July 28, 2009


Senator Jorge Robledo, Bogotá, July 11, 2009

As we now know, the government is secretly planning --without consulting the Foreign Relations Advisory Commission, Congress or particularly public opinion-- to grant concessions to the United States to use five Colombian military bases, one of the worst decisions in the country's history. Two of the bases are on the Caribbean coast (Cartagena and Barranquilla), one on the Pacific Coast (in Bahía Málaga, close to Buenaventura), another one in the middle of the country (in Palanquero, close to La Dorada) and the fifth in Apiay, on the Eastern Plains. This decision would turn Colombia into an occupied country, threaten neighboring countries and violate national sovereignty and the Constitution.

The government has presented this piece of nonsense as a relatively minor matter because, they say, the military base that Washington currently operates in Manta, Ecuador --which will be closed as ordered by the new Ecuadorian Constitution-- will not be relocated to Colombia, but rather its functions will be transferred to five installations controlled by North American troops within Colombian military bases, parts of which they will use.

It should be pointed out that among the new strategies for global domination by the biggest empire in history is the use of military bases called "lily pads", which can be relatively small because they are designed to be expanded or for troops to jump from one to the other. According to Chalmers Johnson, emeritus professor from the University of California, "Most of these new bases will be what the military, in a switch of metaphors, calls 'lily pads' to which our troops could jump like so many well-armed frogs" (http://www.deslinde.org.co/files/Es...). And in Colombia they would do it with the advantage that, in the first jump, U.S. troops could take over the Colombian military base where they are stationed.

According to Cambio, the Colombian weekly news magazine that originally broke this story (http://www.cambio.com.co/paiscambio...), the five bases will escalate the American military presence in Colombia, not just because of their number and locations. They will be used to wage the drug war and also to fight "terrorism", a term that, as is well known, Washington defines as it sees fit. And the American troops will be able to operate in other countries from these bases, and without consulting anybody. Can any reasonable person rest assured that the Pentagon will never take action from these bases, breaking agreements and going against Colombia, if imperial interests so dictate?

With calculated and false innocence, the government of Alvaro Uribe --which maintains its support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq-- presents the five military bases as American "aid" to Colombia, when in fact these will be added to the other 700 that the United States already possesses in the world, bases on which half a million men and women operate. It would be naive to ignore the fact that they exist to defend the interests of domination that underlie the decisions emanating from the White House, including those made by Barack Obama. This, as well, should be understood in the logic of the dark strategy of "perpetual war" defined by the Pentagon, the most recent American military theory for control of the world, a policy within which, and as Brazil has denounced, the United States sent the Fourth Fleet to operate in Latin American and Caribbean waters (http://www.elespectador.com/impreso... and http://www.clarin.com/diario/2008/0...).

The main reason for the official secrecy is the total unsuitability of a decision made under the influence of a foreign power, that can only bring problems to the country due to the serious violation of sovereignty and self-determination in the political, economic and social spheres and because it subjugates the nation in the worst way to the horrors of war and the interests of the superpower, pits it against neighboring countries and discredits it more in the eyes of the world's democrats. And the secrecy also has to do with the fact that these five military bases --even if they're given another name, as has been planned to confuse people-- are unconstitutional for two different reasons. The first, because the Constitution stipulates that Colombia's international relations are to be based on sovereignty and the right to self determination. And the second, because there is no law that allows bases of this type in Colombia, given that the Charter, in articles 173 and 237, only authorizes "the transit --that is, the temporary passage-- of foreign troops through the territory of the Republic", without previous Senate approval and agreement by the State Council, a step the government decided to skip.

July 13, 2009

Honduras: Shame on Canada, Coup Supporter

We share this article by Ashley Holly. It excellently outlines some of the reasons why Canada remains one of the most zealous supporters of war, the destruction of the planet, and military coups d'etat, most recently in Honduras.

We encourage you to read on, for everyday the myth of 'Canada the good' is exposed for what it is. Those of us living in Canada should be aware of the shame Canadian governments bring us, but we should also know in whose interests they act: the same as always. That's a good basis from which to decide what to do about it. We leave you to it.


TheTyee.ca July 9, 2009

Shame on Canada, Coup Supporter
Why have we sided with the Honduran military? Mining profits.

By Ashley Holly

For the first time in decades, the world's eyes are on Honduras, a tiny country many Canadians know for those little stickers on
exported bananas and the surplus of coffee it floods onto the global market each year. The world is less aware of the ongoing role that the Canadian government and Canadian mining companies play in pushing many Hondurans further into poverty.

Now that the world is watching, it's a good time to reveal these secrets.

On Saturday, July 4, at the impromptu meeting of the Organization of the American States, Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas Peter Kent suggested President Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya not return to Honduras. It's an interesting stance for Canada to assume, considering that most of the international community has condemned the coup in Honduras.

Moreover, following violent clashes between the military police and demonstrators awaiting Zelaya's return this past Sunday, Kent held Zelaya responsible for the deaths of two demonstrators by the military government.

Prior to these comments, Canada had remained relatively silent on this issue. But while most other counties have cancelled their aid to Honduras in protest of the coup, Canada has not. Why is our democracy suddenly in the business of supporting a military coup?

Capitalizing on hurricane devastation

The answer begins with Canada's reaction to the last crisis in Honduras.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept through much of Central America and especially ravaged Honduras, where thousands of people were killed and millions were displaced. Already the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras was now struck with over $3 billion in damages, a loss of social services such as schools, hospitals and road systems. Seventy per cent of its agricultural crops were destroyed. Nothing so devastating had ever hit Honduras.

Canada was quick to respond to the cries for help following Hurricane Mitch, with a 'long-term development plan'. Canada offered $100 million over four years for reconstruction projects. These grandiose aid packages made Canada look like a savior. However, attached to this assistance was the introduction of over 40 Canadian companies to Honduras to assess opportunities for investment. This hurricane offered a strategic economic opportunity for Canadian investment in Honduras.

The Canadian government, as it officially stated this year, considers mineral extraction by Canadian mining companies one of the best ways to "create new economic opportunities in the developing world". Shortly after Hurricane Mitch weakened the Honduran state, Canada and the United States joined to establish the National Association of Metal Mining of Honduras (ANAMINH), through which they were able to rewrite the General Mining Law. This law provides foreign mining companies with lifelong concessions, tax breaks and subsurface land rights for "rational resource exploitation".

'We have lost everything'

"They crave gold like hungry swine," Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano has written of multinational mining firms. I thought of those words on a recent drive through the open pit San Andres mining project, recently sold by the Canadian company Yamana Gold to another Canadian company, Aura Minerales. When I'd finished my tour, I was convinced the social, economic, environmental and health costs of open pit mining practices far outweigh the supposed benefits, and that the resource exploitation practiced by certain Canadian companies is anything but rational.

I got chills driving through the abandoned village of San Andres. What were once homes and schools had been bulldozed into mounds of crushed adobe and rock. Where ancient pine trees stood, there now were deep craters, accessible by the nicest highways I had seen in Honduras.

But a local resident at the end of one of those roads told me: "We have lost everything." The mine had displaced him from his home, and he was now without clean water to drink or fertile land to sow.

Currently, Canadian companies own 33 per cent of mineral investments in Latin America, accumulating to the ownership of over 100
properties. Export Development Canada contributes 50 per cent of Canadian Pension Plan money to mining companies, which offered upwards of $50 billion in 2003. Goldcorp alone has received nearly one billion dollars from CPP subsidies. Although EDC is responsible for regulating Canadian industry abroad, it has been accused of failing to apply regulatory standards to 24 of 26 mining projects that it has funded.

In February 2003, nearly five hundred gallons of cyanide spilled into the Rio Lara, killing 18,000 fish. The mine in San Andres uses more water in one hour than an average Honduran family uses in one year. In that same year, mining companies earned $44.4 million, while the average income per capita in Honduras in 2004 was just $1,126USD.

Zelaya's anti-mining stance: payment due

As the man at the end of the road tried to explain to me, mining is not development for people who live around these mines. He speaks for thousands of others -- a base of support aligned with the ousted President Zelaya. In 2006, Zelaya decided to cancel all future mining concessions in Honduras.

Which would appear to explain, at least in large part, why Canada stands virtually alone in the hemisphere in supporting the Honduran military's ousting of Zelaya. The Canadian government, and its friends in the mining industry, are using the coup as an opportunity to plant their feet deeper into the Honduran ground.

In his role as minister of state for foreign affairs, Peter Kent once declared that "democratic governance is a central pillar of Canada's enhanced engagement in the Americas."

Apparently, his instructions from Ottawa have been revised.

Ashley Holly is a Canadian student conducting research in Honduras.

July 8, 2009

Upcoming Vancouver Events in Support of Indigenous Communications Network in Cauca, Colombia

La Chiva (with the help of many friends) has begun a major fundraising campaign in Vancouver to support of the Tejido de Comunicación of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, Colomba (http://www.nasaacin.org).

The Tejido has asked for our help in raising funds to repair the equipment for Radio Pa-Yumat, their community radio station, which was destroyed last December by unknown saboteurs, seriously hindering their ability to accompany their communities.

This and many other attacks and threats have come from all of Colombia's armed actors. The attacks are clearly in response to their community's position of non-violent resistance to war and the effectiveness of the Tejido's communications strategy in bringing that message to the national and international scene (see: http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias.htm?x=9919).

For the Nasa indigenous communicators, communication is simultaneously community accompaniment and resistance to what they call the 'death project' presented by transnational interests and the armed actors that threaten the viability of popular community-based responses, or 'life plans'.

Truth, participation and democracy derived from the communities are what social movements seek to strengthen within society. They are confronting the mass media, which engages in what might be more accurately regarded as propaganda rather than communication: the domination of the media landscape to ensure passive audiences and to halt the development of communication based on raising consciousness from social movements. Is this confrontation why the Communications Weavers are currently being singled out, persecuted, and threatened?
-- Vilma Almendra, member of the Tejido de Comunicación

As friends of the Tejido, we are mobilizing our support to show that they are not alone and that we share their vision for another possible and necessary world.

On July 1 2009, Latino Soy (FM96.1 in Vancouver) began a summer-long radio campaign to raise funds for the Tejido de Comunicación. They have been in direct contact with Radio Pa'Yumat, collecting donations, broadcasting interviews and informing Vancouver's Spanish-speaking community about the situation in Cauca and the importance of communication in popular resistance struggles in the Americas.

Please join us in Vancouver for the following events, where you can learn more about the situation in Colombia (and its relation to Canada), support the work of the Tejido, and have a good time while you're at it!

Mark your calendars!

Salsa en Minga
A salsa party in support of the indigenous Communications Network in Northern Cauca, Colombia
With genuine hard-hitting salsa music by DJ La Salsómana
FREE Salsa lesson with Ramses (8:30-9:30pm)

Saturday July 25 2009
Doors: 8pm
Venue: Cambrian Hall
Address: 215 E 17th Avenue (Main Street & 17th Ave)
Cost: $10
Snacks and locally-produced alcoholic beverages will be available.
We will also be selling copies of 'Country of the Peoples without Owners'

Tickets available at the door, or at the following locations:
Panaderia Latina Bakery: 4906 Joyce Street, Vancouver
Los Guerreros Latin Food Products: 3317 Kingsway, Vancouver
Info: 604.607.4814 or 604.338.0806
Presented by La Chiva and Grupo Atarraya. Sponsored by Latino Soy 96.1FM

Film Screening and Celebration:
Country of the Peoples without Owners
A screening of the documentary (Spanish w/ English subtitles) created by the Tejido de Comunicación about the process of the Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria
This documentary has been warmly received by audiences across Colombia, up and down the West Coast of North America, in Eastern Canada and, more recently, by hundreds in New York.
With music by DJ La Salsómana

Saturday August 1 2009

Venue: Rhizome Cafe

317 Broadway East, Vancouver, (near Broadway and Kingsway)
Cost: $5 - $10 Sliding Scale (No one will be turned away).
Come early for dinner and drinks!
Copies of the documentary will also be for sale.

Presented by La Chiva and Grupo Atarraya with the generous support of Rhizome Cafe and Latino Soy 96.1FM.

For more information about the above events, please check out the Canada-Colombia Project blog: http://www.canadacolombiaproject.blogspot.com