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Canadian-based organizations express solidarity with Colombian rural peasant farmers' strike

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We the undersigned organizations stand in solidarity with Colombian rural peasant farmers who along with other members of civil society, including miners, teachers, medical professionals, transport workers, and students have undertaken nationwide strikes. This past weekend an estimated 200,000 people blocked roads and marched peacefully across Colombia to protest the negative impacts on their communities of the U.S.-Colombia and Europe-Colombia Free Trade Agreements.

There is a growing discontent with Free Trade Agreements that benefit only large multinational corporations and impose privatization, deregulation and anti-union policies. President Juan Manuel Santos government's economic policy known as "locomotora minero-energetica" is promoting the development of large scale mining and resource extraction in the hands of multinational corporations many of which will benefit Canadian companies like Pacific Rubiales Energy and Gran Colombia Gold at the expense of small scale local miners and workers.

We condemn the heavy-handed tactics of the riot police who have used violence in the form of beatings, arrests and tear gas on peaceful protests in an effort to crackdown on civil society. Civil society is also condemning the targeted arrests and detention of peasant and labor leaders like Mr. Ballesteros, the Vice President of the Agricultural workers union, FENSUAGRO who was recently elected to the Executive Board of the trade union central CUT. Mr. Ballesteros is an organizer and spokesperson in the labour movement and has played a significant role in the current strikes.

We are also alarmed by the irresponsible comments of Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon who claimed that the striking workers are being controlled by "terrorist" groups.

We support civil society calls for President Juan Manuel Santos to guarantee the democratic right for peaceful protests and to establish a meaningful dialogue with striking sectors that will allow their demands to be met.

Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel
British Columbia Teachers' Federation (BCTF)
Christian Peacemaker Teams Colombia
Common Frontiers
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Council of Canadians
Idle No More
The Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA)
The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)
United Steelworkers (USW)

Organizaciones Canadienses expresan su solidaridad con los campesinos Colombianos en huelga

Las organizaciones aqui firmantes nos solidarizamos con los campesinos Colombianos quienes junto con otros actores de los sectores sociales, entre ellos, los mineros, maestros, profesionales médicos, camioneros y estudiantes han organizado huelgas en todo el país. Este pasado fin de semana aproximadamente unas 200.000 personas bloquearon las carreteras y marcharon pacíficamente a lo largo de Colombia en protesta a los impactos negativos en sus comunidades por los acuerdos de libre comercio entre Colombia-los Estados Unidos y Colombia-Europa.

El descontento con los acuerdos de libre comercio, que benefician sólo a las grandes empresas multinacionales e imponen la privatización, desregulación y políticas anti-sindicales, es bien conocido. La política energética del gobierno del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos, conocida como "La locomotora minero-energetica", está promoviendo el desarrollo de la minería a gran escala y la extracción de recursos con empresas multinacionales, muchas de las cuales beneficiarán empresas Canadienses , como Pacific Rubiales Energy y Gran Colombia Gold con detrimento de los mineros y trabajadores locales a pequeña escala (mineros artesanales).

Condenamos las tácticas extremas de mano dura de la policía antidisturbios que según las denuncias de la sociedad civil ha utilizado la violencia en forma de palizas, detenciones y gases lacrimógenos durante las protestas pacíficas con la intencion de reprimir la sociedad civil. La sociedad civil también condena los arrestos selectivos y detención de campesinos y líderes sindicales como el del Sr. Ballesteros, Vicepresidente del Sindicato de los Trabajadores Agrícolas (FENSUAGRO). El Sr. Ballesteros es un lider organizador y portavoz en el movimiento obrero y ha jugado un papel importante en la huelga actual.

También estamos alarmados por los comentarios irresponsables del Ministro de Defensa de Colombia, Juan Carlos Pinzón, quien afirma que los trabajadores en huelga están siendo controlados por grupos "terroristas".

Apoyamos las llamadas de la sociedad civil al Presidente Juan Manuel Santos para que garantice el derecho democrático a la protesta pacífica y establecezca un diálogo significativo con los sectores en huelga que permita que sus demandas se cumplan.

Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel
British Columbia Teachers' Federation (BCTF)
Christian Peacemaker Teams Colombia
Common Frontiers
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Council of Canadians
Idle No More
The Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA)
The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)
United Steelworkers (USW)

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