A chara, - The article by Deirdre McQuillan on Colombian coffee production ("The journey from bean to cup", Magazine, November 16th) would appear to have been written from only one point of view. Nestlé, the company that invited Ms McQuillan to Colombia, is a large multinational whose human rights record in that country has been questioned on many occasions.
LASC has received a call for solidarity after the communities affected by the La Conga mining project in Cajamarca, Peru, suffered a new act of aggression by agents of the company. During Latin America Week 2013 we had a guest speaker called Milton Sánchez, who is spokesperson for the campaign in defense of water, life and the communities which will be affected beyond repair by this unsustainable project. LASC stands in solidarity with these communities and will voice this alert to the relevant authorities. Below is the communiqué sent by the campaigners:
SOLIDARITY WITH THE COLOMBIAN FARMERS! Report on picket held outside EU House, Dublin, 13th September
Around 50 people participated in a picket organised by Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) outside EU House in Dublin in support of the demands of the farmers in Colombia during the agrarian strike which started on August 19th and shook all of Colombia for weeks. One of the key elements of the protests in Colombia is opposition to the Free Trade Agreements with the US; as the EU is soon to implement a new FTA which is in no way any more benevolent than the US one, it is appropriate to warn about the social impact that this may have against the poorest sectors of Colombian society.
Brussels, September 8th, 2013
We, the participants of European organisations present at the Enlazando Alternativas network meeting held on September 7th and 8th, 2013 in Brussels, express our full support and solidarity with the National Agrarian and Popular Strike in Colombia and our solidarity with the social, peasant farmer, student and trade union organisations and with the population in general. We also denounce the grave repression and criminalisation of those who are protesting peacefully against the neoliberal economic policies that hit the Colombian population hard on a daily basis.
As examples of the unprecedented criminal violence with which the social protest has been repressed here are the cases of two localities in the department of Tolima: the municipality of Cajamarca and the community of Castilla in the municipality of Coyaima. It must be stressed that these are not exceptional cases, rather two more cases of the officially-endorsed violence against the people that has assailed the whole country.
Since 19th August last, hundreds of thousands of Colombian peasants and small farmers have been mobilising to demand change in the country's agrarian policy. Colombia has all the resources necessary to produce enough food for its population and achieve food sovereignty. Yet, the Colombian government's rush to sign free trade agreements with the US, South Korea and the EU are ruining the countryside, where 34% of the population still lives. Cheap, heavily-subsidised imports, largely from the US are ruining local producers who cannot compete against the low prices. They also often lack even the most basic infrastructure to take their products to the local market.
On 22nd August, 2013 a Uruguayan radio station interviewed José Antonio Gutiérrez on the Agrarian Strike taking place in Colombia at present. In Spanish: http://www.uniradio.edu.uy/?p=14454
URGENT ACTION - SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST JORGE TADEO VARGAS, THREATENED
Jorge Tadeo Juvera Vargas, originally from Hermosillo, Sonora, currently residing in the State of Mexico, has provided support, technical assistance and information to communities in the states of Mexico and Hidalgo for the last two years. His work has been focused on the socio-environmental impacts of waste incineration in cement kilns, as well as community-based alternatives for responsible waste management.