Ep. 93 - Colombia beyond the Wall, pt 1

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“Political prisoners rage and spirit can’t be jailed, by their testimonies and the comment of Canadian observers we’ll travel in their world crossing the lines of borders, fears and walls.”

«They shamelessly apply the full weight of the law against us, the freedom fighters. We, the political prisoners, will not back down. We continue to fight alongside the people for fundamental rights and equality before the law. We persevere in breaking down the walls of silence that surround us with our declarations and denunciations»


(Original text edited by PASC  : Et si c’était vous - Chronique d’un prisonnier politique colombien)

At the beginning of June 2009, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe visited Canada. He was the only foreign head of state to attend the 15th International Economic Forum of the Americas.

Uribe was in Canada to promote a free-trade agreement between the two countries. His presence, though, was met with protests. Journalists, politicians and activists pointed to his government’s human rights record, which has been criticised by groups from Amnesty International to the International Crisis Group.

A major part of the criticism has to do with Colombia’s treatment of political dissent: Uribe is currently facing a domestic crisis over accusations of extrajudicial killings of not just rebels, but of political dissidents and labour organisers.

Blandine Juchs is a freelance journalist and member of Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie. She has spent a considerable amount of time in Colombia, interviewing people who have faced detention and threats because of their political organising.

In this week’s podcast, the first in a two-part series, she reconstructs in chilling detail what it must be like to be apprehended. She also interviews Leonardo James Maria, a Colombian defense lawyer, on the current situation of Colombian political prisoners.

Look for part 2 later this summer, when Blandine returns from her latest travels in Latin America.

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