Colombia: May Day Courage

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Colombia - May Day marchIn another example of their work of “overcoming fear,” members of CAHUCOPANA (Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast of Antioquia) organized an International Workers’ Day demonstration, 1 May 2011, in the city of Segovia, Antioquia.

Founded in 2004, CAHUCOPANA is an organization of small farmers from the rural areas of northeast Antioquia united to ensure respect for their human rights.

Despite intimidation by police (who filmed the demonstration) and provocation by recognized paramilitaries (who entered the place where the group was sleeping), protestors marched through the streets of the city and held a rally in the town square.  CPTers and other internationals accompanied the gathering. 

Rally speakers highlighted the ways in which subsistence farmers have been the main victims of the armed conflict in   Colombia and have suffered the worst consequences of the government’s neoliberal economic model.

“Recent trade agreements and the adoption of the new National Development Plan exacerbate the damaging effects of this exclusionary economic model that benefits only a small sector of society while undermining the rights of the majority,” they said.

Insisting that any search for peace in Colombia must include social justice, the group called for: reductions in military spending; an end to mining and agricultural mega-projects; respect for the right to unionize; protection of land and water rights and the environment; guaranteed safe return of displaced populations to their land; and the creation of cultural, social, environmental and economic infrastructure and public policy that is participatory and respectful of rural and indigenous people’s culture of solidarity and cooperation.

“Finally,” they concluded, “we reaffirm our will to organize, mobilize and struggle towards making these demands a reality.”

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