Canada secures $418 million sale of 55 light armoured vehicles to the Colombian army

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: An armored combat support vehicle (ACSV) variant of the GDLS LAV on display at the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa, May 2022.

During last year’s election in Colombia, presidential-candidate Gustavo Petro promised: “I am not going to waste resources on weapons and bombs.”

Just a year later, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), Canada’s government-to-government (G2G) contracting arm, announced a CAD $418-million contract to sell 55 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to the Colombian Ministry of National Defence.

What happened?

It’s not clear.

It does seem that both General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-C) and the CCC pushed for this sale to happen.

In January, Tecnologia & Defesa reported GDLS-Canada had been “lobbying officials and senators for more than two years” on this sale. Pucará Defensa also reported “the Canadian government has followed and monitored this process, also supporting it through the Canadian Commercial Corporation…”

Photo: Canada also sold 32 LAV III vehicles to Colombia in 2013.

LAVs to be equipped with remote weapon system

It is also being reported that the LAVs will be equipped with “a remote weapons station of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems RWS [remote weapon system] Dual Samson type, which will use a 30x113mm Orbital ATK type cannon and a machine gun Browning M2A2 QCB COAX 12.7×99 mm.”

Photo: Samson MK I Remote Weapon Station.

This will also reportedly require the purchase of 26,000 30mm bullets.

This remote weapon system will be supplied by the Israeli weapons company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

LAVs to be deployed in predominantly Indigenous department reports: “The objective of this project [purchase of LAVs] is to be able to reinforce the operational and mobility capabilities (transport of troops) of the Army, particularly in the border department of La Guajira and within the process of renewal and modernization of its cavalry that this force advances and that includes the incorporation of Textron M1117 vehicles and the interest in the GDLS M1A2 main battle tank.”

Photo: GDLS M1A2 battle tank.

Photo: Textron M1117 armoured vehicle.

Most of the population of La Guajira, where the LAVs are expected to be deployed, are Indigenous peoples, including the Wayuu who have experienced more than 30 years of coal mining polluting their rivers and drinking water.

The El Cerrejon open-pit coal mine in La Guajira that consumes 30 million litres of water a day directly contributes to the immiseration of the Wayuu.

Numerous groups in Canada including the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada have also drawn attention to the fact that NB (New Brunswick) Power has been buying approximately 500,000 tonnes of coal from Cerrejón since the mid-1990s. Nova Scotia Power also imports coal from Cerrejón.

While many, including the PBI-Colombia accompanied José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), have called for the suspension or closure of the mine, President Petro has pledged his opposition to the expansion of the mine.

GDLS says sale contributes to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

Notably, and somewhat incredibly, General Dynamics has highlighted: “This new G2G contract with CCC will help GDLS-Canada sustain domestic production and contribute to the fulfillment of Canadian public policy priorities, including the essential work of economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.”

This presumably refers to job opportunities for Indigenous peoples at the GDLS plant in London, Ontario, rather than the Indigenous peoples of Colombia.

We will continue to follow this sale particularly with respect to concerns about militarization of territory, coal mining extractivism, the abuse of water, lobbying and the prioritization of military spending over social needs.


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