Isabel Zuleta of Rios Vivos to speak in Ottawa, Toronto

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Peace Brigades International-Canada is pleased to be a co-sponsor of a speaking tour in Canada by Isabel Cristina Zuleta of the Rios Vivos movement in Colombia.

Following events in Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Montreal, Winnipeg and Quebec City, Zuleta will be speaking at public forums in Ottawa with Anthony Prior from Chile (November 19) and in Toronto with Natalia Atz Sunuc from Guatemala (November 27).

Zuleta is speaking in opposition to the Ituango hydroelectric megaproject on the Cauca River in northwest Colombia. The dam is being jointly developed by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) and the government of Antioquia.

Zuleta notes, “Since its launch in 1997, this megaproject has been imposed by violence and the forced displacement of the population, victims of the armed conflict.”

And Marie-Ève ​​Marleau of the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL) highlights, “It is unfortunate that the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Export Development Canada are financing this project. The money of the citizens of Quebec and Canada should not be used by governments or corporations to contribute to death projects, such as Hidroituango.”

Above Ground has noted, “EPM, a Colombian state-owned enterprise, has twice benefitted from the support of Export Development Canada (EDC) in recent years. In 2016 and 2017, EDC provided EPM with financing totalling between 500 million and one billion dollars.”

In May 2018, flooding caused by a blockage in a diversion tunnel at the Ituango dam left 600 people homeless and destroyed two bridges, two schools and a health centre. Following that, heavy rains and fears of another wave of flooding forced the evacuation of an estimated 120,000 people.

In June 2018, The Guardian reported, “Zuleta worries about the security of those who campaign against the dam: two other Ríos Vivos members in Antioquia were murdered last month, part of a worrying trend in Colombia.”

Frontline Defenders has posted, “On 2 May 2018, human rights defender Hugo Albeiro George Pérez was shot and killed by an unknown individual, while he was participating in a peaceful protest to oppose the impact of Hidroituango… The human rights defender’s nephew, Domar Egidio Zapata George, was also killed in the attack.”

And in September 2013, Radio Mundo Real reported that Rios Vivos leader Nelson Giraldo Posada was brutally killed. “He was found by the shore of river Cauca with his throat slit and bullets in his chest and legs.”

Preliminary construction on the dam began in September 2011 and this summer Hydro Review reported that its “best-case scenario” in-service date is December 2021.

For a short video with English subtitles, please see Isabel Zuleta Denounces Flooding of Hidroituango Dam.

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