PBI-Canada receives Global Affairs emails on armoured vehicle sales to Colombia via an Access to Information request

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Colombian police use what appears to be a Toronto-based INKAS-manufactured armoured vehicle to stop buses of delegates travelling to Cali for a popular assembly related to the national strike on July 17, 2021.

In response to our Access to Information (ATIP) request submitted in September 2021 for details about the export of Canadian-built INKAS armoured vehicles to the Colombian national police, we have just received a 3-page document with two emails (dated October 14, 2021 and June 11, 2021) from an official with TIE (Export Controls Division) sent to various other Global Affairs Canada officials.

Those officials included the USS-DMA (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs) and DMT (Deputy Minister of International Trade) as well as officials with the TFM (Trade Policy and Negotiations), TID (Trade Controls Bureau), TIR (Export Controls Policy Division) and NLA (Andean Division).

The October 2021 email is an update on the June 2021 email, with little variation.

20 Export Permits to Colombia

The emails note that there are currently 20 valid export permits to Colombia, of which “7 are for Group 2 (Munitions List) items” including “4 for — spare parts and components to the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Colombia as part of the LAV program.”

The emails also assure: “Of the on-Group 2 permits, none would fall into the police/paramilitary crowd control category.”

The October 2021 email then further specifies: “There are currently 3 permit applications (1 export; 2 brokering) to Colombia under review.”

Our speculation is that one of these permit applications could relate to the 50 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) that the Colombian Army wants to buy, according to this article in InfoDefensa.com.

LAV sales to the Colombian Army

The email from TIE adds: “The vast majority of the more than $47 million in Canadian military exports to Colombia between 2012 and 2020 took place in 2014 when — exported 46 LAVs to the Colombian Army through the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) in [a] government to government contract.”

The next line states: “Military exports since 2014 have largely consisted of items to service these vehicles.”

The “Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada” (2015-2020) suggest that this totalled $460,338.87 in 2020, $310,576.25 in 2018, $114,688.85 in 2017, $215,066.11 in 2016 and $522,203 in 2015.

INKAS armoured vehicles sold to the Colombian police

The email also says: “Beyond the export of LAVs, there is not much else of note. In 2014, 1 permit was issued to INKAS to export (4) armored transportation vehicles (controlled under ECL 2-6 and valued at — to the Colombian National Police for patrolling and intervention in intense guerilla areas.”

The paragraph continues: “Officials from BGOTA [the Embassy of Canada in Colombia] asked the Colombian National Police (CNP) whether these armoured vehicles were being used in response to the social protests that began in late April. CNP officials responded that no Canadian armoured vehicle was being used for such a purpose.”

We are concerned that the Canadian Embassy appears only to have asked the police without a further independent verification/confirmation process.

Then following an estimated 9-line redacted paragraph, the email says: “The vehicles are not being used by ESMAD (Escuadron Movil Antidisturbios or Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron) —”

More than 4 INKAS armoured vehicles?

We are also trying to square the official statement on the sale of 4 INKAS armoured vehicles with this Plant: Canada’s Manufacturing Magazine article (April 2015) that reports: “[INKAS] is still building behemoth armoured personnel carriers (APCs). In fact, there’s a tendered order for 26 of its Huron vehicles, at about $450,000 a pop, for the National Police of Colombia.”

That article adds: “The Huron is built on a Kenmore T370 chassis and will be outfitted with a cannon to wrangle unruly rioters with foam, tear gas, dyes and water.”

“Don’t send us any more weapons”

On June 1, the first day of the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa, the Cali-based Association for Research and Social Action (Nomadesc) tweeted: “We Colombians do not want more weapons, no more massacres, no more disappearances, no more threats, no more fear. #StopTheGenocide. We demand truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition. Don’t send us any more weapons. That has made them accomplices of Barbarism.”

We continue to follow this situation.

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