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)
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Christian Peacemaker Teams Colombia
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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