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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Colombian Land is Becoming Foreign-Owned

Domingo, 05 de Diciembre de 2010 12:09 Wilson Arias – PDA

Fuente: CEDIN


(Translated by Carrie Burkhardt, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)

The Chinese and Brazilians would be the principal buyers of land in Colombia. There may be several irregularities in the acquisition. They would have even received resources from Secure Agricultural Income. Also the Gulf countries, India and Japan, among others, aspire to keep a great extent of Latin America. The financial crisis and the lack of water and land are among the lure of the phenomenon. It is urgent to reform the Constitution in order to, in part, prohibit the sale of Colombian land to foreign countries and companies and, also to guarantee the production and consumption of food for the Colombians. This is the way to avoid hunger and the dependence of our nation, claimed the congressmen Hernando Hernández and Wilson Arias, in a documented debate cited in the 5th Commission of the House of Representatives yesterday.

The parliamentarians of the Alternative Democratic Pole reported that, before the lack of land and water in their own territories, a group of nations with large economic resources is monopolizing the most amount of land that it can. "Some countries threatened by such purchases defend themselves, but in the case of Colombia, the public government officials give them grants, including that of the Secure Agricultural Income," reported the Cogressman Wilson Arias.

They choose to buy even countries that suffer hunger (such as Cambodia and Sudan), but whose governments are indolent before the poverty of their towns and the loss of sovereignty. The "players" of those new businesses are governments, but by preference they do it through their Transnational Companies and of the financial sector, eager for profitability that comes from the food crisis. Everything under the guidelines of the World Bank claims the "speeding up" of the international market of lands and the institutional, territorial and infrastructural suitability, in the way of TLC.

"Several days ago the President of the SAG explained that China wanted to purchase 400,000 hectares in which the sowing, supplies, equipment, machinery, and workers would be Chinese, and the destination of the grain (rice) there produced would also be Chinese. It is the typical link, in the framework of the agrarian colonialism.

A singular case appears in Brazil in Latin America. Like several other governments of the region, that of Brazil has conceived a constitutional reform that prohibits the massive purchase of land by other nations and external companies. But their own private companies have begun to monopolize land in the brother countries.

Such is the case of the business group Mónica Semillas, that has used the consent of Colombian civil servants that have permitted them to violate legislation, like acquiring large extensions using "division" in order to violate the legal limitation of the size of the purchase (Family Farm Unit), and in some zones besides using the promotion and stimulus supposedly reserved for the small national producers.

The Representatives of the House specified: "In the Orinoquía they are making adaptations to prices, large investments, works of infrastructure, irrigation districts, highways, and even delivering subsidies that are not reimbursable from Secure Agriculture Income not only to the large Colombian employers but, for greater embarrassment, with destination at foreign companies like Mónica Semillas." "If it is already unbearable that everything goes to the large businessmen while the small producers and Colombian farmers are ruined every day, more than that the understood benefits in name of those, they devote themselves to foreign companies that come to monopolize our land."

The project of the Orinoquía, like in general that of the large plantation with its destination at the agricultural exportations, responds the "Carimagua model," in other words, the land property of the large owners is even more concentrated; they arrange enormous public investments; ignores the alimentary necessities of the population and drives out the peasants or submits him to a "monopsonico" market (single buyer), where the large landholder sets the conditions, imposes an disadvantageous "association" that catches them in a circle of credit, environment, distribution, and conditioned commercialization, sometimes alone and object of great pressures including violent pressure, when he does not surrender as an peon of the estate, under systems of labor in the Worker Cooperative.

The Representatives Arias and Hernández, demanded from the government the defense of the sovereignty, of the concept of Nation and of the territorial integrity; they asked the organization of control to investigate the grave accusations mentioned and the explained that the Alternative Democratic Pole is preparing a Legislative Act that limits the sale of land to foreign companies and governments.

This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MANIFESTO OF STUDENTS OF IMA (Instituto Misionero de Antropologia) – UPB (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana) FOR SEEDS AND THE EARTH

In the framework of the Forum "Land, famine and man"

Puerto Asis (Putumayo), 13 - 18 December, 2010


(Translated by Leo H. Torres, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by CSN volunteer editor Teresa Welsh.)


This manifesto is aimed at all those willing to understand that solidarity is the fabric of peoples; the authorities, whom the society assigned a responsible position to make a positive mark of his time on earth; our leaders and organizations who daily sow the seed of the collective consciousness in a persistent way; and our own people, to awaken the consciousness of being and doing.


The IMA – UPB in Puerto Asis headquarters, is a university where we are representing 14 indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, rural peasants and urban dwellers from the departments of Putumayo, Cauca, Caquetá, Nariño and Amazonas. At IMA, those who have been restricted from access to higher education come from villages, jungles and remote rivers, eager to put into social practice all that we learn in a living classroom, where it is not only  the teacher who teach us , but we are all learning from each other due to the richness of multiculturalism.


At a university like this, academics cannot be separated from social scope and organizational work that many students and leaders do, building a pedagogical activity as educators of the people based on the value of solidarity. This is the reason we say, "We serve others in the name of other, so that the world has less hungry."


"What happened with the seeds of our land?" It is a question we are asking, in an open and ongoing discussion, dealing with the situation of our communities related with the food issue?

The problems of this large territory of the South are unrelated to the institutions where the national destiny is decided. They only look at this place as a potential and active source of resources, a focus of conflict and a distant frontier.


There have been many factors that have kept us isolated from each other, ignoring specific problems even from our neighbors. The question for our seed is not only a concern for physical hunger, but for the cultural survival of our communities in dignity.

We are demonstrating so we will be able to build together.

We are demonstrating to find solutions to our problems.

We are demonstrating to be recognized.

We are demonstrating to save biodiversity, and natural and cultural wealth.

We are demonstrating the desire for Putumayo without hunger, strengthening cultures with food sovereignty.

We are demonstrating because the word is the expression of the wisdom of our peoples, and the custodian of an identity that takes care of our Mother Earth.



Our crops are both natural food and spiritual nourishment. Our myths explain the identities of our people. Peoples of maize, cassava, banana, chiro, rice, peach, borojó, beans, and sugar cane and in general all the native seeds are the source of life and heritage. From all the gods we have received gifts:

Daddy Nukanchipa was the creator of the world Inga.

Sbuachan created the maize of Kamentsá people.

Morocobain, the sacred turtle, made of cassava for the Siona.

Moniya Amena gave the tree of abundance to Murui people, from where comes all the food that maintains his people.

 Ksxa'w Wala, the God of all things, let the plants and the corn to the Nasa people.


Today, however the legacy of seeds is at risk. The disappearance or reduction of the seeds, which are food, spirit and identity of our peoples, leads us to look the reality in which we live, finding that:
• The Putumayo is a department where despite the existence of indigenous communities, you can see a population composition based on the migration of peoples from other territories,  determining processes of colonization.

• In this journey from one side to another, we express concern, especially with younger generations; in the case of indigenous peoples some have been losing their own language, and also the knowledge about seeds and traditional foods. We have had to adapt to new lands and other dynamics. By the dynamics of the market, there is a tendency for us to become buyers, rather than food crops.

• There is a reality that affects all of us: the coca economy. In the boom and then in the crisis of this illegal activity, there have been problems for those communities related and unrelated to this activity. The scope of this single-crop farming has taught some of us through suffering, that money is not food and that we are losing our identity.

• Some rural and indigenous communities in Putumayo are under the stigma of coca-growing population, although during good times they keep away from this activity, supporting traditional farming of food crops. Even today they are the people less benefited by governmental and non-government to develop projects in the region.

• What currently afflicts us more is aerial spraying as it affects food crops, water resources, undermines the organizations and communities generating displacement. This situation is recognized by official bodies, when they are taking in consideration the securitization of the areas of food crops, finding that the majority of rural lands cannot participate in the program by lack of land titles. Even in the case of some indigenous peoples who are partially titleholders of some reservations, their area suffers the consequences of the fumigation.

 • Therefore the availability of seeds as a food source to ensure the survival of our peoples is related directly to the right to self-determination, respect and recognition of land ownership.

• For the peoples and communities represented in the IMA, the recognition of their territorial is not guaranteed completely, especially for communities seeking to establish collective territories:
Some native peoples do not have enough territory to keep the traditional chagra (parcel). Others are in a process of redefinition of their identity, which also allows them the access to land ownership. In general, all indigenous peoples have established councils as our instance of authority, and through them move forward in the process of vindication and recognition of reservations in different municipalities in Putumayo and surrounding departments.

There is also a peasant process that advances in the creation of reservations and areas of biodiversity. With the support of several local and regional organizations, we already form the reservation of Perla del Amazonas (Amazon's Pearl) and a biodiversity area in the village of Ancurá in the municipality of Puerto Asis.

• There are threats to the territories already recognized, as well to those which are in the process of being recognized. These threats are the following: indiscriminate purchase of land for the establishment of single-crop farming such as grasses, palm oil, bio fuels, and introduction of GM seeds and patenting of our traditional medical knowledge. In the same way, road infrastructure projects by land and river (Intermodal via: Mocoa - Pasto, dredging and connection of the rivers Caqueta and Putumayo), fumigation with glyphosate and other implementation of Plan Colombia, the exploration and exploitation of oil and other minerals, indiscriminate felling of forest; bills that favor the extraction of our resources without considering our own processes and the forced displacement, among others.

 • In the midst of this complex reality, a glimmer of hope lights when we identify the support and assistance from our regional and national organizations, especially from indigenous communities based on their own education processes, improvement and recovery of indigenous foods related with Plans of Life. Rural communities have been working in our rural schools around comprehensive community programs where sustainable projects of production are implemented, the management and full recovery of soils, and the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products entering the system of barter. Excel in this dynamic the developments in the municipalities of Puerto Caicedo, Puerto Guzmán, Puerto Asis and Puerto Leguizamo.

• The Church is linked to these communal dynamics. Pastoral Social processes in the nation and in the region are signs of local hope. From programs such as wide range of dialogues, the Pastoral Parish Social Committee, COPPAS, some parishes bring forward an experiential exercise of spirituality accompanying communities in resolving most pressing needs, especially those related to land and territory, addressing including cross-border problems for many communities where the meaning of the word nation is just a flag that flutters in the wind.

• In addition, the IMA is linked to these activities through education. Our institution aims to promote multiculturalism and recognition of peoples' diversity of thought, to plant seeds of awareness and self-determination.



"The seeds are the gift of a Supreme Being from whom we received corn as strength and hope, a banana as a miracle, cassava as abundance. This is the reason no man can appropriate them.
"We are born from the earth, she is our Mother. Putumayo territorial reality shows us that the earth is tired, has been assaulted from generation to generation. Our purpose is to contribute to the planting and harvesting of new fruits that we grow in fertile soil.

 "There will be life without land, no land without life.

"Despite all the processes of colonization in the Putumayo, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, rural communities and rural residents of our urban centers still being living seed of conscience and survival.

"Education should serve as irrigation to sensitize future generations. As students of IMA - UPB we are home, school and training chagra (parcel) for our communities.

-Inside the seeds cultures are contained.

"Many people confuse rights with needs. The correct way is that we assert our rights by meeting our own needs with initiatives outputted by ourselves.

We therefore propose:


"Make reality the productive projects of IMA students in every community, in every river, causing the multiplication of initiatives. Each student and graduate of the IMA is an educator and leader. Their teaching with seeds involves: raising their immediate community about traditional products and food, and conduct participatory research processes related to them.

"The IMA community decided to create, multiply and track a seed bank that is linked to processes that have been evolving in the region and elsewhere in the country. In the pedagogic act of planting and harvesting of our Bank, we will share and gain knowledge of how to harvest and protect the seed which will germinate even inside ourselves.


"Based on the creation of the Seed Bank we will promote opportunities for exchange with a commitment to plant, cultivate and harvest and share the produce of the land with others. This will allow us to restore and maintain our internal networks, and networks among the communities that are living in our Putumayo's communities with native communities, maintaining and creating links beyond the borders.

-We see the need to resume the ritual elements of the various IMA indigenous peoples related with the seeds and soil. Rituals as Nasa people's
Sakele, among others equally significant and powerful, will help us to awaken the seeds, to remember and tribute to the mother earth.

-Based on the projection of our school, we want to influence public policies that promote the autonomy and preservation of ancestral lands and their means of survival and spiritual material.

"Through curricular activities, the IMA supports organizational work through the training of their students, which combines the teacher and the leader through the delivery of an education where the courses are useful for
read our own reality and act on it.

-Consult and follow the plans and institutional investment projects, the guidelines provided in indigenous life plans and rural community projects, recognizing the territorial and cultural autonomy of peoples.

-Participate actively and independently in the research of traditional knowledge, especially those related to biodiversity. Any action to investigate in the collective territories of traditional cultures, it has to be agreed with the communities, establishing joint research processes, where the outsider scientist will respect recognize our wisdom.

Students and teachers IMA


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Black Eagles [a paramilitary organization] Continue to Spread Terror in Buenaventure

(Translated by Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer editor.)


The community condemns disappearances, assassinations and displacements in Comuna Cinco and other neighborhoods.  Conflict over territorial control grows.


The idea of a "Buenaventura at peace," promoted by the district administration and seconded by the national government in their democratic security policy, has never been a reality in Buenaventura and is even less so now.  A community that, in a very specific way, has suffered the barbarity of armed conflict is Comuna Cinco.


Homicides of young people, recruitment of minors, forced disappearances and forced displacement within neighborhoods are some of the impacts of armed conflict in Buenaventura, the most important port in the country.  This conflict—according to all information—increased between December of 2010 and January of 2011, due to the ineffectiveness and negligence of justice, police, and political organizations at both the national and regional level.  Without protection, the community has to face the systematic violation of their human rights, ethnic terrorism, and international humanitarian law.




One of the sparks that revived paramilitary action, it seems, has to do with the assassination of the brother of the paramilitary "Mueca" in the neighborhood of Punta del Este.  According to the events of last December 24, between 8 and 9 in the evening, Mueca's brother, who was drunk and acting like his paramilitary brother, physically and verbally assaulted a young man of the same neighborhood, who, provoked by the attack, murdered him.


The one known as Mueca together with other paramilitaries made an exhaustive search to find his brother's assassin.  They gave the assassin's family a peremptory amount of time to find him and bring him to the neighborhood, or if they didn't find him, they [the paramilitaries] would assassinate the family.  On December 27, Mueca, when he had not avenged his brother's death, committed suicide.


In the La Inmaculada neighborhood of Comuna Cinco, they have reported mass graves, torture chambers and human remains in the bar, "Aguacate."  On December 31, a young Afro-Colombian, Jackson Martinez, father of two, who was employed as a skilled construction worker, disappeared.  A paramilitary in the neighborhood informed his family and friends not to look for him anymore, because they had "made mincemeat" of him near the neighborhood.


Disputes over territorial control, jealousy and distrust among the paramilitaries themselves have unleashed violent actions that affect the civil population.  On December 21 in the Punta del Este neighborhood, a narco-paramilitary know as "Chumbi," who operated in another area in that region, was murdered when he was walking in La Inmaculada.  In the same neigborhood, in May of 2010, "Anducho" was murdered on the order of Caleno, the paramilitary boss of the neighborhoods Punta del Este and La Palera.  Because of this another paramilitary commander ordered Caleno's execution.


Wave of Terror


At a party in the La Inmaculada neighborhood, a paramilitary boss known as "Moises" was murdered.  The murder was attributed to someone known as "Glofe," who had gotten out of jail a few days earlier. "Glofe" asked for help from the paramilitaries in the Miraflores neighborhood, but they didn't trust him and betrayed him, and he was murdered by paramilitaries in the R-9 neighborhood. 


Another one of the paramilitaries' reprehensible acts was the assassination of young Fernando Garces in front of his family and other inhabitants of the neighborhood.  In order to justify their crime, the assassins said that Fernando had stolen construction rods from the Container Terminal at Buenaventura (TCBUEN).  When the police came, a child who had seen what happened asked them to take him with them because he didn't want to continue living in the neighborhood.  Before this, the paramilitaries had threatened the boy's family, ordering them not to tell what they had seen, and certainly not to identify those responsible.


These and other events that occurred in Buenaventura are hushed-up in the shadow of the so-called paramilitary demobilization and the presumed consolidation of democratic and civil security.  In Buenaventura, the imposition of development, seen as port expansion, favors the driving forces of the US-Colombian Free Trade Agreement, rather than the Afro-Colombian population, which is how they justify politico-military control to avoid any resistance in territories suitable for the development of macro-projects.


So these things, forced displacement, permanent torture chambers, inhumane treatment and public punishment of young people, dismemberment, women sexually abused, tortured and murdered (their bodies dumped on the corner or in the garbage, and in other cases, disappeared), are every-day facts of life.


Through direct threats, fear of new acts of violence, fear of reprisals, constant assassinations in the Comuna, disappearances, fights among paramilitaries active in the region, whole families have been displaced from Punta del Este to La Inmaculada.


In light of the above, we are making an urgent request to local and national authorities, and to the international community, so that they may be alert to possible new forced disappearances, assassinations and displacements. In addition we are requesting immediate activation of the search system of forced disappearances, the location and return of bodily remains to the families, the effective dismantling of paramilitary organizations that operate in Buenaventura, attention to the protection of families already displaced, as well as concrete action to prevent new displacements.


Bogota, DC, January 23, 2011


-Fundacion Concern Universal- Ibague/Tolima [Universal Concern Foundation]


-Asociacion de Mujeres Lideresas de Familias- Mosquera/Cundinmarca [Association of Women Heads of Families]


-Corporaacion Red de Promotores de DDHH y DIH - Neiva/Huila [Network of Promoters of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law]


-Fundacion Comando de los Suenos - Sevilla/ Valle del Cauca [Dream Command Foundation]


-Pastoral Social de Armenia/Quindio [Social Concerns Ministry of Armenia/Quindio]


-Pastoral Social de Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca [Social Concerns Ministry of Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca]


-Escuela de Convivencia Pacifica y Solidaria de Puerto Carreno/Vichada [Coexisting for Peace and Solidarity School of Puerto Carreno/Vichada]


-Secretariado de Pastoral Social Regional Caritas Suroriente Colombiano - Villavicencio/Meta [Caritas Regional Office of Social Concerns Ministry for Southeast Colombia - Villavicencia/Meta]


-Corporacion Colombia Joven - Villarica/Cauca [Colombian Youth Association]


-APRODIC - Cartagena/Bolivar [Asociacion para la Promocion del Desarrollo Integral del Caribe - Association for the Promotion of Comprehensive Development of the Caribbean Area]


-Corporacion Desarrollo Solidario (CDS) - Cartagena/Bolivar [Development Aid Association]


-Corporacion por el Desarrollo de la Provincia de Velez/Santander [Association for the Deveopment of the Province of Velez/Santander]


-Fundacion Madre Herlinda Moises - Cartagena/Bolivar [Mother Herlinda Moises Foundation]


-Fundacion San Isidro - Duitama/Boyaca [San Isidro Foundation]


-Asociacion Minga - Bogota D.C. [MINGA Association - Association for Alternative Social Development, a Human rights Group]


-Plataforma Sur de Organizaciones Sociales - Neiva/Huila [South Platform of Social Work Organizations]


-Fundacion Socio-Cultural Huellas Africanos - Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca [African Footprints Socio-Cultural Foundation]


-Diocesis de Sincelejo - Diakonia de la Paz/Sucre [Sincelejo Diocese - Diakonia of la Paz/Sucre]


-Secretariado de Pastoral Social - Caritas de la Arquidiocesis de Baranquilla/Atlantico [Office of Social Concerns Ministry - Caritas of the Archdiocese of Baranquilla/Atlantico]


-Pastoral Social de Tumaco [Social Concerns Ministry of Tumaco]


-Red Joven Derechos Humanos - Cali/Valle del Cauca [Human Rights Youth Network]


-Asociacion Juvenil Bet-lehem - Ocana/Norte de Santander [Bet-lehem Youth Association]


-Corporacion Casa de la Juventud - El Tambo/Cauca [House of Youth Association]


-Corporacion Tiempos de Vida - Migangue/Bolivar [Lifetimes Association]


-Corporacion Juvenil Thimos - Bogota D.C. [Thimos Youth Association]


-Corporacion Cultural para el Desarrollo Arlequin y los Juglares - Medellin/Antioquia [ Harlequin-and-the-Jugglers Cultural Association for Development]


-Taller Abierto - Cali/Valle del Cauca [Open Workshop]


-Escuela de DDHH del Valle del Cauca - Cali/Valle del Cauca [Cauca Valley School of Human Rights]


-Corporacion PODION - Bogota D.C. [NGO serving Development Projects]


-CODEPAS - Monteria/Cordoba [Diocesis de Monteria - Proyecto de Desarrollo Comunitario CODEPAS - Pastoral Mission to Contribute to Comprehensive Community Development]


-Asociacion Cultural Casa del Nino - Villarica/Cauca [Children's Home Cultural Association]


-Fundacion Creciendo Unidos - Bogota D.C. [Growing Together Foundation]


-Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez - Bucaramanga/Santander [Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers' Collective]


-Asociacion Santa Rita para la Educacion y Promocion (FUNSAREP) - Cartagena/Bolivar [Santa Rita Association for Education and Advancement]


-Comite Cultural de Zapamanga (COCUZA) - Floridablanca/Santander [Cultural Committee of Zapamanga]


[This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.]


They Continue to Sow Pain and Terror

(Translated by Rich Henighan, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


We have been on a pilgrimage. First we created the Peace Community, then we went deeper, over the last fourteen years we converted pain into hope and made a real alternative world.  We have been on a pilgrimage against the terror of being victims, against death and hatred. On our journey together we have had different experiences of non-violent resistance, which have allowed us to strengthen one another in this growing option for peace and in an alternative world of mutual solidarity.


On this hopeful pilgrimage for life, we have to continue to bear witness to new acts against our Community.


On the 30th of November, 2010 around 1 PM in the village Playa Larga, near the village of La Esparanza, the paramilitaries showed themselves and there declared to one of our members that our Community must leave the area or they would exterminate it. There are more than 200 paramilitaries in the group that keeps up a presence in Playa Larga, Nuevo Antioquia, and el Porvenir.


On November 21, 2010 around 4:30 PM in Batata, Yuly Perez Durango was murdered by paramilitaries. They went to his house and killed him there. They said that anyone who did not submit to their rules would be assassinated. The presence of the paramilitaries in Batata and its environs, including various stretches of the Peace Community, is permanent and brazen, and tolerated by the local lawmen.


On November 15, 2010 at about 6:00 AM in Alto Joaquin hooded men went to the house of the Coordinator of the Peace Community. They asked for him and said they were searching for him. The day before, at about 4:00 PM, men from the army who were found near the house also went and asked for our Coordinator, saying that they had to talk to him. 


On November 5, 2010 at about 8:30 AM in Alto Joaquin paramilitary groups originating in Batata said to various participants of the Community that they needed the list of its members, especially of its leaders, in order to control the Community, to know who might be involved in it and who they had to kill.


On November 2, 2010 police officers went seven times to the Bosa neighborhood where they found pilgrims lodged, and told those putting them up that they were harboring guerrillas.


On October 29, 2010 at about 10 AM army personnel in Mulatos Cabeceras detained a youth of thirteen, Deivison Osorno. They beat him several times and told him that he knew where the guerillas were and he had to tell them or they would kill him.  After beating him several times over an hour and a half they let him go, but told him if he said anything, there would be consequences.


On Sunday, October 24, 2010, a former paramilitary known as Samir , who is actually under the protection of  Army Brigade XXIII, attacked the Community anew through an article published in the journal "The World of Medellin." In it he vilely accused the Peace  Community, its leaders and those associated with it, of being guerilla collaborators.


This accumulation of facts shows the difficulties through which the Community is passing. It also shows the ways of those wanting to exterminate it. Nevertheless, we believe that, for a peaceful pilgrim, life is the most important option. This is our decision and nothing will cause us to give up.


We call for national and international solidarity in the face of these deeds. We know how many people in the world walk with us in solidarity and dignity.


The Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado


December 2, 2010


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author and translator are cited.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)

Marmato, January 25, 2011.


Guided by the dignity of the Colombian people, and under the flag of the defense of our national sovereignty, individuals, organizations and social networks join in support of the Civic Committee For The Defense of Marmato.  This is a decisive moment for this Colombian city and we express our total and unquestioned support for the people of Marmato in the fight for the defense of their territory, their traditions and their way of life and subsistence against the attacks by the Canadian company, Medoro Resources.  Clearly they intend to displace this community, which has lived here for centuries, in order to carry out an open pit mine operation right within our municipal limits.
The undersigned individuals and organizations reject the methods that this and other companies have employed in this town ever since they arrived.  They use techniques that have caused widespread anxiety, trying to divide the community by selling dreams of development and progress.  At various times they have also created social and economic chaos without any parallel in the history of Marmato.  These events have only been overcome by the tenacity and enterprise of the people, much more than by the support of the government, which has been painfully absent in the last few years.
The closing of 84 mines by the former company – Colombia Goldfields – whose shareholders make up part of Medoro, has resulted in unemployment for more than 800 people and in the destruction of nine mills and several properties.  This is an unmistakable reflection of the intentions that these kinds of companies have in countries like ours.  By their use of tools such as fear, coercion, and co-opting people, they are trying to satisfy private interests in the deterioration of the general well being.  We also object to the tactics that this and other companies of this kind are using in the places where they go with the objective of gaining the support of local governments, overwhelming them with flattery and plum jobs.  We emphatically call on municipal, provincial and national authorities to refuse these deals, many of which are illegal.
We are using this unity meeting to demand scrupulousness and objectivity in the face of the campaign of media disinformation that Medoro has orchestrated against the people of Marmato and we regret that the Colombian government echoes their assurances, which lack any technical and scientific basis and lend themselves to giving free rein to the interests of a foreign company, diminishing the well-being of the local community.  We observe that that is how they have managed to convince public opinion that Marmato is at the point of caving in because of geological problems and that it is necessary to relocate the population. 
These assertions are false, and contradict the final report by Corpocaldas, which shows that there are very few high risk areas in Marmato and that in no way is the main part of the area at any risk that cannot be mitigated.   Because of the mining activity that has been carried out in this area for centuries, there need to be controls to reduce and mitigate the risk in certain areas.  But as the fierce rainy seasons and the earthquakes that Marmato has suffered have proved, the catastrophic events to be lament, as the different communications media have tried to show.  We only need to recall the last rainy season that took place at the end of 2010, where we see how the rest of the country collapsed while Marmato remained firm and without any damage to be lamented.  Along the same lines, we request that the media verify appropriately all of the information that they publish about Marmato, so that, whether by action or omission, they do not serve the private efforts that go counter to the national interest, and we demand their commitment to investigate all of the actors involved, the activities they are really carrying out, and what assertions of the involved parties are aimed at the possibility of carrying out open pit mining in this municipality.
We also point out that in this case they are trying to violate the legal impediments that inhibit this kind of exploitation in Marmato.  One is Decree 2223 of 1954 that only permits subsistence mining in the high country.  Paragraph 13 of Article 6 of the territorial development plan for Marmato, in effect until 2011, recognizes that "in the exploitation of medium scale mining, the future of Marmato, avoiding at all costs the exploitation by open pit mining; as a way to guarantee the permanence of the resource for future generations."  Subparagraph a) of Article 35 of the mining code does not permit mining within city limits, among other prohibitions.  We urge the authorities to enforce the laws that protect this city and to make certain that individuals and companies do not carry out any actions that are contrary to these laws.
We will not accept the imposition on citizens of Marmato the change in the mining tradition of this area, where small and medium-sized mining companies use local employees. Both mining and the environment have lived together peacefully.  With the proposed change, they are trying to achieve the monopolization of employment that would swallow up the town if Medoro as the only opportunity for work, and the work would be in an extraction process like open pit mining that requires far fewer employees.  We point to the tragic consequences for biodiversity that large-scale mining brings.  We denounce as illegitimate and unjust the conditions that the multinational companies are bringing to our country.  In the case of gold mining, they pay royalties of barely 1% to 3.2% and their regulation and oversight are practically nil.  (This fact is confirmed by audits such as the one by the Comptroller General of the Ministry of Mining and Engineering.)
Now they are trying to have President Santos centralize mining, depriving the provinces and municipalities of this income, creating a tax framework that will be adjusted so that these companies obtain enormous benefits not enjoyed by Colombian companies.  This would create a new kind of colonization 500 years after the Spanish invaded our continent.  We will not agree to this trade of gold for little mirrors and we regret that we have a government that endorses and urges neocolonialist measures that seek to appropriate the riches that ought to serve progress and national development.  They are trying to subject us to the unjust model of rider and beast of burden, where the Colombian people serve as the animal.  We believe that Colombian resources ought to serve Colombians, ought to look out for their well-being and that of the generations to come.  Therefore, the resources of the people of Marmato ought first and foremost to benefit the people of Marmato.
The unity summit supports this fight to defend one and all of the residents of Marmato and to defend the local economy and the economy of the neighboring areas that largely depend on the dynamism of this municipality.  This is a fight for the small miners who work faithfully in the mines that do not serve as a public utility or perform a social function.  It is a fight for mines that are small businesses that create employment and local development, a fight for the miners who earn a fair wage by the sweat of their brow, a fight for the mule drivers who provide a transportation option, a fight for elderly people who can continue receiving income for their support, a fight for young people to assure them with opportunities for many more generations, a fight for the farmers who, with their hard work on the land provide food for the area, a fight for the women who ought to have better social and employment opportunities, a fight to preserve the cultural heritage of the native and Afro-Colombian people, a fight for merchants, transportation workers, teachers, students, and many others who have found Marmato to be a place of inclusion and support.
The social organizations and the Marmato community are ready to fight the policies of sacking and plunder that have been plotted against our people.  We will use every civil and democratic means at our disposal to confront the plan to forcibly displace a town with hundreds of years of tradition and culture.  We call upon the Colombian government to take a clear position in favor of the interests and needs of the people of Marmato and other Colombians.  We call attention to the negative implications of the government's turning its back on this community, a community that is fighting for the life of its roots, its way of life and its sustenance.  We emphasize that this community, one that has been and will certainly continue to be peaceful, will defend to the end its right to determine its own destiny.
Marmato is the example of the destructive mining policy they are trying to push in this country, one that is clearly an affront to national sovereignty, and one that has allowed the consideration even of providing 40% of Colombia's territory as a concession.  This has established a savage marketplace for mega-mining projects that openly favors foreign companies and their middlemen over the miners and local merchants and workers.  It threatens the property of thousands of Colombians, especially in the Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.  This is exactly why it is important to defend this territory and gain the victory for its people, because of the message it would send to public opinion in the country, to the Colombian government, to the multinational mining companies and to the international community.  The message is that this phase of voracious capitalism, the laxness and surrender of the governments will not get the best of the determination of the people to defend their present and to decide their future freely.
Signers:  Caldas-CRIDEC Indigenous Regional Council, Cartama Regional Council, Ciic Committee to Defend Marmato, Managers of Tomorrow, Miners of Echandia, Miners of Cien Pesos, Miners of Chaburquia, Small Miners Association, Let's Revive, Oscar Gutierrez, Lorenzo Muelas Hurtado Constitutional Assembly.
Colombian Action Network Against Big Multinational Mining  

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

People’s Congress: Countrywide Proposal for a life with dignity.

Sent by CENSAT

(Translated by Deryn Collins, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)

October 5, 2010

8-12 October 2010, National University of Colombia, Bogota.

The People's Congress is a process of a social and popular character that brings together all those processes and dynamics at a town, sector and regional level that are willing to construct a present and a future for our country with a Latin American and world perspective.

We are taking Minga1 at its word by spelling out and bringing together the distinct ways that the Colombian people have to express and organize themselves as a proposal for a better country.

Recognizing this as part of the 518 years of resistance by the indigenous peoples and the 200 years of the popular fight for a country where everybody has a place; today we call upon the whole of Colombian society to be a part of the construction of the People's Congress to begin the community march towards the dignifying of the life of our country and our people.

Objectives: We look to evaluate and plan the route taken in social and political processes during the last two decades in our country's history, that express the life goals of the processes and the points of view that we must defend together with the actual destructive model. For this we propose:

  1. To develop the themes that lay out at the outset, the motivation and joint construction of  'El Plan de Vida Digna Nacional' 2
  2. To set a framework for a 'Mandate of Mandates' that brings together all the distinct processes at town, sector and regional levels.
  3. To propose and create a platform of mobilization and action to plan and take on, in the next few years, jointly and with the strategic pact for the country.
  4. To define the organization and methodological criteria for the social and political articulation with all the processes that bet in the construction of the proposal of the country.
  5. To gather and strengthen an international agenda to forward the advance of the integration of the people.


The Main Topics of the People's Congress

The perspective of the dialogue we propose, takes into account the following considerations:

  • The depth of the current worldwide financial crisis in which we live, which shows the crisis in the occidental world and consequently demonstrates that capitalism is unfeasible as a life model.
  • Questioning the rationality that has structured our current critical social systems.
  • The urgent need for a new way of thinking and a new order that establishes social and natural balance for the planet.
  • The norms of the community as an action-vision for a new social plan: The Good Life.
  • The systematic negation by those in power to accept the need to replace current imposed order.
  • The direction of social action at this historic moment: demanding the rights to exercise our rights and a full and integral life.

The People's Congress should allow us to put a plan into action that includes all the core ideas we consider fundamental in moving towards the dignified Colombia we all deserve.   
Initially, from the Minga we came up with five points that were fundamental in bringing together the many social processes from around the country and we found that it is necessary to include other visions which complement these 5 points of light to create an integral plan for the country.  
From this perspective, we have come up with the seven main themes that bring together and synchronize the accumulated actions and thoughts of the people; and we now have the distinct processes and organizations that the People's Congress promised: 

  1. LAND, TERRITORY AND SOVEREIGNITY: to take into account the communities daily regional and territorial construction, in a pact of self determination and autonomy.
  2. ECONOMY FOR LIFE AND AGAINST LEGISLATION THAT EXPROPRIATES: we are facing production model in which the general rule has been inequality and of expropriation. We propose realizing another possible economic plan, lead by the people living in harmony with nature.
  3. CONSTRUCTING THE GOOD LIFE: the politics and dynamics which are understood as a process and a way to liberate the potential for a natural and social life which allows us to recuperate its integrity and harmony.
  4. CULTURE; DIVERSITY AND COMMON ETHICS: taking onto account the many diverse ways in which we live together, we are thinking about a diverse country.
  5. LIFE; JUSTICE AND ROADS FOR PEACE: it is impossible to build a country for everyone without betting for peace and justice. The essence of the conflict neither consists of an unbalanced and unnatural society with the dominant model having produced, for whatever reason, our framework for thinking that overcoming it is not the juncture nor biased, part of the character of life itself and the dimensions fits relations.
  6. VIOLATION OF RIGHTS AND BROKEN AGREEMENTS: at every stage, the agreements that we have made with the government have been betrayed, twisted, broken and disrespected, in the same way, our rights have been systematically violated and unrecognized. As a memory exercise strengthens and founds our fight, we have to take into account this history, it the way which our interests have not been recognized.
  7. INTERGRATION OF THE PEOPLES AND THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE FIGHT: Colombia is not our limited frontier. In Latin America and the whole world the people are moving towards a different world vision and of possible international relationships that correspond with our own ideas. To articulate and plan together is our duty.

How we came to this first session of the People's Congress:

  • From the creation class, town, sector and regional mandates: To make legislation for our country requires a solid base of proposals, coming from mobilization, from life experience and the struggle of the different grassroots processes. The People's Congress has to use the mandates we have: those accumulated from thoughts and proposals which have been created collectively, those that have social legitimacy, and those that highlight the most important contradictions we face. It also has to develop methodologies to ensure the completion and carrying out of said mandates. To achieve this it is necessary to systemize our thinking, our words and the way we fight, (Life Plans, Balance Plans, Permanent Plans, Programs, Demonstrations, Requests, Conclusions from Meetings, Schools of Thought, Proposals and Political Ideologies), articulated within that which we stipulate as a county.
  • Starting from meeting and conversing with those who wished to participate in the People's Congress: In our country the ways people have organized and the logic of their fight has many different forms. To allow a meeting between them requires patience, mutual recognition, the construction of common ethical bases and synchronizing the way we look at the pacts we have and the ways we can make them viable. On a local, regional, national and international level the People's Congress is driven by different dynamics to find, o talk about and to agree upon.
  • The rhythm and way to mobilize: The People's Congress arose out of, and thanks to the capacity of the people to mobilize in support of their fight. In this session, apart from the demonstration in Bogotá, there was a series of acts on a regional level that allowed the whole country to participate in the People's Congress.

The pact of the People's Congress is to generate effective communication, and to diffuse and social positioning: This is a proposal for everyone, we need ways to spread it and make it everyone's, so that it seems a part of national life, that it exists in the imaginations of the people of this country as part of the process of recuperating our identities.


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author and translator are cited.


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Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Council of Girón says no to open mining in the Santurban Paramo

(Translated by Emily Ellis, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)

The Council of Girón asks the environmental authorities to not approve the environmental permit for the mining project for Greystar Resources and the others that are in the process of applying.

The reasons for the recommendation are related to the affectation of the volume of water available. The engineer, Germán Augusto Figuroas Galvis, former manager of Acueducto Metropolitano de Bucaramanga, said that "the project represents a real threat to the city's supply sources. For their negative affects about the quantity and quality of the water in the streams and complex marshes that supply the River Vetas Basin, an affluence of River Suratá, which is responsible for 17-50 percent of the potable water supply for more than 1 million inhabitants of Bucaramanga, Florida, and Girón, especially in dry periods, presented by climate change in severe phenomenons like El Niño."

"They shouldn't allow mining intervention, because of the area of the marshes, the alteration of the aquifers, the pollution from cyanide and residual heavy metals, the pollution from particular material resulting from explosions, the alteration of the countryside and destruction of soil, vegetation and fauna associated with great mining projects, that will also deteriorate the hydraulic resources of the zone of influence."

Likewise, the town council of Girón indicates that giving the environmental permit requested by Greystar Resources will violate Article 1, Numeral 5, General Environmental Principles of the Law 99 of 1993 that established the following: "In the use of the hydraulic resources, human consumption will have priority over any other use." This principle is ratified the 1729 decree of 2002 (Hydrographic Basins) that constitutes (article 4): "In the use of the hydraulic resources, human consumption will have priority over any other use."

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Defending David Rabelo for his human rights work

Public Communiqué

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


The Luis Carlos Pérez Legal Collective asserts:


1. Its support for and recognition of the work that David Ravelo Crespo has developed for decades as a defender of human rights, a social, community and political leader in Barrancabermeja. He has done nothing else but work tirelessly for respect for life, for liberty and to win human rights in the area of Magdalena Medio, as well as in the struggle against impunity for the serious crimes committed against campesinos/as and workers, perpetrated by the very people who today point them out and unjustly accuse them—groups of the extreme right, paramilitaries.


2. We are worried when we see how in recent months the work of the organizations that defend human rights and of the people who are their members has been seriously affected by what is clearly a systematic practice by groups of the extreme right and the current regime to affect, to point out, to threaten, to interfere with and stigmatize the work of prestigious human rights organizations. An example is the case of CREDHOS, "Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, [Regional Human Rights Defense Firm—SC] which has been the victim of multiple attacks, aggressive acts and security incidents. We offer them all our respect and admiration for persisting and resisting in the defense of human rights in a region that has suffered social-political violence, and for remaining firm despite this difficult situation of confronting risks in their work.


3. Let us recognize in this criminal trial a vile judicial machination designed to affect the liberty, honor, personal integrity and good name of our co-worker David Ravelo Crespo and that of the organization CREDHOS, of which he has been a leader for many years. This case, like many others, will disappear like a house of cards (as happened with the cases of Julio Avella de ANDAS and of the Communist Party in Bucaramanga in 2003 and many other organizations that defend human rights in the region; or like the case of the ACVC that was also a victim of this kind of judicial machination since the year 2005; and like what happened with the CPDH [Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, The Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights—SC] of Arauca since 2008 and 2009; and like what happened to the Campesino Association of Catatumbo in 2010). The State, through its intelligence organizations and the pubic safety forces, and with the open and cynical participation of structures of the extreme right, has designed and carried out this program of judicial persecution and criminalization of social protest, because they believe that this way they assume the lowest political cost or that their participation will not be seen. They pretend to defend the principles of judicial independence, saying they are impartial investigations in which they cannot intervene, when we know that they do so from fabricating intelligence reports, to buying and bribing witnesses, to paying informers, and—why not say it—to the pernicious offer of judicial and economic benefits for the supposed "collaborating with Justice."


4. We reiterate our indignation and our rejection of the judicial machination that affects the liberty, personal integrity, honor and life of our coworker David Ravelo Crespo, since as has been openly publicized they are sustained [only by the statement] of a criminal, supposed "demobilized paramilitary," Mario Jaime Mejía, known as "El Panadero" ["the baker" or "the bread man,"—SC]


5. We reject the measures taken by the Prosecutor General's office that move this investigation forward. We consider them to be outside the realm of justice, of due process and of the dignified treatment that people should receive. Since in fact David Ravelo Crespo is a person known and renowned socially and publicly in the region, a person who was always inclined to collaborate with the justice system; and since there were no serious points against him; and considering all the times he was able to testify every time he was summoned by the Attorney General's office; by any measure it was an arbitrary and disproportionate action to have issued an arrest warrant for him.


6. We reiterate and we insist that we are ready to join all the efforts that are aimed at gaining effective freedom for our coworker David Ravelo Crespo, from support to guarantee a technical and material defense (contributing applications, with evidence supplied, giving our declarations in support of David Ravelo Crespo, everything that is needed in this sense, and that his lawyers (The José Alvear Crespo Legal Collective) may consider necessary, opportune or important. The same for the actions or activities that are proposed by the campaign for "Freedom for David Ravelo Crespo," from this point forward we offer them the spaces and dialogue settings that we are going to have during the European tour that we will be carrying out during the months of October and November to denounce political judicial persecution of the organizations of the northeast, especially against David Ravelo Crespo and CREDHOS.


7. We say finally that we continue to be hopeful about the work and the solidarity of the organizations, and that in this as in other cases the truth will come to light and with it David Ravelo Crespo's freedom will be won, and that we have to advance all relevant actions to denounce and stop these attempts to criminalize [human rights defenders] and punish them in the courts.


Liberty for David Ravelo Crespo, Respect for the Defenders of Human Rights, Guarantees for the Organizations that Defend Human Rights


Luis Carlos Pérez Legal Collective

Calle 10 No. 23-14

Bucaramanga, Colombia


Fax: (7) 645-5528


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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Phone:  (608) 257-8753
Fax:  (608) 255-6621
E-mail:  csn@igc.org



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