PBI-Canada to visit accompanied defenders in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

San Luis de Palenque, Casanare

Peace Brigades International-Canada coordinator Brent Patterson will be visiting Colombia between June 25 and July 6.

While there, Patterson will meet with PBI-Colombia accompanied defenders and visit Bogota, Barrancabermeja, Puerto Wilches, Bajo Simacota, San Luis de Palenque and Cali. The focus of the visit will be on documenting human rights violations and actions that can be taken to address Canadian corporate behaviour in these communities.

PUERTO WILCHES, Santander

Puerto Wilches is the site of two proposed fracking pilot projects that would be operated by Ecopetrol. That state-owned company has received more than $3 billion in financing from Toronto-based Scotiabank since 2018 as well as $300 million from the Ottawa-based Export Development Canada, the Canadian government’s export credit agency, between 2012 and 2020. Furthermore, Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. holds a 30 per cent interest in Block VMM-37, where the Platero fracking pilot project would be conducted.

The PBI-Colombia accompanied Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) accompanies the Committee for the Defence of Water, Life and Territory of Puerto Wilches (AguaWil) whose members have received multiple threats because of their activism against fracking.

BAJO SIMACOTA, Santander

Calgary-based Parex Resources operates the Aguas Blancas oil field in Bajo Simacota. Since 2018, EDC has provided up to $250 million in financing to Parex.

CREDHOS has tweeted: “For a healthy environment, CREDHOS accompanies and supports the processes in defense of water in the territory. We highlight the struggle of the Bajo Simacota community against contamination by oil spills, caused by Parex.”

SAN LUIS DE PALENQUE, Casanare

Toronto-based Frontera Energy operates in its Cubiro Block in San Luis de Palenque. Frontera was formerly known as Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.

On November 16 and 19, 2018, Frontera signed agreements with the Ministry of Defence for US $1.34 million to secure army protection for its activities.

El Espectador has reported, “On November 27, 2018, at 2:45 in the morning, an operation of 200 men, between members of the Police and the National Army, who landed in two helicopters, captured [eight social leaders who raised concerns about Frontera Energy] in San Luis de Palenque.”

On September 16, 2020, El Nuevo Oriente reported that a judge ordered the release of the eight social leaders because 500 days had elapsed without a trial.

The PBI-Colombia accompanied Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC) accompany this community struggle.

CALI, Valle del Cauca

Cali was a focal point of police violence during the national strike that began in November 2019 and intensified in April 2021.

Notably, two police helicopters were used during Operation Siloé on May 3, 2021, in which three people lost their lives when the National Police, the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and Special Operations Group of the Colombian National Police (GOES) attacked a vigil.

It is in this context that we note Canada has sold forty CH-135 (between 1998 and 2000), twelve 212 (between 1994 and 1996) and four 407 helicopters (in 2013-14) to the Colombian police and military. Canada has also sold at least four (and perhaps as many as 30) Toronto-area INKAS manufactured armoured vehicles to the police in 2014-15.

Furthermore, on October 30, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a “bilateral police initiative” between Canada and Colombia. At that time, he stated: “We’ve agreed to work together to establish a bilateral police initiative. This effort will support post-conflict policing efforts in Colombia, and will see Canadian police providing training, capacity-building, and strategic advice to our Colombian friends.” Given the timing of the announced, the initiative would have likely begun in 2018.

The PBI-Colombia accompanied Association for Social Research and Action (Nomadesc) accompanies the victims of police violence.

As we visit communities, learn firsthand about the situations they are facing, uncover more about Canada’s role in these situations, we will be posting on social media. Please follow @PBIcanada on Twitter for daily updates on this visit.

Categories: News Updates

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