support-hondurasColombia In The Shadow Of Human Rights Abuses

A Special Report by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)

A special section filled with useful resources and information on the historic relationship between Canada and Colombia.

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December 30, 2016

Media Mornings / Democracy North interview with Raul Burbano

Raul BurbanoIn this year-end podcast, host Irwin Oostindie talks to CF's Raul Burbano (pic on the right) about the many highlights of 2016 in Latin America from the passing of Fidel to the peace process in Colombia, and movement from the rightwing in Brasil and Venezuela. Plus Raul talks about what he’s looking at for 2017.

Raul's portion begins at about the 10:00 mark of the show.

-Listen to the podcast

November 28, 2016

European and Canadian civil society groups call for rejection of CETA

Joint Statement : 455 European and Canadian civil society groups call for rejection of CETA

We, the undersigned civil society organisations from Canada and Europe, hereby express our deep concern about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. During the long process of the deal’s negotiations and legal check, we repeatedly pointed out major problems with the CETA text. We provided concrete inputs, which could have triggered a shift towards a more transparent and democratic trade policy with the protection of the environment and people’s fundamental rights at its core. But our concerns have not been addressed in the CETA as signed in October 2016. This is why we are stating our firm opposition to the ratification of the agreement.

Our objections are shared by a growing number of citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. A record 3.5 million people from all over Europe have signed a petition against CETA and its twin agreement, the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.i Over 2,100 local and regional governments have declared themselves TTIP- and CETA-free.ii Constitutional challenges against CETA have been filed in Germany iii and Canada iv and the legality of CETA’s controversial privileges for foreign investors will likely be ruled on by the Court of Justice of the European Union.v

On both sides of the Atlantic, farmers, trade unions, public health, consumer, environmental and digital rights groups, other NGOs, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have rejected the In October 2016, concerns in four sub-federal Belgian governments about the agreement’s negative impacts, and, in particular, its dangerous “investment court system”, nearly stopped their federal government from signing CETA.

-read the entire joint statement

-download the statement as a PDF

November 27, 2016

Colombia’s second bid at a peace accord

logoThe Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a modified peace agreement that seeks to end decades of armed conflict between them. The “new final accord” comes after marathon negotiations in Havana and just weeks after the original agreement was narrowly rejected in a national referendum.

The latest agreement aims to address the concerns from the ultra-conservative sector that led the No vote. According to the Colombian government, the new deal is testament to what can be “achieved through dialogue and compromise”.

Some of the modifications to the agreement were related to justice, punishment for combatants accused of war crimes and reparations for the conflict's victims. This includes requiring the rebels to present an inventory of acquired money and holdings, and the provision of safeguards for private owners and property during reforms carried out in the countryside.

The new and final accord does not go as far as the original one to protect women’s and LGBTI communities’ human rights who have disproportionately been affected by the conflict. Also unlike the original deal, only parts of the new agreement will be incorporated into the country’s Constitution.

The new peace accord has to be debated in Congress before it is approved and passed into law.

Regardless of the limitations of the new deal, the Colombian Working Group recognizes the agreement constitutes an important initial step forward for the country as it seeks to find a long lasting peace with social justice.

It is equally important that the Santos government undertake public and genuine peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and The Popular Liberation Army (EPL).

It is also critical that the Colombian government address the issue of paramilitary groups in the country which have begun to proliferate in areas left vacant by the FARC, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia.

We ask the Colombian state to take measures to protect human rights defenders, and members of social organizations and to put an end to impunity for cases of violence against human rights defenders which are at an alarming 95% impunity.

We call on the Colombian government to urgently implement this new agreement.

We call on the Canadian government to support the implementation process and assist in strengthening victims’ access to justice and pressuring the Colombian government into taking action in cases of human rights violations.

The Colombia Working Group is a platform of Canadian unions, NGOs, and social organizations focused on human rights in Colombia.

For more information contact:

- Ani Jubinville – Coordinator - Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie, 514 966 8421,
- Raul Burbano – Program Director - Common Frontiers, 416 522 8615,

November 21, 2016

The Canadian porn king and the Caribbean paradise

Is a businessman taking advantage of lawlessness to scoop up land — or offering Honduras’s Garifuna a way out of poverty?

Toronto Star Foreign Affairs Writer

Randy Jorgensen
Randy Jorgensen, a businessman from Saskatchewan who made his fortune in the adult pornography business, is at the centre of a controversy in Honduras over development. (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Like many Canadians, Mark Yeoman dreams of leaving behind snow tires, black ice and Highway 401. He dreams of retiring down south.

Instead of Florida or Arizona, though, the businessman has settled on Honduras, an impoverished country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates.

“It is so rustic there. I can get up, eat freshly cut pineapple and jump in the ocean. The people are so friendly and giving,” says Yeoman, who lives in the Greater Toronto Area and works for a company that recycles technology.

Yeoman bought half an acre of land a few years ago for $35,000 (U.S.) on the northern coast in Trujillo in a development called Campa Vista. In three years, when he turns 55, he plans to build a home with a wraparound porch and a swimming pool. Including construction costs, he estimates his piece of beachfront heaven will cost less than $265,000 (Canadian).

Five hundred other Canadians have invested in the development, which includes two sister sites, Alta Vista and Coroz Alta. The Caribbean location couldn’t be better: white-sand beaches, picturesque mountains and two nearby national parks.

As with so many tropical nirvana stories, though, there are dark clouds on the horizon. Behind both the paradise and the storm front is a man once dubbed “Canada’s porn king.”

Randy Jorgensen made a fortune in the last millennium, selling sex when videotape was cutting-edge technology. He then reinvented himself as a land developer and seller of snowbird fantasies. But his Canadian retirement dream is, for indigenous people in Honduras, a nightmare.

The Garifuna say Jorgensen’s developments are on land that was illegally appropriated. They are waging a legal battle to get it back, a battle that has turned ugly. A year ago, a prominent Garifuna activist says he was shot in the torso outside his home — an attack he believes was in retaliation for his efforts to reclaim his people’s land.

In October, a judge barred Jorgensen from leaving the country without the court’s permission.

The affable, ruddy-faced developer says he will respect the court process, but has no intention of giving up his land. His attitude reflects the name of his yacht, which is embroidered on his white golf shirt: Persistence.

Jorgensen seems an unlikely protagonist in a developer-versus-indigenous-rights dispute. The 60-year-old began his career running a muffler shop in his hometown of Moosomin, Sask.

He is soft-spoken and prone to homespun clichés, saying his political views are “so middle of the road I don’t know if I’m blue or red.”

But he is also a shrewd businessman unafraid of controversy.

-read the entire story at

November 16, 2016

NO MAS! End Violence Against Women Tour

Toronto Event:    Fri Nov 25 -   Details on Facebook
Montreal Event:   Tue Nov 29 - Details to come
Ottawa Event:     Thu Dec 1 -   Details on Facebook


More details about the Tour

November 3, 2016

Continental day of Action - Nov 4th


When:   Fri. Nov 4th @ 1 pm
Where: 344 Bloor St. west in front of Minister of International Trade, Crystia Freeland’s office.
Why:     To say No to corporate trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its agenda of privatization. We stand for sovereignty & Democracy in Brazil & across Latin America, and with our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock.
For more details: See Facebook page

After a decade of the defeat of the FTAA - Free Trade Area of the Americas - our continent faces a new neoliberal offensive. This offensive is clear and manifests in different forms, and plunder of the rights of peoples and attacks on Indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, women, youth, as well as racial, cultural and sexual diversities, which after struggles and resistance regained their ability to lead the processes of change in the region.

Moreover, the coups in Haiti (2002), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012) and the ongoing coup in Brazil, show that the market which dominates our lives wants to end the recent transformation process carried out by the people, which resulted in more rights for everyone, greater social inclusion, sovereignty over its territories and common goods and more democratic forms and tools for the political exercise and popular participation.

We stand in opposition to military regimes across the Continent and institutionalized violence by states throughout the continent. We stand against the agenda of free trade, privatization, inequality, exclusion and poverty represented in the neocolonial FTAA project and seek to build toward "Another World is Possible".

We stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation has issued a global call to action amid brave Land and Water Protectors facing brutal and outrageous treatment for prayerfully protecting life.
The principles of solidarity and internationalism unite us, as well as the need for a systemic transformation against capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and racism.

This is a new moment of collective action by the peoples of the Americas who oppose the agenda of destruction, disintegration and exclusion.

We call on the diversity of organizations, popular social movements and groups committed to social transformation and push forward with collective action and to take to the streets of our America on November 4, 2016 to shout with one voice:


November 1, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership bad for public health

New patent protections under the TPP will undermine the power of the province to keep essential drug prices low for treatable diseases like Hepatitis C

By Sakura Saunders

As corporate lobbyists work behind the scenes to pressure the Trudeau government into backing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, groups organizing to stop the deal held a teach-in at Steelworker's Hall last month.

The event, organized by Leadnow, OpenMedia, Council of Canadians, Common Frontiers, United Steel Workers, Unifor, Fight for the Future and People's Climate Movement, was held to highlight the effects the 6,000-page trade agreement, which will create the world's largest “free-trade” zone, will have on everything from environmental policy to public health.

Toronto-based doctor Chetan Mehta, an attendee at the teach-in, doesn't have to look beyond his own practice to contemplate the possible impacts TPP will have on patients he treats for Hepatitis C.

His community health clinic has treated 10 people in the last year living with the highly- transmittable – and treatable – virus. Treatment for one person, a once-daily pill known by the brand name Harvoni and made by U.S. drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences, can run anywhere between $60,000 to $200,000. It's cheaper than the alternative – a full liver transplant.

But if a generic version of the drug were available, it could cost as little as $192 a treatment, according to an April 2015 study published by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Only, Harvoni enjoys exclusive access to the US and Canadian markets until 2028, thanks to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which mandates patent protection for at least 20 years for pharmaceuticals. Now, the TPP is threatening to extend those protections. Doctors Without Borders has dubbed the intellectual property, investment and pharmaceutical pricing provisions in the TPP “the most harmful trade pact ever... to access affordable generic medicines in developing countries”

-read the entire article at

October 30, 2016

Common Frontiers founding member and 3 others Honoured by Chilean President

Chilean Ambassador to Canada, Alejandro Marisio (centre right) presents Dr. John W. Foster (left) with a recognition certificate in tribute to his humanitarian work. (Photo courtesy of Dr. John Foster)

Founding member of Common Frontiers, former staff of the North-South Institute and veteran of the Latin American Working Group, Dr. John W. Foster, was honoured, October 7, along with three others, with the presentation of a diploma from Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, in tribute “to the humanitarian work ...that generously contributed to save lives and protect thousands of Chileans during the dictatorship.” Ambassador Alejandro Marisio declared that “foreign citizens that facing the dilemma between taking action at their own risk or choosing the path of indifference, chose to act and create a network of solidarity, compassion, justice and friendship.”

Dr. Foster was noted for “his tireless work and strong commitment on behalf of the respect of human rights in Chile and his active involvement in remarkable institutions like the Toronto Welcome Committee for Refugees, the Inter-Church Committee on Chile and its successor the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America. These institutions, as well as many other along Canada, played a crucial role in educating Canadians regarding the situation in our country and the rest of the region, as well as advocating for the implementation of policies that benefit the refugees and their families and organizing the support network that took care of those Chileans that arrived to Canada with the hope to start a new life in this country.”

Honoured as well as Dr. Foster were diplomats David Adam and Mark Dolgin “who with courage and a profound solidarity offered protection to Chileans in danger, without hesitation, no matter what the peril or risk that they would face in their life or professional careers”, and Bob Thomson, noted for releasing controversial cables from the Canadian Ambassador and thus “created awareness about the situation in Chile and allowed the Canadian people to know the truth about the suffering of thousands of Chileans.”

The Ambassador concluded “their actions, along as the hard work of civil society groups, committed citizens, parliamentarians, journalists and public officers, created the necessary scenario to bring persecuted Chileans to Canada and also contributed to an overall review of the Canadian immigration law, especially refugee policy.”

October 28, 2016

UN rights expert urges States not to sign the ‘flawed’ CETA treaty and put it to referendum

GENEVA (28 October 2016) – The trade deal set to be signed by the European Union and Canada is a corporate-driven, fundamentally flawed treaty which should not be signed or ratified without a referendum in each country concerned, a United Nations human rights expert says.

Alfred de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, deplored the pressures brought on the Belgian regional parliament of Wallonia, which initially said it would not approve the treaty but later said its concerns had been met. “A culture of bullying and intimidation becomes apparent when it comes to trade agreements that currently get priority over human rights,” the expert said.

In his reports to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly Mr. de Zayas has previously warned that CETA is incompatible with the rule of law, democracy and human rights, and substantiated how and why before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

He believes that both CETA and TTIP - the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently being negotiated by the EU and the US - give undue power to corporations at the expense of national governments and human rights, and deplores that the mere existence of investor-state dispute settlement generates a regulatory chill.

“The danger of CETA and TTIP being signed and one day entering into force is so serious that every stakeholder, especially parliamentarians from EU Member States, should now be given the opportunity to articulate the pros and cons. The corporate-driven agenda gravely endangers labour, health and other social legislation, and there is no justification to fast-track it” Mr. de Zayas said.

“Civil society should demand referendums on the approval of CETA or any other such mega-treaty that has been negotiated behind closed doors,” he noted.

-read the entire release

October 26, 2016

TRADE: The Trans-Pacific Partnership - Town Hall - This Sunday

Common Frontiers' Raul Burbano will be on the panel for this town hall discussion about the TPP, moderated by Federal MP Ali Ehassi. - more information here


October 24, 2016

Media Release

CETA just imploded, future of the deal uncertain

In what can only be described as an epic failure, the European Union has failed to reach consensus on signing Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and there will be no signing ceremony on Thursday, October 27. Once promoted as “inevitable,” CETA has become “impossible” in its current form.

“Democracy has prevailed and the agenda to boost corporate rights is in tatters,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “This isn’t about internal Belgian politics. Millions of people across Europe and Canada have rejected this deal, including many Members of European Parliament, unions, environmental groups and farmers.”

More than‎ 3.5 million people signed a petition against CETA and 320,000 people marched against CETA in cities across Germany last month. Eighty-eight per cent of Austrians oppose CETA because it shifts power to transnational corporations, while 81 per cent of people in France said they believed CETA would undermine French standards protecting health, food quality, the environment and the climate. Several other EU member state governments also have concerns about CETA, but were unwilling to block the deal. Only 17 per cent of Germans support CETA and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States.

“If CETA hadn’t failed now, it would have failed eventually because of the arrogance of politicians not listening to people,” says Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “There is a new paradigm emerging of how trade deals should be done. If our elected officials continue to ignore the will of the people they represent, they will continue to fail.”

Belgium’s federal government had been given an ultimatum by the EU to pressure Wallonia into accepting the deal. A few days ago, Walloon minister-president Paul Magnette stated, “This treaty affects the lives of 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians for years and years. We can take a few weeks, a few months to analyze the problems and overcome them.”

The Council of Canadians supports fair trade that allows goods and people to move across borders without granting special rights to corporations.


For more information or to arrange interviews:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs

October 23, 2016

We Free the Rivers: Land, Coffee & Water in Guatemala

Friday, November 4, 2016,
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
PSAC Boardroom
233 Gilmour Street
Ottawa, ON

Guest speaker: Catarina Garcia, National Executive Member of the Comité
Campesino del Altiplano - CCDA, Guatemala

Public presentation in Spanish. Translation will be provided. A short documentary film may be presented to facilitate the discussion.

Following the aftermath of a Coup d’état against Jacobo Arbenz for having implemented a progressive agrarian reform in the early 1950s, Guatemala plunged into a lengthy war from 1960 to 1996. The signing of Peace Accords in 1996 officially ended the 36-year armed conflict that cost thousands of lives, mostly poor and indigenous Guatemalans, but not the legacy of violence and injustice presided by the Guatemalan elite. Renewed organized violence by military and corporate agents has resurfaced against indigenous peasant farmers to displace these people from their ancestral lands and suppress dissent.

These human rights violations have been taking place in the context of free trade agreements signed by the Guatemalan government with the U.S. and other countries.

This panel invites you to debate these issues. This presentation is free and open to the public. It is not required to register.

Presented by:


October 14, 2016

Response to Joint Interpretative Declaration on CETA

logoTrade Justice Network

On October 5, 2016, a joint EU-Canada Declaration on CETA was released in Brussels and began to circulate publicly. The Declaration was supposed to be an official reply to the very specific amendments to CETA proposed by labour unions, parliamentarians, social justice organizations, and the public in both Canada and Europe. Instead of addressing these specific concerns, the Declaration completely ignores them.

And, in a display of arrogant condescension, the Declaration simply reiterates and clarifies what is already in the agreement, as if the various legitimate concerns that it purports to respond to have neither merit nor substance.

In light of this refusal to respond seriously to the substantiated and well-researched concerns of civil society, the members of the Trade Justice Network cannot accept this empty and meaningless Declaration as anything more than public relations. As well, as various legal scholars and trade experts have indicated, the Declaration is certainly not legally binding. This is consistent with the entire process of the CETA agreement so far. CETA was negotiated in secret, without any attempt whatsoever to include citizens, and has not taken into consideration the reasonable and legitimate amendments proposed by civil society.

With the release of the CETA text on the government of Canada website, researchers, policy analysts, and interested citizens in labour unions, social justice groups, civil society organizations, and the public carefully read the agreement, identified specific areas of concern, and have repeatedly articulated these concerns in research documents, essays, and editorials. Furthermore, these specific concerns have been consistently raised with government officials in Canada and Europe in letters, public consultations, and in large-scale public protests and mobilizations, which in some cases numbered in the hundreds of thousands. At the same time, and all along, we have been proposing clear and very specific amendments to the CETA text.

Labour and civil society groups asked for specific amendments in the chapters dealing with the Investor Court System, the right to regulate, regulatory cooperation, public services, investment protection, public procurement, and labour and environmental protection. Proposed amendments to the text included language that would create binding enforcement mechanisms to protect workers’ wages and rights, to enforce health and safety standards, and to ensure environmental sustainability. Citizens in both Canada and the EU also demanded that the text be amended to remove all mention of the disturbing investor court system that bypasses our existing judicial system to give private foreign investors special legal privileges and to provide private foreign investors the extraordinary power to sue democratically elected governments for their policies and legislation.

The October 5 Declaration
In Canada, our specific concerns and proposed amendments were largely ignored by the original signatory to the agreement, Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party government. With the defeat of the Conservatives, and the election of a new government in October 2015, we were led to believe that these concerns would finally be taken seriously, and that the text could be amended. Hopes were raised when government officials signalled a willingness to listen to the specific criticisms raised in particular by the Canadian Labour Congress and its German counterpart, the DGB.

With the October 5 Declaration, it is evident that these hopes were decidedly misguided. The Declaration fails to address the shortcomings of CETA, and essentially ignores the concerns that have been raised. There is nothing whatsoever in the Declaration that acknowledges the specific demands and recommendations of civil society. There is no attempt at all to respond to proposed amendments, indeed none of the proposed amendments were even mentioned at all.

Instead the declaration touts the supposed virtues of CETA, and tries to depict it in an excessively optimistic light. The critics of CETA are served up nothing more than clarity and trite, empty reassurances: “a clear and unambiguous statement” of what was already agreed to.

Citizens and civil society groups asked for amendments. The response was stale platitudes. The Declaration simply reiterates the claims made about the supposedly wonderful social and economic benefits of CETA, without any even token attempt to validate those claims. They are true because they are stated to be true.

In other words, the Declaration is based on several patronizing assumptions: either citizens have not read the CETA agreement, or we don’t really understand what’s in it, or we just can’t see that it “promotes and protects our shared values.” The Declaration assumes that the critics are wrong, and that CETA doesn’t do what the critics allege. All these assumptions are egregiously flawed and deeply condescending.

And so the Declaration is weak and largely meaningless. And even if it wasn’t meaningless, in any case it is legally irrelevant, devoid of any legal content or significance. It does not even offer the pretext of interpreting the CETA provisions in legal terms. It does not alter or amend CETA in any substantive way, and it articulates commitments that are aspirational, non-binding, and lacking any effective legal enforcement.

For all these reasons, the Declaration has to be viewed as nothing more than a public relations exercise—an attempt to mollify critics of CETA, but not to take them seriously. In the words of Greenpeace, the Declaration “has the legal weight of a holiday brochure.”

-Read the rest of the Trade Justice Network response

-Download the entire response as a PDF

September 23, 2016

Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change.
A Talk by Linda Farthing.

PosterMonday, September 26, 2016
York Lanes 305
3:30 – 5:30

All are welcome! - refreshments will be provided

In this compelling and comprehensive look at the rise of Evo Morales and Bolivia's Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), Linda Farthing and Benjamin Kohl offer a thoughtful evaluation of the transformations ushered in by the western hemisphere's first contemporary indigenous president. Accessible to all readers, Evo's Bolivia not only charts Evo's rise to power but also offers a history of and context for the MAS revolution's place in the rising "pink tide" of the political left.

Farthing and Kohl examine the many social movements whose agendas have set the political climate in Bolivia and describe the difficult conditions the administration inherited. They evaluate the results of Evo's policies by examining a variety of measures, including poverty; health care and education reform; natural resources and development; and women's, indigenous, and minority rights.

-More information available here

September 22, 2016

NGO Statement on Ecuador's CAITISA Commission Final Report

To           President Rafael Correa,
To           The members of the Commission,
Subject:  Final report of the Commission for a Comprehensive Audit of Investment Protection Treaties and of the International Arbitration System (CAITISA) of Ecuador

We, the undersigned, urge the Ecuadorian government to publish and publicly release the full report of Ecuadorian Citizens’ Commission for a Comprehensive Audit of Investment Protection Treaties and of the International Arbitration System (CAITISA), created by presidential decree in 2013.

As social movements and organisations, we have supported and accompanied the creation of the Citizens' Audit Commission in Ecuador, as this initiative is unique in the world. Our networks and social organisations have included the creation of a similar audit process based on Ecuador's example in our demands to our governments.

However, we are highly concerned by the fact that one year after the completion of the auditing process, the Commission's report has still not been published. Such a large delay affects us in different ways:

While the publication of the audit's report is delayed, corporations continue to use the arbitration system to file suits against our countries. Foreign investors continue to use the arbitration system as a means to pressure for changes to national legislation, forcing governments, in many cases, to retract policies aimed at protection human rights or the environment. This perverse system is used all around the world, but the majority of the lawsuits are still filed against Latin American countries. Up until 2015, 35% of the cases registered at ICSID involved Latin American countries.

-Read the complete statement in English     en español

Signed by 75 organizations and movements around the world, including Common Frontiers

September 21, 2016

Peace at Risk in Colombia

As the world celebrates the peace accord between The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, the social conflict in the country continues. A wave of killings and assassination attempts has hit Colombian human rights defenders, social and labor leaders. According to the Somos Defensores semester report 51 community leaders have been killed this year in Colombia.

At least 13 activists who have been promoting peace with the FARC have been assassinated in Colombia since the government announced a ceasefire according to country’s human rights office. The assassinations took place in areas where the FARC is set to demobilize after a peace deal is signed.

Media reports indicate that in the past two weeks 16 killings and other aggressions against community leaders have taken place. Protections for labor leaders and human rights defenders are basic principles necessary to achieve a lasting peace, and as has happened in other peace processes violence has actually increased.

“The authorities must take immediate and effective action to once and for all put an end to the spate of recent killings of human rights defenders and social and community activists,” said Amnesty international.

Over the next few weeks, the UN Committee on International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will evaluate Colombia on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We ask the UN Committee to take into account the shadow reports submitted by social organizations and propose strong recommendations to the Colombian government in order to support the peace process.

The Colombian government unilaterally halted the peace talks with countries second largest guerilla force, The National Liberation Army (ELN). It is equally important that the Santos government undertake public and genuine peace negotiations with the ELN and EPL

The participation of social movements in the peace process and their demand for the establishment of civil society negotiation table to address the social conflict which is at the root of the armed conflict has not been seriously addressed by the Colombian government.

We ask Ecopetrol, the largest petroleum company and the Colombian state to take undertake immediate measures to protect USO labor leaders and to publicly denounce the threats and assassination attempts against them.

We ask the Colombian state to take measures to protect human rights defenders, and members of social organizations and to put an end to impunity for cases of violence against human rights defenders which are at an alarming 95% impunity.

The Colombia Working Group is a platform of Canadian unions, NGOs, and social organizations focused on human rights in Colombia.

September 14, 2016

Evangeline Lilly sounds the alarm over TPP with show in Toronto

PosterFrom the Canadian Press

A Canadian star is adding her voice to a chorus of advocacy and labour groups in denouncing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, teaming up with punk rockers and hip hop artists in an effort to reach an audience that might not otherwise care about international trade.

Actress Evangeline Lilly, best known for her role in the hit TV series “Lost,” will be speaking at the Rock Against the TPP show in Toronto on Friday, the touring event’s only Canadian stop.

Lilly, who is Canadian but lives in the U.S., called the TPP a “backdoor way for multinationals to squeeze things into law” without the usual public scrutiny.

The Alberta-born actress said the deal affects everything, from fair wages and labour rights to Internet freedom and health-care costs.

She echoed some of the more common criticism levelled at the TPP — such as the risk of large corporations suing governments over legislation that indirectly curtails their profits — in calling for residents on both sides of the border to rally against the deal.

While international trade agreements aren’t on most people’s radar, Lilly said she hopes Friday’s event — which includes the punk band Anti-Flag — will capture the public’s attention.

“If the average Canadian knew what the TPP was and knew that it was in the process of needing to be ratified by Parliament... they would be up in arms about it,” she said in an interview.

The TPP is the most significant regional trade agreement that Canada has negotiated since NAFTA, which concluded nearly two decades ago. The wide-ranging accord covers 40 per cent of the world economy and, if ratified, would set new international rules for sectors beyond trade.

Last week, a government study projected that Canada would generate more than $4 billion in long-term GDP gains if it ratified the agreement, but stands to take a $5-billion-plus hit to its economy if it opts out.

But the analysis, conducted by the Office of the Chief Economist at Global Affairs Canada, only considered the impact if Canada is the lone holdout. It did not look at what would happen if the deal falls through in its entirety.

Supporters have said the TPP would open foreign markets and could bolster some sectors, such as forestry and agriculture.

Critics, including some law experts, business leaders and economists, have raised the alarm about possible repercussions for intellectual property, manufacturing jobs and workers’ rights.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz said the deal benefits big business at the expense of working people, driving down the bargaining power of workers, including their wages.

Ottawa has said it is keeping an open mind about the deal and is following through on its promise to consult widely with Canadians. The House of Commons trade committee is currently studying the TPP.

After that,International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has promised that only a vote in Parliament would ratify the deal, which was negotiated under the former Conservative government.

In the U.S., both Democrat and Republican U.S. presidential hopefuls have come out in opposition to the TPP, though President Barack Obama has previously spoken strongly about the need for countries to swiftly ratify the deal.

Lilly said now is a “pivotal time” for Canadians to show their government how they feel about the agreement.

“Now is a very good time for (the Trudeau government) to hear that there is a massive rally going on in Toronto that’s opposing the TPP,” she said.

“What will be useful for the road show right now is to send a very clear message to Trudeau and to his government that should you decide to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there is political cost in that.”

-more info about Rock Against the TPP


September 12, 2016

Historic Panel - Indigenous Ecuadorian Leaders in Toronto in Fight Against Chevron-Texaco



September 8, 2016

The Sustainability Society

Common Frontiers is proud to support this project and lead the delegation to Venezuela.

Building on the success of previous projects, the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) is announcing the release of its sixth Common Threads Project: The Sustainable Society.


Three themes of "sustainability" are mentioned by journalists, politicians, business leaders, and advocacy groups; what is not often discussed is the topic of a "sustainable society".

The Project explores the approaches taken to achieve/maintain social justice, equity, fairness, and democracy by contrasting and comparing two countries, Norway and Venezuela, and how each uses its petroleum resource to promote a Sustainable Society. The Project examines those approaches in comparison and contrast to Canada as part of North America.

This promises the development of rich curriculum on this timely issue. The Sustainable Society project is in the process of being developed; it is anticipated that the release of the curriculum resource should occur sometime this spring. In the meantime, you are encouraged to view and utilize our five other Common Threads curriculum resources.

-For more details, visit the Common Threads website

September 7, 2016

OSSTF protests attempts to disband Ecuadorian teachers union

Dr. Rafael Correa
Presidente Del Ecuador Garcí
a Moreno N10-43 entre Chile y Espejo
Codigo Postal: 170401 / Quito – Ecuador

Dear President Correa

On behalf of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) representing over 60,000 teachers and education workers, I am writing to express our grave concern over recent measures taken by your government to disband the National Union of Teachers of Ecuador (UNE).

UNE, which celebrates its 72nd anniversary this month, has a long and distinguished record of working to improve teaching conditions and defend public education. OSSTF has worked with UNE in the past, and looks forward to continue to collaborate with the union in years to come on issues related to teacher solidarity, pedagogy and the strengthening of public education systems.

The threat to disband the UNE is the latest in a series of actions that your government has taken to suppress the Ecuadorean teachers’ organization. We find it deeply troubling that the Ecuadorean government would violate the international conventions it has signed regarding freedom of association in its efforts to extinguish the teachers’ union. It is particularly concerning that your administration uses the controversial Decree 16 to suppress the UNE, despite the fact that earlier this year, Ecuador’s representatives assured the International Labour Organization that the Decree’s stringent new regulations for NGOs would not apply to labour unions.

We had believed that the government of President Rafael Correa would treat workers with more respect than the neoliberal regimes that preceded him. We are disappointed to discover state sanctions against education workers and their organization have worsened under your administration.

Our organization joins with Education International and many other organizations around the world to condemn this act to silence the legitimate voice of Ecuadorean teachers. We urge your administration to rescind the dissolution order against the UNE, and to restore the basic labour rights that have been progressively stripped from the teachers’ union in recent years.

Yours truly

Paul Elliott
President, Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers' Federation

September 6, 2016

The Colombia Working Group Welcomes the Peace Agreement in Colombia

logoThe Colombia Working Group (CWG) welcomes the news that the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reached a historic, final and definitive peace accord. The CWG and its members, many of whom have been working with Colombian civil society groups for years in peace building, see this as an important milestone towards peace.

Many Colombians are celebrating the ground breaking agreement which covers issues of land reform, curtailment of the drug trade, reparation to victims’ families, trials for those suspected of human rights abuses and an end to the conflict between both parties; a conflict that has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the forcible displacement of over six million, as well as the threatening and imprisonment of many others, including human rights workers, trade unionists, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous leaders.

The formal negotiations have concluded but there are still steps to be taken before the deal can be considered binding. The FARC leadership has to present the final agreement to its memberships for final approval which is expected to take place later this year. The leaders of the FARC have said they intend to enter politics, and will begin organizing a political party to take part in national elections starting in 2018. To support the transition the FARC will be guaranteed 10 seats in the bicameral congress no matter how much of the popular vote they receive from 2018 to 2026.

President Santos has announced a national plebiscite on the agreement to take place on October 2, 2016. At least 13% of the electorate must vote “yes” in order for the government to be bound to implement the accords. A recent poll by the firm Cifras y Conceptos shows that 74% of Colombians polled are in favour of and would approve the accord.

Both sides have agreed to work together to address social exclusion and bring about a lasting peace. Although this is truly historical, it is critical that civil society in Colombia and the international community remain vigilant to ensure fulfillment of the agreements. This is especially concerning in the context where the Santos government had failed to honour previous agreements with other sectors in Colombia like the ones agreed to during the 2014 agrarian strike. It is equally important that the Santos government undertake public and genuine peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second largest guerrilla organization. The continued presence and violent activities of right-wing paramilitaries and other illegal armed actors is a serious problem that stands in the way of a lasting peace in Colombia. It is imperative that the Santos government addresses this sinister phenomenon and dismantles these structures and their connections to powerful political and economic actors in the country.

The end of the armed conflict does not necessarily mean an end to the social conflict which can be seen in the continuing high levels of violence, inequality, impunity, and militarization which are at the root of the problems. To achieve a lasting peace with social justice, Colombia must deepen its democratic institutions and undertake profound social and economic reforms to eliminate the endemic social inequality and ensure access to basic services like education, healthcare and public services for all Colombians.

The Colombia Working Group is a platform of Canadian unions, NGOs, and social organizations focused on human rights in Colombia.

posterAugust 30, 2016

Rock Against the TPP

The TPP is an unfair, undemocratic deal that will strip us of our digital rights and threaten the open Internet.

We’ve built a huge community of Canadians who know that the TPP will threaten our digital rights and the open Internet, and robs us of the right to shape policies that work for us.

But still, too many people are still sitting on the sidelines, because they just don't know how dangerous the TPP is. It's simple: pro-TPP forces need to keep those people on the sidelines to ram the deal through. If we can get those people off the sidelines then we will win.

Just days before Parliament resumes sitting (Monday, September 19), we’re holding a huge demonstration of just how much support there is for ditching the TPP – our concert and teach-in will show Ottawa that our rapidly growing movement will be impossible to sideline.

-See more details on Facebook



August 26, 2016

CF's submission on the TPP to the Standing Committee on International Trade

Author: Janet M Eaton, PhD,
Contributors: Rick Arnold, Raul Burbano

Executive Summary

This brief questions the rationale behind the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its associated investor rights agreement and goes on to point out how it will adversely impact various sectors including the industries where Canadians still find good jobs in agriculture, the auto industry, IP and the public sector all of which risk being diminished by this agreement. It also expresses concerns for the way in which the TPP negotiators are writing rules for a global governance system which gives corporate interests preeminence over national government’s responsibility to legislate on behalf of its peoples and over International Law and Human rights upon which a democratic and stable world is predicated. We fear that sovereignty, democracy, and our judicial system will be diminished under the TPP and that the laws and regulations that protect Canadians and our public services, health, education, and environment will be further eroded.

Common Frontiers views the issues stemming from the TPP and other mega-trade agreements, TTIP, CETA and TISA, within the broader context of Neoliberalism under which free trade agreements are one of several tools, which seek to shift power away from governments and toward the corporate sector, along with de-regulation, privatization, and elimination of public services through smaller government. We submit that Neoliberalism is broadly recognized as flawed and failing.

We recommend against signing the TPP and offer suggestions for designing a trade system that works for a sustainable 21st Century.

We believe a paradigm shift from the current global economic model is imperative in order to mitigate the threats of economic and ecological collapse. Common Frontiers has been concerned for many years with the root causes of global economic failure and in that context has explored the notion of planned ‘Degrowth’ and other economic/cultural models such as ‘buen vivir’ that have a reduced ecological footprint.

The full set of recommendations are found in a separate section at the end of this brief.

-Download and read the entire report

August 18, 2016

Honduran activist wants Trudeau to pressure Canadian mining companies on human rights abuses

From The Toronto Star
By Marina Jimenez
Foreign Affairs Writer

Honduran priest and activist Padre Melo was in Toronto on Monday to speak about the violence he faces as an activist in his home country. Melo is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras. (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)

Father Melo lives every day as though it is his last. He knows assassins are out to kill him. And, eventually, they may succeed.

“I cannot walk in the streets or ride my bike,” said Melo, a Jesuit priest, human rights activist and radio host from Honduras. Melo, whose real name is Ismael Moreno Coto, travelled to Toronto this week to talk about the risks he faces in his home country at an event hosted by Canadian Jesuits International.

“I have police patrolling outside my house but I don’t know if they are protecting me or watching me. I am the government’s No. 1 enemy.”

Honduras is one of the deadliest places in the world to be an environmental activist, according to Global Witness, an international non-governmental organization focused on natural resource exploitation.

Between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmentalists were killed in the country, and few of the cases have been prosecuted. This is a fact Melo knows well. On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres, a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and a close friend of Moreno’s, was shot to death.

Such impunity seems shocking in a country of just eight million, and one with a strong Canadian presence. Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Honduras in 2014, and an estimated 100,000 Canadians visit each year. But it’s the mining sector where Canada has the biggest impact: 90 per cent of all foreign mining investments in Honduras are Canadian, according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), a Washington, D.C., think-tank.

Melo wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras. The priest wrote a letter to Trudeau this May, on behalf of more than 200 human rights and environmental groups, asking him to ensure mining companies operating outside Canada comply with international environmental and human rights standards and not displace local communities without prior consultation.

“It is vital that the Canadian government and mining companies respect the rights of indigenous communities to self-determination … and respect the decisions of those who have said no to large-scale mining,” the letter states.

Melo said he received a reply from the Prime Minister’s Office saying the government was going to discuss the matter. Jeffrey Davidson, Ottawa’s social corporate responsibility counsellor, paid him a visit this summer. “Canada can pressure mining companies to change their policies, I told him,” recounts Melo.

Davidson did not reply to a request for an interview by Tuesday night.

Since a coup in 2009 deposed Honduras’ democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, conflicts between foreign companies and local communities have intensified. The new government privatized land and water resources and passed legislation removing barriers to large development projects.

Honduran police are also corrupt, according to a Human Rights Watch report, and organized crime is a growing problem.

“Since the coup, Canadian companies are maintaining or increasing their economic interests in Honduras, benefiting from exploitation, racism, repression, corruption and impunity,” said Grahame Russell, director of Rights Action, a non-government organization which worked closely with Cáceres and her family.

The activist was best known for her opposition to the building of the Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River, considered a fragile ecosystem and sacred place for the indigenous Lenca people. She received 33 threats before she was killed. A colleague was killed two weeks later.

Of the five people arrested for her murder, one is a member of the military, another is a retired soldier and a third is an employee of a Honduran company that is working on the disputed dam.

Following her death, 62 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking that he pressure Honduras to halt the Agua Zarca project and lobby for a system to protect activists.

“Canada needs to give higher priority to the regulation of corporate behaviour overseas and establish especially strong guidelines for extractive industries,” says Mercedes Garcia, a research associate with COHA.

A recent COHA report cited complaints against Canadian companies and their subsidiaries in Honduras, and elsewhere in the region.

As for Melo, even though he takes security precautions, he has made peace with the possibility he may pay with his life for exercising his right to speak freely and criticize these conflicts.

“Every night when I return home after my radio show, I breathe a sigh of relief that I have survived another day,” he said.

August 3, 2016

The Human and Environmental costs of Oil extraction in Colombia


Join us for a conversation about the human and environmental costs of oil extraction in Colombia with Yessica-Hoyos from the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CCAJAR).

Yessica will share finds from a new report entitled, “the human cost of oil” The report’s findings include how the Canadian multinational Pacific Exploration & Production Corp., operating in partnership with the Colombian company Ecopetrol and a plethora of subcontracted firms, violates labor regulations, causes environmental damage, and negatively impacts the survival of indigenous communities in Puerto Gaitan, Meta – the department in which more than half of Colombia’s oil is extracted. Furthermore, repression and criminalization targeting labor, social, and environmental leaders has increased in the region with the expansion of the oil industry.

CCAJAR represents human rights activists and victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. It also aims to draw attention at an international level to the troubling human rights situation in Colombia.

When: Thursday August 4th
Where: Friends House, 60 Lowther, Toronto
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

For more information see our Facebook event

Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

Organized by the Colombian Working group, United Steelworkers and Common Frontiers


July 28, 2016

Uphold the United Nations Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


July 26, 2016


ALBA Movimientos condena violencia contra jóvenes negros y latinos en los Estados Unidos.

by ALBA Movimientos

En lo que va del año 2016, se han reportado 125 asesinatos de jóvenes negros y latinos a manos de la policía estadounidense. Una investigación conducida en el 2013 por la organización, Malcolm X Grassroots, encontró que la policía en los EEUU asesina un hombre negro desarmado cada 28 horas. Estas tragedias, que suceden a diario en nuestras comunidades, y que una vez se invisibilizaban o se ignoraban, ahora se conocen en el país y a nivel mundial.

Desafortunadamente, la atención nacional e internacional de los casos no ha logrado que los familiares no tengan que sufrir la perdida de sus seres queridos triplemente: (1) al ser asesinadas por la policía, (2) al momento que los medios de comunicación masiva comienzan a justificar estos asesinatos, y (3) al momento de entrar en el sistema judicial, el cual permite que los policías asesinos sean dejados en libertad.

Esta realidad represiva en los EEUU, continuara hasta que se erradique la enfermedad del capitalismo. Esta es la enfermedad que produce el síntoma de la violencia estatal, que incluye la brutalidad policiaca. En la historia de su desarrollo, los departamentos de policía fueron creados para servir y proteger la propiedad privada y a la clase elite, y para controlar y reprimir la clase trabajadora, particularmente a los negros, indígenas y latinos. Los EEUU ha sido histórica y profundamente dividida por líneas raciales. Una prueba de esto son los diálogos prácticamente infértiles que han tenido líderes negros con autoridades de gobierno buscando alcanzar la valoración de las vidas de las personas negras- Frederick Douglas y Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, jr y Lyndon B. Johnson, el Presidente Obama y líderes de Ferguson.

A partir de los últimos asesinatos han salido multitudes de personas a marchar y protestar en muchas de las grandes ciudades de los EEUU afirmando que la vida negra y latina vale, el presidente Obama dio su discurso habitual “recordándole” a la ciudadanía y al mundo que los acontecimientos no representan a los EEUU, y han salido los auto-denominados líderes de la comunidad negra como Al Sharpton “apoyando” a las familias de los víctimas.

¡Más de los mismo! Claramente, para obtener resultados diferentes necesitamos trazar pasos distintos. Ya no podemos seguir teniendo conversaciones sobre reformas o diálogos para mejorar relaciones con un sistema creado para aniquilarnos.

Necesitamos luchar para construir e implementar el cambio necesario que garantice la protección de las vidas de las personas negras y las latinas. Es necesario profundizar nuestro análisis y fortalecer nuestra estrategia, entendiendo que estos métodos represivos no son únicos de los EEUU, pero que los EEUU también ha importado estas prácticas represivas mundialmente.

Nuestra lucha es local, nacional y global en solidaridad con las clases trabajadoras negras del mundo, y en contra del capitalismo, el racismo y la industria militar. Mientras reafirmamos que la vida negra importa, decimos que el capitalismo mata. Estamos a favor de la vida plena y el desarrollo de nuestras comunidades en EEUU y alrededor del mundo.

July 22, 2016

Colombia Human Rights Assessment Sneaks Past Parliamentary Scrutiny

Liberals table platitude-laden report to empty House of Commons

United Steelworkers' (USW) National Director Ken Neumann says the Liberals' first Human Rights Impact Assessment Report (HRIA) on Colombia, tabled Wednesday to an empty House of Commons, remains as meaningless as those tabled by the previous government.

"This requirement for a report was the Liberal opposition's excuse for supporting the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA) back in 2010," said Neumann.

"It does not allow for a full assessment of the state of Human Rights in Colombia and must be tied directly to trade activities under the terms of the CCOFTA. In other words, it is neither a true reflection of human rights in Colombia nor a directive to improving conditions for Colombians. It is, at best, a statement of platitudes."

Neumann said the USW has been working closely with workers and communities in Colombia for many years, through relief, development and mutual aid and continues to observe the conditions and challenges in Colombia through regular exchanges and delegations.

"Our union sponsored a visit to Canada in 2009 by a Colombian human rights lawyer whose union activist father was murdered because of his activities. Yessika Hoyos pleaded with Canadian parliamentarians on the International Trade Committee for an independent, impartial and comprehensive human rights impact assessment before going ahead with any free trade agreement with Colombia," Neumann said.

"However, it was not enough to stop then-trade critic Scott Brison from looking for a way for Liberals to support the Conservative government's deal with a country whose human rights record was one of the worst in the Americas."

The USW participated in consultations leading up to the 2016 report. Those consultations included a call from stakeholders, such as academics, unions and human rights organizations, for a Human Rights Impact Assessment that looks at the real state of human rights in Colombia.

"We know human rights in Colombia are still problematic, with many reports of harassment and intimidation of human rights leaders and threats against local communities," said Neumann. "These are not reflected in a report that relates specifically to an agreement that is a commercial document, devoid of any moral obligation to uphold human rights. Indeed, like all so-called free trade agreements, the CCOFTA enshrines investor rights as the guiding imperative."

Neumann said the only way to make the process honest is to alter the HRIA so that the monitoring of human rights in Colombia is not directly tied to the CCOFTA.

"If this new government is serious about its claims to uphold human rights, then it must do more than continue with meaningless annual reports."

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

July 19, 2016

Launch Event Of The Continental Day For Democracy And Against Neoliberalism


After a decade from the defeat of the FTAA - Free Trade Area of the Americas -, our continent faces a new neoliberal offensive.

This offensive is clear in the radicalization of the different forms of appropriation and plunder of the rights of peoples and attacks on indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, women, youth, as well as racial, cultural and sexual diversities, which after struggles and resistance regained their ability to lead the processes of change in the region.

Moreover, the coups in Haiti (2002), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012) and the ongoing coup in Brazil, show that the market which dominates our lives wants to end the recent transformation process carried out by the people, which resulted in more rights for everyone, greater social inclusion, sovereignty over its territories and common goods and more democratic forms and tools for the political exercise and popular participation.

We -participants and heirs of struggles against military regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean and institutionalized violence of states, that throughout the continent are rising against the agenda of free trade, privatization, exclusion and poverty represented in the defeated neocolonial FTAA project, seeking to build answers for "Another World is Possible" -today we say: in our continent we will not allow a new cycle of dictatorships, imposed by executive, judicial and legislative powers at the service of the interests of capitalist market.

The principles of solidarity and internationalism unite us, as well as the certainty of the need for a systemic transformation against capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and racism.

This is a new moment to resume the unified action of the peoples of the Americas to oppose those who insist on their agenda of destruction, disintegration and exclusion.

We called the diversity of organizations, social movements and expressions committed to social transformation to advance this process of articulation and take the streets of Our America on November 4, 2016 to shout with one voice:

Not one step back!

The peoples keep fighting for our integration, self-determination
and sovereignty, against free trade and multinationals!

Facebook page

Organizations initially joining the call:

July 18, 2016

Experts Split On Precedent In Uruguay's ISDS Victory Over Philip Morris

from Inside US Trade

Related: Public Health Takes a Hit Even as Uruguay Prevails in Infamous Philip Morris Investor-State Attack

Philip Morris' challenge of a number of Uruguayan tobacco control measures was brought to an end on July 8 after arbitrators sided with the South American country in a split decision, but experts are divided on what the outcome means for future challenges of anti-tobacco laws and regulations under investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

ISDS experts disagreed over two issues, the first being whether Philip Morris' unsuccessful challenge in Uruguay will lead that and other multinational tobacco companies to be wary of bringing future ISDS cases against public health measures. Second, those experts differed on whether the outcome of the Uruguay dispute is precedent-setting in favor of anti-smoking public health measures and against tobacco companies seeking to challenge them.

Central to the belief that tobacco companies will not be deterred from bringing cases against public health measures is the fact that the process of a dispute itself incurs a potentially overwhelming financial cost on countries seeking to limit domestic tobacco demand, regardless of which party is successful in the litigation, some experts contend. The threat of that cost alone may be enough to cause governments to hesitate when considering tobacco control measures, creating a “chilling effect” on anti-smoking regulations.

-read the entire article

June 30, 2016

Asociaciones civiles norteamericanas en Ottawa, piden que no se ratifique el TPP

Por Leonora Chapman |
Miércoles 29 junio, 2016 , Sin Comentarios

“EL TPP es un NAFTA recargado, es un NAFTA plus, y que por lo tanto, las poblaciones de Canadá, Estados Unidos y México no podemos aceptar puesto que nosotros ya tenemos más de 25 años de experiencia de este modelo de libre comercio que no ha beneficiado a las poblaciones, ni a los trabajadores, ni al medioambiente, ni al respeto de los derechos humanos de nuestras poblaciones”.
         -Víctor Súarez, ex diputado mexicano y representante de Mejor sin TPP-México

-Escucha la entrevista

June 30, 2016

Mexican Activist Says NAFTA Should Act as a Warning Against TPP


teleSUR spoke with Victor Suarez Carrera, who is campaigning against the TPP in Canada as Obama, Peña Nieto, and Trudeau push the trade pact.

The heads of government from Mexico, Canada, and the United States gathered in Ottawa Wednesday for the "Three Amigos" Summit in order to push trade liberalization, and specifically the TPP.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and U.S. President Barack Obama were forced to defend free trade in light of renewed debate about globalization after the surprise result from the U.K. referendum that saw voters narrowly vote to leave the European Union, as well as critical comments about free trade pacts from Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency.

The three countries are already united through the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA. But the “Three Amigos” made a renewed pitch for the approval of another similar deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

The deal is highly controversial, with opponents warning that it is designed with the interests of transnational capital in mind and will only lead to greater misery and inequality.

However, the impact of free trade agreements on workers, campesinos, and low-income people is nothing new to Mexico, which has seen poverty and inequality grow significantly in the 22 years since NAFTA came into effect.

Victor Suarez Carrera, currently in Canada to take part in demonstrations during the “Three Amigos” summit and meet and with social movements opposed to the trade deal, told teleSUR that the TPP is a “strengthened NAFTA” that “will grant more rights to transnational capital.”

-read the entire article

June 29, 2016

Media Release


Real Amigos to Three Amigos: “Don’t ratify the TPP, a Trojan horse for lost social and environmental protections”

Ottawa — With the “three amigos” — U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — meeting in Ottawa today, representatives of groups from the three countries urged them to not ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The groups placed a 10-metre tall inflatable Trojan horse on Parliament Hill, symbolizing the growing concerns about the TPP’s insidious effects on the environment, health and labour rights, amongst others. Victor Suarez, former member of the Mexican house of representatives and representative of Mexico Better Off Without the TPP, and Arthur Stamoulis, from the U.S. Citizens Trade Campaign along with Canadian and Quebec groups reminded the leaders of NAFTA’s devastating effects.

“More than two decades under NAFTA have taught working people in Canada, Mexico and the United States what to expect from trade deals that put corporate profits ahead of human needs: lost jobs, suppressed wages, displaced families and attacks on democratically-enacted environmental and social protections,” said Stamoulis. “The TPP is NAFTA on steroids, and would accelerate the damage that’s already being done by NAFTA”.

Mr. Suarez and Mr. Stamoulis are also available for interviews during their visit to Ottawa on June 28 and 29. Their visit has been organized by Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC), Common Frontiers (CF), and the Trade Justice Network (TJN).

Before NAFTA, Mexico was a developing country. But now it’s an underdeveloping country, with 70 percent of people in rural areas and 85 percent of the indigenous population living in poverty,” said Suarez. “The TPP represents the final nail in the coffin for Mexican farmers as it would cement the complete loss of food sovereignty. Our governments are abandoning rural communities.”

“The TPP has sparked controversy in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., and has become a central issue in the American election. The corporate rights pact is expected to go to the U.S. Congress in November for a vote during a lame-duck session.

“The TPP is about everything but trade, with 97% of TPP markets already free of tariffs. The secretly negotiated deal is a Trojan horse treaty that aims at giving unacceptable powers to big business at the expense of the public interest,” said Pierre-Yves Serinet, RQIC spokesperson. “The TPP is a slap in the face to democracy. It’s an obstacle to what people want, like sound actions to reverse climate change. The Three Amigos can’t ignore this reality.”

“The TPP is just one more international corporate constitution, sought by corporations, useful to big business, but destructive to people, the environment, and democracy,” said Larry Brown, co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.

“The TPP, like other corporate-led trade and investment agreements, forms part of the broader neoliberal framework which seeks to shift power away from governments and towards the corporate sector through deregulation, privatization, and elimination of public services through smaller government,” said Raul Burbano of Common Frontiers.

For more information:

-Download the entire release in English    en français

June 23, 2016logos

Media Advisory/Photo Op

Real Amigos to Three Amigos: “Don’t ratify the TPP”

Ottawa — When the “three amigos” — U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — meet in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 29, leading Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) opponents will be there to challenge the controversial deal.

WHAT: Media statement and photo opportunity. The organizations will remind the leaders of NAFTA’s devastating effects and to urge them not to ratify the TPP, considered a Trojan horse treaty for the sole benefit of transnational corporations over public interest.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 29 at 12:00pm EST.

WHERE: Human Rights Monument, located at the corner of Lisgar and Elgin street in Ottawa (Note: Location is subject to change on short notice)

WHO: Victor Suarez, former member of the Mexican house of representatives and spokesperson of the Mexico Better Off Without the TPP coalition, and Arthur Stamoulis, Coordinator of the Citizens Trade Campaign network in the U.S. They are also available for interviews during their visit to Ottawa on June 28 and 29.

ORGANIZED BY: Groups affiliated to the Canadian and Quebec networks Réseau québécois sur l’Intégration continentale (RQIC), Common Frontiers (CF), and the Trade Justice Network (TJN).

The TPP has sparked controversy in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., and has become a central issue in the American election. The corporate rights pact is expected to go to the U.S. Congress in November for a vote during a lame-duck session.

For more information:

-Download this advisory in English    en français   en español

June 22, 2016

Don’t ratify the TPP – Mexican and U.S. social movement perspectives

posterCanada will host U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during the “Three Amigos Summit” from June 27th -29th 20016 in Ottawa. The leaders will meet to push forward a corporate lead agenda that puts profits before the planet in areas such as trade, the environment and security.

Civil society networks from Canada and Quebec will host a dialogue with fellow organizers Victor Suarez, former Mexican parliamentarian and representative of the Mexico Better without the TPP coalition and Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director of the Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) in the United States.

Broad based coalitions are working to stop the TPP and other NAFTA like trade deals in each country. Join us for a ‘lunch and learn’ discussion that will focus on the impact of free trade and investment on communities and the struggles emerging against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) across North America.

When: Tuesday June 28, 2016 From 12:30- 1:30
Where: HUB Ottawa @ 71 Bank Street, 6th floor, Ottawa, Canada

Victor Suarez Carrera is a member of Mexico Better without TPP, a new coalition made up of social and civic organizations against the TPP.
He is also the founder and Executive Director of the National Association of Rural Commercialization Enterprises (ANEC) in Mexico. Since 1995, ANEC has promoted a strategy to allow direct access to agricultural markets for small- and medium-sized producers of basic grains, with more than 50,000 members in 17 Mexican states. Victor also currently promotes the Mexican national campaign "Sin Maíz No Hay País Y el frijol Tampoco," or "Without Corn There is No Country and Not without Beans Either," a movement to protect food security for Mexico. He has also been part of numerous political, social and peasant movements both within Mexico and internationally.

Arthur Stamoulis Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) is a U.S.-based coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer and human rights organizations working together for trade policies that promote a just and sustainable global economy. Citizens Trade Campaign was the first to publish leaked text of several of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapters, and organized protests and other civil society responses at each of the TPP negotiating rounds to take place in the United States. It is currently coordinating national campaigns around the TPP. Prior to joining Citizens Trade Campaign, Arthur directed the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. He has also served as director of government affairs for Clean Air Council, an editor at Common Courage Press, and economics editor for Clamor Magazine.

Organized by the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, Common Frontiers, Trade Justice Network, Council of Canadians and the Canadian Labour Congress

For more information see the Facebook event

June 15, 2016

USW - Stop the TPP: Canadians Deserve a Better Deal

The United Steelworkers is not anti-trade, but our union is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The USW made a submission to government proceedings reviewing the TPP in May, 2016.

The United Steelworkers believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership will not resolve the most important challenges that have decimated our manufacturing base in recent years.

The USW submission outlines our reasons for opposing the TPP:

“Our union is not anti-trade. However, we believe that trade as an instrument of economic policy can forge a new approach; one that would lift wages up rather than push them down, one that would reduce our growing trade deficit, one that would promote domestic manufacturing and employment rather than more outsourcing and offshoring, one that would begin to reverse the widening gap of income inequality.”

-read the USW submission

June 14, 2016

Foreign investor protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

by Gus Van Harten
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

This study examines the special privileges, enforced through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which would be given to foreign investors under the TPP. These include the right to compensation where government laws, regulations, or other decisions are found to interfere with an investor’s interests. It shows that those financially benefitting from such rights in past agreements have mostly been very large companies or wealthy individuals. The author also explains how the TPP expands ISDS rules to cover “investment agreements” between the federal government and foreign investors, and how it weakens protections for financial regulation. The study concludes that expanding and enshrining such investor privileges carries major risks for voters and taxpayers in all TPP countries, with no compelling evidence of a corresponding benefit for the public.

-read the entire study

June 12, 2016

Stop The TPP - A Community Festival


A Community Festival @ the minister's town hall
Wed June 15th - 4:30-8 PM
outside the Rotman School of Management
105 St. George St. Toronto

June 7, 2016

"Oceana Gold - Stop the Bullying"


Rally to make some noise outside of OceanaGold's Shareholder meeting!
Thursday June 9th - 1:30PM
SE corner of York and Front
across from Fairmont
Royal York, 100 Front St W, Toronto

Join us in speaking out against OceanaGold's bullying tactics in El Salvador and the Philippines. We need your help to make noise outside of their Annual General Meeting at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Canada. We won't let them get away with suing countries that decline to give them mining permits (as they are currently doing in El Salvador) and illegally demolishing homes to make way for their toxic tailings ponds (happening in the Philipines)!

Guest speakers will address harms perpetrated against communities in both countries, investor state dispute tribunals and the egregious actions of the company.

Help us send the message - OceanaGold out of El Salvador and the Philippines! Stop the Suit! Water is worth more than gold!

This action is being convened by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Council of Canadians, MiningWatch Canada, the United Church of Canada and others!

-More event info on Facebook

June 6, 2016

Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)! Festival & Townhall

Wednesday, June 15

5pm - 'Festival' outside of the Rotman School of Management
6pm - Town Hall w/Minster of Trade Chrystia Freeland

Location: Desautels Hall Auditorium in Toronto (Second floor, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, 105 St. George Street, Toronto).

No registration required.

Canada's International Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland will be hosting the Town Hall.. but history is proof that there's nothing neutral about the way in which governments sign damning trade agreements. We need to takeover the space and voice opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, bearing in mind that trade agreements are corrupt, criminal agreements that effectively diminish sovereignty where corporations will have the right to sue governments for changes in policies that threaten profit. We all have stake in this issue, join us as an individual or with your organization in protest.

Organized by Open Media, Common Frontiers and Council of Canadians

-More event info on Facebook

June 5, 2016

Political Declaration
Continental Coordination Of Social Movements Towards Alba

At its third Continental Coordination Meeting “Colombia's Peace is the Continent's Peace” held 27, 28 and 29 May in Bogotá , a gathering attended by delegates from social and political organizations from 21 countries of Our America, the Coordination of Social Movements towards Alba declares its total and unconditional support for the Peace Process. This is underway between the Colombian government and the insurgent groups FARC-EP and the ELN and is the result of the heroic and untiring efforts of the Colombian people to find a political solution to the social, political and armed conflict of the last 60 years. We similarly support the negotiations initiated by various Colombian popular movement such as the Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Étnica y Popular (Popular, Ethnic, Small Producers and Popular Agrarian Summit); La Mesa Social para La Paz (Social Table for Peace) and the Frente Amplia por la Paz (Broad Front for Peace) to meet the challenge of building a Colombia at Peace with Social and Environmental Justice as demanded by our continent.

Our pro-peace stand is taken in the context of the imperialist offensive headed by the United States against progressive and revolutionary governments; an offensive unleashed after t victories of political and popular forces. In Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti these victories challenged the neo-liberal model and put forward proposals for development and national resistance. In 2005 these led to the FTAA's defeat by revealing very deep fissures in US domination , its transnational companies and its local oligarchic regimes which operated as the Empires protectorates.

The attack by Colombian and US forces on the FARC-EP camp in Sucumbíos (Ecuador) on 1 March 2008 unleashed a military offensive which is still going on, the aim being to surround Venezuela and to destabilize the progressive processes in the region. The most obvious sign of the militarization of our continent and of US intentions to recolonize the hemisphere with fire and sword is shown by the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet and the installation of many military bases. The “soft” coups carried out in Honduras, Paraguay and recently in Brazil are the result of a combination of large scale military actions, economic sabotage and media plots, which, violating all legality, seek to derail the Latin American integration process and the democratization of our countries.

The magnitude of this imperialist global offensive is completely related to the challenge represented by the Bolivarian revolution led by Comandante Hugo Chávez who challenged and challenges US domination and that of its transnational companies and local oligarchies. Faced with the victory in Mar del Plata by the peoples against its annexationist FTAA scheme, the United States, in its eagerness to regain control over the region and surround the BRIC countries, is seeking to crown its economic and military offensive by imposing its so-called free trade schemes such as the TPP-TTIP-TISA , which, if passed, would be even more destructive than the FTAA itself.

The consequences of the neoconservative offensive are demonstrated by Mauricio Macri´s government in Argentina. It is following the old neo-liberal recipe of structural adjustments and privatization, with the intention of making the working class and the popular sectors bear the burden of the crisis by throwing more than 200,000 out of work in less than six months, creating more than 40% inflation, lowering wages and criminalizing protest. These are formulas that are being repeated in all the countries in the Pacific Alliance. Another example of the destruction of the social gains and the advances in the peoples' self-determination can be found in the parliamentary coup which the Brazilian right, headed by Michel Temer --one of the most corrupt figures in continental politics-- is using to kidnap the presidency against the will of more than 54 million Brazilians who still recognise Dilma Rousseff as their legitimate president.

The people have not hesitated in giving their answer; the cases of Argentina and Brazil demonstrate the strength of social and popular movements which will not allow the neo-liberal model to return. Indeed, more than 300,000 workers and about 100,000 students have mobilised in the last few weeks and the Frente Brasil Popular (Brazil Popular Front) has taken over the streets calling for a general strike on 10 June in defence of Democracy and against the attempted coup.

We fully understand that although the right has again taken the initiative on this continent, this is no way implies imperialism´s victory over our lands, neither does it wipe out the gains made by Latin American peoples and progressive governments, gains which transformed regional reality in the 21st century. We cannot ignore the fact that a new continental political subject has arisen, who, acknowledging the legacy of Bolívar, Martí and those who brought about our first independence, is accepting the banner of Latin American integration from the hand of Comandante Hugo Chávez who made socialism the strategic goal for the liberation of our peoples .

We know that mistakes have been made, we have to acknowledge the limitations of the neo-developmentalist projects which did not manage to break dependence on the global market and exporting rentism and which, in many cases, made it possible for a extractionist and agroexporting model to gain ground, a model which causes only the loss of our territories, the degradation of mother earth and the displacement of indigenous, peasant and Black communities. Recent years have made it obvious that the tactic of class conciliation as a way to become the government via an exclusively electoral route does not guarantee real social transformation.

We recognise that the peoples and their community organizations are the transformative force which opened the door to progressive and revolutionary governments. The bulwark of our peoples ‘liberation process lies in popular power and in the new forms of citizenship, in the communities that arose around gender struggles, struggles for sexual diversity, feminist, indigenous, peasant, Black, workers and young peoples' struggles, all of which are building alternatives that go beyond the neo-liberal model and the capitalist system.

As Our American Social and Popular Movements we declare:



descargar en español

May 25, 2016


To the grassroots social movements, organizations and civil society around the world:

BerthaThe death of Berta Cáceres has filled us with indignation. We carry the pain with us, but we also carry the strength of her thought, her work, and the longing for justice. The principles that she fought for are what will save humanity, which is why we call on you to participate in a worldwide protest that will bring all of our voices together to demand justice for Berta Cáceres, justice for Gustavo Castro, justice for COPINH and justice for the people of Honduras.

On June 15th in Honduras social movements and organizations, institutions and people of action will protest to demand the immediate creation of an independent investigative body to transparently, deeply and completely investigate the assassination of our sister and compañera.

On that day we would like our sisters and brothers from other countries in the world to join us by carrying out protest actions in front of the Honduran embassies of your respective countries to demand the following:

The immediate creation of an international, independent investigative body sponsored by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to seek the truth about thise vile crime and assure that all responsible parties are prosecuted.

The immediate and definite cancellation of the concession given to DESA, the company building the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Río Blanco.

The actions carried out by the Honduran state and its organizations are insufficient and are not aimed at achieving justice. On the contrary, they are assuring that this crime will go unpunished.
Let’s join together and put an end to death, impunity and injustice.

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Etempica and Iselaca we raise our voices full of justice freedom, dignity and peace!

Justice for Berta is Justice for the World!
Wake up humanity, there’s no time left!

Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras

-view Facebook Event

May 25, 2016

Register Now

Whose rights are we protecting?

When: Tuesday, June 7 from 5:30 – 7:30
Where: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa
Why: Because your rights are already being affected!

How do trade and investment agreements between countries both directly and indirectly limit developed and developing countries governments' abilities to protect the rights of their citizens and promote a clean environment? And whose rights are protected in their place?

Hear from:

on how core elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) risk undermining a sustainable development agenda that works for people and the planet in Canada and overseas.

Moderated by Hill Times Deputy Editor Peter Mazereeuw.

Organized by the Africa-Canada Forum, Americas Policy Group and Asia-Pacific Working Group of CCIC, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Common Frontiers, Council of Canadians, Inter Pares, School of International Development and Global Studies, and the Trade Justice Network.

Register Now

May 24, 2016

From Canada

By Alfredo Molano Bravo
English Translation by Betty Munera

Canada is one of the countries from the cold North that we have established an active economic relationship with, it has been called “a prosperous friendship.”

The Colombian official economists tend to praise the advantages of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Uribe in 2008 and entered into force in 2011. Canada is one of the largest countries in the world and richer: Our country could fit ten times in their territory and Canadians have five times higher income per person. Prior to the FTA , Canadian investment in Colombia was only about 180 million dollars, after signing the agreement it reached 2,500 million dollars.

Before we used to export coffee, sugar and flowers; Today we export, coal , gold and oil to Canada. These are industrial products, fewer and declining products. From Canada we import wheat, barley, lentils , potatoes, machinery, chemicals and paper. For 13 years the trade balance has been in deficit. However, the main beneficiaries of the treaty are Colombian importers to the detriment of our producers. It should be noted that Canadian direct investment in the country have increased significantly, from around 10 million in 2004 to about 300 million in 2012: Most of that money has been invested in mining and oil.

You find buildings of steel and glass and flat wooden houses in Canada, Except for the Gothic cathedrals and ancient universities in the French area, solemn and not very original public buildings in the capital, Ottawa. Canada doesn’t have issues with space or water. Rural areas are monotonous, except perhaps in the fall. People seem gentle and they don’t wear shoes at home. It is a friendly country for Canadians and livable for foreigners, including refugees, many of them Colombians and not a few of them paramilitaries. The rights of all are respected and you don’t see a single paper lying on the street.

It's another picture when human rights are observed in those areas where Canada invests most of their dollars. I am talking about the mining areas and especially before a single penny has been invested.

Paramilitary groups have entered violently and are protected by the police, as occurred in the region of Llanos Orientales (in the South East of Colombia). Before the oil companies started to operate, – but of course, after their technician detected oil pockets - “Martin Llanos” and “Cuchillo”(paramilitary leaders) entered this area with their men and their chainsaws. The slaughter of Mapiripán spread terror and opened the doors to the investors' security. These cases could increase. Social cleansing precedes massacres and slaughters investments in any areas where large oil, mining, palm, sugar and livestock projects are anticipated.

The strategy is not a Canadian issue; it is our government that allows these policies. Colombian and Canadian Human Rights organizations have highlighted the tragic correlation across the country. Although the two countries have signed a trade agreement and another agreement for human rights assessment, the officials make the final reports, therefore the reality is hidden. Nothing has been said about the outrages of Pacific Rubiales in Puerto Gaitán; threats to traditional miners in Marmato; the suppression of protests in La Colosa, Caramanta, Santurbán or Ariari. Also, in the vast majority of Canadian companies located in Colombia it has not been possible to create unions - only two were possible.

There is a huge discrepancy between the work of Canadian human rights organizations, social and environmental policies and investors. It is urgent that the new Liberal government of Canada address this issue with realism for the sake of the Colombian peace negotiations.

This article originally appeared in El Espectador, a national daily newspaper in Colombia.

May 23, 2016

Canadian organizations condemn Parliamentary coup in Brazil

We are gravely concerned with the recent events undertaken by sections of Brazil’s rightwing opposition parties that have led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. We strongly condemn the parliamentary coup which has been orchestrated against a democratically elected head of state that just 18 months ago was elected by 54 million votes in free, open democratic elections.

On May 12th, Senators voted to suspend President Rousseff by 55 votes to 22 votes. She is accused of illegally manipulating finances yet no evidence has been presented to back the allegations.

The politicians who will take over the government represent the business elites who want to dismantle core social programs implemented by President Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, and instead impose neoliberal policies. These polices have already been rejected by the majority of Brazilians at the ballot box over the past 13 years. Many of these elites are corrupt themselves and have even been involved in the Lava Jato corruption scandal that saw money laundering and price fixing at Petrobras, the state-owned oil company.

President Rousseff’s replacement Vice President, Michel Temer is himself being investigated for receiving over US$ 1.5 million in funds from a construction company that works with Petrobras. The impeachment process was started by the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who has been indicted over corruption charges related to a kickback scheme at Petrobras.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has condemned the move to impeach her as a "coup" and a "farce" against her government. Many organizations nationally and internationally agree.

The political, social and economic instability of this illegal parliamentary coup will have serious implications for all Brazilians and will destabilize the region. Trade unions and social movements in Brazil have denounced violence and physical aggression against them and government supporters.

We call on the international community to condemn the coup.

We call on the Canadian government to not recognize the government of Michel Temer.

ALBA Moviementos Canada
América Latina al Día
BC Government and Service Employees' Union
British Columbia Teachers' Federation
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Common Frontiers
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Circulo Bolivariano Louis Riel
DeColonize Now
Idle No More
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Socialist Project
Students united in representation of Latin America
United Steelworkers

-Download the letter     -en español     -en francés    -em português

May 18, 2016

Letter to President of Honduras by Amnesty Section heads in countries of the Americas

Sr. Juan Orlando Hernández
Presidente de Honduras
Casa Presidencial, Bulevar Juan Pablo II

16 de mayo de 2016

Señor Presidente,

Reciba un saludo cordial de Amnistía Internacional. Como es de su conocimiento, estamos monitoreando de forma permanente el respeto y garantía del derecho de toda persona a promover los derechos humanos, con el apoyo de nuestra membresía de más de 7 millones de personas alrededor del mundo.

En esta ocasión, nos dirigimos a usted para manifestar nuestra profunda preocupación por la situación que enfrentan las defensoras y los defensores de derechos humanos pertenecientes al Pueblo Lenca de Honduras, y para solicitarle que en su calidad de Presidente de la República impulse acciones de reconocimiento y protección eficaces para que estas personas puedan continuar con su trabajo de defensa y promoción de derechos humanos, particularmente de los pueblos Indígenas.

El pasado 2 de marzo del presente año fue asesinada, en La Esperanza - Intibucá, la defensora lenca de derechos humanos Berta Cáceres, cofundadora del Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras COPINH. El estado hondureño tenía una obligación de protección reforzada de dicha defensora, en cuanto era beneficiaria de medidas cautelares desde 2009. Medidas que fueron adoptadas por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos -CIDH, con el objetivo de proteger su vida e integridad personal.

El 5 de marzo la CIDH otorgó medidas cautelares a las y los familiares de Berta Cáceres, y a los y las integrantes del COPINH, ante varios y graves incidentes de seguridad que estaban ocurriendo con posteridad a la muerte de la defensora. Estos incidentes venían a sumarse a los que durante años han sufrido varios miembros del COPINH.

-Leer toda la carta

May 14, 2016

Honduras, Canada's free trade, and assassinating the opposition

Dan Kellar talks to Raul Burbano of about Honduras, Free Trade, and Berta Caceras

-Link to Podcast Page on

This episode is an interview with Raul Burbano of Common Frontiers on the group's role in researching and exposing Canada's ongoing role in supporting the post-coup governments in Honduras, including the horrific situation faced by Indigenous people and others opposed to the government's environmental, economic, and social policies.

Raul discusses the ongoing resistance of people in Honduras, including many Indigenous communities to the corrupt post-coup governments despite being violently repressed, including the March 2016 targeted assassinations of Berta Cáceras and Nelson Noé García Laínez from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). More than 100 environmental, labour, and social justice activists have been similarly murdered since the coup.

We also discuss the 2013 free trade agreement between Canada and the Honduran government, and how the "soft coup" has become an increasingly used tactic of the neo-liberal capitalists, as is being witnessed this week in Brazil with the right-wing action to impeach the centre-left president and replace the cabinet with an all-white, all-male conglomeration of conservatives. Raul encourages those in Toronto to join the Sunday May 15th 1pm demo at the Consulate General of Brazil.

-more information and listen to the podcast

May 13, 2016

Rally against the Coup in Brazil - Sunday May 15th @ 1 pm

Sunday, May 15th
77 Bloor St. West, In front of the Consulate General of Brazil
1:00 pm

Join us in front of the Consulate General of Brazil for rally against the Coup in Brazil and in solidarity with popular movements throughout Brazil.

On May 12th, Brazilian Senators voted to back the impeachment trial which has led to the suspension of President Rousseff, while thousands of people gathered throughout Brazil to protest this act. The suspension of President Rousseff is an institutional and anti-democratic coup that goes against the will of 54 million voters. It was orchestrated by the most rightwing and conservative sectors of Brazilian society, particularly the neoliberal business class, subservient to US interests and its companies.

Those who seek take over the government are business elites who want to dismantle core social programs implemented by President Rousseff Workers’ party, and impose neoliberal policies, that have been rejected by the majority of Brazilians over the past 13 years at the ballot box. These elites, many of whom are corrupt themselves with some involved in the Lava Jato scandal into money laundering and price fixing at Petrobras, the state-owned oil company.

We call on the international community to condemn the coup. We call on the Canadian government not to recognize the government of Michel Temer.

-For more information see the FaceBook page


May 12, 2016

MST Statement on the withdrawl of President Dilma Rousseff

This is an institutional and anti-democratic coup that disrespects the will of 54 million voters.

The Landless Workers Movement (MST) publicly expresses its disgust and dissatisfaction regarding the decision of the Senate, this Thursday (12), in admitting the process of impeachment against President Dilma Roussef and temporarily withdrawing her from the post. We are sure, as stated in the text of the case, that the President did not commit any crime with fiscal peddling. If this is to be considered crime, the vice president, Michel Temer, who now assumes as President, and Senator Anastasia, the rapporteur of the process and former governor of Minas Gerais, should also be accused.

This is an institutional and anti-democratic coup that disrespected the will of 54 million voters and was orchestrated by the most conservative sectors of society, particularly the neoliberal business, subservient to the interests of US companies. A coup supported by a permanent campaign of mass media - especially Globo - and by a selective action of the sectors of the judiciary.

The coup endorsed by the Senate does not only disrespects the views of the public about who should be the head of state, but, as announced by Temer, intends to apply a recessive and neoliberal program, one that left sad memories for the Brazilian people in the times of the Collor-Cardoso governments . It is anti-popular, and represents a social backlash that was repeatedly rejected by the majority at the polls. Unable to live with democracy and submit to the popular will, the elites withdrawn the President without any evidence of crime, just so their project of social cuts, unemployment and privatization is taken into place.

Michel Temer's "Bridge to the recession" will only lead to accentuation of social and economic crisis and widen the political instability of the country.The new announced government , for its history, does not represents a rupture with the corrupt methods, which we all have denounced in the streets.

We hope that the Senate will redeem itself when it judges the merit. And if it does not, the democratic party forces against the coup should appeal to the Supreme Court. Brazilian society knows we are facing an economic, political, social and environmental crisis. This crisis will not be overcome with coups. It is needed a broad debate in society that agglutinates most popular and social forces, to seek to build a new country project to confront the crisis.

Regarding the established political crisis, we defend, along other popular movements, that only a deep political reform that returns to the people its right to choose their legitimate representatives, can be a real way out. The current Congress has no condition or political will to do so. Hence the need for the Senate to approve the holding of the plebiscite that gives the people the right to convene a constituent assembly, to take forward a political reform to conduct general elections in democratic conditions.

The MST will remain mobilized in defense of democracy and social rights, together with Brazil Popular Front and the thousands of workers who will not accept the coup. We will keep our struggle against landlordism and agribusiness, for a popular agrarian reform and for the constitutional right of all rural workers to have land and dignified life in the rural areas.

No to the coup! Temer out!

MST National Coordination
Brasilia, May 12, 2016

May 11, 2016

Open letter to the president of the world bank - Dr. Jim Yong Kim

Common Frontiers along with 313 other organizations from around the world sent a letter to the president of the world bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim rejecting his statements when he suggested the murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras is collateral damage in their work... “you cannot do the work were trying to do and not have some of these incidents happen.”

Dr. Jim Yong Kim
World Bank Group

Ref: Statements on April 6th, at the Union Theological Seminary in New York on “the Principle of Mercy"

Dear Dr. Kim,

We, the 313 undersigned organizations and 31 individuals wish to express our rejection of your statements made on April 6th, at the end of your speech at Union Theological Seminary in New York. As seen in a video made public when responding to a question about the impacts of large dam projects as illustrated by the murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras, you state, among other things, that “you cannot do the work we‟re trying to do and not have some of these „incidents‟ happen.”

Regarding your unfortunate response, we would like to clarify the following:

As organizations working tirelessly to stop human rights violations and harm to the environment, we reject your assessment of the murder of leader Berta Cáceres and we demand that you correct your statements. Furthermore, we urge you to apologize to Berta Cáceres‟ family and to the community of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, indigenous, afro-descendant, and rural communities, among others, that have been affected by your statements. We thank you beforehand for your attention to this urgent matter and we await your response.

-download the complete letter    -descargar la carta completa

May 11, 2016


by Stewart Vriesinga

How one views the prospects for peace in Colombia depends on how one understands the conflict and how one defines peace. There are many different stakeholders, each with competing and often conflicting interests.

The ongoing peace negotiations with the Colombian Government and left-wing FARC guerrilla insurgents in Havana, along with a more recent government commitment to enter into a separate talks with the ELN insurgents in Ecuador, are being celebrated both nationally and internationally as the imminent end to the fifty-year conflict in Colombia. Not everyone in Colombia is ready to break out the champagne and celebrate just yet. There remains a great deal of concern over what may happen in a post conflict Colombia.

FARC demobilization postponed indefinitely: The demobilization of the FARC, which was originally expected to take place on March 23rd, 2016, has been postponed indefinitely. The FARC still agrees to disarm, but insist that a third party, not the Colombian government, take custody of their arms. This implies that they want to retain the option of rearming should they decide the government is not keeping its end of the agreement. More significantly it may also imply the FARC wants the government to first put an end neo-paramilitary groups, which are considered by many to be a far greater on-going threat to human rights than the FARC. Their concern is that these neo-paramilitaries, not the government, would fill the vacuum in territory currently occupied by the FARC and ELN. These concerns are well-founded. In a recent demonstration of power (March 31st, 2016) one such group paralyzed the entire northern part of Colombia; the Urabeños have made it absolutely clear that they, not the state, are the authority in much of Colombia.

The Urabeño paramilitary shut-down is widely held to have been in support of “Marches against Peace” held across the country two days later (Saturday, April 2nd). Hundreds of thousands of supporters of ex-president Uribe, opposing the Santos Government and the Peace Accord and negotiations with the FARC, took to the streets in cities across Colombia. It is noteworthy that former President Alvaro Uribe is himself under suspicion for collaborating with paramilitaries, and accused of playing an active role in Parapolitics, which involved many high-level officials in the military, all levels of government, his own Party and Cabinet, as well as some of his political appointees. Many of of these have been convicted and are now in exile or serving lengthy prison sentences for having collaborated with paramilitaries. The current President, Juan Manuel Santos, denies the existence of paramilitaries. He considers groups like the Urabeños as nothing more than organized criminals involved in drug trafficking and illegal gold mining, not major players in the military conflict, and insists that state will prosecute them as such (see “Failed demobilization of the Paramilitaries in the 2006” below). The Urabeños themselves claim they are politically motivated, and should therefore be included in the clemency being offered to left-wing guerrilla and military combatants under the terms of the transitional justice.

-read the complete post

May 10, 2016

Demonstration at the Trade Committee Hearing on the TPP


On Friday, May 13, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will hold hearings in Toronto on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that accounts for 40 percent of the global economy, but which was negotiated in secrecy.

Please join Unifor, OpenMedia, the Council of Canadians, Leadnow, Common Frontiers, and the Trade Justice Network outside of the Trade Committee hearing venue as we gather to voice our concerns with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

-See FaceBook page for more details

MAY 13, 10:00am - 12:30pm
Ritz Carleton, Toronto
"Public" Hearings on the TPP!!!

May 9, 2016

The TPP, economic crisis and the context for education

In association with the Tri-national Conference in Defense of Public Education, the BC Teachers’ Federation is hosting a public event related to the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and its economic and social context.


The TransPacific Partnership (TPP) brings new focus to a decades-long use of “trade agreements” to enforce corporate rule over government action on the environment, regulation and social needs. This event brings perspectives from the three NAFTA countries about the impact of trade agreements, globalization and austerity.

Thursday, May 12, 2016
7 pm to 9 pm
BC Teachers’ Federation Office
550 West Sixth, Vancouver
(across from the Olympic Village station on the Canada Line)

The meeting will be available on the BCTF Livestream channel, live and archived after the seminar.

May 2, 2016

CERLAC Upcoming Event:
"Soft Coups?" Comparing recent events in Brazil, Honduras, and Paraguay.

Monday, May 9, 2016
2183 Vari Hall, York University
10:00 am - 12:30 pm

All are welcome!

Brazil is in a state of political crisis which some people are calling a coup. What's going on? How is this related to the sudden changes of government in Honduras in 2009 and Paraguay in 2012? Scholars and activists will debate these complex issues.
-Click on poster below for more information

CERLAC event


May 1, 2016

Land and Social Justice in the Colombian Peace Process
A conversation with Alfredo Molano on the critical elements for an inclusive peace.

Alfredo Molano's current tour in Canada comes at a critical moment as the Colombian Peace talks continue. It is hoped that current negotiations to will lead to an agreement to end the five decades long conflict, which has created more than 6.7 million victims and taken at least 220,000 lives. Molano’s intellectual contributions highlight the importance of addressing longstanding issues including inequality, rural development, land rights, democracy and the rise of paramilitarism in the country.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
5 to 7 p.m.
Human Rights Research and Education Centre
Fauteux Hall – FTX570
(57 Louis Pasteur, uOttawa)

The event will be in English and Spanish.


-More information

April 22, 2016

Aura Minerals accused of exposing Azacualpa residents to cyanide leaching through gold mine

Activists say Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's office should come to the aid of Honduran villagers who are allegedly being exploited by a Canadian mining company. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

By Mike Blanchfield
The Canadian Press

A Canadian human rights delegation urged Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's office Wednesday to come to the aid of Honduran villagers they say are being exploited by a Canadian mining company.

The group — including First Nations women leaders, the organization MiningWatch Canada, lawyers and activists — visited Honduras this past week and want to draw attention to the plight of villagers in Azacualpa.

The group says in a brief presented to Dion's office that the operations of Toronto-based Aura Minerals are affecting the health of villagers by exposing them to cyanide leaching and from its open-pit gold mine.

They also say the company wants to move both the villagers and their community graveyard. They're also calling on the Canadian embassy to stop supporting the company's activities in Honduras.

A request to the company for comment went unanswered Wednesday.

The rights group says it is troubling that the Canadian government has deepened economic relations with Honduras, including signing a free-trade agreement, following the country's 2009 military coup.

"We would like Canada to make a little bit more noise," said Catherine Morris, the research director for Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, a delegation member.

Aura Minerals' open-pit gold mine in Azacualpa is detrimental to the health of local villagers, activists allege. (Courtesy of MiningWatch Canada)

Dion's spokesman Joe Pickerill said in an emailed statement that the government is committed to demonstrating leadership on corporate social responsibility.

"Canadians expect our businesses operating abroad to respect human rights, labour rights, all applicable laws, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner," he said.

In 2014, the previous Conservative government announced the creation of a revamped, corporate social responsibility counsellor that would screen foreign community complaints about mining operations and companies. Companies that refused to co-operate with the counsellor would lose government support.

The new counsellor does not have the power to compel mining companies to co-operate, but some non-governmental organizations saw it as a positive step after more than a decade of advocating for tougher scrutiny of Canadian overseas mining operations.

Liberal MP John McKay recently called for stricter oversight of Canadian mining companies because they periodically face accusations that they are violating local laws and human rights, despite overall improvements in the industry.

April 22, 2016

Canada Has Blood On Its Hands; Justice in Honduras Requires a U-Turn in Canadian Foreign Policy

(Ottawa) First Nations women leaders, legal and human rights activists are calling on the Canadian government to take a lead in calling for an independent, international investigation into the murder of world-renowned Indigenous activist, Berta Cáceres, and to investigate Canada’s engagement with the Central American country since a 2009 military-backed coup.

The group returned to Ottawa on Tuesday after a seven day trip to Honduras that was organized in the wake of the brutal murder of Indigenous and environmental activist Berta Cáceres on March 2, followed by the murder of Nelson García on March 15. Berta Cáceres was a Indigenous, feminist and environmental activist and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize whose murder sparked an unprecedented outcry around the world for justice, truth and reparation in Honduras. García was member of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), an organization that Cáceres co-founded.

Delegations from twenty two countries turned out to participate in an international gathering organized by COPINH and others in Honduras last week. Despite the strong international presence, a caravan to commemorate Berta’s life along the Gualcarque river was violently assaulted on April 15.

“We saw first hand how police collude with violent men to protect powerful interests. When members of COPINH led a caravan of Honduran and international activists down to the Gualcarque river to commemorate Berta Cáceres’ life, police stood with their shields facing peaceful protesters while armed men behind them yelled threats at members of COPINH,” described Mary Hannaburg, member of the Mohawk Nation and Québec Native Women.

“When the same armed group threw rocks and threatened peaceful caravan participants with machetes, injuring at least eight people, no one was detained or arrested. Meanwhile, COPINH members have been treated as if they’re criminals and the right of the Lenca Indigenous people to free, prior and informed consent over hydroelectric and mining concessions completely disregarded,” said Ms. Hannaburg.

Honduran investigators looking into the murder of Berta Cáceres were quick to go after members of COPINH after her assassination, calling it a crime of passion and trying without success to pin it on internal divisions within her organization. Meanwhile, they were slow to consider possible links with the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project and other megaprojects on Lenca territory, about which Berta was outspoken and had received numerous documented threats, leading to an order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the Honduran state to guarantee her and COPINH’s safety.

The only viable option for an independent, impartial and thorough investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres is for a team of international, independent investigators to be engaged under the auspices of the IACHR. Canada could take an important lead to urge the Honduran government to enter into such an arrangement,” stated Catherine Morris, delegation member and research director for Lawyers Rights Watch Canada.

Currently, the Honduran government is promoting involvement in the investigation of an OAS-backed anti-corruption unit in Honduras (MACCIH by its initials in Spanish).

“It would be deeply disturbing if the Canadian government decided to back this option, given that MACCIH neither has the mandate, the independence, nor the trust of Berta’s family and COPINH to properly engage in the investigation,” remarked Ms. Morris.

The delegation also questioned Canada’s role in Honduras during and since the 2009 military-backed coup, since which time over 100 activists fighting for land and a safe environment have been murdered.

The Canadian delegation visited a community in the department of Copán where Toronto-based Aura Minerals operates the San Andrés gold mine. They heard about the prevalence of health problems among children, as well as concerns about broken agreements, and the possible destruction of the community cemetery. Members of the local environmental committee in this area have also received death threats.

“The impacts that communities face around Canadian mining projects in Honduras are not much different from what we confront in Canada. But the situation is much more dire in the region right now for those who dare to speak out about impacts on health, land, sacred spaces and their community fabric,” stated Bev Sellars, Counsellor from Xat’sull/Soda Creek First Nation and Chair of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining.

Nonetheless, since 2009, in the context of widespread repression and impunity, the Canadian government ratified a free trade agreement with Honduras in 2014 and provided technical assistance to a new mining code passed in 2013 that provides little protections for people and the environment, while it favours companies.

“Canada has blood on its hands and unless things change significantly, a bad situation will only continue to get worse in Honduras and in other parts of Latin America where community activists are regularly criminalized and killed,” concluded Sellars.

For more information or to set up an interview with delegation participants, contact:

Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator,
MiningWatch Canada,
jen(at), (613) 569-3439

April 21, 2016

Media Release

Trans-Pacific Partnership expands migrant worker regime: study

studyOTTAWA—As parliamentary consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) begin, a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) raises questions about the deal’s consequences for Canadian immigration policy and the Canadian labour market.

“The TPP gives employers a new pathway to hire and transfer workers across borders, even where local unemployment is high and domestic workers are available,” says Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a researcher at the CCPA and author of Migrant Workers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: A regulatory impact analysis of the TPP’s temporary entry provisions.

According to the study, the TPP will prevent Canada from imposing limits on the number of foreign workers who can be brought into the country, provided they meet the criteria outlined in the deal.
“To make matters worse, workers themselves receive no mobility rights under the TPP,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “These rules are designed to give employers more labour market flexibility, not to benefit workers in Canada or other TPP countries.”

Key findings from the study include:

“If there are gaps in the Canadian labour market, they should be filled through permanent immigration or through greater education and skills training,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “Opening the floodgates to more migrant labour fails to address the long-term needs of the domestic labour market and does so with negative knock-on effects for Canadian workers and migrant workers alike.”

The study is the latest in the CCPA’s ongoing research series on the TPP, What’s the Big Deal: Understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Migrant Workers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: A regulatory impact analysis of the TPP’s temporary entry provisions is available on the CCPA website.

For more information contact:
Kerri-Anne Finn,
CCPA Director of Communications
613-563-1341 x306.

April 20, 2016

Favourable decision on Bill 115 Charter Challenge

(Toronto)— In an 84 page decision released today, Justice Thomas R. Lederer ruled in favour of the Charter challenge to Bill 115. In 2012, the Ontario government eliminated free collective bargaining, the right to strike and imposed contracts across the education sector.

OSSTF/FEESO President Paul Elliott noted “that Justice Lederer confirmed what we believed all along.”  The Court found that “considering the overall process undertaken, the actions of the Ontario government substantially interfered with meaningful collective bargaining.”  The Court also found the Ontario government’s approach to bargaining was “ill-conceived.”

“It is unfortunate that the government’s approach created such unnecessary and negative consequences for the education sector,” added Elliott. “And we are pleased that the Court has reconfirmed the importance of free, fair and meaningful collective bargaining,” he concluded.

This Court decision is a result of action taken by unions including OSSTF/FEESO, ETFO, CUPE, OPSEU and Unifor.

OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.

Contact: Paul Elliott, President
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
416-751-8300 or 1-800-267-7867

April 19, 2016

Media Advisory

Canadian human rights delegation to speak about first-hand experience of violence during fact-finding mission to Honduras

A Canadian human rights delegation just back from a fact-finding visit to Honduras will hold a press conference to make public:

The press conference will take place:
Thursday April 21 at 10 AM
Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa


The delegation went to gather first-hand testimony about the threats community activists face. Since a military-backed coup in 2009, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend Indigenous and human rights. The murder of Berta Cáceres on March 2 has brought international attention to this dire situation. Despite this climate of fear and impunity, the Canadian government struck a free trade agreement with Honduras in recent years and provided technical assistance to a new mining code that provides little protections for people and the environment.

For more information:

-consultatif télécharger des médias en français

April 18, 2016

After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington


By Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept

BRAZIL’S LOWER HOUSE of Congress on Sunday voted to impeach the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, sending the removal process to the Senate. In an act of unintended though rich symbolism, the House member who pushed impeachment over the 342-vote threshold was Dep. Bruno Araújo, himself implicated by a document indicating he may have received illegal funds from the construction giant at the heart of the nation’s corruption scandal. Even more significantly, Araújo belongs to the center-right party PSDB, whose nominees have lost four straight national elections to Rousseff’s moderate-left PT party, with the last ballot-box defeat delivered just 18 months ago, when 54 million Brazilians voted to re-elect Dilma as president.

Those two facts about Araújo underscore the unprecedentedly surreal nature of yesterday’s proceedings in Brasília, capital of the world’s fifth-largest country. Politicians and parties that have spent two decades trying, and failing, to defeat PT in democratic elections triumphantly marched forward to effectively overturn the 2014 vote by removing Dilma on grounds that, as today’s New York Times report makes clear, are, at best, dubious in the extreme. Even The Economist, which has long despised the PT and its anti-poverty programs and wants Dilma to resign, has argued that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” and “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.”

Sunday’s proceedings, conducted in the name of combating corruption, were presided over by one of the democratic world’s most blatantly corrupt politicians, House speaker Eduardo Cunha (above, center), who was recently discovered to have stashed millions of dollars in secret Swiss bank accounts that have no possible non-corrupt source and who lied under oath when he denied to Congressional investigators that he had foreign bank accounts. Of the 594 members of the House, as the Globe and Mail reported yesterday, “318 are under investigation or face charges” while their target, President Rousseff, “herself faces no allegation of financial impropriety.”

One by one, corruption-stained legislators marched to the microphone to address Cunha, voting “yes” on impeachment by professing to be horrified by corruption. As preambles to their votes, they cited a dizzying array of bizarre motives, from “the fundamentals of Christianity” and “not to be as red as Venezuela and North Korea” to “the evangelical nation” and “the peace of Jerusalem.” The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts captured just some of the farce:

Yes, voted Paulo Maluf, who is on Interpol’s red list for conspiracy. Yes, voted Nilton Capixaba, who is accused of money laundering. “For the love of God, yes!” declared Silas Camara, who is under investigation for forging documents and misappropriating public funds.

It is highly likely that the Senate will agree to hear the charges, which will result in the 180-day suspension of Dilma as president and the installation of the pro-business Vice President Michel Temer from the PMDB party. The vice president himself is, as the New York Times put it, “under scrutiny over claims that he was involved in an illegal ethanol purchasing scheme.” Temer recently made it known that one of the leading candidates to head his economic team would be the chairman of Goldman Sachs in Brazil, Paulo Leme.

If, after trial, two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict, Dilma will be permanently removed. Many suspect that one core objective in impeaching Dilma is to provide a cathartic sense for the public that corruption has been addressed, all designed to exploit Temer’s newfound control to prevent further investigations of the dozens upon dozens of actually corrupt politicians populating the leading parties.

-read more on the Intercept site

April 12, 2016

Media Release

Canadian Delegation to Participate in the International Gathering Celebrating the Life of Berta Cáceres in Honduras

(Ottawa/Montreal) Today, the Canada Honduras Delegation for Justice, Land and Life is traveling to Tegucigalpa for the International Peoples Gathering ‘Berta Cáceres Lives’. First Nations women leaders, lawyers, filmmakers and solidarity activists make up the delegation that has been organized in the wake of the murder of Berta Cáceres’ on March 3rd, followed closely by her colleague Nelson Garcia’s murder on March 14th.

Berta Cáceres was a Indigenous, feminist and environmental activist and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize whose murder has sparked an unprecedented outcry around the world for justice, truth and reparation in Honduras. Berta and the organization that she helped found, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), have been fighting powerful economic and political interests to keep hydroelectric dams and mining concessions off of Indigenous Lenca territory.

“From the get go, the investigation into Berta’s murder and the attempted murder against Mexican activist Gustavo Castro, who was with her at the time, has been fraught with irregularities. Yet, the Canadian government’s response has been insufficient, failing to question this process. We will be documenting what we hear to bring that back to Ottawa next week,” remarked Catherine Morris from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada.

Berta’s family and COPINH have denounced Honduran officials as incapable of undertaking a full and impartial investigation, outing one official for close ties to the hydroelectric company that Berta was protesting and citing bias against her, given prior attempts to legally persecute her on baseless charges. They insist that the Honduran government needs to reach an agreement with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to involve a group of independent, international experts in the investigation.

“We know that Berta’s murder is just the tip of the iceberg. We are going to Honduras to hear first-hand about the deadly environment that community activists face and how the Canadian government and business have been taking advantage of the repressive context to facilitate economic interests. We need this to change,” remarked Mary Hannaburg, Mohawk Nation Director for Quebec Native Women.

-read the entire release

Contact information:
Delegation in Honduras: Grahame Russell, Rights Action, 011 (504) 9848-4633
Coordination in Ottawa: Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 722-0412
Coordination in Montreal: Marie Eve Marleau, Coordinator, Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL), (514) 257-8710 x 334

April 11, 2016

Land and Social Justice in Colombia:
Prospects for the Peace Deal

Click on image for poster view


April 10, 2016

Reel Activism: Challenging the TPP

Tuesday, April 19, 7 - 9 p.m.
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St., Toronto (1 street west of Bathurst TTC, South of Bloor)
$5-10 suggested donation

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade & corporate rights deal among 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada. Signed on February 4 2016, member nations now have 2 years to ratify this deal.

Very little of the TPP involves trade. Most of it encompasses issues as diverse as how a government regulates corporate activity, what Crown corporations can & cannot do, how long pharmaceutical patents or copyright terms should be, how the Internet is governed, the sharing of personal information across borders, banking & taxation rules, and when a company or investor should be compensated when environmental or public health policies interfere with profits.

Join us on April 19 to discuss the nature and negative impacts of this mega trade deal agreement. Become engaged in challenging the TPP.

- Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers
- Steven Shrybman, Council of Canadians
- Michael Butler, Council of Canadians, health care campaigner
- Jennifer Chesnut, Council of Canadians London chapter

Hosted by Reel Activism and the Council of Canadians Toronto chapter
Endorsed by Common Frontiers and People's Climate Movement

More info:
Facebook event listing

April 8, 2016

ALBA Canada condemns the murder of campesino activists from the MST in Brazil

The national articulation of social movements towards ALBA in Canada condemns the military police repression against the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) encampment in the state of Paraná, Brazil on April 7, 2016. Reports state that military Police and security guards from the lumber company, Araupel entered the Dom Tomas Balduino encampment where some 2,500 families were living. They proceeded to expel the families off the land and fired on thousands of families killing two MST campesino activists and wounding many more.

The MST reported the community had been receiving threats from security forces prior to the attack. Adding to that, on April 6th in Paraíba, Ivanildo Francisco da Silva, 46 year-old President of the Workers’ Party (PT) in the Mogeiro municipality was also murdered.

These are not isolated events; the police attack is the latest example of territorial conflicts in Brazil where landless rural workers have long been fighting for access to land and land reform.

The military police that undertook the violent repression at the Dom Tomas Balduino encampment is under Governor Carlos Alberto Richa, of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) party, one of the right-wing parties that is promoting a soft coup against President Dilma Rousseff.

We express our solidarity with Brazil’s MST and all land defenders who seek to claim and protect their land against corporate incursion.

We condemn this cowardly act and join our voices with the MST who are demanding immediate justice for the brutal massacre, land for the tillers and popular agrarian reform.


América Latina al Día
Circulo Bolivariano Louis Riel
Common Frontiers
DeColonize Now
Idle No More
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
Socialist Project
Students united in representation of Latin. America
The Dawn News – International Newsletter of Popular Struggles

To include your signature in the document, please e-mail Raul Burbano at ALBA Canada: burbano(at)

April 6, 2016

Media Release

IACHR Presents Report on Extractive Industries and Human Rights

reportWashington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents the report Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Descendent Communities and Natural Resources: Human Rights Protection in the Context of Extraction, Exploitation, and Development Activities. The report seeks to highlight the breadth and complexity of the problems caused by extractive and development activities in the region, and to set forth a comprehensive framework of Inter-American Human Rights standards on the subject.

Extractive, exploitation, and development activities, which are increasing in the hemisphere, are generally implemented in lands and territories historically occupied by indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, which host a great wealth of natural resources. The Commission does not discourage these projects and recognizes the importance of these initiatives for the economic development of countries in the Americas. However, economic development of Member States cannot be undertaken in disregard of their ineluctable obligations to respect and guarantee human rights.

Host States (where the project takes place) and foreign States (where the business has its headquarters) have specific obligations in this context. The report spells out each of these obligations with a view to making sure that the economic development of countries in the hemisphere is not attained at the expense of the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendent communities. Host States must adopt appropriate and positive steps with due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and redress human rights violations that result from the execution of these projects. Additionally, they must comply with international human rights standards through the adoption and implementation of effective policies, legislation, regulations and through measures to ensure adequate access to justice.

-read the entire media release
-download the full report - PDF

April 5, 2016

OPSEU March to Join the Fight for $15 and Fairness

OPSEU supports the fight for decent work. Join us as we march from OPSEU's annual convention to the Fight for $15 & Fairness Toronto Rally at the Ministry of Labour!

Invite your brothers and sisters, tweet, share, and tag with:
#15andfairness #OntarioWeWant #Fightfor$15&Fairness

Friday, April 15 @ 12 PM
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
255 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2W6

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is currently reviewing all the laws that govern our workplaces. We need better laws to make work decent for all workers, whether they have a union or not. For everyone. The time to act is now!

The Fight for $15 and Fairness is a fight for:


March 27, 2016

The Eagle And The Condor: Justice For Berta Cáceres

By Erica Commanda

Berta Cáceres in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH, and locals maintained a two year protest to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric dam. | Image source:

“They follow me. They threaten to kill me – to kidnap me. They threaten my family. That is what we face,” said Berta Cáceres (Lenca) when talking about the dangers activists face in Honduras. Cáceres was a prolific environmental and Indigenous rights activist who had the courage to continue to defend the land and her community in the face of corporate and government violence. Sadly, Berta was assassinated in her own home in La Esperanza, Honduras on March 3rd, 2016.

Before her death, Cáceres was instrumental in a campaign against the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam, which was to be built in traditional Lenca territory on the Gulcarque River – without the consent of the Lenca people. Protesters often faced violent attacks from unidentifiable armed forces who have never been brought to justice. Since 2013 three of Cáceres’ colleagues have been killed for protesting the dam, while another, Nelson García, was assassinated just days after her murder. Despite the violence and death toll, the campaign was effective enough to cease the project’s construction and have its funding pulled by Dutch and Finnish development finance companies, FMO and FinnFund.

During her lifetime, Cáceres co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to advocate for Indigenous rights; took on militarized security contractors and the Honduran armed forces during protests; and was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is the highest recognition environmental activists can receive internationally.

Tori Cress
Tori Cress speaks at a protest condemning the assassination of Berta Cáceres in Toronto, March 11, 2016 | Image source: Fernando Arce

On March 11, 2016, Idle No More Toronto and Common Frontiers Canada united to call on the Canadian government to condemn the assassination of Cáceres in a co-organized protest outside of Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland’s office. “Indigenous land defenders like Berta are often the target of corporations, who are in collusion with governments to usurp the lands for mega development projects,” explained Idle No More organizer, Tori Cress (Anishinaabe). Global Witness released a report stating that 109 activists have been killed in Honduras alone between 2010 and 2015, mostly related to resistance of development projects and land disputes. “It’s so dangerous in South America right now because governments have access to corporate money to subdue the Indigenous voices of resistance, quickly, swiftly and with absolutely no regard for human rights,” said Cress.

During the protest, Cress stressed the importance of Indigenous nations from the Northern and Southern Hemisphere working together. “We can become united and really have an uprising of Indigenous people around the world,” she announced. “The more we gather together, the louder our voices are going to be, the more the Canadian government is going to understand how much we mean business.” Cress has worked to unite the Northern and Southern Indigenous cultures by promoting Indigenous sovereignty and decolonization through social media, the organization of rallies and community outreach.

As the protest came to a close, Cress talked about the significance of The Eagle and Condor Prophecy. In Anishinaabe teachings, the eagle represents love because it flies closest to the Creator giving far reaching sight to the seekers below. Like the eagle, the condor is sacred because of it’s ability to fly high altitudes and is believed to be the messenger between heaven and earth. The prophecy states: when the eagle of the North and the condor of the South fly together, there will be peace upon the Earth. The eagles of the North cannot be free without the condors of the South.

“We need to work together on a global scale,” Cress said. “We need to make sure that we fulfill the Eagle and Condor prophecy. We need to stand together. Then they can’t get through us.”

The eagle and condor prophecy calls for the uniting of Southern and Northern Indigenous nations. | Image source:


March 25, 2016

Statement of Solidarity with BlackLivesMatterTO Coalition

CUPE Ontario adds support to call to Rally on March 26

We Will Win

Anti-Black racism is real. As Ontario’s community union, CUPE Ontario advocates for strong, healthy communities that are safe for everyone. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter – Toronto because CUPE members face anti-Black racism. We support Black Lives Matter because this is about us—about our members, our families, and our communities. But this is also about solidarity against oppression. We are proud to stand with Aboriginal groups, the student movement, and other allies in the fight against anti-Black racism.

We are pleased that the hard work of the Black Lives Matters – Toronto Coalition has led to the restoration of Afrofest to a two-day festival. But we urgently call on Mayor John Tory, Chief Mark Saunders, and Premier Kathleen Wynne to take immediate action to implement BLMTO’s other essential demands:

The labour movement must not stand idly by in anti-racist struggles. CUPE Ontario is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with BLMTO in workplaces and communities in Toronto and beyond to hold our elected politicians to account and demand that, as a starting point, they implement the above changes to address anti-Black racism.

-More information on BLM TO’s Rally on March 26th

March 23, 2016

Overthrowing (Brazilian President) Dilma Rousseff

It’s Class War, and Their Class is Winning

By Alfredo Saad Filho
The Bullet

Supporters of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva confront police officers in front of Lula's apartment in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, 4 March 2016

Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of the state jams; the veils of consent are torn asunder and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked. Brazil is living through one of those moments: it is dreamland for social scientists; a nightmare for everyone else.

Dilma Rousseff was elected President in 2010, with a 56-44 percent majority against the right-wing neoliberal PSDB (Brazilian Social
Democratic Party) opposition candidate. She was re-elected four years later with a diminished yet convincing majority of 52-48 percent, or a majority of 3.5 million votes.

Dilma's second victory sparked a heated panic among the neoliberal and U.S.-aligned opposition. The fourth consecutive election of a President affiliated to the centre-left PT (Workers’ Party) was bad news for the opposition, because it suggested that PT founder Luís Inácio Lula da Silva could return in 2018. Lula had been President between 2003 and 2010, and when he left office his approval ratings hit 90 percent, making him the most popular leader in Brazil's history. This likely sequence suggested that the opposition could be out of federal office for a generation. The opposition immediately rejected the outcome of the vote. No credible complaints could be made, but no matter; it was resolved that Dilma Rousseff would be overthrown by any means necessary. To understand what happened next, we must return to 2011.

Booming Economy

Dilma inherited from Lula a booming economy. Alongside China and other middle-income countries, Brazil bounced back vigorously after the global crisis. GDP expanded by 7.5 percent in 2010, the fastest rate in decades, and Lula's hybrid neoliberal-neodevelopmental economic policies seemed to have hit the perfect balance: sufficiently orthodox to enjoy the confidence of large sections of the internal bourgeoisie, and heterodox enough to deliver the greatest redistribution of income and privilege in Brazil's recorded history, thereby securing the support of the formal and informal working class. For example, the minimum wage rose by 70 percent and 21 million (mostly low-paid) jobs were created in the 2000s. Social provision increased significantly, including the world-famous Bolsa Família conditional cash transfer programme, and the government supported a dramatic expansion of higher education, including quotas for blacks and state school pupils. For the first time, the poor could access education as well as income and bank loans. They proceeded to study, earn and borrow, and to occupy spaces previously monopolized by the upper middle class: airports, shopping malls, banks, private health facilities and roads, that were clogged up by cheap cars purchased in 72 easy payments. The government coalition enjoyed a comfortable majority in a highly fragmented Congress, and Lula's legendary political skills managed to keep most of the political elite on side.

Then everything started to go wrong. Dilma Rousseff was chosen by Lula as his successor. She was a steady pair of hands and a competent manager and enforcer. She was also the most left-wing President of Brazil since João Goulart, who was overthrown by a military coup in 1964. However, she had no political track record and, it would later become evident, lacked essential qualities for the job.

-read more

March 21, 2016

Indigenous Rights Under Attack: Canadian economic and political interests over human rights

By Jackie Mcvicar
Canadian Dimension

Illustration by LargeMarge

No one defending their land and territory in Honduras is safe. That was the message that rang loud and clear after Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home on March 3. Cáceres, an Indigenous Lenca woman, mother and grandmother was founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and worked tirelessly to protect communities at risk of eviction and relocation because of large scale projects that put their lives and livelihoods at risk. Despite being internationally recognized, most recently after winning the 2015 Goldman Prize, Berta was killed in her home by unknown gunmen. Her Mexican friend and colleague, Gustavo Castro, founder and director of Chiapas-based Otros Mundos (Other Worlds/Friends of the Earth Mexico), was also wounded in the attack. At the time of her murder, Berta was the beneficiary of precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights - an order with which the Honduran State did not comply.

Berta and her colleagues have repeatedly denounced the criminalization, threats and violent repression that Indigenous communities have faced for defending their homes against the transnational extractive industry. Even before the 2009 coup d’état, communities had spoken out against the Agua Zarca Dam along the Gualcarque River in Intibucá, Western Honduras, sacred to the Lenca People who depend on it for their subsistence. Later, communities found out that another hydropower project along the nearby Canjel River was also being built and began a series of protests to denounce the project.

Hydrosys Consultants, with Canadian offices in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Vancouver is a key player in the Canjel Hydropower Project. According to its website, Hydrosys currently has four projects in Honduras and four others in the region. In terms of the Canjel project, the company is responsible for “Detailed engineering, regulatory authorizations and permits approval process, plans and specifications for the construction, supervision and management of the construction and commissioning.”

The problem with the Canjel project and the permit approval process, for which Hydrosys is responsible, is that the Indigenous Lenca People have not been meaningfully consulted about the project, putting the Honduran state in violation of International Labour Organization Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous People, of which it is signatory. In addition, Berta and other Indigenous community members have consistently denounced the Honduran State and the companies involved, including Hydrosys, for moving forward with the licenses for this project without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous community.

-read more

March 18, 2016




When: Monday March 21st @ 4:30 pm
Where: Cloud Gardens 14 Temperance Street (Queen Subway station)
Honduran activist Nelson Noe García Lainez was murdered on Tuesday, becoming the second member of the Indigenous group Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to be shot to death in Honduras the last two weeks. He was gunned down upon arriving at his home in the Rio Lindo community in the department of Cortés, less than two weeks after the shooting death of Berta Cáceres.

Berta Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Golman environmental prize, was assassinated in Honduras on Thursday, March 3, 2016. She was an Indigenous Lenca leader, and the coordinator and co-founder of COPINH. Berta was also a leading figure against the 2009 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government in Honduras. Since the coup the human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated as human rights defenders and social movement leaders are systematically criminalized and routinely killed.

Join us to remember Nelson Garcia and Berta Cáceres and all those murdered for protecting their culture and the environment against corporate power.

See Facebook event for more information

March 18, 2016

Another Indigenous Leader Killed in Honduras, Canadian Organizations say Enough is Enough

(Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa) Today, fifty Canadian organizations and networks sent a letter calling on the Canadian Government to pressure Honduran authorities and review Canadian foreign policy after another member of Berta Cáceres’ organization was murdered this week.

On Tuesday, Nelson Noé García Laínez from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered in the community of Río Chiquito. The Indigenous leader was on his way home from helping a group of families that government security forces had just violently evicted when he was shot dead in the face by two unknown gunmen.

In the wake of Berta’s murder on March 3rd, which has generated international shock and dismay, organizations from across Canada find it deeply distressing that the people behind these murders unabashedly continue to pursue and kill members of COPINH.

Amnesty International issued an urgent action on Wednesday describing how COPINH leadership, community radio members, people protesting for justice for Berta Cáceres, one of Berta’s daughters and others have been questioned, stalked, photographed and followed during the past week.

European funders of the Agua Zarca dam project, including Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and FinnFund, responded to the violence by suspending all funding activities to Honduras and deciding to send fact-finding missions to the country.

The Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples also expressed alarm at Honduran authorities’ inability to protect COPINH and Berta’s family, adding that Gustavo Castro - the key witness to Berta’s murder and also a victim of the attack - faces increasing risk. Gustavo has been prevented from leaving Honduras despite a treaty for mutual cooperation in criminal investigations that would permit him to continue participating in the investigation from Mexico.

In response, Canadian organizations have issued a communiqué calling on the Canadian government to urge Honduran authorities to protect COPINH, Berta’s family and Gustavo Castro; to press Honduras to collaborate with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to involve independent, international experts into the ongoing investigation; to call for Gustavo Castro’s safe and immediate return to Mexico; and that the Lenca people’s right to free, prior and informed consent over mega-projects on their lands be respected.

They also call on the Canadian government to reverse its egregious policy toward Honduras to date. Following the military-backed coup in 2009, Canada helped undermine efforts for the return of the democratically elected government of President Mel Zelaya and was quick to support and do business with repressive post-coup administrations. Since this time, over 100 environmental activists have been murdered with Berta’s assassination becoming the most widely known. Meanwhile, Canadian authorities pushed for a new mining law and signed a free trade agreement with Honduras to benefit Canadian investors.

These organizations insist that parliament should investigate the Canadian government’s role in Honduras during and since the coup, cut off support to the Honduran government and security forces, and ensure that no public support is provided to any infrastructure or mega-project that does not have the free, prior and informed consent of affected Indigenous communities.

A full copy of the letter sent today is available in English and French. Additional organizational or network sign-ons are welcome. Individuals are encouraged to respond to an online urgent action to Canadian and Honduran authorities in English/Spanish and French/Spanish. Also urge the safe and immediate return of Gustavo Castro to Mexico using this online action in Spanish.

For more information:

March 18, 2016

NDP statement on the situation in Honduras

Hélène Laverdière, NDP Foreign Affairs critic, and Cheryl Hardcastle, NDP Member of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on International Human Rights made the following statement:

“New Democrats express their profound concern at the worsening situation in Honduras and the targeting of human rights and environmental defenders.

On March 4, prominent indigenous environmental activist and human rights defender Berta Cáceres was murdered, sparking outrage across the international human rights community. This week, her colleague Nelson García was also murdered.

We call on the Government of Canada to unequivocally condemn the murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson García. We further call on Canada to urge the Honduran government to support an independent, international investigation into these murders. We support the request made by the victims’ families for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to create a commission of independent experts, and we urge the Canadian government to help facilitate this request.

We are deeply concerned about the safety of Gustavo Castro, witness to Berta Cáceres’ murder, as reports indicate he is under threat. We urge the Canadian government to call on their Honduran counterparts to ensure Gustavo Castro is protected from reprisals and allowed to testify without threat of violence.

The deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras should be of grave concern to Canada, especially within the context of the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement, which passed despite evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Honduras. Given the presence of Canadian companies operating in Honduras and significant Canadian investment in the country, Canada has a responsibility to ensure that human rights are protected.”

March 13, 2016

Demonstrators demand Canadian government speak up for murdered Indigenous activist

By Fernando Arce
The Dawn

JusticeTORONTO – Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the constituent office of the Ministry of International Trade in Toronto on March 11 to condemn Canada’s commercial involvement with Honduras, where an award-winning Indigenous environmentalist was murdered a week prior.

On March 3, armed men broke in and shot Berta Cáceres to death, a Lenca woman and co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Cáceres, who was 43, had been opposing mega-development projects threatening Indigenous communities for more than 20 years.

The coalition of civil societies leading the demonstration demanded that the Canadian government, which entered into a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras in 2013, condemn the murder. An open letter signed by over 80 organizations from across Canada demanding an independent International investigation involving the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights was also delivered to ministry clerks. NDP members Hélène Laverdière, critic for foreign affairs and Cheryl Hardcastle, part of the Subcommittee for International Human Rights, were two of the signatories.

“Change happens when citizens ban together and demand it,” said Katarina Kahnert-Wolchak, a member of The Delta Now, a grassroots group led by students out of York University working in Solidarity with Honduran Indigenous-Garifuna communities on genocide and land rights issues.

“So we’re demanding Canadian political action. We must hold our political representation accountable for the ramifications of their decisions. That’s why solidarity is so important.”

The group plans to begin a letter- and email-writing campaign targeted at politicians supporting the “oppressive Honduran state.”

Cáceres, who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, had been one of the leading voices of Indigenous resistance in Honduras and Central America.

Since 2006, COPINH and the Rio Blanco community began protesting peacefully against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric generation project on the Gualcarque River, in western Honduras. As of today, the project has been effectively brought to a halt, with stakeholders citing the ongoing resistance and turmoil as the main reasons, including the murder of fellow COPINH leader Tomas Garcia.

Cáceres also led protests against the 2009 parliamentary coup d’état which ousted the democratically-elected government of Manuel Zelaya.

Despite all this, Stephen Harper’s conservatives signed the FTA with a country notoriously known as the “murder capital of the world” and marred by human rights violations. Current Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far also failed to address any of these issues, while Honduran authorities are asking to be included in the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I just want you to realize how negative all these international trade deals are for Indigenous people,” said Tori Cress, an Anishinaabe of the Beausoleil First Nation and Idle No More organizer. “No consultation, no consent in any one of these continents where indigenous people have been colonized. Each one of these Free Trade Agreements directly affect us first. It’s our stolen lands and territories that we’re trying to protect.”

Investigation is a ‘catalogue of failures’

Honduran authorities claim they are working with American law enforcement agencies, including the F.B.I., to investigate the murder, according to a New Yorker article.

But critics are calling for an impartial investigation, citing concerns over the objectivity of the one being led by the Honduran government.

“The investigation undertaken by Honduras, to date, has been a catalogue of failures that seems aimed at criminalizing COPINH and looking everywhere but the source of the threat” said Marilyn McKim, a member of Amnesty International Canada, present at the Toronto rally.

The organization is also demanding that Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican colleague of Cáceres who was shot but survived and is now the only eye witness to the crime, be allowed to return home. Honduran authorities stopped Soto, a sociologist who at the time was with the Mexican ambassador, at the airport after issuing a migratory alert preventing him from leaving the country. Critics, and Soto himself, worry for his safety. Last week, he sent a letter to a local Honduran newspaper stating that he believed investigators had “tampered” with the crime scene.

“Gustavo and Berta have never failed to raise their voices for rights, dignity and justice. Silence was never an option. Silence cannot be an option for us either,” said McKim adding that Soto has collaborated “repeatedly with the investigation and given testimony.”

Cáceres’ legacy

The murder of one of the world’s leading defenders of earth’s natural resources has sparked outrage. It is strengthening Indigenous and civil society movements, and it’s inspiring demonstrators to deepen their struggles.

“Berta’s assassination has left many of us with an important call for action,” said Heryka Miranda, a colleague of both Cáceres and Soto.

“What is it that I, that we, would sacrifice for the planet, for the waters of the earth of humanity? Berta is calling on us as a global family to wake up, because we are running out of time. I am coming out of the shadows … to honour (her), to hold my government accountable using whatever power I may have, using my privilege as a Canadian and United States citizen to continue (her) legacy.”

People who want to take action for Soto are encouraged to send a letter to the Honduras embassy in Canada. For full address details, please go here. They can also contact The Delta Now, one of the grassroots groups at the rally, for more information on their own letter-writing campaign.

March 11, 2016

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Organizations take to streets to denounce brutal assassination of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres

Toronto – A coalition of civil society organizations is demanding action following the tragic murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras. The group is calling on the Canadian government to unequivocally condemn the murder. To pressure the Honduran government to support the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to name a commission of experts who are independent and trusted by National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to supervise, support and participate in the investigations that the General Attorney's Office is currently undertaking.

On Thursday, March 3rd, Berta Cáceres, a 45 year old Indigenous Lenca women and co-founder of COPINH, was murdered after armed men broke down the door to her home and shot her. A Mexican environmental activist who was with Berta, Gustavo Castro Soto, was also shot but survived. Honduran authorities have issued a migratory alert, preventing him from immediately returning to Mexico, provoking concerns for his safety.

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper signed a free trade deal with Honduras in 2013. The Canada-Honduras FTA provided diplomatic and economic backing for an undemocratic government responsible for widespread human rights abuses and economically-motivated violence. The situation in Honduras has continued to deteriorate as Indigenous leaders and environmental activists are routinely assassinated, according to a recent report by Global Witness, an International NGO.

Today, the Canadian government is pushing to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership a deal that looks very similar to the one Canada signed with Honduras.

The murder of Berta Cáceres has mobilized organizations across North America. United Steelworkers National Director Ken Neumann stated “Berta ́s determination as an indigenous leader and environmental activist is an example to all those who continue to fight for the rights of indigenous people and their right to protect their land.”

Idle No More organizer Tori Cress of the Anishinaabe Beausoleil First Nation said “Indigenous land defenders like Berta are often the target of corporations in collusion with governments to usurp their lands for mega development projects. This is very much in line with accusations against Canadian mining corporations, many of whom are accused of displacing Indigenous communities and polluting the environment all over the world.”

Rally organizers will also deliver an open letter signed by over 80 human rights, ecumenical and labour organizations calling on the Canadian government to unequivocally condemn the murder.

WHAT: Rally demanding Justice for Berta
WHERE: 344 Bloor Street West corner of Spadina Avenue
WHEN: Friday March 11 @ 12:30 PM

For more information contact:
Raul Burbano- Program Director – Common Frontiers 416 522-8615,

March 9, 2016

This Friday, Rally for #JusticeForBerta


-For more details, visit this Facebook page

-Read this urgent action flyer about #JusticeForBerta and #SecurityForGustavo

March 7, 2016

USW logo

Urgent measures necessary to ensure Gustavo Castro's security and safe departure from Honduras

Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado,
President of Honduras

Ms. Dolores Jiménez Hernández,
Mexican Ambassador to Mexico in Honduras

Mr. Héctor Alfredo Rangel Gómez,
Head of Foreign Relations,
Mexican Embassy in Honduras,

RE: Urgent measures necessary to ensure Gustavo Castro's security and safe departure from Honduras

Mr. Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández and Mexican authorities in Honduras:

On behalf of more than 240,000 members of the United Steelworkers in Canada, I am writing to you as the President of Honduras and representatives of Mexico in Honduras out of deep concern for the life and security of Gustavo Castro Soto who is currently in a precarious situation after surviving the brutal attack that killed the internationally-renowned human rights defender, Berta Cáceres. As a result of having survived, Gustavo Castro became a key actor in the investigations into the assassination of Ms. Cáceres, also putting him in serious danger.

I understand that the Mexican Embassy in Honduras is taking steps to help ensure Gustavo's security. However, I also understand that his departure from Honduras is being held up and it is not clear what is taking place.

Concurrently, I further understand that Honduran authorities are starting to criminalize members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in connection with Berta's brutal assassination. Not only could this put members of COPINH in danger, I fear that it could also be aimed at distorting the investigation, which must be full and impartial and consider both material and intellectual authors.

I am writing to urge the Honduran government to refrain from criminalizing members of COPINH and to clarify why Gustavo is not being allowed to leave the country in a timely manner.

In addition, I urge the Honduran government and the Mexican Embassy in Honduras to fully guarantee Gustavo Castro's security and to ensure that he will be ensured a safe return to Mexico in an expedited manner.


Ken Neumann
National Director for Canada

cc: Honduras Prosecutor General
Honduras National Human Rights Commission in Tegucigalpa and Intibucá

-Leer esta carta en español

March 6, 2016

Honouring the Life of Berta Cáceres


March 5, 2016

#JusticeforBerta and #SecurityforGustavo

The next 24 hours are crucial! In addition to the urgent action that continues to circulate (in Spanish, English and French) we ask you to send personal and/or organizational letters to the embassies in Honduras from your respective countries demanding security for Gustavo Castro Soto, who continues in Honduras, and that the criminalization against COPINH stop.

Every email, call, mention in social networks is important to ensure Gustavo Castro's security and to support the legitimate struggles of COPINH.


Sample letter:

I am writing to you as the President of Honduras and representatives of Mexico in Honduras out of deep concern for the life and security of Gustavo Castro Soto who is currently in a precarious situation after surviving the brutal attack that killed the internationally-renowned human rights defender, Berta Cáceres. As a result of having survived, Gustavo Castro became a key actor in the investigations into the assassination of Ms. Cáceres, also putting him in serious danger.

I understand that the Mexican Embassy in Honduras is taking steps to help ensure Gustavo's security. However, I also understand that his departure from Honduras is being held up and it is not clear what is taking place.

Concurrently, I further understand that Honduran authorities are starting to criminalize members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in connection with Berta's brutal assassination. Not only could this put members of COPINH in danger, I fear that it could also be aimed at distorting the investigation, which must be full and impartial and consider both material and intellectual authors.

I am writing to urge the Honduran government to refrain from criminalizing members of COPINH and to clarify why Gustavo is not being allowed to leave the country in a timely manner.

In addition, I urge the Honduran government and the Mexican Embassy in Honduras to fully guarantee Gustavo Castro's security and to ensure that he will be ensured a safe return to Mexico in an expedited manner.



March 4, 2016

Assassination of Berta Cáceres sparks outrage

Télécharger la version française
Descargar este artículo en español

We condemn the assassination of Berta Cáceres, general coordinator and co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. Berta was assassinated in La Esperanza, Intibuca after several individuals broke into the house where she was staying and shot and killed her.

An Indigenous Lenca women and community leader, Berta waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam. Just last month, COPINH issued an alert noting that repression and violence against the Rio Blanco community, including Berta Cáceres had escalated as they carried out peaceful actions to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. Due to the violence against her she was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights.

Berta Cáceres was recognized nationally and internationally as an environmentalist who fought for Indigenous rights. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental activists. As part of her recognition speech she spoke of the repression she faced, “they follow me, they threaten to kill me and kidnap my family, this is what we face”.

Berta was also instrumental in leading protests against the 2009 coup that overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup the human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated as human rights defenders and social movement leaders are routinely killed and systematically criminalized.

On October 1, 2014, Canada implemented a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras despite opposition from civil society and labour organizations. The deal provided diplomatic and economic backing to an undemocratic government responsible for widespread human rights abuses, political violence that has generated massive inequality.

We call on the government of Canada to condemn the murder, and to call on the Honduran government to support an independent, international investigation into the murder.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, Hélène Laverdière - critic for foreign affairs and Cheryl Hardcastle - member of House of Commons Subcommittee for International Human
ALBA capitulo Canada
Amnesty International Canada
Association de protection de l'environnement des Hautes-Laurentides
Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
British Columbia Teachers' Federation
Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel
Canada-El Salvador Cooperation for Development
Canadian Jesuits international
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Peace Congress
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Carrefour de solidarité internationale de Sherbooke
Centre international de solidarité ouvrière
Centre de solidarité internationale Corcovado
Centre for Social Justice
Centre justice et foi
Cercle des Premières Nations de l'UQAM
Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean
Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada
Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine
CoDevelopment Canada
Collectif du Mur de femmes contre les oléoducs et les sables bitumineux
Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance
Comité de vigilance de Malartic
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Common Frontiers
Confédération des syndicats nationaux
Confederation of Canadian Unions
Conférence religieuse Canadienne
Coordination du Québec de la Marche mondiale des femmes
Council of Canadians
Development and Peace
Entraide Missionnaire
Faculty Association of the University of St. Thomas
Fédération des femmes du Québec
Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
Felician Franciscan Sisters of Canada
Idle No More
Inter Pares
Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice
Jesuits in English Canada
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
Latin American Canadian Solidarity Association
La Coordination du Québec de la Marche mondiale des femmes
Le Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes signe sa solidarité
Ligue des droits et libertés
Maquila Solidarity Network
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
Mer et Monde
MiningWatch Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Movimiento Farabundista
Norbert Piché, Directeur national Service jésuite des réfugiés
Office for Systemic Justice 
OMI Lacombe Canada
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine
Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Presentation Sisters Newfoundland and Labrador
Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire
Regroupement Vigilance Mines Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Rights Action
Solidarité Laurentides Amérique centrale
Science for Peace
Sept - Îles sans uranium 
SEIU Local 2
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Taproot Faith Community - Toronto
Toronto Archdiocesan Council for Development and Peace
Union Paysanne
United Church of Canada
United for Mining Justice
United Steelworkers
Voyages Inter-cultures

For more information or to sign on contact:
Raul Burbano – Program Director - Common Frontiers
Amelia Orellana - Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine - 514 257 8710 poste 334,

March 3, 2016

Idle No More Stands in Solidarity with the People of Honduras

Honduran Indigenous, environmental rights campaigner and co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her La Esperanza home. Telesur correspondent, Gilda Silvestruci confirmed that the Honduran leader was killed at 0100 local central standard time, on Thursday March 3rd.

Idle No More organizers stand in solidarity with the family of Berta Cáceres, the Lenca people, and the people of Honduras. We extend our deepest condolences for the irreplaceable loss that is felt worldwide.
For years Berta and her family have faced threats of brutal violence while hundreds of her comrades have also been murdered in Honduras defending their territory and rights. Honduras is one of the deadliest places for Indigenous and Environmental activists, and they continue to stand up against one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, in spite the continued threats of violence from US funded police forces and privately hired security guards.

“I've been working on solidarity campaigns with peoples of Central America since I was 17, in other words, for the last 35 years. I joined social movements back then because of the horrific violence, torture, and massacres being rained on the people by those in power. There are many struggles on Earth right now, and in our hemisphere. Let us not forget what has happened in Central America for so long, let us not forget how this is a hemispheric issue, let us honor Berta”. Idle No More Activist, Praba Pilar

We support the call to organize solidarity actions at the embassies of Honduras around the world and we demand:


Mother of All Rivers from Mill Valley Film Group on Vimeo.

The murder of Indigenous peoples across the Americas is at epidemic proportions and it’s time for governments to take action to protect Indigenous lives around the world. It is time for state citizens to rally with us in solidarity around the world to demand justice for the Indigenous People across the globe who are killed just for defending their rights.

Statement and Call to Action in Response to the Assassination of Berta Cáceres: Click Here.

Statement and call to action from La Via Campesina: Click Here.

Photo Credit: The Goldman Environmental Prize

Honduran representation in Canada:

Ottawa — Honduran Embassy - Details and comment forum for the Embassy of Honduras in Ottawa
151 Slater Street, Suite 805-A
Ottawa, ON K1P 5H3
Local: (613) 233-8900
International: +1-613-233-8900

Montreal — Honduran Consulate-General - Details and comment forum for the Consulate-General of Honduras in Montreal
1255 University St., Suite #500
Montreal, QC H3B 3V8
Local: (514) 439-7151
International: +1-514-439-7151

February 24, 2016


Declaración de la II Reunión Mesoamericana de Movimientos Sociales hacia el ALBA

Tegucigalpa, MDC Honduras - 20 y 21 de febrero de 2016

Reunidos en el marco de la II Reunión mesoamericana de articulación de Movimientos Sociales hacia el ALBA, con la participación de dirigentes de los capítulos nacionales de México, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica y Colombia, ante la coyuntura actual, declaramos lo siguiente:

- Expresamos nuestra solidaridad con la compañera Milagros Salas y exigimos su inmediata liberación; Milagros es una luchadora social que ha sido apresada en el marco de una política de criminalización de la protesta en el gobierno de derecha de Mauricio Macri en la hermana República de Argentina.

- Exigimos al gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América, en el marco del restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas con Cuba, el cese definitivo al Bloqueo Económico, Comercial y Financiero impuesto a este hermano país desde el año de 1959. Asimismo, exigimos el levantamiento de la base naval de Guantánamo y la devolución de este territorio al gobierno y pueblo cubano.

- Enviamos nuestro saludo solidario al Presidente Constitucional de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros y a su pueblo, que se encuentran bajo agresión permanente del imperialismo norteamericano con la complicidad de la oligarquía apátrida, que han declarado la guerra contra los procesos de Unidad Latinoamericana y las luchas de liberación de nuestros pueblos.

- Saludamos el proceso de los Acuerdos de Paz entre el Gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP que se realizan en la Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba, así como los diálogos con el ELN, que esperamos que pronto pase a la fase pública de estos diálogos. De forma especial nos solidarizamos con los procesos de paz protagonizados por diferentes expresiones del movimiento popular colombiano como la Mesa Social para la Paz. Esperamos que estos procesos garanticen el fin del conflicto armado, la construcción de la paz con justicia social y el desarrollo pleno del pueblo colombiano; a la vez afirmamos que el curso del proceso de paz, es también el anhelo de todos los pueblos de nuestra América.

- Condenamos la represión sistemática a la que están siendo sometidos los hermanos y hermanas indígenas Lencas en la comunidad de San Francisco de Ojuera, Santa Bárbara, Honduras por defender el Rio Gualcarque de las pretensiones de la empresa transnacional DESA. En clara violación al convenio 169 de OIT.

- Condenamos el vil asesinato de William Juan Mengivar, del Movimiento Gregorio Chávez en la Comunidad de Panamá en el Bajo Aguán, Departamento de Colón, Honduras; así mismo condenamos la represión contra sectores populares que luchan por el derecha a la tierra y la defensa del territorio en la región mesoamericana.

- Demandamos el cese de la represión y criminalización en contra de los defensores del territorio y los Derechos Humanos en Guatemala; nos sumamos a las voces que exigen la libertad de los presos políticos y expresamos nuestra solidaridad con Daniel Pascual dirigente del Comité de Unidad Campesino, que enfrenta un proceso judicial por su papel como defensor de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas.

Esta reunión acuerda también la realización del Foro Mesoamericano de discusión política, ideológica y cultural de cara a impulsar procesos constituyentes, originarios, populares, incluyentes y refundacionales en la región.

Desde este espacio mesoamericano avanzamos en el debate de las ideas de camino a nuestra II

Asamblea Continental de Movimientos Sociales hacia el ALBA.

¡Otro mundo es Posible!

ALBA – Movimientos Sociales
Reunión Mesoamericana

-Descargar la declaración en español     in English

February 23, 2016

No TPP Popular Sector Declaration - Mexico

On January 19, at a meeting in Mexico City, the International Encounter of Social Movements opposed to the TPP, adopted a joint action agenda calling on their respective governments to oppose the Transpacific Partnership Proposal.

Ensuring Human Rights get priority over corporate profits = NO to TPP

1. Negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) behind closed doors violated our human right to be informed and now the governments involved are pressuring their Congresses to ratify the accord. With this in mind, the social organizations from those countries in the Americas involved in the TPP are speaking out in protest against accepting this supranational legislation that has been fashioned behind people’s backs to fulfill the wishes of big capital. We will not stand by and see our human rights violated.

2. Our struggle against the TPP is not only just and legitimate, it is also shared by the United Nations (UN). We declare that the TPP is illegal based on international law and therefore should not be ratified by the legislative powers involved.

3. The international recognition provided to the many different human rights is the product of lengthy struggles by the people leading to an understanding based in International law that these rights must supersede any other type of ‘rights’. For this reason commercial treaties can not be superior to governmental agreements to respect and implement the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other associated agreements and protocols.

4. The Human Rights Commission of the UN has the mandate to build a binding legal instrument governing the obligations of transnational corporations and commercial interests with respect to human rights. The TPP seeks to set a precedent that is contrary to that mandate. While the mechanisms and commitments found in the TPP which favour the transnationals are obligatory, the chapters related to Work (Chapter 19), Environment (Chapter 20), Skills Development and Cooperation (Chapter 21), Development (Chapter 23), Small and Medium size Businesses (Chapter 24), and Transparency and Anti corruption (Chapter 26) are, in contrast, voluntary, not enforceable or subject to sanctions if not complied with.

The juridic anomaly to be found in the structure, the content and the institutionalization of trade treaties such as the TPP, that consecrate Rights, is not compatible with international public order and contrary to bbbcorporate rights while leaving the populations defenceless, is recognized in the July 2015 Report by the UN’s Independent Expert for the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order where it states that the TPP, by putting itself above Human the dispositions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and the observance of respectable (local) custom.

-Read the entire declaration and the joint action agenda

February 12, 2016

Ongoing concerns regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its impact on Canadian workers

Letter from Ken Neumann
Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Canadian Minister of International Trade

Dear Minister Freeland,

Re: Ongoing concerns regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its impact on Canadian workers

As Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in North America, I write to you on behalf of our over 250,000 active and retired members in Canada to request a personal meeting to discuss our ongoing concerns with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which you signed in Auckland last week.

By way of background, our members work in virtually every tradable sector from mining and metals, glass and rubber, paper and forestry, automotive and aerospace and countless other areas including services, university, healthcare and security. Along with other Canadian workers, USW members have suffered for far too long under the bad trade policies, flawed enforcement mechanisms and misplaced economic priorities of your predecessors.

We believe that the TPP will not resolve the most important challenges that have decimated our manufacturing base in recent years. In the TPP text, we see little to suggest the deal will provide a net benefit to ordinary Canadians. The TPP, if ratified, will further bind our economy to a currently-flawed global economic system that has not only hurt Canadian workers, but one which will also undermine our democracy, environment and national autonomy.

Under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, TPP negotiations were conducted largely behind closed doors, with no real input from civil society. We commend your commitment to consulting the public in advance of making a decision to ratify the treaty. We recognize that you and your staff have already engaged in more public consultations on the TPP than the Conservative government did during years of negotiations. But your government can and should do more, especially considering the broad impact that the TPP will most certainly have on the Canadian economy and on Canadian workers and families.

In the pages below we outline some of our more detailed concerns with several aspects of the deal. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We hope that you will give these concerns thorough review and we look forward to discussing these issues with you at a future date.

-Read the entire letter

February 12, 2016

Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution Webinar

A Revolution Worth Our Solidarity

photoFeb. 28, 2016
6:00-8:00pm ET / 3:00-5:00pm PT

Organized by the Venezuela Strategy Group

Register now for this educational and motivational webinar. Speakers will describe the current situation on the ground in the wake of January’s electoral take-over of the legislative branch by the US-backed right-wing opposition. They will talk about the social and economic gains made by the people of Venezuela since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, US government efforts to derail the democratic process since then, and why what happens in Venezuela is of vital interest to those of us in the US and Canada who want to change our own countries. A question and answer period will be included.

The Webinar is free but you must be registered to participate. Webinar participation can be by computer or by phone.

-Register by clicking here

February 11, 2016

Jane Kelsey: why the TPP can't enter into effect without US and Japan final approval

Jane Kelsey, law professor at the University of Auckland, has an excellent summary of the legal and political conditions related to the TPP.

It is crucially important to know that without final approval by both the US and Japan, the TPP cannot reach the 85% GDP threshhold and enter into force, because they each comprise more than the 15% of aggregate GDP of TPP signatories. See the summary below.

There are three different ways the TPPA could come into force and bind some or all of the signatories.

1. If all original signatories complete their domestic processes to approve the agreement coming into force and notify the Depositary in writing within two years of signing, the TPPA comes into force 60 days after the last country notifies.

2. If not all original signatories have notified completion of their processes after two years, but at least 6 have done so, and they account for at least 85% of the combined GDP of the original signatories (as of 2013), the TPPA would come into force after 60 days (that means 2 years plus 60 days after signing).

3. If 2 years passes without the second option being met, the agreement comes into force 60 days after the date when 6 or more parties comprising 85% of GDP have notified. That formula means the US and Japan must be originating parties. Just two additional larger countries (Canada, Australia, Mexico) would be enough to meet the threshold of 85% of shared GDP. Poor and small countries are virtually irrelevant.

-Download the entire report  PDF 2.1MB

February 3, 2016

How Will the TPP Affect You?

From the Council of Canadians

On October 5, 2015, Canada, the United States, Mexico and nine other countries – together representing more than 40 per cent of the global economy – announced the conclusion of negotiations on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership “free trade” deal.

The Council of Canadians opposes this deal because it includes an investor-state dispute settlement provision that allows transnational corporations to sue governments over legislation or policies made in the public interest, it extends the patent length (and profits) of pharmaceutical corporations by delaying the introduction of lower cost generic drugs, it slashes the domestic content requirement for automobiles, putting thousands of autoworker jobs at risks, and it undermines family farmers by opening up the Canadian dairy market to imports without creating new export markets for Canadian farmers.

The TPP could be voted on in the new Parliament early in 2016 and is expected to face a U.S. Congressional vote in the spring of 2016.

-Read about what's at stake with the TPP


February 3, 2016

The TPP and Canadian Health Care

By Scott Sinclair
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

This study examines the effects of the TPP on the Canadian public health care system. It finds that the TPP investor protections would make it more difficult and costly for Canadian governments to establish new public health programs, including pharmacare, which is on the agenda of ongoing federal-provincial health talks.

The overarching impacts of the proposed treaty would be to weaken the Canadian public health care system, undermine health regulation, and obstruct efforts to renew and expand public health care in the face of new challenges.

-Download the complete report here

February 2, 2016

Canadian educators join global teacher unions’ call to carve out education from Trans-Pacific Partnership

Ottawa – Canadian organizations representing 268,000 K-12 as well as post-secondary educators across the country are adding their voices to the global teacher unions’ call to their governments to carve out education from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Education International (EI) affiliate organizations in the 12 countries involved - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam - have written their governments demanding to carve education from the deal.

The Canadian letter signed by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) to the Minister of International Trade is posted here:

A meeting with federal officials in Canada is expected mid- February.

The CTF and CAUT share EI’s concerns about the potential impacts of the TPP for the education sector as there is no explicit exclusion of education, which exposes the sector to greater risks of privatization and commercialization and threatens free, public, high-quality education.

Teacher trade unions are making a final push to keep education off the table as the wide-reaching trade pact that covers 40 per cent of the global economy is expected to be signed Feb. 4, in Auckland New Zealand,

The CTF is a national alliance of Member organizations representing nearly 200,000 teachers across Canada.

The CAUT is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at more than 100 colleges and universities across the country.

As the largest professional federation, EI represents 400 teacher organisations and unions in 171 countries with more than 32 million members.


Media contacts:
Canadian Association of University Teachers
: Angela Regnier, Communications Officer, 613-726-5186; 613-601-6304 (cell).

Canadian Teachers’ Federation: Francine Filion, Director of Communications , 613-688-4314 or 613-899-4247 (cell)

Education International: Andrew King, Media and Communications Coordinator at

February 1, 2016

UN expert urges Pacific Rim countries not to sign the TPP without committing to human rights and development

GENEVA (2 February 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas called on Governments not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order in a statement* made public today.

Mr. de Zayas called for a new generation of trade agreements for the 21st century, which would incorporate human rights and development into their provisions, stressing that “the TPP is based on an old model of trade agreements that is out of step with today’s international human rights regime.”

The expert’s appeal comes on the eve of the gathering of the trade ministers in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 February 2016, to sign the TPP, a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries that will strengthen the position of investors, transnational corporations and monopolies at the expense of the public, and will impact negatively on labour standards, food security, health and environmental protection.

Mr. de Zayas reiterated his call on the UN system and Governments across the world “to put an end to free trade and investment agreements that conflict with human rights treaty obligations,” made last year during the presentation of a report on free trade and investment agreements to the UN Human Rights Council.

“Trade is not an end in itself, but must be seen in the context of the international human rights regime, which imposes binding legal obligations on States, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” he said.

“Trade agreements are not ‘stand-alone’ legal regimes, but must conform with fundamental principles of international law, including transparency and accountability,” Mr. de Zayas stressed. “They must not delay, circumvent, undermine or make impossible the fulfilment of human rights treaty obligations.”

In his statement, the Independent Expert expressed concern that, despite “enormous opposition by civil society worldwide, twelve countries are about to sign an agreement, which is the product of secret negotiations without multi-stakeholder democratic consultation.”

“The options are not to sign the TPP as it stands, as civil society demands, or not to ratify it, which is the responsibility of democratically elected parliaments,” the expert noted. “Should the TPP ever enter into force, its compatibility with international law should be challenged before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)”.

“If a public referendum were held in all twelve countries concerned, it will be solidly rejected,” Mr. de Zayas stated.

(*) Check the Independent Expert’s public statement:


Mr. Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Learn more, log on to:

Read the Independent Expert’s 2015 report to the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/30/44):

Read the Independent Expert’s 2015 report to the UN General Assembly on the incompatibility of ISDS with human rights norms (A/70/285):

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Karin Hechenleitner (+41 22 917 9636 / or write to

January 29, 2016


Signing TPP: a step back for Canada

Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal – After more than five years of secret negotiations and the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in the middle of the federal election 2015, Ministers from the 12 TPP countries now plan to meet in Auckland New Zealand on February 4th to formally sign the deal. The timing for the signing matters because it allows countries to begin ratification through their legislative processes.

The Liberal government has committed to being “transparent, open and consultative” with Canadians prior to ratification. As part of this commitment, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has embarked in a series of meetings with limited stakeholders while welcoming Canadians to submit suggestions and comments on a government website. The Minister should undertake a rigorous public debate on the impacts of the TPP, including holding public hearings in each province and territory across Canada.

Minister Freeland has said the government has not taken a decision yet, but signing the deal and her reluctance to engage in thorough consultations with some of the largest multisectoral networks in the country does not bode well for the process. These coalitions, the Trade Justice Network (TJN), Common Frontiers and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC), are disappointed at Minister Freeland lack of response to repeated invitations from the Mexican Senate to participate in an International Parliamentary dialogue on the TPP along with legislators from United States, Peru, and Chile in Mexico on January 28th. The meeting forms part of a larger international gathering that brings together popular social movements from TPP countries in the Americas who have concerns with the mammoth deal.

By signing this deeply flawed agreement, the Canadian government will take one step closer to increasing restrictions on the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest. These restrictions will cover areas not directly related to trade like quality food production, access to medicines, health care, the internet and digital rights, environment, climate action and labour regulations. The accord will drive down wages and labor conditions; encourage further outsourcing and offshoring, thus contributing to the widening gap of income inequality in Canada and other TPP countries.

The TPP also includes the anti-democratic investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that allows multinational corporations to sue governments over regulations and policies they feel impact their investment. Such suits are not heard in domestic courts but rather are decided by unaccountable commercial arbitrators. The arbitrators can impose enormous fines against elected governments, and there is no right of appeal. The ISDS threatens democracy constitutional rights, sidesteps and threatens our judicial system, and will cost tax payers tens of millions in awards to corporations suing under ISDS. According to the report of United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, ISDS threatens human rights and should be banned.

The TPP would also be a step backward on environment protections. With minimal requirements and no enforcement mechanism, the environment chapter - as in previous trade deals - is unenforceable. The chapter includes vague and toothless language that falls short of requiring countries to adopt sound measures against harmful environmental practices and lacks protections for land, air, water, and wildlife. Worse, the accord creates a serious chill effect on governments who will hesitate to enact new legislation to confront challenges like Climate change.

Civil society organizations in Canada and Quebec are alarmed by the fact that despite widespread civil society opposition to the TPP, all signs point to the Canadian government moving ahead and joining the TPP. A report by researchers at Tufts' Global Development and Environment Institute reveals that the deal will cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality. Similarly, Canada’s largest private sector union, UNIFOR, says the deal threatens more than 26,000 Canadian auto jobs in both assembling and parts-making. The TPP is a bad deal for Canada and puts the public interest at risk.

Because the entire deal must be ratified as agreed, and no modifications are allowed, it will tie the hands of the Canadian government and legislators for decades. Trade and Investment deals like TPP are only superficially about trade – they are mostly about increasing corporate rights. They seek to fundamentally change the power structures in countries by shifting power to the world’s plutocrats and away from elected governments and domestic courts.

More information:

Larry Brown, / Trade Justice Network / cel. 613-228-9800
Pierre-Yves Serinet, / Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale / cel. 438-396-6284
Raul Burbano, / Common Frontiers / cel. 416-522-8615

Download statement as a PDF:  in English   en français   en español

January 21, 2016

Solidarity with Colombians opposed to massive energy privatization On Corporate Globalization, Free Trade and the TPP

Colombians protest the sale of the electric power generation company Isagen in front of the stock exchange in Bogotá. The government sold 57.6% of Isagen for $2 billion to a subsidiary of Canadian investment fund Brookfield Asset Management. (PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS)

The sale by the Colombian government of its majority stake in power generator Isagen to a subsidiary of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management raises serious concerns. Medellin- based Isagen is one of Colombia’s biggest power companies with six hydroelectric plants and generates about 16% of the electricity used in Colombia. The sale puts the electrical sovereignty of the country at risk and into the hands of multinational corporations, according to the countries labour groups who are preparing a national strike to protest the sale. This massive privatization of essential public services further entrenches the neoliberal policies that have wreaked havoc on the country. Policies that will lead to increases in the price of water, long term loss of revenue by the state, cuts in public services and further unemployment.

Former Bogotá mayor and past presidential candidate, Gustavo Petro referred to the privatization of ISAGEN as equivalent to privatizing water. An unwise move at a critical time when the country is suffering water shortages in over 238 municipalities and experiencing the impacts of climate change and El Niño. The sale would considerably weaken Colombia’s capacity to develop future energy infrastructure and its control over the energy market and gas self-sufficiency.

With the high level of corruption in Colombia, opponents fear President Santos will use the money to plug a fiscal hole in a country that has seen oil investment stall and the peso fall about 35% in a year.

The move also goes against the spirit of what is being discussed at the negotiation table in Havana and civil society’s call for peace with social justice and the need for state assets to benefit the majority of Colombians, not just multinational corporations.

In Canada we understand the consequences of privatization. The Province of Ontario plans to sell part of its wholly owned electricity transmission and distribution company, Hydro One. Ontario’s independent budget watchdog confirmed the plan is a terrible financial deal for the government and for the people of Ontario. Like Colombians, a large majority of Ontarians oppose the privatization of Hydro One. Hundreds of municipalities across the province and over 40 Chambers of Commerce have passed resolutions opposing the provincial governments plan.

We stand in solidarity with Colombian labour, the Comptroller General, the sixty four Senators, and many in civil society who oppose the deal. Protest grows as thousands have taken to the streets across the country or picketed the Colombian stock exchange in Bogotá.

British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
The Canadian Union of Public Employees
Colombia Working Group
Common Frontiers
La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
United Steelworkers

For more information contact:
Ani Jubinville – Coordinator - Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie, 514 966 8421,

Raul Burbano – Program Director - Common Frontiers, 416 522 8615,

Download statement as a PDF:  in English   en français   en español

January 8, 2016

Power Point Presentation On Corporate Globalization, Free Trade and the TPP

TPPby Janet M Eaton, PhD

This educational power point presentation with photos, quotes, and references was created to provide historical and contextual knowledge on Corporate Globalization, free trade agreements, and the mega-trade agreements like TPP, TTIP, and CETA as well as information on the nature and specific impacts of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

Clickable links to video clips provide current audiovisual analysis of subjects covered in the presentation as well. The power point concludes with information on the government’s promises to consult citizens and groups before signing the TPP and makes recommendations for influencing government and becoming engaged in government consultations on the TPP.

View the presentation as a PDF

January 7, 2016

WikiLeaks Reveal What the US Really Thinks of Henry Ramos Allup

By Eva Golinger
Original published at Telesur

Henry Ramos Allup is described as "rude," "repellent" and always "asking for money" in a secret U.S. document.

placeholderIn a document* classified as secret by the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, Ambassador William Brownfield had strong words about the newly elected president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup. “Accion Democratica’s main problem has a name: Henry Ramos Allup," the document reads. Brownfield, who was ambassador to Venezuela from 2004-2007 called Ramos Allup "crude, abrasive, arrogant and thin-skinned“.

The secret embassy cable was sent on April 17, 2006, eight months before the presidential elections in Venezuela that resulted in the reelection of Hugo Chavez. During the previous year, Ramos Allup had led opposition calls for abstention in the parliamentary elections that took place in December 2005. Brownfield stressed in his text that "Ramos Allup has become perhaps the most vocal advocate of electoral abstention ... Ramos Allup said those who advocated participation in the December 2006 presidential elections would be voting 'with their pants around their ankles. " He has disparaged those who have declared themselves as candidates.”

It’s ironic that the same electoral process Ramos Allup boycotted and denigrated in 2005 has today enabled him to lead parliament.

Accion Democratica, one of the traditional political parties in Venezuela known for corruption, clientelism and neoliberalism has been a major recipient of international financing, violating Venezuelan law that prohibits foreign financing of political parties in the country. Ambassador Brownfield criticized Ramos Allup's reliance on international support. In a section of the secret document entitled "Solve Our Problems For Us," Brownfield wrote, “Rather than court Venezuelan voters, Ramos Allup’s principal political strategy has been to seek help from the international community." Brownfield also revealed that representatives of Accion Democratica (AD) "have explicitly and repeatedly sought funds and favors from the Embassy. When refused by one Embassy official, they ask another."

In his text, Brownfield cites a specific example:

“AD first vice president, Victor Bolivar, who solicited funding from political officer (poloff) organized a meeting in December 2005 with the political counselor (PolCouns) to make the same pitch. When PolCouns changed the subject, Bolivar and his fellow AD officials made the same long, detailed request in English, in case poloff did not understand."

Ambassador Brownfield then recalled more examples of AD’s constant requests for money and favors from the US government: "Former AD National Assembly deputy Pedro Pablo Alcantara calls and visits the Embassy regularly with requests for visas, scholarships for friends, etc. He calls different sections of the embassy if he does not receive what he requests."

Although Henry Ramos Allup has only been the new president of the National Assembly of Venezuela for two days, his authoritarian tendencies are clear. Ramos Allup already flagrantly violated a decision by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) regarding the election of three legislators from Amazonas state, swearing them into office while the election results are still under review. The opposition leader has also abruptly shut off the microphones of socialist legislators, removed the paintings of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez from the National Assembly grounds and has indicated that his main objective is ousting President Maduro within the next six months.

His dictatorial propensity is well known by the US government. Ambassador Brownfield underlined that Ramos Allup "does not support alternative views ... Not only is AD extremely vertically organized, it is also dictatorial."

Finally, Brownfield referred to Ramos Allup in his secret cable, which was sent to the US Secretary of State, the US Southern Command and over a dozen US Embassies in Latin America and the United Nations, as "delusional" and "a relic of the past".

Unfortunately for Venezuela, it’s a past that has returned to haunt the present.

Despite full knowledge of Henry Ramos Allup’s dictatorial and anti-democratic intentions, the State Department congratulated the new “democratic” National Assembly of Venezuela and its "important role advancing and promoting a national dialogue." Far from promoting dialogue, what Ambassador Brownfield described in his cable indicates that Henry Ramos Allup's National Assembly will further divide and destabilize Venezuela.

It’s not new for Washington to support dictatorships and authoritarian governments and leaders in Latin America, so long as they serve US interests and are subordinate to US agenda. Through USAID and NED, the US government has invested millions of dollars in Henry Ramos Allup’s party and his opposition coalition. Never mind if he’s a "delusional", "repellent" and "crude" dictator, because he’s Washington’s delusional, repellent and crude dictator.

* The secret document published by Wikileaks can be found here.

December 21, 2015

International Communiqué in Solidarity with People Affected by the Mining Disaster in Minas Gerais, Brazil

The below-signed organizations express our deep anger and solidarity with the people affected by the socio-environmental crime that took place on November 5, 2015 in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. This tragedy was provoked by the rupture of a tailing dam administered by the company Samarco, jointly owned by the Brazilian company Vale and the British-Australian firm BHP Billiton.

This accident, one of the biggest environmental disasters to have occurred in the country, is responsible for the death of an uncountable number of lives, including a number of human lives. The socio-environmental impacts continue to be felt and the full extent of this catastrophe is as of yet unknown, having completely altered the local ecosystem, destroying lives that depended on the Doce river and its surroundings.

We are angered by the death and disappearance of a number of people, including children, and by the social and environmental impacts that are affecting a large part of the population. While compensation for such harms is needed, much of the damage will be irreparable and will have lasting impacts for future generations.

Similarly, this tragedy was not simply an accident, but rather the result of a development model based on the logic of extractivist capitalism that is common in Latin America and in other parts of the world. This model frequently gives rise to serious human rights violations and irreversible environmental impacts from the mining industry. What took place in Minas Gerais is the result of a means of mineral extraction that produce riches for a few, while the lives of thousands of people are negatively impacted from the socio- environmental impacts of these activities.

read more by clicking on one of the links below:

read the entire statement in English   em português   em espanhol   em francês

Original document signed by Common Frontiers and 34 other organizations.

December 10, 2015

USW Leadership Statement Urges Rejection of TPP

Executive Board Resolution applies to U.S. & Canada action

Pittsburgh (Dec. 10) – The International Executive Board of the United Steelworkers (USW) today adopted a formal resolution urging rejection of the proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal by both the U.S. Congress and the Canadian federal government.

USW President Leo W. Gerard said the resolution is intended for wide distribution to the union membership in both the U.S. and Canada, setting forth the basis of a fully-engaged TPP rejection campaign in each country.

“The USW is the largest industrial union in North America representing 1.2 million active and retired members who would all be impacted by TPP,” Gerard said. “These workers with family-supportive jobs are employed in virtually every tradable sector: mining, metals, glass, rubber, paper and forestry, automotive and aerospace products.”

Upon release of the USW policy statement, he said it exposes the TPP as bad trade policy with no real enforcement, misplaced priorities and that working families had already suffered far too long from previous free trade deals.

The USW resolution highlighted the union had an earnest expectation workers’ needs in any trade deal would be met. “When negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership began, our union engaged with the negotiators and policymakers with the hope of forging a new approach.”

The statement said the USW sought a trade agreement for the U.S. and Canada “that would lift wages up, rather than pushing them down, one that would reduce our nations’ accumulated trade deficits that continue to mount, one that would promote domestic manufacturing and employment rather than more outsourcing and offshoring, one that would begin to reverse the widening gap of income inequality.”

-read more on the USW resolution

December 4, 2015

Venezuela: December 6 Parliamentary Elections, the Bolivarian Revolution’s most difficult challenge

ChavezVenezuelans will go to the polls on December 6 to elect deputies to the National Assembly. A combination of factors have made this one of the most difficult challenges the Bolivarian Revolution has faced in the 17 years since President Chávez was first elected in 1998. In addition to the usual challenges of a profoundly undemocratic opposition and belligerent imperialist provocations we have to add a combination of national and international economic factors which have put Venezuela in a very tight spot and which lead to one conclusion: either the revolution is completed, or it will be defeated.

The collapse in the price of oil, the failure of the attempt to regulate the capitalist market, and open sabotage by the capitalist class have put an end to a situation in which the government was able to implement wide-ranging social reforms without fundamentally taking on the capitalist ownership of the means of production. Those in the Bolivarian leadership who refuse to move in the direction of abolishing capitalism are preparing the movement’s defeat.

The last three years have seen a sharp deterioration of the economic situation in Venezuela. The price of Venezuelan oil in the world market has collapsed. It hovered around $100 a barrel in 2013, went down to $88 in 2014, and has averaged $47 during 2015 so far. In the second week of November it further decreased to $37 a barrel. This has severely constrained the ability of the government to invest money in social programs as well as that of importing food and other products from the world market.

-read the rest of this post on Hoy Venezuela

December 4, 2015

Assassination Attempt In Honduras Linked to Canadian Tourism Businesses

From los despojados - the war on peasants in Central America

Click on the photo to see the details.

On Friday, November 27th, Garifuna community leader Vidal Leiva was shot three times in Trujillo, Honduras. Leiva survived and is in stable condition but has nevertheless sustained serious injuries to his liver and one of his lungs. Canada-US solidarity organisation Rights Action is collecting emergency funds to support Leiva’s treatement and recovery (click here to donate, a long-time donor will match all donations in December).

Vidal Leiva is the president of the Land Defense Committee of the Garifuna Community of Río Negro y Cristales, which is located in the municipality of Trujillo on Honduras’ Caribbean coast. The community’s ancenstral lands, in theory protected by both Honduran and international law, have been grabbed by various investors over the years, most notably Canadian tourism developers, one of whom - Randy Jorgensen - recently had to appear in court to face charges of illegal land purchases and land usurpation.

OFRANEH, the Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras, which is helping organise Grifuna communities like Río Negro y Cristales, links Leiva’s shooting to Jorgensen (see full statement here, in Spanish). Joel Ruiz, aka “Cayo”, known by locals to be Jorgensen’s “henchman”, was seen taking pictures of people and leaders who had gathered outside the courthouse to protest during Jorgensen’s court appearance. Jorgensen has also been very friendly with politicians linked to the regime brought to power by the military coup in 2009. Since the trial, members of the Land Defense Committee have recieved anonymous death threats and Leiva’s shooting was carried out one block away from a military outpost.

Despite the climate of fear created by threats and now this shooting, the communities vow to keep on fighting in defense of their ancestral territory, whether the threats are coming from Randy Jorgensen or others like him.

More information:

Common Frontiers Archives

(2017 Archive) (2016 Archive) (2015 Archive) (2014 Archive) (2013 Archive) (2012 Archive) (2011 Archive) (2010 Archive) (2009 Archive) (2008 Archive) (2007 Archive) (2006 Archive) (2005 Archive)