PBI-Colombia accompanied CCALCP featured in The Guardian, lawyers collective has challenged Canadian extractivist projects

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: PBI-Colombia visits with Julia Figueroa and CCALCP lawyers in Bucaramanga, November 13, 2021.

On December 2, The Guardian reported: “Julia Figueroa never leaves her house without security. She travels with two bodyguards and an armoured vehicle. Her home and office are watched around the clock. She carefully monitors any devices that might contain compromising information about her clients.”

That article adds: “As the director of the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers Collective Corporation (CCALCP), threats to her life are a daily occurrence. The all-female group of lawyers provides legal representation to small-scale farmers and indigenous communities affected by the armed conflict in Colombia.”

“Their work includes defending displaced peoples and victims of state crime, but also defending environmental rights, including fighting mining companies that seek to extract resources, often at the expense of the local water supply and the surrounding environment.”

“The CCALCP has its roots in Bucaramanga’s only public university, the Industrial University of Santander, where a group of law students graduating in 2001 bonded over a desire to address the conflict and displacement facing their province, says Figueroa.”

“As the team expanded to the surrounding Magdalena Medio region, they successfully defended displaced families from landowners, protected indigenous groups from oil companies and precious ecosystems from mining.”

CCALCP challenges Canadian extractivism

The Guardian article adds: “Since 1994, the Canadian mining company Eco Oro Minerals has sought to exploit the area’s gold and silver resources, and was granted a concession in the páramo. But in 2017, the CCALCP obtained a ruling in the country’s highest court declaring the licence unconstitutional.”

It also notes: “Another high-profile case involved fracking in the municipality of San Martín in the Magdalena Medio region. When Colombia announced its first fracking project in the area in 2015 there was a considerable backlash. The CCALCP helped to file the first ‘popular action’ – a legal mechanism to protect collective interests – in a fracking case, and the fracking was suspended in 2018.”

It was Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. along with ConocoPhillips that sought to frack the VMM-2/Plata and VMM-3/Piranga sites near San Martin.

CCALCP also challenged the proposed Piedra del Sol hydroelectric project, which would have been situated south of Bucaramanga. That challenge was launched the same year that Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. bought a majority share in the Colombian power generation company Isagen that would have built that dam.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied the Luis Carlos Pérez Collective Lawyers Corporation (CCALCP) since 2006.

Photo: Andrea Nocove and Julia Figueroa of CCALCP, Ivan Madero of CREDHOS , Kathy Price of Amnesty International Canada and Javier Garate of PBI-Colombia at the Amnesty International office in Ottawa during a cross-Canada advocacy tour focused on Canadian fracking in Colombia, November 2019. Photo by Brent Patterson.

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