August 7, 2008

Permanent Peoples' Tribunal in Colombia: Corporations with a License to Kill

Hello friends:

We share this piece written by our companera, Dawn Paley, and published in Upside Down World. The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal gave its final verdict of the Colombia Session on the 23rd of July, 2008, after two and a half years of investigating the role of transnationals in continued violence and atrocities in the country.

Dawn surveys the final ruling of the Tribunal, which while not enforceable is a useful tool in demanding that transnational corporations operating in Colombia respect human rights, the environment (beyond corporate social responsibility rhetoric), and the autonomy of peoples and communities in resistance to the model of terror imposed through the Colombian regime and for transnationals.

The ruling is timely, as the fanfare over the release of Ingrid has led many in the mainstream press, especially in Canada, to conclude that conflict is over in Colombia, and Canada ought to 'reward' the regime with a Free Trade Agreement, which would further propel communities resisting neoliberalism and war into marginalization and subjugation in the neoliberal world order.

A section towards the end of Dawn's article notes the presence of members of a recent Canadian trade union delegation to Colombia at the final ruling of the Tribunal, a delegation that is noteworthy as members actually left Bogota and met with people at the receiving end of Uribe's 'democratic security' policy, not only trade unionists but also Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.

A storm is brewing for Harper and his followers in Canada and Colombia as long as sectoral interests among social movements converge to confront their plan in an integral manner and with the knowledge that 'alone it is impossible', a reality that is as relevant in Colombia as it is in Canada.

La Chiva

Permanent Peoples' Tribunal in Colombia: Corporations with a License to Kill
Written by Dawn Paley
Thursday, 07 August 2008

July 23 marked the end of a two and a half year process carried out by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) in Bogotá, Colombia. A panel of international judges, including a Supreme Court justice from Italy, a handful of university professors, a Nobel Laureate, and authorities from the Guambiano and Mapuche nations presided over the final session of the TPP.

The Leon de Greiff auditorium at Colombia’s National University was packed to the rafters for the occasion, with participants and supporters of the process spilling out into the Plaza del Ché, the well known gathering place in the centre of the campus. Before beginning the session, TPP general secretary Gianni Tognoni invoked the memory of Eduardo Umaña Mendoza, a Colombian member of the TPP jury who was assassinated during a previous session of the Tribunal in Colombia.

The final verdict, read to the large crowd, summarized much of Colombia’s recent history, condemning the Colombian government, 43 multinational corporations, and the U.S. government for their role in the violence that has long dominated the lives of Colombians. The audience was made up of people from a broad spectrum of social movements and organizations from around the country, and listened rapt during the reading of the sentence.

Read the full article here:

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