Colombian human rights defenders to visit Canada to speak on climate change and fracking
Julia Figueroa, Iván Madero, Andrea Nocove
Colombian human rights defenders Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from the legal collective CCALCP and Iván Madero from the human rights organization CREDHOS will be visiting Canada in November to talk about their work for environmental justice.
The three defenders will speak on topics including the impacts of extractivism and climate change, the dangers of fracking, the need for water protection, the lack of protection for human rights defenders, and community resistance within the context of the peace process and the ongoing armed conflict in Colombia.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has highlighted that, “Colombia is at high risk from climate change impacts.”
And The Bogota Post recently reported, “And worse, it is Colombia’s campesinos, who have already borne the brunt of a long conflict, who are likely to be hit hardest.”
That article adds, “The Amazon and Caribbean regions can expect 10-30% less rainfall, while the Andean region can expect 10-30% more. That is going to mean sea levels rise and glaciers and nevados [snowfall] thaw, while páramos [wetland ecosystems] and other fresh water sources dwindle. We can expect desertification, droughts, landslides and flooding – all of which will cause damage to infrastructure and a loss of agricultural productivity.”
And yet at the same time a Noticias TRO headline recently announced: Multinationals trust that fracking will be done in Colombia.
On August 2, Prensa Latina reported, “Felipe Bayón, president of Ecopetrol [the state-owned petroleum company in Colombia], pointed out they await the decision of the State Council [a top judicial body in that country], which will determine the moment in which fracking can begin to be used in the national territory.”
The timing of that decision is not known, but it could come later this year.
And on August 7, Reuters reported, “President Ivan Duque must push pension and energy reforms through a hostile and polarized congress over the next year if Colombia’s slow and uncertain economic recovery is to take root, analysts and lawmakers said.”
That article highlighted, “Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez said on Monday [August 5] the government would introduce a bill this year meant to improve companies’ coordination with local authorities and next year would propose improvements to the consultation process, all in a bid to head off future community objections.”
Both CCALCP and CREDHOS have been at the forefront of “community objections” to environmentally destructive extractivist projects in Colombia.
In 2018, Colombia experienced the deaths of 24 land and environmental defenders making it the country with the second largest number of people in the world killed for environmental activism last year.
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994 and CCALCP since 2006 given the danger both organizations face.
And given the relationship between violence, climate change and migration, it is notable that the Toronto Star recently reported, “the number of Colombian refugee claimants [seeking entry into Canada] tripled to 2,582 last year from 820 in 2016, with another 671 seeking asylum in the first three months of 2019 alone.”
The upcoming speaking tour to Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Toronto and Ottawa is being organized by PBI-Canada and PBI-Colombia in partnership with Amnesty International Canada and MiningWatch Canada.
Further reading about CCALCP and CREDHOS on the PBI-Canada website:
PBI-Colombia accompanies CREDHOS to find grave site (June 24, 2019)
CREDHOS opposes fracking, seeks to protect freshwater (April 2, 2019)