Recent CPTnet stories

COLOMBIA: Good news for Las Pavas! Government revokes gun permits for Aportes San Isidro security guards.

he Superintendencia de Vigilancia y Seguridad Privada (The Superintendent of Vigilance and Private Security), the government institution that regulates surveillance and grants firearms licenses for private security firms has revoked Aportes San Isidro SA’s license, stripping the right of the corporation’s private guards to bear arms.




Razed plantain field  

Since mid 2011, under the leadership of Mario Marmol, the head of security for palm company Aportes San Isidro SA and company lawyer Danilo Palacio, the campesino community of Las Pavas has suffered many incidents of harassment and injury by the company’s armed security.

The presence of armed men on the farm has created an overall insecure work environment for community members who spend much of their day in pairs or alone working the land.  The community’s animals and food crops have been destroyed and killed, their ranchos have been torn down, and members of the community have been shot at and attacked. These acts of intimidation and terrorism have not only threatened the community’s food security but have created a climate of forced displacement, an experience etched deep in the historical memory of the community.  The violence perpetrated by the company’s thugs has increased in proportion to the legal decisions ruled in favor of the community.

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Secretary Kerry--Put human rights at the top of your agenda!

From our friends at Latin America Working Group:

You might get the impression from reading the news that everything is much better in Colombia. But what we hear from the ground is that human rights defenders, land rights leaders, union activists, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities all remain in danger. And justice is still in peril. 

So as Secretary Kerry makes his first trip to Colombia as head of the State Department this Sunday, let’s give him a piece of our minds and make sure peace, human rights and justice are brought to the forefront of his agenda.

Click here to ask Secretary Kerry to support peace and reinforce human rights in his visit to Colombia! 

CHICAGO: Public witness calls for protecting Las Pavas, Colombia farmers from corporate aggression

 

 Passersby watch dramatization of palm oil company pushing Colombian farmers off their land - Colombian Consulate, Chicago
 Passersby watch dramatization of palm oil
company pushing Colombian farmers off their
land - Colombian Consulate, Chicago

On Friday, 26 July, CPTers and supporters took to the streets of Chicago calling for an end to violence against the community of Las Pavas, Colombia. Donning cardboard palm trees and straw hats, participants dramatized palm oil producer Aportes San Isidro’s acts of aggression towards the subsistence farmers of Las Pavas.  

In recent months, the company’s armed security guards have destroyed crops, damaged farm equipment, fire bombed homes and buildings, killed animals, threatened people at gunpoint, and brutally attacked one community member with a machete.  Despite government orders granting the land to the Las Pavas community, Colombian police have done nothing to stop the company’s attacks and encroachment upon Las Pavas territory.

“We are calling on the Colombian government to protect the families of Las Pavas,” said Cass Bangay of Ontario, Canada in front of the Colombian Consulate in downtown Chicago.  She went on to read from a series of testimonies by Las Pavas community members: “Roberto Puerta Peña, father of six says, ‘I’m trying to make a good life for my family here on the farm, but I haven’t achieved that yet.  The violent harassment from the palm company is really hard.  One time they held a gun fifteen centimeters from my head.  Then they threatened to hurt my family.’”  A small delegation delivered a letter to the Consul General along with a small palm tree and images and testimonies from the Las Pavas community symbolizing the group’s concerns. 

Call to Action: Protect Colombian Subsistence Farmers of Las Pavas


CPT Chicago Training Group Public Witness

Protect subsistence farmers of  Las Pavas, Colombia from violent aggression by palm oil producer Aportes San Isidro


The Issue

•  The people of Las Pavas are a sustainable farming community in Colombia.  Colombian police and palm oil companies have repeatedly tried to force the community off their land. 

•  Most recently, the palm oil consortium Aportes San Isidro has expanded its operations into Las Pavas land. 

•  The Supreme Court of Colombia has ruled the Las Pavas community cannot be evicted from their lands. The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) has ordered that all of the Las Pavas land be titled to the Las Pavas people. 

•  Aportes San Isidro employees have violently harassed Las Pavas families by destroying crops, stealing farm equipment, fire bombing homes and buildings, killing animals, and even threatening to kill people. These threatening actions have increased since the INCODER decision, culminating with a brutal machete attack on a community member.

What can you do? 

•  Contact your the closest Colombian Consul General and urge them to ask their government to uphold Colombian law by issuing the people of Las Pavas the title to their lands and protect-ing them from corporate intimidation

More Information

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago

CPTnet
26 July 2013
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago

by Ruth Fast

[Note: Fast was a member of the most recent Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Colombia in May.]

 DSC_5484b
 William Mendoza speaks to CPT Colombia
delegation while CPT Colombia team member
translates.

Eleven years ago, company thugs attempted to kidnap William Mendoza’s four-year-old daughter. They were unable to take her because his wife simply refused to release her grip on the child.  This incident caused William’s marriage to break up because of his wife’s fear of further violence. His story is one of thousands that, when combined, have for decades put Colombia at the top of the list of most dangerous nations to be a member of a trade union.

Mendoza is President of the local Coca Cola ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia.  Because he was working for fair wages and decent working conditions for Coca Cola workers, paramilitary groups hired by the company to intimidate and threaten leaders of the union had targeted him.  This U.S. company operating in Colombia is keeping wages and benefits low so they can extract more profits for the company and we can drink soft drinks at lower prices.