0806, 0736-019-06 and 0736-024-06).
Since 2005, Saravena has seen the formation of a gang comprised of SIJIN members, S2 of the army, and former guerrilla members, who have used extortion against local merchants, robbed people leaving banks with their savings, and several selective murders. These suspects drive around town in motorbikes without number plates and in a Bucaramanga plated (RDD 979) dark red Mitsubishi. In 2006, sentry posts were removed from the town, presumably to permit extortion to be committed against local merchants that had once been protected within the urban security ring. This order is on record in the office of the Municipality (PMSA-1371 dated October 5, 2006) and is directed at the police commander, Mayor Carlos Arturo Cabezas, and Mayor Celis, commander of the EMCAR, Saravena.
Also, at 11:50am on 14 September, 2007, when I was crossing the street (between 27th and 28th streets), I stopped to greet Mr. Víctor Gutiérrez, owner of Gutiérrez Jewellers. I asked him Pastor Jerónimo Gereda was staying with him. He replied that he was. I informed him of reports that had been made against Gereda, that he was involved with paramilitaries, had committed homicides, and had extorted money from local businesses. Mr. Gutiérrez then threatened me. He told me that Pastor had come to do a job for some friends in prison and that I should not get involved. He also said that I should stay quiet, or “be ‘eliminated’; you know what I mean when I say ‘eliminated’”. I told him that he knows me well, reminding him that the guerrilla had killed my father. I complained that it wasn’t right that Pastor, who presumably worked for the guerrilla, had come now to extort money from merchants for the paramilitaries. Furthermore, since he had come back, several cases had been reported of deaths and robberies of people returning from taking their savings out of the bank.
Sir, it seems that there is a report Nº 5818 of October 2006 accusing ‘40 muelas’ and Pastor Jerónimo Gereda of being the authors of several murders. If the authorities have demanded the capture of ‘40 muelas’, also known as EDGAR GUIZA GAMBOA, they should also seek the capture of Pastor Jerónimo Gereda Rangel, who was once driven to the police station but has been released since 14 September 2007. I myself reported to the police, to Captain Cossio Arias Didlier, the station commander, that Pastor was living in the Gutiérrez’ jewelery shop. I took photos I had taken of Pastor Jerónimo Gereda to the police as proof.
On 17 September 2007, at 10am, I was in the Ética drugstore. While standing on the corner, men standing by an army motorcycle were talking amongst themselves and making gestures towards me. I went to the ‘El Paisa’ restaurant, and within a few minutes, the men with the motorcycle followed me. I again returned to the drugstore, and they followed me there again. A young man with a hat and a military haircut then took a document from a bag held by one of the uniformed men and entered the drugstore to watch me. He made a gesture as though he knew me and left. As he left, I took a picture of him and headed up the street, where I saw him get on a grey Kripton motorcycle with another man also with a military haircut. When they noticed that I had seen them, they quickly left on the motorcycle. Later, another man dressed in jeans, a black shirt, and sandals and with shoulder-length hair arrived at the drugstore. He seemed recently showered. He walked back and forth in the drugstore, watching me, and left towards the juice vendor. After this, I went home only to find this man following me. I also took a photo of him.
I pass this information on to you, so that these incidents are investigated promptly and so that corrective measures and sanctions are taken. From this point on, I hold responsible those who are intimidating me for anything that happens to me or my family. In the same place where Mr. Pastor Jerónimo Gereda Rangel stays today, there also once stayed the hired killers who caused, in the name of the paramilitaries, many deaths in 2003, among them those of Rito Hernández Porras, Marcos Medina, Uriel Ortiz Coronado, Argemiro
Bustacara Morantes, among others. Among these killers is included Nelson Londoño
Jiménez, also known as ‘el Paisa,’ who is currently detained and has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for one of the aforementioned murders…”
3. Since 2003, paramilitarism has been consolidated in Saravena by groups of assassins who stay within the cordons of the National Police. From there, with the accompaniment, logistical support, protection, and coordination of the public forces to carry out their operations, they have caused the deaths of many community members and social leaders, extorted local businesses, issued threats, etcetera.
4. Now, once again, the notice is being given that, in Saravena, there is a group of people working and issuing threats. One of these people is Mr. PASTOR JERÓNIMO GEREDA RANGEL, someone who has been reported in the past to have patrolled (using the uniform and arms of the public forces) the town and intimidated the local community, speaking for the paramilitaries. We make responsible the Battalion Commander, Revéiz Pizarro, Lieutenant Colonel Alejando Cortéz, and from the Police Station in Saravena, Mayor Carlos Arturo Cabeza, for the harassment and intimidation of Mr. Algacel Novoa. We demand that the institutions of justice and control take the necessary measures to protect and preserve the life and physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Novoa and the general community. We also demand that these institutions move forward with the investigations and disciplinary hearings of those responsible for these incidents.
To the national and international institutions that defend human rights, continue your accompaniment of the Araucan community, and continue to monitor the extremely grave human rights situation in the region.
FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIFE, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND PERMANENCE IN THE TERRITORY.
“JOEL SIERRA” HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION – OUR SOCIAL ACTIVISM IS LEGAL AND LEGITIMATE.
US SOLDIER RAPES A 12- YEAR OLD GIRL
The COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK (CSN) were distressed to learn of the activities of two members of the US military in Colombia. Michael J. Cohen and Cesar Ruiz, assigned under Plan Colombia to the military base of Tolemaida, located in the municipality of Melgar in Tolima department. They are reported to have enticed a 12 year-old Colombian girl to go with them on August 25, 2007, and brought her into the base, where they fondled and raped her.
This is only the latest in a series of misdeeds by US soldiers in the Melgar area. Three years ago soldiers and technicians from the US produced pornografic videos of Colombian youth and put them our for sale at $10,000 pesos (About $ 5 US dollars) apiece. The Colombian young people had to leave their community as a result. And in May of 2005 Colombian Police captured a Sergeant and a military technician from the US with ammunition which they apparently intended to sell to the FARC guerrillas. That same month 5 US soldiers assigned to Plan Colombia duty, were taken into custody and charged with sending 16 kilos of cocaine camouflaged in a military aircraft, out of Colombia through the Apiay military base in Villavicencio.
CSN has on numerous occasions protested the human rights abuses of the Colombian military against Colombian citizens. But we specially decry the mistreatment of Colombians by US military personel. These violations of law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators punished. The US government has required the Colombian government to sign and agreement denying Colombia the right to prosecute US military personnel for their crimes committed in Colombia. We understand that Michael Cohen has been taken out of Colombia by the US government. We believe this action, which appears to put US military personnel above the law, must be rescinded.
Please write to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, US Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield, and your Representatives in the US Congress to urge them to support the investigation of criminal conduct by US military personnel in Colombia, with severe punishments for those found guilty of the crimes of rape, drug-trafficking and arms-trafficking. And tell them your support of the repeal of the liability waiver for crimes by US military personnel in foreign lands.
IN THE US
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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
US Ambassador to Colombia
Mr. William Brownfield
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VOICES RAISED IN ARAUCA
[Translated by Micheal O Tuathail, a CSN volnteer translator, from La Chiva in Canada]
No one can escape the social, economic, educative, and political crisis faced by the department of Arauca for many years now. It is one of the most militarized regions in Colombia. This is difficult to overlook, especially since the arrival of the presidency of Álvaro Uribe Vélez and its ‘democratic security policy’. On 7 August of 2002, the department was declared a ‘Zone of Rehabilitation and Consolidation,’ making it the principal laboratory of war in Colombia.
As this policy’s epicenter, in the last few years, Arauca has seen how the armed conflict has been intensified and the systematic violation of human rights, civil liberties, and transgressions of international humanitarian law acutely heightened.
Notwithstanding this critical situation, invisiblized more and more by the mass media, many voices of resistance have found a solid voice. These include social, campesino, and indigenous organizations, unions, rural and urban communal action assemblies, cooperatives, and associations of youth, students, and women, who have been articulating an Alternative Plan of Regional Equilibrium, studied, designed, and approved by the communities in accordance with the region’s conditions, customs, and realities. Moreover, the plan is being formulated in a democratic and participatory way that represents the social expressions present in the region. In one way or another, this process has permitted these groups to promote a level of organization that resists the systematic and permanent violations of the rights of the communities.
As a result of this process of coordination, the department’s social organizations and regional victims’ associations, together with the political opposition in Congress, have organized for this Thursday, 27 September, a public hearing in the municipality of Saravena. The hearing will feature not only the presence of members of local communities but also that of the international observers who accompany them, the Ambassador of Argentina, and delegates from the Swiss Embassy, the United Nations, the UNHCR, and the OAS.
Beyond the search for truth, justice, and reparation for the crimes against humanity the Colombian people have suffered, this hearing’s principal objective is to document, denounce, and make visible the worryingly grave human rights situation faced by the department.
The voices of the Araucan people will rise up through the live transmission of this hearing via the internet, broadcasting next Thursday, 27 September at 2:30pm.
Hear the transmission here: http://sarayi.kariva.org:8000/arauca.mp3.m3u
Also available through Dachi Bedea (Our Voice): www.onic.org.co:8000/dachibedea.mp3
Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo
SILSA ARIAS, comunicaONIC: 312-6394123
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
PETROLEUM INDUSTRY HEARING/PERMANENT TRIBUNAL OF PEOPLES
PERMANENT TRIBUNAL OF PEOPLES
Session – COLOMBIA
PETROLEUM INDUSTRY HEARING
Bogotá, August 3 and 4, 2007
[Translated by: La Chiva Collective, Canada]
La Chiva translated this document as a CSN volunteer group
The Permanent Tribunal of Peoples (PTP), established in 1979 as the successor to the Russell Tribunals, which at different times addressed both Vietnam (1966-1967) and Latin America’s dictatorships (1974-1976), in accordance with its mandate and constitution, is charged with giving visibility and clarification in legal terms to all those situations in which the massive violation of fundamental rights is not institutionally recognized, be they at the national or international level. Spanning its 35-year history and 33 sessions, the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples has accompanied, anticipated, and supported the struggles of peoples confronting the specter of violations of their fundamental rights, including the denial of self-determination, foreign invasions, new dictatorships, economic slavery, and the destruction of the environment.
The tribunal addressing the involvement of transnational corporations working in Colombia in the violation of human rights began in the month of April, 2006.
To date, the following hearings have been carried out: agriculture and food production (Bogotá, April 1 and 2, 2006), mining (Medellín, November 10 and 11, 2006), and developed biodiversity in the humanitarian zone of Nueva Esperanza in the Río Cacarica basin in the lower Atrato, Chocó (February 25 and 26, 2007).
The hearing has been preceded by four pre-hearings that took place in Saravena (December 11, 12, and 13, 2006), Barrancabermeja (March 22, 1007), El Tarra (May 19 and 20, 2007), and Cartagena (May 25, 2007), which have allowed for the direct participation in the process of investigation and testimonial collection of the communities most involved in and affected by the issues at hand.
The hearing took place in the head offices of the District Association of Educators, Southern Office, in accordance with the program detailed in Annex 1, and has involved around 400 people, principally from the regions affected by transnational petroleum activity. Also present were representatives from the international network Enlazando Alternativas [Linking Alternatives], which includes more than 80 NGOs from Europe and Latin America.
In accordance with the agreement with the international foundation Lelio Basso and the Secretary General of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, this fourth hearing has relied on the collaboration of the Transnational, Megaproject, and Human Rights Observatory for preparatory material and documentation of the accusations.
The jury named by the PTP includes the following judges:
- DALMO DE ABREU DALLARI. Professor of Law at the University of Sao Paulo, member of the International Commission of Jurists, member of the Advisor for the Defense of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil.
- MARCELO FERREIRA. Professor of Human Rights at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
- ANTONIO PIGRAU SOLÉ. Professor of International Public Law at the University Roviria and Virgili de Tarragona, author of numerous writings on international law, and member of various academic circles on the subject.
- NATIVIDAD ALMÁRCEGUI. Secondary professor, Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT Spain) Coordinación del Seminario Solidaridad Política. University of Zaragoza.
- DOMINGO ANKWASH. President of the CONFENAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon).
- DIERDRE GRISWOLD. Journalist, representative of the International Action Center, former member of the Secretariat of the Russell Tribunal on the war crimes in 1967.
- RALF HÄUSSLER-EBERT. Theologian and Reverend of the German Lutheran Church, Directive Initiative Board for Central America.
- IVONNE YANEZ. Ecuadorian ecologist, South America Coordinator for the OILWATCH Network (a network for the resistance of petroleum industry activities in tropical countries).
With the attendance of Father Javier Giraldo and the Secretary General of the PTP, Gianni Tognoni, Italy.
Given the responsibility of the named companies, it is indicated that Oxy, BP, and Repsol have adapted common policies in Colombia. Such policies have cemented the plundering of natural resources and systematic violence against the population. For its part, this has implied the destruction of the social fabric, the carrying out of murders, persecution, and violation of the human rights of the majority, and the destruction of indigenous groups.
According to the accusations, the abuses of these companies seek to carry out population control and shut down all resistance to their activities. Various strategies have been used by these companies, not the least of which includes the exertion of pressure on the state, so that it may create policies favorable to these entities, such as the minimization of regulations, the flexibilization of contracts of association, the privatization of energy companies, the granting of physical benefits, and the handing over of more oil and gas reserves. Moreover, these companies have contributed to the militarization of the life of society, deepened by the application of Plan Colombia and the direct support given to the armed groups, both legal and illegal, and the promotion of corruption.
According to those experts who back the accusations, there exists a similitude of objectives among the three accused petroleum transnationals. This convergence is based in imperialist policies that have plundered Colombia’s petroleum reserves using various strategies, including the hiding of production test results, entering into contracts unfavorable for the nation, carrying out fraudulent transactions to evade taxes, using the national budget to provide infrastructure for exploration and construction, invading the ancestral territories of indigenous groups, entering into security agreements with private security companies and the military forces, and the violation, with the effective cooperation of the State, of every judicial point that regulates such activity in Colombia. This behavior is symbolized by their more than 605 million dollars in profits obtained in 2005.
According to the accusations, obtaining these profits means evoking fear in their enemies without discriminating among environmentalists, workers, campesinos, and indigenous peoples who oppose these policies and who, in the words of the neoliberals, “create restrictions to the efficient functioning of markets”.
It is known that oil and gas are non-renewable natural resources. Therefore, their extraction is definitive, and the country that inevitably consumes its reserves will not recuperate them, assuming new deposits are not found. If Colombia is dedicated to irrationally exporting its petroleum (as it has done with Caño Limón, Cusiana, and Cupiagua, deposits that have combined reserves of 3.5 billion barrels), in less than 15 years, these mega-deposits will dry up. An example of this is that, while the life of the largest discoveries in Colombia will not last 30 years, the exploitation of Cira Infantas, another gigantic deposit now in the hands of Oxy, could last 100 years.
The rate of extraction has been so rapid that, according to Ecopetrol, by 2002, Oxy had extracted from Caño Limón 750,000 barrels of oil, while BP, in Cusiana and Cupiaga, had taken 806 million barrels. To date, both deposits have produced 2.5 billion barrels with a total value of more than 60 billion dollars, a sum that is almost equivalent to Colombia’s combined internal and external public and national private debt.
The particular accusations presented against the petroleum companies and the Colombian government are the following:
Oxy and Repsol are co-players in a variety of business activities. Repsol has come to complement the activities of Occidental in Colombia. As has been its practice, the US multinational, Oxy, sold part of its share in the Caño Limón deposit to Repsol, the Spanish transnational. After reacquiring Shell’s share, through the purchase of Colcito, which became Occidental Andina, Oxy sold, through Oxycol, 6.25% of its shares to the transnational Repsol YPF. That transaction was reported to be worth 150 million dollars. With this agreement, Repsol began to participate as a minority player in the association agreement Cravo Norte, made between Ecopetrol, holding 50%, and Oxy, represented by its subsidiaries, Occidental Andina, holding 25%, and Occidental de Colombia, holding 18.75%.
Repsol, whose principal players are Spanish financial conglomerates (starting with La Caixa, which controls 31%, followed by the Basque-based Bank, Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, with 9%, and the Castilian energy company, Iberdrola, with 3.5% of shares), has a growing amount of investment from US capital. One of this company’s US-based action holders is the Brandes investment fund, which controls 9.4% of its ownership. Furthermore, the Spanish-based petroleum company is developing a growing association with the Occidental Petroleum Corporation.
With the acquisition of part of the ownership of Caño Limón in 2003, Repsol bought enormous responsibility in the genocide committed by the US multinational against the Arauca population. It was also associated with ethnocide (which has claimed as victims both the Guahíbo and U’wa peoples), the environmental destruction originating from petroleum exploitation, and the brutal plundering of natural resources carried out by the multinational companies. Above all, it joined in a counterinsurgency project and an extremely aggressive war against the civil population.
Repsol YPF owns mining rights in Colombia in 8 blocks, 7 of which are for exploration. It has under its control an area of 7,863 square kilometers. Also, through the company Natural Gas, it is the most important provider of home heating fuel in the country. This company has monopolized the distribution of natural gas in Bogotá, the Cundinamarca and Boyacá highlands, and the Eastern region, accumulating more than 1.5 million customers.
In the case of Arauca, it has established a tight alliance with Oxy and its militarization project. It has consistently helped in the intensification of conflicts in the region. For example, its arrival coincided with the first paramilitary actions in the town of Tame, one of the municipalities in which the company explores and exploits petroleum and where the Capachos I [Paramilitary] Block operates and intensifies the armed conflict in the region. The same thing has happened in the zones of the Lower- and Mid-Atrato and the Mid- and High-San Juan, where there has also been an abundant paramilitary presence accompanied by Repsol exploration and exploitation.
Some of its activities are being carried out in the ancestral territory of the U’wa people. Three deposits – Capachos, Caño Limón, and Catleya – are located very close to indigenous territory, lands divided up by the Colombian government with the intent of taking these lands from the reserves in order to permit multinational exploitation activity.
1. To the Colombian Petroleum Company – ECOPETROL – and the Colombian State:
2. To the OXY, REPSOL, ECOPETROL companies and the Colombian State, for the plundering of natural resources, the destruction of ecosystems, and the contamination of the environment, the destruction of the territory and culture of the U’wa and Guahiba indigenous communities, and the genocide against communities and social organizations in the Arauca department. This last crime is represented by specific cases: the massacres in Santo Domingo, La Cabuya, Tame (Boroughs of Flor Amarillo, Piñalito, and Cravo Charo), Cravo Norte, Caño Seco, the murder of Hugo Horacio Hurtado, and the implementation of a systematic judicial strategy against social leaders in the region.
The Occidental Petroleum Corporation is a US company founded in 1920. It was registered in the state of California and owns operations in various countries worldwide, principally in the Middle East and the Americas.
In Colombia, OXY is accused of favoring the annihilation of the Oil Workers’ Union [Unión Sindical Obrera – USO], a union in ECOPETROL; in particular, OXY is held responsibility for the murders of Manuel Gustavo Chacón, Jorge Orlando Higuita, Auri Sara Marrugo, Enrique Arellano, and Rafael Jaimes Torra.
OXY, in order to maintain its right to exploitation and friendly relations with the Colombian State, has resorted to the most extreme repressive measures in Arauca. These include the massive expulsion of campesinos using military and political pressure; the direct support of military action, promoting and defraying the war to assure its strategic interests, guaranteeing its profits and their flow to the exterior; the intervention of the US military through Plan Colombia; the creation of operational war theatres by means of special legislation (states of internal commotion, states of exception, states of emergency, and zones of rehabilitation and consolidation); the general militarization of Arauca, linking members of the civil population to military programs, institutionalizing paramilitary groups, and adapting the justice apparatus to satisfy the interests of the transnational; and removing the backbone of social movements.
3. To the British Petroleum Company and the Colombian State, for the dismemberment of social and campesino movements, the extermination of the Cunamá Boroughs Association (ASOVEC, the Communitarian Association for Agroindustrial and Social Development of Morro), Acdainso, and the Departmental Association of Campesino Users (ADUC) – through the murders of Carlos Mesías Arriguí, Daniel Torres, Roque Julio Torres Torres, Oswaldo Vargas, and Carlos Hernando Vargas Suárez.
During the course of the hearings, expert opinions and written and testimonial evidence was provided to the tribunal. Documented proof was of significant length and quality and thus exceeds the narrow margins of this ruling. Nevertheless, it is added though a separate channel, which will be used in a PTP hearing to take place in July of 2008.
The hearings heard testimonials from numerous individuals, first-hand witnesses and those who had seen their families die; thus, this summary of testimonials balances extreme emotions. Some witnesses expressed fear of the possibility of retaliation for their testimonials upon their return home.
The expert opinions gave focus to the general situation in Colombia, economically, politically, and especially in the context of the social and armed conflict and the United States’ war policy in the region.
EVALUATION OF FACTS
The different aspects
PARTICULARITIES OF THE OIL INDUSTRY
It is important to mention that the oil industry follows a dynamic of capitalist accumulation, just as it follows a national security dynamic for countries highly dependent on energy.
First, because of the strategic importance of hydrocarbons, in the last decades, petroleum industry activities have produced such a huge surplus that they have consolidated the most powerful economic groups in history: the oil corporations.
Second, it is publicly known that world oil reserves are diminishing in a fast and irreversible manner; as such, these resources have become highly appreciated, and access has become a national security concern for industrialized countries, particularly for the European states and the United States, the country that consumes the most and is most dependent on fossil fuels.
Oil industry activities, in all its stages – exploration, extraction, transportation, refinement and consumption –, have catastrophic and irreversible social and environmental impacts at the local and international level. But corporate greed and the increasing energy demand have expanded the oilfield frontier, which now encroaches on areas of high biodiversity as well as indigenous peoples’ territories.
The strategies of petroleum industry multinationals have no limits. For example, they collude with the international banking system, ensuring that oil-producing countries accrue debt in order to facilitate natural resource extraction and exportation. These corporations also pressure governments to ease environmental, labor, and fiscal legislation in order to be able to act more freely and to obtain greater revenues. Also, they force the dismemberment and privatization of public (state) corporations, make deals with international organizations to cleanse their social and environmental images, form alliances with local mafias, regular armies and paramilitary forces – accused of killing, torturing, persecuting or disappearing community leaders -, in order to conduct their operations with complete security.
These and other strategies allow these corporations to act with a mask of corporate social responsibility and respect for human rights. However, public accusations and evidence continually come to light, describing their direct responsibility for environmental crimes in polluting land, rivers and seas; for the loss of forests and biodiversity; for provoking displacement and thousands of social and environmental refugees; and for destroying sources of subsistence, affecting the food sovereignty and chances of survival of the cultures and peoples who inhabit the areas where they operate.
Petroleum industry companies violate the rights of the Colombian people, their fundamental social and environmental rights. They become silent yet known killers and operate under systematic impunity, corrupting the rule of law and benefiting from the country’s armed conflict.
Petroleum multinationals’ home countries are also responsible for allowing this impunity, for promoting repression and the militarization of oil-rich zones, and for creating conditions of uneasiness, invasion, and permanent war against the local population and those who oppose the social and environmental impact of oilfield operations.
In Colombia, petroleum multinationals obtain profits of over 80%. This is only possible under the militarization of the production facilities. Even though this hearing has focused only on the companies mentioned above, all the big players in the petroleum industry operate in Colombia.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Given the aforementioned conditions and the context of the social and armed conflict faced by the Colombian people, and considering the documents and testimonials gathered, the existence of generalized and systematic violations of human rights are evident.
First of all, serious violations of the right to live and the physical integrity of several people were made clear with cases of murders, massacres (the bombing of Santo Domingo, the massacre of Caño Seco, the massacre of Tame – Piñalito, Flor Amarillo, Cravo Charro, La Cabuya, Cravo Norte), tortures, and threats. During the hearings, several witnesses testified about the crimes committed against their family members (mothers, father, siblings, children, and cousins).
Second, a constant persecution of union leaders was verified, to the extent that one can consider Colombia the riskiest country to be involved in such a activity. In the past twenty years, more than three thousand union members have been killed. The persecution of members and leaders of USO is condemnable; over the past twenty years, this organization has suffered the murder of 105 of its members and also several cases of disappearances, kidnappings, murder attempts, internal displacements and exiles.
CRIMINALIZATION OF SOCIAL PROTEST
From the gathered evidence, a systematic persecution of any form of opposition to the interests of the multinationals involved was verified; these companies secure their interests through a mechanical or operational persecution of social protest by arbitrary and legal persecutions and massive detentions, like the ones that took place in several areas of Saravena. In some cases, these procedures had given persecuted persons a “guilty” ruling. A witness detained and condemned for rebellion refers to the moment of her capture: “As a teacher, I was worried that we would end up with no students… We got together, facing the imminent retaliation announced by the government of closing schools.” “Then,” she adds, “they burst into the room where I was resting, screaming ‘where are the weapons.’”
RESTRICTIONS ON THE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
The Tribunal also verified the violation of the right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Colombian Constitution and international legislation, which influences internal governance. To that end, there have been established what one witness referred to as ‘zones of exclusion,’ areas facing a virtual state of war and under the direct control of the military and private security companies working in the service of petroleum multinationals. The militarization of these zones is extremely disproportionate, as demonstrated by the following excerpt from a mother’s testimony on the murder of her son: “my son went with his friend to a lake to catch some chiguiros for a party… someone who saw them called the army from Caño Limón.” Later, the boy showed up dead. It is common for witnesses to refer to the Colombian military as the army of a transnational company.
It is clear that this situation is aggravated by the arbitrary nature of military controls over the highways and the subsequent restrictions on the movement of food, medicines, and other essential goods, keeping in mind that rural communities are very poor. According to one witness, “if we were bringing food that had a value over 150,000 pesos, they would take it from us, claiming that the food was meant for the guerrilla… We weren’t able to bring neither cement nor food, nothing of a significant value”.
VIOLATION OF THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Petroleum industry exploration and exploitation have meant displacement, expulsion, and near extinction for a large portion of Colombia’s indigenous communities (U’was, Sikuanes, Macaguanes, Cuibas, Guahibos, Betoyes, Bari, Cofanes, Nasa, Inga, Embera, Siona, Awá, Pastos, Camsá, Yanacona, and Camentzá) through the invasion and destruction of their ancestral lands. Equally, since this activity began in their regions, indigenous peoples have been victims of homocides, massacres, detentions, and torture, all at the hands of state and para-state agents. Both the companies and the state consider indigenous peoples an obstacle for resource extraction.
Frequently, people in these communities are accused of being terrorists, guerrilla, rebels, or subversives. This has the objective of debilitating indigenous resistance and encouraging the abandonment of their lands. Paradoxically, communities accused of such activity have cultures that are traditionally pacifist. They have lived in the countryside and worked the land for thousands of years like this.
The process of the gradual abandonment of indigenous lands has been carried out in violation of the ILO’s Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, which expressly establishes the right to consultation on the transfer of their lands and prescribes that such peoples shall not be forcibly moved from the lands they occupy. This has also been recognized by the Constitutional Court in its recent ruling T-880 in relation to the Barí people; this ruling extends to all indigenous peoples.
Petroleum exploration and exploitation activities carried out by transnational companies and the Colombian government have required a significant amount of infrastructure, including communication routes, buildings, crude transport systems, oil wells, water treatment facilities, stabilization lakes, military camps, airports, and heliports. These projects have destroyed vast expanses of forests and affected swamps and wetlands, estuaries and rivers that feed the Orinoco; this has meant grave alterations to the natural cycles of the ecosystem.
The contamination of various bodies of water, perforation of oil wells, felling of trees, generation of heavy metallic and gas waste, alteration of water temperature, emission of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, oxidization of nitrogen and sulfur, uncontrolled burning of petroleum waste, and spilling of oil waste in pools near oil wells that contaminate the water table all represent the harmful effects faced by the regions’ vegetation, animal and human populations.
The defense of the environment has also implied repression from state actors, who have murdered people simply carrying out their posts, such as in the case of CARLOS HERNANDO VARGAS SUAREZ, the manager of CORPORINOQUÍA.
The right to justice comes from the obligation to guarantee rights. This translates into a provision of duty and imposes on the government the obligation to organize the entire state apparatus to ensure that all liberties and rights consecrated in international human rights agreements are respected and realized. This obligation implies the responsibility of the state to investigate, judge, and sanction those responsible for the violations of human rights recognized in those treaties.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has defined impunity as follows: “the combined lack of investigation, prosecution, capture, judgment, and condemnation of those responsible for the violation of rights protected by the American Convention.” The body has also signaled that “the state has the obligation to combat such a situation through all available legal means in order to ensure that impunity is not chronically repeated through the continuous violation of human rights and the failure to defend the victims and their families.”
In this respect, the Colombian government has not complied with its responsibilities. The scarce independent judicial investigations have neither completed nor passed their preliminary phases because, in general, every investigation faces administrative obstacles. An emblematic example is the fact that the Special Prosecutor’s Unit has its head offices within the installations of the 18th Brigade and has affirmed its participation in military operations. In the same way, it has become clear that arbitrary displacement through judicial means have been dealt with in distinctly ad-hoc trials, pre-established specifically for certain situations.
In this context, it is opportune to make reference to the phenomenon of paramilitarism in Colombia and its relationship with the political realm. According to one expert, “they dress as Senators in the morning, sell cocaine in the afternoon, and give orders to paramilitaries in the evening.”
It is clear that paramilitarism is responding to the development of a state strategy that goes beyond a counterinsurgency policy to a purely military response. Such a strategy has a profound political, economic, and social impact. Paramilitarism has been made available for the rich, the multinationals, the violent plunderers of property, and narco-traffickers. It responds to a model set forth by the state as well as distinct sectors of society. Thus, paramilitarism has garnered significantly unrestricted economic and political power. Fundamentally, paramilitary actions against the civil population have been granted impunity over the civil population; most frequently, their victims are small communities, women, children, youth, and people who have been critical or opposed to state policies that threaten their rights. With nowhere else to turn, many victims have come to the commission with their stories of massacres, ethnocides, genocides, assassinations, murders, forced displacements, tortures, and disappearances: in sum, an interminable line of crimes against humanity.
That enormous quantity of crimes, however, has been sheltered by an impunity encouraged by a policy directed at protecting the victimizers, disregarding the rights of society, and denying the victims their rights to know the truth, obtain justice, and receive full reparations. The government has not put forth concrete and effective actions to overcome impunity, that which has been recommended time and time again by international institutions.
DECISION ON RESPONSIBILITIES
Given the preceding, the Tribunal agrees to ACCUSE:
1. To the transnational petroleum companies BP, OXI, Repsol, and the company ECOPETROL:
* For the development of oilfield exploration and exploitation policies that signify the forced displacement of the populations that reside in those areas.
* For the development of exploration and exploitation policies that lack any environmental impact evaluation whatsoever and that imply the destruction of forests and other natural spaces as well as the grave and increasing contamination of water sources, such as the Arauca river, and the forced restriction on the ways of life for the affected populations.
* For the creation of authentic zones of exclusion, denying citizens access to massive areas that happen to be under exploitation, areas under a state of war and disproportionate militarization. This has been accomplished with the support of the armed forces, private security contractors, and paramilitary groups.
* For tolerance. These companies tolerate the activities of armed groups as long as they serve their interests. This has meant the persecution of those collectives and individuals that show even the slightest hint of opposition to oil industry activity and the conditions that it produces. This persecution is carried out through false accusations, threats, kidnappings, physical aggression, torture, and murder, as has been widely documented by the Tribunal.
* In particular for the systematic and generalized persecution of unionists, such as in the case of the leaders and members of the Oil Workers’ Union (USO), in violation of internationally and constitutionally recognized labor rights.
2. To the Colombian government:
The Colombian State did not fulfill its legal obligations, neither by action nor omission, at least in these most important aspects:
* It did not give needed protection to the political militants, social organizers and trade unionists, who were victims of treats due to their pacific community work, effectively ignoring human rights and respect for human dignity.
* It did not do the necessary investigations nor impose the needed punishment for murders and other types of violence committed against people and human rights organizations, even though many of the perpetrators were easily identifiable and members of the Colombian army.
* In the use of public forces for the repression of groups accused of rebellion, it did not make the necessary distinction between armed groups and members of the civil population.
* In the failure of the obligations assumed in concordance with ILO Treaty No. 169, which relates to the rights of indigenous peoples, by imposing the exploitation of the natural resources within the indigenous communities’ lands without their approval.
* In the failure of its obligations to prosecute crimes against humanity, particularly with regards to violations of the right to effective guardianship and the internationally recognized rights enjoyed by the victims of these crimes mainly due to the absence of a truly independent judicial system.
3. To the governments of the states whose nationals have significant participation in providing capital for the aforementioned companies:
* For permitting that these entities have the ability to disregard international standards with respect to human rights and environmental protection in other countries, like Colombia.
4. And, in particular, to the United States Government:
* For defending a presumed right to intervene in any country’s internal affairs in the name of securing the national interest, which includes controlling access to petroleum resources and having decisively contributed, through providing plans, training, and financing, to the extreme militarization of Colombia’s oil-producing regions. It is being carried out in Colombia as is has in the past and present in other parts of the world, with atrocious consequences for the civil population.
5. The Tribunal considers that there are reasonable grounds to describe a great majority of concrete acts of murder, massacre, torture, forced displacement, and persecution as crimes against humanity, given that they have been committed in a systematic and generalized manner against a civil population. In this context, the Tribunal would like to recognize the fact that each person, whether or not he or she is protected by the state, is also individually responsible in the legal arena for those crimes against humanity that he or she may have perpetrated, be it as author or accomplice, without exception. That responsibility makes the person answerable not only to the Colombian courts but also to international courts established as of November 2, 2002, such as the International Criminal Court.
Given the aforementioned reasons, and invoking the Argel document on Civil Rights, considering the totality of the accusations against each and every one of the companies and the responsibility of the Colombian government, and with the conviction that the violations of rights constitutes an attack against the common conscience of humanity and concerns all peoples, the Tribunal resolves:
1. To elevate the accusations and evidence produced for the final deliberation of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, Colombia Session.
2. To distribute this declaration to the unions, indigenous peoples, and urban and rural communities who have suffered the impacts of the destructive actions of these multinationals as well as to organizations that work in solidarity with them, academic and student organizations, the Public Prosecutor of Colombia, the high courts and other control agencies of Colombia, alternative media networks, mass media, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the UN’s Special Envoy for Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, and the accused companies’ head offices and governments of their home states.
3. To express solidarity and recognition of the pain of the victims.
4. To actively support the struggle for truth, justice, full reparations, the re-establishment of breached rights, and the guarantee that these crimes will not again be repeated.
With the conclusion of this hearing, the delegates present at the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, as well as the judges, express their admiration for the profundity and courage of the cultural resistance work and the defense of their dignity and right to a life with justice that we were able to see in the representatives and witnesses who presented at this hearing, men and women who have suffered so much and who continue to follow a constructive path toward a future of peace and self-determination. They deserve not only our solidarity but also our equally important commitment to a just society. The recommendations that follow seek to be a reflection of that commitment and one more way to accompany the communities we have come to know and remain with us in our memories and actions:
1. The jury makes a call out to intellectuals and members of social organizations in Latin America and beyond to devise proposals for norms of controlling multinational corporations and for creating a system by which their economic and environmental crimes may be condemned and companies pressured to act in accordance with the standards of the United Nations with the end of safeguarding the rights of peoples.
2. We also call upon the shareholders of the multinational petroleum companies in their countries of origin that they become informed about the behavior of their affiliates and submit them to ethical control.
3. The jury also calls out to the international community so that it be critical of the official information it is given about Colombia, that it keep in mind that, in a country in which so many atrocities occur, an official source cannot be considered reliable while these crimes are permitted to be hidden.
4. Similarly, we call out to organizations and social movements in Latin America who share the same problems and suffer similar aggressions from multinational companies that we find spaces to denounce these crimes and find solutions.
5. We demand that the International Criminal Court stop delaying its decision on receiving the Colombian case, where many diverse hearings of this session of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples have proven the existence of crimes against humanity.
6. The Tribunal considers it necessary and opportune to encourage Colombia’s lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and magistrates to take an active role in the quest for real justice, which is necessary for peace. In this sense, it is considered important to highlight that, beyond the recognition of an independent judicial power as indispensable for the protection of human rights, the humanistic conception of law is universalized. In modern jurisprudence, there is now no place for overcoming judicial positivism, which, conceiving law as inherently formalist, permitted the degradation of judicial institutions and the perverse use of the law as a shield for unethical procedures, making the use of law for the benefit of immoral privileges, giving the appearance of legitimacy to aggressions against life, and making the dignity of human beings more fragile and unprotected.
7. Finally, we express our profound worry for the unprotected situation in which those who fight for human rights in Colombia find themselves. In particular, we worry for those who have participated as witnesses in this and other PTP hearings. The jury considers anything that could come to affect the witnesses of these hearings the responsibility of the Colombian government.
DALMO ABREU DALLARI (President)
Given in Bogotá, Colombia, 4 August of 2007.