Black Hawk helicopters, militarized conservation in Colombia and the “30 x 30” initiative

Published by Brent Patterson on

A Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter flies over Tinigua National Park in Colombia. Sikorsky is owned by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest “defence” contractor. Photo by Andres Cardona/Al Jazeera.

Journalist Christina Noriega reports in Al Jazeera: “In March, security forces landed a Black Hawk helicopter near [53-year-old farmer Anayiber] Pino’s remote Amazon home. Her family had arrived at the farthest reaches of the jungle after having fled the conflict-ridden Cauca province seven years before.”

“As the family finished lunch that day, a throng of heavily armed police stormed in and accused Pino’s husband and son of crimes related to illegal deforestation and the invasion of a national park. They gave the family three minutes to rescue what they could from the home, then detonated the shack in a blast, burning all that was left inside.”

“When [the family] remained missing the next day, neighbours confronted a group of soldiers. A mobile phone video, released by Senator Ivan Cepeda [who was previously accompanied by PBI-Colombia], showed farmers and soldiers engaged in a heated argument that crescendos before a barrage of shots is heard. Julian Andres Suarez, a farmer, died after being shot in the chest, while three others were reportedly wounded.”

“[And] in one operation that Al Jazeera witnessed in May, the defence ministry spent more than $12,000 on Black Hawk expenses alone for a two-hour mission that ended with the capture of one target: 54-year-old Gladis Galindo, a farmer who said she had settled in Tinigua National Park to provide food for her seven children.”

The article adds: “In recent years, dozens of subsistence farmers populating national parks in Colombia have been targeted by state forces under Operation Artemis, an army-led offensive aimed at combatting rampant deforestation.”

“For the first time, Colombia is employing military forces, hardened by years of combat with rebels and organised criminals, in its efforts to protect the country’s forests and rivers.”

It further notes: “[Operation Artemis] has targeted vulnerable farming families with expensive helicopter missions into the remote Amazon, instead of focusing on the kingpins who finance mass forest clearance from the comforts of their urban homes.”

The feature length article can be read in full at ‘They left us with nothing’ How Colombia’s deforestation campaign is targeting subsistence farmers.

Colombia and the 30 x 30 initiative

This appears to be connected to the “30 x 30” high ambition target. That is an international plan to conserve 30 per cent of the Earth’s land and sea areas by 2030 through “area-based conservation measures” like protected national parks.

In January 2021, the Colombian minister of climate and sustainable development stated his government was “committing to the 30 × 30 target.”

At the COP26 climate summit in November 2021, Colombian president Ivan Duque further promised to protect 30 per cent of his country’s territory by 2022. Duque stated: “We can’t wait until 2030, we must act now to protect our forests.”

PBI-Canada has now begun to organize around COP27 this coming November 7-18. For more on that, please see UN COP27 climate summit Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt nears as extractivism, military spending increases.

Militarized conservation

In August 2021, 49 organizations expressed concern with the 30 x 30 initiative, warning: “The Framework’s focus on ‘protected areas’ will likely continue to lead to human rights abuses across the globe.”

One of the signatories, the Swift Foundation, said: “How it’s working right now is a militarized form of conservation. You have guards with guns, people imposing fines, building fences and kicking people out of their traditional lands. And if communities react in defense they are perceived as anti-conservation.”

More broadly, José Francisco Cali Tzay, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has also commented: “Throughout conservation’s checkered history, we have seen exclusionary conservation as a gateway to human rights abuses and militarized forms of violence.”

Canada backs 30 x 30

In September 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s support for the “high ambition coalition” and the 30 x 30 initiative.

Catherine McKenna, who as Canada’s environment minister supported the purchase of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline and its construction on Secwepemc territory and who now chairs the UN’s High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments of Non-State Entities, also backs the 30 x 30 initiative.

We continue to follow this issue.

Photo and video: A Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopter on display behind the EY Centre for the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa, June 1-2, 2022.

A “Lockheed Martin Stop Selling War Machines” banner blocks cars trying to enter the CANSEC arms show, June 1.

Categories: News Updates


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