COLOMBIA: A campesino initiative to defend human rights.



1 October 2011
COLOMBIA: A campesino initiative to defend human rights.

 [Note: this
article has been edited for length. 
To read the original, click here.]

Corporation for Humanitarian Action, Coexistence, and Peace in the Northeast
of Antioquia, CAHUCOPANA, is a campesino organization, i.e. an organization
of people from rural areas, the primary objective of which is to
“struggle and build solutions to the humanitarian crises and the human
rights issues plaguing rural communities in the municipalities of Segovia and
Remedios, Northeastern, Antioquia.”  The region is rich in natural resources
like water, wildlife, and minerals, including gold, which is the main source
of income for the region.  Gold
mining has triggered countless conflicts that have claimed the lives of many
campesinos and displaced thousands in the struggle with large national and
transnational companies.  These
companies push campesinos off their land and damage the environment as they
extract resources.

Click here to see video.


The Colombian government does not have a policy for
generating equitable development for the people in the region.  On the contrary, those who have
enjoyed the benefits have been foreign investors such as Frontino Gold
Mines.  Frontino is now in the
hands of the Canadian multinational known as Gran Colombia Gold Corp, along with
its subsidiaries Capital Zandor and Anglogold Ashanti.  They have developed several mega
projects within the area that have unsustainably exploited its minerals and
lumber, despite the fact that the territory is zoned as a forest reserve.  According to some reports from
farmers in the region, the military is preventing the passage of food to
their communities and demanding that people displace to neighboring villages
to buy provisions, which is expensive because of the poor road conditions.  The Black Eagles paramilitary group
is also present in the area, and has carried out several assassinations.

Agencies dedicated to defending human rights have been
working in the region, but the state has not been monitoring the conflict to
ensure the security and peace for the communities.  In addition, the
state has tried to tarnish CAHUCOPANA’s humanitarian work by involving it in
other types of negotiations that would damage its image with these
communities and international agencies.

CAHUCOPANA is breaking new ground by visiting other towns
and promoting direct participation in peace and human rights work.  It is seeking proposals from the
affected populations and not from government desks as it works to integrate
respect for human rights into the farthest frontiers of a country that cries
out for peace.














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