Black People : Afro-Colombians Face Hostile "Land Grab" Eviction from land they owned since the 1600s

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Ankhur, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
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    The case against the Colombian free trade pact
    The nation's record of human rights abuses is terrible and would only be worsened by a treaty with the U.S.

    May 02, 2011|By Kim Jensen

    I just returned from a 10-day human rights delegation to Colombia sponsored by Witness for Peace. While we were in the midst of our intensive meetings in Valle del Cauca, Northern Cauca, and Bogota, we discovered that a high profile-American delegation had just arrived in the capital for its own two-day tour. The U.S. Congressional Ways and Means Committee had sent a bipartisan fact-finding mission to Colombia, co-sponsored by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer. What an amazing coincidence: two American delegations were gathering facts about Colombia at the same time.
    Regrettably, the similarity between our two groups ended there. The congressional delegation's April 20th news release — with its rousing endorsement of the pending United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (otherwise known as FTA) — makes it clear that they must have visited a different country than the one I had just seen with my own eyes.

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    Could it be that they were less concerned about finding facts and more concerned with the time-honored political arts of airbrushing, white-washing, and rubber stamping? It seems that they only took the time to talk to the primary beneficiaries of all free trade agreements — the privileged elite: President Juan Manuel Santos and his advisors, wealthy businessmen and certain labor leaders. These congressmen have announced that "Colombia has made significant progress in addressing worker rights and violence against workers." They add that they are "confident in Colombia's ability to carry out its commitment." Unfortunately, the people we met on our trip do not share this confidence.
    Our all-women delegation went out into towns and hamlets, urban slums and indigenous reserves. We met with grassroots activists, women's groups, indigenous and Afro-Colombian representatives, human rights defenders and organizations representing the victims of state violence. A frightening vision of the political and social landscape of Colombia emerged: the decades-long civil war isn't really over — it's just that the powerful interests have become more skilled at cloaking the abuses.
    The people we met showed us compelling evidence that indigenous and Afro-Colombian rights are regularly violated, small farmers are threatened with forced evictions by transnational corporations, workers suffer from a variety of violations, and the state is complicit at every level. Without exception, our hosts agreed that the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement would represent a grave threat to their already vulnerable communities.
    In La Toma, an Afro-Colombian artisanal mining area in Northern Cauca, leaders told us that they are suffering under a well-coordinated attack to evict people from ancestral lands to make way for multinational mining corporations. The people fear that the FTA will strengthen the hand of these powerful corporations and that they will be permanently displaced.