PBI updates MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo on the situation in Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia
On February 16, Miguel Urbán Crespo tweeted: “Thank you the compañeras from #PBIGuatemala, @PBI_Mexico and @PBIColombia for taking the time to inform us about the situation of defenders and coordinate actions and proposals.”
The top row in the photo shows advocacy representatives from the Peace Brigades International frontline entities in Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala, while the second row has Urbán (center) and two of his colleagues.
Urbán is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the Left in the European Parliament grouping (formerly known as the European United Left/Nordic Green Left). He is also a member of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
The Left currently holds 41 seats in the European Parliament.
PBI at the European Parliament
In November 2019, Peace Brigades International organized to have women human rights defenders speak to the Subcommittee on Human Rights.
The delegation of defenders included Nora Ramiréz and Franklin Álvarez (CNTC-Honduras), Telma Perez (TZ’KAT-Guatemala), Emilie DeWolf (Consorcio Oaxaca-Mexico), Sandra Calel (UVOC-Guatemala), and Olga Araujo (NOMADESC-Colombia).
At that time, the Left in the European Parliament tweeted: “In Latin America women defenders of land environment and human rights are particularly vulnerable. The multinationals arrived to explore the natural resources but with them brought violence and oppression.”
MEPs call for Guapinol water defenders to be released
In April 2020, Urbán was among the MEPs who signed this letter to the Honduran president that called on him “to free Guapinol rights defenders amidst COVID crisis.” The letter also expressed their “deepest concerns over prolonged pre-trial detention of human rights defenders in Honduras, and in particular of members of the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa.”
MEPs nominate Guapinol and Berta Caceres for Sakharov Prize
In September 2020, the Left group in the European Parliament nominated the late Honduran activist Berta Cáceres (founder of COPINH) and the water defenders of Guapinol for the European Parliament’s annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
At that time, Urbán stated: “Berta Cáceres and the political prisoners of Guapinol represent all the defenders of land and territories and indigenous peoples.”
Peace Agreement in Colombia
The Left in the European Parliament has also called for “the EU implement an audit to the funds disbursed to support the peace agreement and to encourage progress in its implementation” and has urged “the fulfilment of the signed agreements, the rejection of violence against social leaders and demand that the safety of the signatories of the agreement be guaranteed, for the real construction of a stable and lasting peace.”
Furthermore, the Left in the European Parliament has petitioned the European Parliament to suspend trade deals with Colombia unless the Colombian government takes urgent action to address its poor human rights record.
Urbán has also commented on the report ‘The Role of Companies in Armed Conflict and Sociopolitical Violence’ by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) that notes several European firms have exacerbated the conflict in Colombia
He said: “Civil society, human rights defenders, local communities, they are raising their voices, which we join and support, to denounce the non-compliance with the Peace Agreement, the persistence of paramilitaries, the killings of human rights defenders, the land grabbing, and the forced displacement of peasants, indigenous and Afro-descendant populations.”
Urbán highlighted: “We have to challenge all this in light of the activities of European big companies and hold European countries accountable for their compliance.”
Members of Parliament in Canada
Inspired by this meeting, PBI-Canada will be looking into organizing a similar briefing for Members of Parliament in Canada committed to human rights in Latin America. To date we have organized meetings between defenders accompanied by PBI and MPs Paul Manly (Green Party) and Alistair MacGregor (New Democratic Party).
Photo: In November 2019, Emilie DeWolf (Consorcio Oaxaca-Mexico), Telma Perez (TZ’KAT-Guatemala) and Kerstin Reemtsma (Peace Brigades International-Guatemala) spoke at the European Parliament in Brussels.