PBI-Colombia accompanied defender Berenice Celeita to speak at webinar, May 31

Published by Brent Patterson on

Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) president Berenice Celeita will speak at the PBI-Canada webinar on May 31 to discuss arms exports and militarization of territory. To register for this webinar, click here.

NOMADESC president Berenice Celeita will speak on a PBI-Canada organized this coming May 31, the day before the CANSEC arms show begins in Ottawa.

She has previously called on the Embassy of Canada in Colombia for guarantees that Canada will not assist the Colombian police with equipment.

Canadian-made armoured vehicles in Valle del Cauca

On July 17, 2021, ETB trade union activist Alejandra Wilches tweeted: “This morning on some roads in the country, the police detained different delegations heading to the National People’s Assembly in Cali!”

This tweet with video from the same day further noted: “Several delegations from each city (Popayan, Bucaramanga, Bogota …) going to the Asemblea Nacional del Paro are detained by the police who prevent them from going there to Cali.”

The armoured vehicle in the tweets is a Huron tactical attack and defense vehicle. 

The Toronto-based company INKAS sold four Huron armoured vehicles to the Colombian police in 2014. In April 2015, PLANT also reported: “There’s a tendered order for 26 [more of the INKAS] Huron vehicles for the National Police.”

That article adds: “The Huron will be outfitted with a cannon to wrangle unruly rioters with foam, tear gas, dyes and water.”

Helicopters in Siloé

SITU Research and Amnesty International have also documented how Colombian police attacked a protest in the neighbourhood of Siloé in Cali on May 3, 2021.

Notably, Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps has confirmed the presence of two helicopters in the area during Operation Siloé.

It is in this context that we note Canada has sold forty CH-135 (between September 1998 and February 2000), twelve 212 (between 1994 and 1996) and four 407 helicopters (in 2013-14) to the Colombian police and military.

The Canadian-made Bell 407 helicopter was used to surveil the national strike protests in the main cities of Colombia, which most likely would have included Cali.

In November 2019, when the national strike mobilizations first began, Webinfomil.com reported that the Colombian National Police would “deploy its entire fleet of Bell 407 Halcón surveillance helicopters in the main cities of the country, where the most important concentrations are expected to occur.”

Semana also noted: “The aircraft, normally, carries four policemen (two pilots) and sends the images it takes to the police command, in real time, so that they are implemented in chases, padlock operations and all kinds of operations.”

No monitoring of Canadian military equipment exports

Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese has reported: “The Ottawa-based CCC [Canadian Commercial Corporation], which helps Canadian exporters get contracts with foreign governments acknowledges  it conducts no follow-up to ensure exported Canadian-built equipment isn’t being used to abuse human rights.”

CANSEC, Canada’s largest arms show

INKAS has previously been present at the CANSEC arms show. In 2017, it displayed armoured vehicles similar to those sold to the Colombian police that were later used to block activists en route to Cali during the national strike.

This year, both Bell (the manufacturers of the helicopters that surveilled the national strike protests) and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (a Government of Canada owned corporation that works with trade commissioners at Canadian embassies abroad) will be attending the arms show.

Webinar on Canadian arms exports, May 31

Along with Celeita, the webinar will feature Quetzalli Villanueva Vergara (Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, Mexico), Ni Dene Uldai (Denesuline land defender from northern Alberta, Canada) and Rachel Small (World Beyond War, Canada).

The webinar will be moderated by Seb Bonet, a PBI-Canada Board member.

Quetzalli Villanueva Vergara, Rachel Small, Ni Dene Uldai, Seb Bonet.

To register for this webinar, please click here.

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