PROFITING FROM REPRESSION:
Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia
"Profiting from Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia" has been published by Americas Update magazine, 427 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Canada, M4X 1P9.To order copies of the report please call (416) 920-8331.
Americas Update is an alternative, independent magazine that explores social, economic, political and cultural change in thehemisphere. Subscriptions are available at $18 for four issues. Please order at the above address.
Neo-liberal globalization in the l990s has posed enormous challenges to workers world wide. The first challenge involves the identification of a progressive and critically important process of long-standing importance to workers, and to differentiate it from anti-democratic and anti-social interests. The second, just surfacing, is to pay attention to the intellectual challenge entailed in the hegemony of a single-minded neo-liberal religion. The third involves the necessity to put in place concrete strategies to confront these neo-liberal policies in the corporate, commercial legal and social sectors.
The identification of investments and commercial transactions between Canada and Colombia constitutes an exemplary initiative that will enable workers in both countries to articulate a democratic globalization process that will be fair to workers and inclusive of all inhabitants of the world.
- Jorge Giraldo Ramirez
Colombia is without doubt the greatest human and labour rights tragedy in the hemisphere. Over the past decade, more than 35,000 Colombians have been murdered in politically-motivated violence, and an estimated 2 million Colombians are now internally displaced as a result of this violence. Put in recent historical perspective, this exceeds the number of Chileans killed during the Pinochet dictatorship and is a higher internal displacement rate than was the case in Rwanda at the height of the genocide.
Unlike these similar human tragedies however, the reality of Colombia is largely unknown by the international community. To make matters worse, the Colombian crisis is consciously and consistently reported through the mainstream media as a crisis that can be reduced to two main factors-the drug trade and guerrilla insurgent movements.
These two factors, while definitely a part of the complexity of Colombia, mask the far more important truth that an estimated 80 to 85 per cent of the violence can be attributed to military and paramilitary forces (and usually collusion between the two) that target institutions of civil society and ordinary Colombians who demand economic, political and social justice.
The purpose of this research report is to make a modest beginning in breaking the silence on Canadian connections to the structural causes of Colombian violence.
In October l997, a Canadian trade union/church delegation visited Colombia to investigate the systematic violation of human and trade union rights of Colombian workers and their organizations. In that year alone, 156 Colombian trade unionists were murdered; those murders represented 52 per cent of all trade unionists killed in the world. (One year later, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) annual survey of violation of trade union rights documented that Colombia accounted for nearly 80 per cent of all trade unionists killed in l998.)
As the Canadian union delegation travelled throughout the country, Colombian trade unionists, peasants, and activists from human rights, church and non-governmental organizations told a common story. With varying degrees of articulation, they all pointed to the external factor-the desire of foreign capital to control and exploit Colombia's vast resources-as the primary reason they face violence or the threat of violence on a daily basis.
This theme was more recently repeated by a prominent Colombian human rights activist as she spoke to a group of CAW members in Windsor, Ontario: "...the majority of human rights violations are not caused by the internal conflict but rather by the economic interests of those who wield national and international power." She continued, "The guerrillas' guns could stop firing and peace might be accomplished, but the violation of human rights would continue!"
This linkage between powerful economic interests on the one hand and military/paramilitary violence on the other is also understood by the progressive ecumenical community. The Franciscans International and Dominicans asked very poignant questions re: right-wing paramilitary violence in their oral submission to the 55th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on April 16, 1999:
It is such questions that motivate this research report on Canadian investment in and trade with Colombia.
In sum, this report is our effort to begin to shape a broader understanding of why and for whose benefit the Colombian violence occurs. As an initial report, the data contained here often raises more questions than it answers, and that is to be expected.
Some will say, quite rightly, that a considerable amount of the descriptive information is not directly or even indirectly linked to the violence. It is essential to point out however that the violence which is inflicted on individuals is commonly preceded or paralleled by a broader and deeper form of structural violence. The neo-liberal model which shapes the economic relationship between "north" and "south" is fundamentally a system that denies economic justice and equality within the "southern" nation-state. Increasing unemployment, poverty, class inequality, and privatization schemes (resulting in the loss of access to and control over natural resources by communities)-these are the basic features of the structural violence which are ultimately expressed in the form of physical violence when people resist their conditions of oppression.
In Colombia today, that everyday oppression is rooted in gross economic inequality measures. It is estimated that 3 per cent of Colombians own 70 per cent of the arable land. Four out of ten Colombians live below the poverty line. The top one-third income earners account for 70 per cent of the national income, while the bottom one-third receive less than 10 percent.
The increase in foreign investment and control of resources in "southern" nations by "northern" capital needs to be understood as a larger process than just a particular investment that must be protected by state agents or paramilitary forces at any given moment. For this reason, this study tries to understand Canadian-Colombian economic connections in their fullest dimension.
What appears to be an innocent fact of normal economic intercourse today may become the basis of a denial of human and trade union rights or greater atrocities tomorrow.
Finally, the most compelling reason for including as much as we know on Canadian-Colombian economic connections in this initial report is that Colombian trade union and human rights organizations asked the Canadian trade union delegation to provide them with as much information as possible on the economic relationship between our two countries. The statement from Colombian labour that begins this preface is a reassertion of the desire for this information and, with it, the basis of a stronger solidarity between Colombian and Canadian workers.
Lacking knowledge of this Canadian investment and trade patterns, our Colombian partners will be limited in their ability to understand the global dimension of their struggle and their capacity to develop effective strategies to resist capital's agenda.
For a small number of Canadians, the importance and urgency of sharing this information with our Colombian counterparts was made frighteningly clear on June 1, l999 in downtown Toronto. On that day, the Canadian Council of the Americas, a business lobby that promotes Canadian investment and trade in the Americas, hosted a lavish luncheon for Colombian and Canadian government ministers and corporate nabobs.
It was, for a few of us who paid the obscene price of admission, a sickening display of the leaders of one country (Colombia) selling their people's birthright to the leaders of another country (Canada) who were only too interested in buying it. Conditioning his remarks within the context of an imminent Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, Canadian Trade Minister Sergio Marchi praised the virtues of Colombia's privatization scheme and mentioned many of the Canadian corporations investing in this neo-liberal rummage sale that you will learn more about in this report. As Marchi said in closing, "...the full potential of Canadian-Colombian relations is still in front of us. There is no time to lose."
Marchi was followed by Fernandes DeSoto, Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who proceeded to outline a litany of "advantages for your (Canadian) capital". He spoke of a "competitive labour force" and even mentioned some of the northern retailers (Liz Claiborne, Levi-Strauss and Fruit of the Loom) involved in Colombia's maquila zones. Not shy in defining the global reality, the Foreign Minister emphasized that "the state must be at the service of theprivate sector, not the other way around."
DeSoto might have been less confident describing Colombia as a "safe country" (since the Colombian President, Andres Pastrana, had been forced to leave Canada to return home that morning to deal with the latest round of violence). However, he waxed with sexist eloquence when he remarked, "We need businessmen like you." Most appropriate to such an occasion were DeSoto's concluding words: "Invest in Colombia-it is a good business."
Private capital and political power had spoken from both sides of the border, and then it was time for dessert. In another world, the world of the powerless on both sides of the same border, it is time for serious analysis and strategies for securing social justice, democracy and equality. We believe this research report is one small step towards that goal.
About the Researcher/Author:
Asad Ismi is an excellent researcher and prolific writer on social and economic justice issues both in Canada and in the "south". He taught for two years in Vietnam. While employed by the now defunct Jesuit Centre in Toronto, Asad was the primary researcher for the wall poster "Exposing the Face of Corporate Rule". He is currently one of the key organizers in Canada for the "School of the Americas (SOA) Watch", the coalition that is campaigning to close down the infamous U.S. military training program at Fort Benning, Georgia where thousands of Latin American military officers (the largest number coming from Colombia) are trained in the techniques of repression and counterinsurgency to be used against popular organizations in their respective countries.
We, the Canadian trade unionists who travelled to Colombia in l997, extend our thanks to Asad for his thorough and efficient effort in documenting theCanadian-Colombian connection.
Map of Colombia
Oil and Gas
The great countries are the owners of our future. Our country is negotiating with the pharoahs. The great countries want to buy what is not theirs to buy. They know how to exploit our land. I want my land back so I can feed my children.
Since 1990, 35,000 Colombians have been killed in a horrific escalation of political violence. An average of ten political assassinations are reported every day. The Colombian military and its paramilitary allies have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of these killings. Many paramilitary death squads have been created by the Colombian military. Two million Colombians have been internally displaced by the violence and about 3,000 have "disappeared." Human rights groups in Colombia documented an astounding 402 massacres in 1999 (an increase of 74% from 1998).(2) According to the United Nations Representative on Internally Displaced Persons, eight families are forcibly displaced every hour and the numbers are increasing.(3) The primary targets of state death squads are civilians including trade unionists, community leaders, political and social activists, human rights defenders and poor peasant farmers.
More trade unionists are killed in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined. Of the 140 trade unionists murdered worldwide in 1999, 76 (54%) were slain in Colombia, mainly by paramilitaries. On October 20, 1998, Jorge Luis Ortega Garcia, Vice-President of the CUT (Central Union of Workers), Colombia's labour central, was assassinated. Union representatives and Colombian human rights groups held the state responsible for the killing. Ortega and six other labour leaders were murdered during the course of a three-week strike by 800,000 state employees. Since1987, more than three thousand Colombian unionists have been assassinated.(4) For example, 90 leaders of the Petroleum Workers Union (USO), one of the most progressive of Colombian unions, have been killed over the last decade. In virtually every case, no one has been charged for any of these murders. The rate of impunity for killings in Colombia is close to a hundred percent.(5)
The massive political violence of the Colombian state is driven by economic imperatives; these include acquisition of land (some of which holds significant mineral and oil deposits), industrial development and major transportation projects. An example is the displacement from the Western Choco department to the Uraba region further north of thousands of peasants in February 1997. Occupation by paramilitary forces and army aerial bombardments forced ten thousand people to flee the municipality of Riosucio in Choco. Riosucio is a large fertile area near the Panamanian border and Choco is the only Colombian department with both Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Given its location, Riosucio is set to become part of "a strategic corridor of international commerce" with the building of a dry canal-a highway for the rapid transport of goods between the Pacific and the Caribbean along the Darien jungle foothills. Such a road would extend the Pan-American highway which presently ends in Panama, and complement the Panama canal. (6)
Riosucio and the adjoining banana lands of Uraba also contain rubber, uranium, tropical hardwoods, coal, oil, hydroelectric potential, cattle and quality farmland. Extending the Pan-American highway is part of the Colombian government's aggressive development plans for the Pacific coast. "Plan Pacifico" ( Pacific Plan) calls for oil exploration, mining, large-scale agriculture, commercial fishing and tourism and the building of two superports, hydroelectric and energy plants, more roads, telecommunications networks, an oil pipeline, a railway and a military base. Much of all this will be done in collaboration with multinational corporations. It is in this resource-rich Uraba region in northwestern Colombia that two thousand people were massacred by paramilitaries during 1995 and the first half of 1996.(7) Following this carnage, General Rito Alejo Del Rio Rojas, commander at that time, of the Colombian army's 17th Brigade (stationed in Uraba), remarked to a visitor, "the region is now safe and you can invest." According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), as army commander in Uraba during the mid-1990s, Del Rio "facilitated one of the most ruthless paramilitary campaigns in the country." (8)
The events of Riosucio and Uraba are being replayed throughout Colombian communities. Thousands of people are regularly driven off their land by death squads who work for a national elite determined to control the country's resources in concert with foreign capital and U.S. policy. The foreign factor is paramount in Colombia since without it the state cannot carry out repression or exploit resources. The U.S. government finances, arms and trains a Colombian military which has the worst human rights record in Latin America, while multinational corporations dominate Colombia's most important economic sector, oil, and play leading roles in the key areas of telecommunications, mining, manufacturing and services, natural gas distribution and electricity generation. With such foreign support, the ruling elite is able to exploit and benefit from these resources without sharing them with the majority of Colombians. U.S. intervention in Colombia escalated massively in August 2000, when Washington gave the Pastrana government $1.3 billion in military aid, under "Plan Colombia."
The U.S. government and certain multinationals have also been responsible for creating and supporting death squads. According to Human Rights Watch, one part of the paramilitary network grew out of a military-intelligence reorganization plan that the Colombian military drew up in 1991 in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA. This plan, known as Order 200-05/91, authorized the creation of 41 "killer networks" that murdered civilians "suspected of supporting guerrillas." (9) According to Leslie Wirpsa, a journalist for the NationalCatholic Reporter, "the paramilitary massacres and political killings that have occurred in the wake of this intelligence 'reorganization' dwarf the actions committed by the death squads during the 1980s."(10) Former paramilitary members have testified that representatives of Texaco took part in meetings in the Middle Magdalena region in 1982 that established one of the first paramilitary units. Captain Oscar de Jesus Echandia (military mayor of Puerto Boyaca) called the meetings which were attended by businessmen, ranchers and local Conservative and Liberal party leaders. This group sponsored training centers for the paramilitaries with instructors from the U.S., Britain and Israel.(11) As this research report will document, British Petroleum Amoco and the Canadian companies Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines have been linked to paramilitary operations in more recent years. Such ties make it clear that death squads are the ultimate guarantors of foreign investment in Colombia.
Since 1990, as paramilitary violence has increased, so has foreign capital's penetration of Colombia. The "Apertura" (economic opening) policy of the Gaviria government (1990-1994) liberalized trade and investment in 1990. Over the next seven years, foreign investment increased fivefold from 1% to 5% of GDP. In 1997, foreign investment flows exceeded U.S.$5.4 billion and were 60% above those for1996. This increase was largely due to "sky-rocketing" investments in privatized sectors which went from U.S.$886 million in 1996 to U.S.$2.99 billion in 1997. From 1990 to 1996, foreign investment in manufacturing and services increased 53% a year from U.S.$281 million to U.S.$2.45 billion. During the same period, foreign investment totalled U.S.$11.5 billion of which 31% was in oil and 11% in portfolio investments. Formerly, foreign investment was primarily directed to the oil sector; however, with deregulation, inflows have grown rapidly in manufacturing and services as well as portfolio investments. In 1996, the most dynamic sectors were financial services (245% growth), other services (22%), commerce (15%) and manufacturing (11%). In 1997, most foreign investment went to utilities (electricity, gas and water) followed by the financial sector (non-portfolio investments) and manufacturing.(12)
To attract foreign investment, the Colombian state has resorted to large-scale privatization of key sectors of the economy. Since 1991, Colombia's ports, parts of the railway system, cellular telephone and long distance service, six banks, eight chemical companies, three shipbuilding companies, two hydro-electric plants and Latin America's largest nickel mine, amongst others, have been privatized. On October 4, 2000, Carbocol, Colombia's state coal corporation was sold for U.S.$383.7 million to a foreign consortium made up of Exxon Mobil, Anglo American, Billiton and Glencore International. This selling of the country to foreign companies has been especially resisted by unions in the oil and telecommmunications sectors. Therefore, state repression of trade unionism has been most severe in these sectors. In addition to the 90 members of the Petroleum Workers Union (USO) killed by death squads, 17 have been imprisoned on terrorism charges and 200 have been displaced. The public sector strike in October 1998 which saw the murder of seven unionists was called partly to protest the privatization of the Colombian Telecommunications Company. In a dispute in 1992, 13 members of the Telecom Workers Union (SINTELECOM) were tried on terrorism charges and arbitrarily detained for almost a year after they called a strike to oppose privatization. On September 19, 2000, Ricardo Herrera, leader of the Cali Trade Union of Municipal Service Workers (SINTRAEMCALI) narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in which his bodyguard, Omar Noguera, was killed. The union is resisting the government's attempt to privatize Cali's electricity, water, sewage and telecommunications utilities. Several foreign companies are reportedly interested in buying these assets.(13)
Canadian investment in Colombia is an estimated $5 billion(14) and is concentrated in these same economic sectors where state and paramilitary repression is the greatest-oil and gas, and telecommunications. Canadian corporations have also been linked to this repressive apparatus in the oil sector. Canadian companies run Colombia's most important oil pipeline, its two largest natural gas pipelines, its leading cellular phone provider and install a large proportion of its phone lines as well as control its fourth largest printer. Canadian corporations are also active in the food services, footwear, paper and mining sectors.
Canadian trade with Colombia also reflects linkages that bear upon human and labour rights struggles. For example, the Canadian government authorized the sale of twelve helicopters made by Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (BHTC) to the Colombian air force and police; these helicopters could be used in repressive actions by Colombian state agents. As well, Colombia is the main source of Canada's coffee and cut flower imports and its third largest supplier of bananas. All three of these agricultural production-for-export sectors are characterized by oppressive working conditions that frequently deny workers their human, labour and health and safety rights.
Investment and trade links with Colombia have been greatly encouraged by the Canadian government, especially in the oil and telecommunications sectors. Ottawa considers Colombia "a very favourable climate for investment"; the Canadian government views Colombia's privatization policy as offering significant opportunities to Canadian companies and has provided funds to advance this trend. A 1997 report by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) refers to the freezing of new loans to Colombia by the U.S. government's Export-Import (EXIM) Bank and states:
"The Canadian Export Development Corporation (EDC) views this policy measure (by the U.S.) as providing a window of opportunity for new EDC lending in support of Canadian export programs in Colombia."
The report cites Colombia as EDC's largest market for its Foreign Investment Insurance policies with over $300 million in exposure "particularly in the oil and gas and telecom sectors."(15) The EDC has also provided $18 million for the construction of the Urra hydroelectric project on the Sinu river in Cordoba department. The money was given to a subsidiary of BFC Construction Corporation based in Mississauga, Ontario. A second Canadian company, Agra-Monenco Quebec, is monitoring the project. The building of this state-owned but soon to be privatized dam, has destroyed the fishing areas that are the main source of food for three thousand Embera Katio people, an indigenous community living in Tierralta County. The Embera Katio peoples' opposition to the dam has been met by paramilitary violence. On September 16, 2000, death squads killed four Embera Katio and abducted 21 other members of the community. The kidnapped were released on October 16 after hundreds of Canadians sent letters to the Colombian government. Fearing "possible annihilation," the Embera Katio applied to Spain for political asylum in May 1999. (16)
In 1995, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) approved a grant of $4 million to "contribute to the liberalization process of the telecommunications sector in Colombia." The money was for financing training seminars, workshops and advisors. The "executing agency" was Destrier Management Consultants (Ottawa). CIDA also provided $11.3 million in 1996, to the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Canadian
Energy Research Institute (CERI) (Calgary, Alberta) to "improve the institutional capacity"of these ministries to regulate the hydrocarbon, mining and energy sectors. Part of this "improvement" involved assisting "in the implementation of institutional reforms" in these sectors. "Deregulation and restructuring" are the reforms mentioned by CIDA in its project description. Also in 1995, CIDA approved $241,861 in training and technical assistance funds for the Colombian government's Pacific Plan. The money was to go to Radarsat International Inc. (Ottawa) which until December 1, 1998, had received $171,248. (17)
Thus, Canadian private investment in and government-sanctioned trade with and aid to Colombia are supporting a highly repressive power structure rooted in economic inequality. Having such links with a state that kills or allows the killing of thousands of its citizens only encourages the spiral of violence.
OIL AND GAS
Your country [Canada] is now the largest foreign investor in Colombia-I don't know if you know that-in gas pipelines, infrastructure and energy.
Before examining the role of Canadian companies in Colombia's oil and gas sector, the context for their operations needs to be established. Oil is Colombia's most important commodity and has been its leading export since 1996 (followed by coffee and coal). Colombia exported U.S.$3.7 billion worth of oil in 1999 which accounted for over 20% of total export revenue. Sixty percent of this oil went to the United States. Colombia produced 743,000 barrels of oil a day (b/d) in 1999 and has proven oil reserves of 2.6 billion barrels.(19) Under contracts with Ecopetrol, the state oil company, multinational corporations extract almost all of Colombian oil. The two most prominent companies are British Petroleum Amoco (BPA) and Occidental Petroleum. BPA, operates the Cusiana-Cupiagua oilfields, Colombia's largest, located in the Casanare region, 250 miles east of Bogota. These two adjoining fields contain estimated reserves of two billion barrels of oil equivalent,(20) the largest discovery in the Western hemisphere since the Prudhoe Bay find in Alaska in 1968.
BPA is currently pumping 500,000 barrels of oil a day out of Cusiana-Cupiagua;(21) most of this goes to the U.S. and Colombia hopes to capture 25% of the U.S. sweet crude oil import market.(22) BPA has a 19% share in the Cusiana-Cupiagua oilfields with the remaining control divided between Ecopetrol (50%), Total (19%) and Triton Energy (12%). BPA is the largest foreign investor in Colombia with annual investment averaging about U.S.$2.4 billion.(23)
Colombia's second largest oilfield is the Cano Limon in Arauca province near the Venezuelan border. This is operated by Occidental Petroleum in partnership with Ecopetrol. Cano Limon is currently producing 125,000 b/d. Foreign oil companies have been paying a "war tax" of U.S.$1/barrel (24) which the government says funds security for the oil industry; part of the tax goes to the Colombian military. The tax is due to be phased out by 2000 and has been removed for fields discovered after January 1, 1995.
Given its economic importance, the oil industry has become part of Colombia's armed conflict and foreign oil companies have been linked to major human rights violations. Guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have bombed the Cano Limon pipeline (which takes oil to the port of Covenas) a record 79 times during 1999, and 503 times since 1985.(25) In October 1998, the ELN also bombed the OCENSA pipeline (see below) which takes oil from the Cusiana-Cupiagua fields to Covenas. Forty-eight people were killed in the fire that followed-the guerrillas have denied setting the blaze. The ELN opposes what it considers "excessive foreign involvement" in the oil sector. (26)
British Petroleum Amoco has faced repeated allegations of complicity in murder, torture and intimidation. According to the Petroleum Workers Union (USO), "BP[A] is the most aggressive oil company in Colombia. Workers have no right to organize...There are disgraceful human rights violations." British television reported in June 1997 that BPA contracted former soldiers from Britain's elite Special Air Service (SAS) in 1992 through a British company called Defense Systems Limited (DSL) and its Colombian subsidiary Defense Systems Colombia (DSC) to provide lethal counterinsurgency training to a Colombian police unit charged with guarding BPA staff and installations in Casanare. Given the abysmal human rights record of Colombian security forces, Amnesty International called this action of BPA, "a dangerous policy which could lead to serious human rights violations against the local community."(27) Six members of the El Morro Association, a group of activists from Casanare, were killed in 1996 after they publicly criticized BPA's security and environmental practices. Gabriel Narvarez, an adviser to the El Morro Association, says the murders were the work of paramilitary forces contracted by BPA. (28)
Richard Howitt, a member of the European Parliament from the British Labour Party has accused BPA of supplying the Colombian army with photographs and videotapes of peasants, workers and environmental campaigners. These charges were supported by the British magazine, The Observer, in October 1996, when it revealed an unpublished Colombian government report according to which BPA collaborated with soldiers involved in torture, murder and kidnapping. The company was passing intelligence (including photos and videotapes) about protesters to the army's 16th Brigade that works with paramilitary death squads. The Brigade subsequently arrested or kidnapped protestors as "subversives." The report quotes the commander of the Brigade's intelligence wing as saying that he found oil companies' information "very useful." Beginning in November 1995, BPA paid the 16th Brigade U.S.$5.6 million over three years to guard its personnel and installations. In 1996, the company signed a U.S.$5 million contract with the Colombian National Police for similar services. (29)
Occidental pays two Colombian army brigades to defend its pipeline and has been embroiled in a confrontation with the U'wa, an indigenous community of 5,000, (30) which inhabits a vast area that traverses five departments in northeastern Colombia. The Samore block oil field lies on U'wa territory and the people threatened to commit mass suicide if Occidental drilled on their land. Occidental then accused Roberto Cobaria, chief of the U'wa, of having links to guerrillas. Given the extremes of paramilitary violence in Colombia, such an accusation is tantamount to a death sentence. In June 1997, a group of hooded men with assault rifles held Cobaria to the ground, demanding that he sign an authorization agreement with Occidental or he would be killed. When Cobaria refused, the gunmen beat him. In May 1998, Occidental agreed to renounce its contract to exploit the 499,000 acre Samore oil block in return for new rights to a smaller part of the area under more favourable contract terms. In September 1999, Occidental received permission from the Colombian government to drill on U'wa land in North Santander. The government ordered the U'wa evicted from the area around the drill site in September 2000. The U'wa have accused the Colombian military of carrying out daily assaults against them and "violent sexual acts" against women. (31)
The U'wa's fears of ecological and social disruption have considerable basis. The consequences of oil exploration in Colombia include pollution of the air, waterways, and soil, death of wildlife, land degradation and climate changes. 1.7 million barrels of oil have been spilled due to pipeline sabotage.(32) In the southern department of Putumayo, thousands of Inga, Siona and Kofan people have been forced to relocate after the building of oil roads and pipelines contaminated their fresh water supplies. In 1960, the indigenous people constituted 60% of Putumayo's population; by 1998, they made up less than 10%. (33)
The development of oil has also adversely affected non-indigenous Colombians. The government has militarized oil producing areas and terrorized the local population which it assumes to be guerrilla supporters. According to one observer, "this militarization has been gradual but devastating." The department of Arauca, where Cusiana is located, has one of the highest rates of illegal detention. In the department of North Santander, where the Cano Limon pipeline crosses, an alarming number of disappearances have taken place. (34)
While oil has greatly benefited a group of executives and skilled technicians, it provides only a handful of jobs and scant royalties for rural communities and towns near the oil fields and pipelines. Eighty-five percent of people in Casanare (where BPA is located) live in "absolute poverty."(35) Schools and hospitals are inadequate and roads are poor. Oil industry jobs are often on short-term contract. "Nothing is shared. The politicians take the royalties and the poor people don't see anything," says Domingo Villamizar, a former oil worker who lives near the Cano Limon pipeline. Sergio Entrena, governor of the impoverished North Santander region, says his administration gets only a few million dollars a year in royalties which have almost no effect. As another observer put it, "People think that [the oil companies] take away the riches and leave nothing behind."(36)
Colombia has proven gas reserves of about 6.9 trillion cubic feet and produced 250 billion cubic feet of gas in 1998. Natural gas is produced mainly in the north and east of the country, in La Guajira and around Barrancabermeja. Colombia uses natural gas strictly for its domestic market and the government plans to increase production to meet greater demand as it completes its "gas massification" program. By the turn of the century, the program aims to deliver natural gas to nine million households from six million at present. Most Colombian natural gas is produced offshore by Texaco. Onshore, the Opon field, operated by BPA, began natural gas delivery in January 1998. Colombia's natural gas distribution markets are now in the final stages stages of deregulation. Houston Industries has bought four concessions near Bogota and Latinoamericana (Spain) and GasNatural (Spain) have controlling interest in the Colombian natural gas companies Gas Natural de Bogota and Gasoriente respectively.(37) BPA and Enron are also active in exploration and production activities.
Canada would be very worried if Canadian companies were proven to be involved in any way in promoting paramilitarism or in any unethical activities of any kind.
Eleven Canadian companies are active in exploration, production and transport in Colombia's oil and gas sector: Enbridge Inc., TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. (TCPL), Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd. (CanOxy), Alberta Energy Company Ltd. (AEC), Talisman Energy Inc., TecnoPetrol Inc., Quadra Resources Corp., Petrolex Energy Corp., Vanguard Oil Corp.(formerly Kappa Energy), Millennium Energy Inc. and Mera Petroleums Inc. CanOxy, AEC and Talisman are large, independent oil and gas corporations while TecnoPetrol, Quadra, Vanguard and Petrolex are intermediate ones and Millennium and Mera are juniors. The term independent refers to Canadian oil companies not owned by major multinationals such as Exxon or BP Amoco. Altogether, CanOxy, TecnoPetrol and Petrolex are pumping 4,500 barrels of oil a day in Colombia; only TecnoPetrol has been paying the $1/barrel tax which subsidizes the repressive Colombian military. Enbridge and TCPL are large Canadian corporations engaged exclusively in the transport of Colombian oil and gas and both have been much more directly linked to official violence.
Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines
Enbridge operates the world's longest crude oil pipeline system (from Canada to the U.S.) and Canada's largest natural gas distribution company, Enbridge Consumers Gas. With assets of $9.2 billion and 5,500 employees, Enbridge has invested in Venezuela and provided services in Mexico. TCPL is the largest pipeline firm in Canada and operates North America's most extensive gas transmission network. The company transports 77% of western Canada's natural gas production with 60% of this going to the U.S. TCPL has assets of $25 billion and 4,400 employees. Both companies are based in Calgary, Alberta.(39)
In the most significant Canadian investment in the Colombian economy, Enbridge owns 24.7% of the OCENSA (Oleoducto Central S.A.) pipeline consortium. The $2.2 billion, 800 kilometre OCENSA pipeline system is Colombia's largest and can carry 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Cusiana and Cupiagua fields to the port of Covenas on the Caribbean coast for transport by tanker to the U.S.(40) Until September 7, 2000, Enbridge operated the pipeline jointly with TCPL; both companies owned 17.5% each of OCENSA. On that date, TCPL announced that it had sold 10.3% of its share of the pipeline to Ecopetrol (which already owned 25%) and 7.2% to Enbridge, as part of its disposition of all international operations. As owner-operator of OCENSA, Enbridge provides management, personnel and technical support for the pipeline's operation and port facilities. The rest of the OCENSA consortium consists of three producer-owners: British Petroleum Pipelines (15.2%), Total Pipeline Colombia (15.2%) and The Strategic Transaction Company (9.6%). OCENSA employs 120 people and controls the pipeline remotely from its facilities in Bogota.(41) As transporter of close to 60% of Colombian oil production, Enbridge clearly plays a critical role in the Colombian economy. Its involvement and that of TCPL has, however, not been limited to economic matters.
Amnesty International (AI) has linked OCENSA to state repression. According to an AI bulletin dated October 19/1998, OCENSA contracted Defense Systems Colombia (DSC) (the same company used by BPA) for security purposes until 1997. During this time, Enbridge and TCPL were joint owner-operators of OCENSA. AI states: "What is particularly alarming is that OCENSA/DSC has purchased military equipment for the Colombian army's 14th Brigade which has an atrocious record of human rights violations." At the time OCENSA/DSC bought the equipment in 1997 through Silver Shadow, a private Israeli security company, members of the 14th Brigade "were under investigation for complicity in a massacre of 15 unarmed civilians in the town of Segovia in April 1996 and for links with paramilitary organizations responsible for widespread human rights violations, including killings, 'disappearances' and torture against the civilian population in the area of the Brigade's jurisdiction." AI points out that it opposes the transfer of military equipment to units implicated in serious human rights violations "as it is reasonable to assume that such equipment could be used to commit further violations."
AI also questions the use of an Israeli security company to procure military equipment for the 14th Brigade: "The relation with Israeli private security companies is potentially of concern given that in the past such companies have provided mercenaries, of Israeli and British and German nationality, to train paramilitary organizations operating under the control of the 14th Brigade. These same paramilitary organizations have been responsible for widespread atrocities against the civilian population." AI is further concerned that, according to information given to the U.K.-based newspaper, The Guardian, by a former OCENSA employee, OCENSA/DSC is carrying out a security strategy that "could indirectly or directly contribute to serious human rights violations against the civilian population." According to AI,
"What is disturbing is that OCENSA/DSC's security strategy reportedly relies heavily on paid informants whose purpose is to covertly gather 'intelligence information' on the activities of the local population in the communities through which the pipeline passes and to identify possible 'subversives' within those communities. What is even more disturbing is that this intelligence information is then reportedly passed by OCENSA to the Colombian military who, together with their paramilitary allies, have frequently targeted those considered subversive for extrajudicial execution and 'disappearance'... The passing of intelligence information to the Colombian military may have contributed to subsequent human rights violations.
...the role of the Colombian security forces in the implementation of a counterinsurgency strategy characterized by the systematic violation of human rights imposes a special moral obligation on national and international companies to ensure that, however unwittingly, they should not condone or encourage such actions. This is particularly the case given that in Colombia human rights violations are frequently committed to secure or protect powerful economic interests." (42)
From Amnesty International's account it appears that Enbridge, the main Canadian investor in Colombia, and TCPL, (as part of the OCENSA consortium) have been connected to the Colombian government's war against its own people. Amnesty's statement is confirmed by the Colombia Bulletin (published by the Chicago Colombia Committee and the Colombia Labour Monitor) in its Spring 1999 issue. According to this, the former OCENSA employee mentioned above, described his own role as being "the eyes of the state security forces." The journal adds that there was a secret agreement between OCENSA and the Colombian Defense Ministry under which the latter's counterinsurgency brigades would protect the pipeline. This agreement made the transfer of military equipment to the 14th Brigade "unavoidable," according to John O'Reilly, spokesman for British Petroleum. (43)
Jake Epp, Senior Vice President of TransCanada Pipelines, said on June 1, 1999, that OCENSA was no longer using Defence Systems Colombia. He made the remark at a seminar for Colombian and Canadian government and business representatives held in Toronto. In January 2000, the Colombian government awarded Epp the National Order of Merit, one of Colombia's highest official honours. (44)
TransCanada Pipelines Gas
TCPL is the main owner and operator of Colombia's largest and second largest natural gas pipelines: CentrOriente (40% owned) and TransGas (44% owned). As with OCENSA, TCPL intends to sell its share in both gas interests but has not announced a buyer as of October 25, 2000. The 780 kilometre CentrOriente gas pipeline (built by Ecopetrol) collects gas from the Ballena-Barrancabermeja system and delivers it to the TransGas line, Bogota and the Neiva area. CentrOriente also operates a natural gas dispatch center and provides technical and consulting services to ECOGAS, Colombia's national natural gas company. The CentrOriente project is worth $60 million and its other owners are Promigas, a Colombian gas transportation company (40%) and Gas Oriente, a distribution company (20%). (45) Ecopetrol signed the operating contract with this consortium in October 1996.
The $320 million, 343 kilometre TransGas pipeline (built by TCPL) goes from Mariquita to Cali and is a key project in Colombia's national gas massification program. TransGas takes natural gas to 48 delivery points including the Termovalle Power Station and municipalities in Tolima, Caldes, Risaralda, Quindio and Valle. TCPL's partners in TransGas include: BP International (20%), Gas Natural del Oriente (14%) and Global Environment L.P. (10%). TransGas signed a 20-year transportation contract with Ecopetrol in February 1995. After this time the project will be transferred to Ecopetrol.(46)
CanOxy, based in Calgary, is one of Canada's biggest oil and gas producers with assets of $4.1 billion. CanOxy also has operations in the U.S., Yemen, Nigeria, Australia, and Indonesia. In Colombia, the company has interests in seven exploration blocks: Boqueron (40% interest), Troyano (50% interest), Paramo Este and Paramo Oeste (both 100% interest), El Descanso (50% interest), Villarica and Fusa (both 100% interest). These blocks make up 1.4 million acres of undeveloped land in the Upper Magdalena Basin and the Putumayo Basin, with a reserve potential exceeding 100 million barrels of oil.(47) This makes CanOxy the third largest exploration acreage holder in Colombia after BPAmoco and Harken Energy. In June 2000, the company announced "a major oil and gas discovery" at the Guando wells on the Boqueron block. Guando-1 and Guando-2 indicate about 1.4 billion barrels of sweet crude oil. By September, the wells were producing over 1,000 barrels of oil per day. CanOxy will invest $32 million in the Guando deposits. (48)
Alberta Energy Company
With assets of $7.7 billion, Calgary-based AEC is one of Canada's largest oil and gas corporations. The company is also exploring for oil in Argentina, Ecuador, Australia, North Africa, the Middle East and the Caspian Sea. In May 1999, AEC bought Pacalta Resources Ltd., which owned concessions in Ecuador and Colombia. As a result, AEC has a 100% working interest in the 280,000 acre Tirimani Block in the Putumayo Basin in southern Colombia. At the time of its purchase by AEC, Pacalta was conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment on the undeveloped block and had been granted the right to sign new contracts for two adjoining properties. By the end of 1999, AEC had increased its exploration land in Colombia to 824,000 acres. In February 1999, AEC admitted that it had conspired with the RCMP in a "covert action" to blow up its own shack at a gas well in Peace River (northwestern Alberta) in order to help a police informant establish his credibility with Wiebo Ludwig and Richard Boonstra, two local opponents of AEC's drilling who were charged with conspiracy and mischief. (49)
Talisman is Canada's largest independent oil and gas producer. Headquartered in Calgary, the company has assets of $8.4 billion. Talisman also has operations in Sudan, Indonesia, the North Sea, Trinidad and Algeria. On September 30, 2000, Ecopetrol awarded Talisman an exploration contract to look for oil and gas in the Acevedo Block in Colombia's Upper Magdalena Valley. Talisman holds 100% interest in the contract which is due to be formally signed in November. As of October 6, no further information is available on this contract from the company. In February 2000, a Canadian government report found that Talisman's investment in Sudan was exacerbating that country's civil war and "contributing to severe human rights abuses." The 17-year civil war in Sudan has killed 2 million people.(50)
Formed in December 1996, Toronto-based TecnoPetrol (TP) has assets of U.S.$13.9 million. TP is mainly focused on Colombia where it has obtained one million acres of exploration properties under six contracts with Ecopetrol. Presently, TP is producing 2,000 barrels of oil a day. The company's properties are located in the Middle Magdalena Basin in Central Colombia (Los Angeles, Santa Lucia, Tisquirama, Dona Maria and El Rio Blocks-where the oil production is taking place), the Cesar-Rancheria Basin in the northeast Atlantic region (Alejo Block), and the Llanos Basin in the Eastern Plains (Vuelta Larga Block). TP started exploring in all these Blocks in 1997 and estimates its total potential reserves to be in the range of 700 million to one billion barrels of oil.(51) In September 1998, TP signed an exploration contract with Ecopetrol which covers about 118,000 miles of land in northern Santander province where the company will undertake seismic studies and drill one well. In December 1999, TecnoPetrol signed an agreement to participate in a consortium with Western Atlas (U.S.) and Ecopetrol. The joint venture will explore for oil in Cesar state. TP owns 21% of the consortium, Western Atlas, 49% and Ecopetrol, 30%. (52)
With assets of U.S.$11.8 million, Calgary-based Quadra Resources (QR) has struck both oil and gas in Colombia by drilling three successful gas wells. QR along with its partners Texican Oil (U.K.), has made a "significant discovery" on the Compae #1 well on the 225,000 acre Maracas Association Contract located in the Cesar Basin in northeast Colombia. QR has a 10% interest in the Maracas concession. Compae #1 has tested 400 barrels of oil a day and gas pay of over 330 feet; the well contains potential reserves of 82 million barrels of oil and 772 billion cubic feet of gas. Compae #2 well has 298 feet of gas pay and tested gas flows of 7.9 million cubic feet a day. Compae #3 well contains 400 barrels of oil a day and tested gas flows of 11.1 million cubic feet a day. On November 4, 1998, QR announced that it had been awarded a 100% interest in the 256,030 acre Iraca Association Contract in the northern Cesar Basin. The company executed this contract on January 13, 2000. Current seismic data indicate a combined potential recoverable reserve of over 500 million barrels of oil equivalent. (53)
Like TecnoPetrol, Petrolex has been pumping oil in Colombia. With assets of U.S.$46.4 million, Vancouver-based Petrolex is focused exclusively on operations in Colombia. The company's major property is the 55,000 acre Rubiales Oilfield (100% owned) located in the Llanos Basin in Eastern Colombia. Petrolex has drilled 21 wells on this field and pumped 3,000 barrels of oil a day during 1997 for a total in excess of 824,000 barrels. The oil was taken by trucks to a local refinery. Rubiales has estimated proven recoverable reserves of about 211 million barrels of oil which constitutes almost 7.5% of Colombia's proven oil reserves. The Llanos Basin contains the three largest oil fields in Colombia: Cusiana, Cano Limon and Rubiales.
Operations at Rubiales were suspended in September 1997 after five company employees were kidnapped by guerrillas. The employees were returned unharmed. In May 2000, Petrolex signed an agreement with International Technical Solutions (ITS) (U.S.) to reactivate production at Rubiales. ITS will receive a 20% interest in the field and took sole responsibility for resuming production within 90 days. On Oct 4, Petrolex announced that production from one of its wells had started and that another four wells had been reactivated. A total of 9,842 barrels of oil had been produced from these five wells by October 2. Production from the wells has stabilized at around 1,500 barrels per day. The oil is being sold in local markets.
Until December 1999, Petrolex had a 90% interest in the Los Toches Association Contract located in the Maracaibo Basin in central Colombia. Drilling on Los Toches was suspended in 1997 due to guerrilla activities in the area. In early 2000, the company asked Ecopetrol to let it relinquish its interest in Los Toches; according to Petrolex, "public disorder" was preventing it from carrying out the contract terms. (54)
Like Quadra, Vanguard has struck oil in Colombia. With assets of $32 million, Calgary-based Vanguard also has operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Vanguard holds an 85% participating interest in and is the operator of three blocks in Colombia: Chipalo, Cucuana and Las Quinchas. The first two are located in the Upper Magdalena Valley and the third in the Middle Magdalena Valley. The three blocks cover 576,000 gross acres. Vanguard struck oil in February 1999 at its Samarkanda-1 well located in the Chipalo Block. In tests, the well produced about 70 barrels of oil per day and is estimated to contain 40 million barrels of recoverable oil. Vanguard has signed an agreement with Petroleum Equipment International (PEI) to pursue this discocovery. PEI will be putting Samarkanda-1 on production. By reprocessing 2-D seismic data, Vanguard has defined five prospects in the Las Quinchas block ranging in size from 1 million to over 120 million barrels of recoverable oil. Six prospects were found in the Cucuana and Chipalo blocks ranging in size from 1 million to almost 80 million barrels of recoverable oil.(55)
Millennium Energy and Mera Petroleums
With assets of $6.4 million and $4.7 million respectively, Millennium and Mera both have operations in Canada and Colombia. The two companies are based in Calgary. In January 2000, Millennium and Mera jointly signedacontract with Ecopetrol to explore for oil and gas in La Guajira state in northern Colombia. The concession covers 332,800 acres, and Millennium has a two-thirds share in the project with Mera holding the other one-third. The Guajira Basin is estimated to contain more than 90% of Colombia's gas reserves-6 trillion cubic feet. The concession area may have up to 2 trillion cubic feet of gas. The contract requires Millennium and Mera to spend U.S.$ 2.1 million in the first two years on reprocessing 300 km of existing seismic data and shooting 50 km of new seismic data. (56)
Summary of Canadian investment in the oil and gas sector as of September 2000:
Large oil and gas-Canadian Occidental, Alberta Energy, Talisman Energy. Intermediate oil and gas-TecnoPetrol, Petrolex, Quadra, Vanguard. Junior oil and gas-Mera, Millennium. Large transportation-Enbridge, TransCanada Pipelines.
Colombia has the third largest telecommunications market in Latin America (behind Brazil and Mexico)(57) and one of its highest telephone densities with about 13 telephones per hundred people.(58) Seventy-one percent of Colombia is linked by telecommunications.(59) There are more than six million telephone lines installed and Colombia has one of the fastest growing cellular markets in the world. (60) The telecommunications reforms carried out by the Colombian government were among the most liberalizing in all of South America and the state intends to further deregulate the industry. The government's attempts to sell large state telecom companies to foreign capital have been frustrated by strong union opposition but the state has managed to open up the cellular phone sector and the $850 million long distance telephone market to multinationals. Deutsche Telecom, France Telecom and Sprint have submitted bids for the long distance market in which two international companies are allowed to participate.(61) AT&T operates Celumovil, a cellular joint venture company that serves Bogota and Cartagena. Other multinationals involved in the telecom sector include Unisys, Alcatel, and Ericsson. Between 1991 and 1994, the private sector accounted for 14% of total investment in the telecommunications sector. During 1999-2002, this figure is expected to rise to 36%. (62)
The Canadian companies, Bell Canada International (BCI) and Nortel Networks play leading roles in the Colombian cellular market, line installation and the creation of ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) systems. BCI is a subsidiary of BCE Inc., Canada's largest communications conglomerate with assets of $37 billion. Nortel was also a BCE subsidiary until May 2000 when BCE sold its stake. (63)
Bell Canada International
With assets of $3.7 billion, Montreal-based BCI is a provider of telecommunications services in Latin America.(64) Started in 1992, BCI's main focus is wireless communications and it develops, owns and operates telecommunications systems in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. BCI aims to take advantage of the trends of privatization and deregulation in these countries. In June 2000, BCI entered a joint venture with Mexico's Telefones de Mexico and SBC Communications (U.S.). According to BCI, the intent of the joint venture is to dominate the Latin American communications market. BCI's greatest success so far, has been in Colombia where the return on its initial investment of $110 million has quadrupled in less than four years.(65)
BCI is the dominant cell phone operator in Colombia. The company is the majority shareholder of two Colombian cell phone companies which together give it about 50% of Colombia's cellular market. BCI owns 56% of COMCEL (Comunicacion Celular S.A.), the largest cellular telephone operator in Colombia, (worth more than $1 billion) and through COMCEL bought 68.4% of OCCEL (Occidente Y Caribe Celular S.A.) for $445 million in March 1998. OCCEL operates in Western Colombia. BCI plans to blend the two companies pending regulatory approval. As a result of its majority interest in OCCEL, COMCEL now serves 750,000 subscribers over a network covering 80% of Colombia's population. (66)
COMCEL had revenues of $394.6 million in 1999 (down from $489 million in 1998) and 1,021 permanent employees as of December 1998. None of these employees was unionized according to BCI's website. During 1999, COMCEL significantly reduced its workforce due to the fall in revenue which BCI blames on a sharp recession in Colombia. The number of COMCEL's current employees is unclear. The company's other shareholders include Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Santafe de Bogota (ETB), the largest municipal telephone company in Colombia (31.2%), and Empresa Nacional de Telecommunicaciones (Telecom), the only national long-distance provider (14.4%).(67) COMCEL is BCI's most developed operation and a substantial portion of its operating expenses and revenues are derived from and reflect the development and expansion of this subsidiary. BCI's revenues were $807 million in 1999. (68)
Brampton (Ontario)-based Nortel Networks is Canada's largest high-tech company and a leading global provider of "communications network solutions." Nortel has assets of U.S.$34 billion, 75,000 employees and a presence in more than 100 countries. Colombia is one of Nortel's fastest growing markets in Latin America and its activities here are carried out by Nortel Networks de Colombia (NNC), established in 1993. Based in Bogota, NNC has 185 employees. In the last three years, Nortel has contracted for the construction of close to 800,000 telephone lines and has built more than 550,000 lines in seventeen different regions of Colombia under four Association Agreements with Telecom. These include the creation of a new telecommunications infrastructure for Bogota involving a 220,000 digital line network, 308,346 digital telephone lines to serve 120 small and medium-sized cities, the installation of 210,000 digital telephone lines in Cali and the deployment of 37,000 lines covering Choco and Cordoba.(69) Telecom has signed more Association Agreements with Nortel than with any other supplier.
In 1996, Nortel signed a contract with EMTELCO, a commercial service provider, to build Colombia's first commercial ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) network (known as the Nortel Magellan System) connecting Bogota, Cali and Medellin. ATM involves high-speed transmission of voice, video and data (email, internet). Nortel signed two more contracts with EMTELCO in 1997, one for the expansion of services in Colombia's three largest cities-Cali, Medellin and Bogota-and another for providing equipment to the cities of Pereira, Manizales, Barranquilla and Bucaramanga. This represents 80% coverage of Colombia's data market which has experienced explosive growth. Nortel signed major contracts in 1998 with ORBITEL S.A. (a new long-distance provider), ISA and IMPSAT, to supply and install telecommunication systems. Nortel also provides cellular network equipment to COMCEL, OCCEL, Celumovil and Celumovil de la Costa. Nortel's cellular networks serve more than a million users, 85% of Colombia's total market of 1.2 million people.(70)
In its Colombian venture, Nortel has received considerable financial assistance from the Canadian government. The Export Development Corporation (EDC) gave $65 million in 1996 to support Nortel's sale of telecommunications equipment to the Colombia Telecommunications Funding Corporation. EDC has also financed about U.S.$90 million of Nortel's cellular business including $17.3 million for its supply of equipment to OCCEL in 1995.(71)
There are no Canadian mining companies in Colombia.
Four Canadian mining companies are present in Colombia: Conquistador Mines Ltd., BMR Gold Corporation, Grey Star Resources Ltd. and Sur American Gold Corporation. All of these are junior companies involved in gold mining; they are at the stage of drilling mainly for mineable gold deposits except for BMR whose operations are suspended. For the last three years, gold mining areas have been marked by paramilitary violence in Colombia. In a replay of events in Riosucio and Uraba, death squads drove 3,000 people from the south of Bolivar department in October 1999 and displaced 10,000 from the same area during 1998 after committing several massacres. This was the largest displacement in Colombia in 1998, (73) and many of those forced to flee worked in a gold mine in the town of Simiti. These miners accuse multinational mining companies of funding the paramilitaries that expelled them and point out that Conquistador Mines is one of the foreign firms present in the area. According to the Colombia Support Network (CSN-based in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.), Conquistador has expressed interest in the Simiti mine. BMR Gold's mine is located near the area where the violence took place and according to a Colombian source, Sur American Gold is also interested in the south of Bolivar.
Colombia extracts an average of 30 tons of gold a year making it the 15th largest producer in the world. The south of Bolivar department produces about 42% of the gold. Small and medium-sized miners account for 90% of gold output. Ninety-two percent of gold production is used to increase international reserves and the rest for industrial purposes.(74) The government is moving to provide companies with clear title on subsurface rights. The absence of these corporate rights has discouraged investment. The greatest impediment to foreign investment in mining, however, is the fear of company personnel being kidnapped.
Twenty percent of Colombia's gold comes from the Pacific coast, where according to some observers, drug money has been laundered through mining operations. Here, an estimated 80,000 hectares are being destroyed every year by industrial gold mining-the heavy equipment used removes about 600,000 cubic metres of soil in each site. (75)
Gold mining has potentially heavy environmental costs as it usually involves the use of either cyanide or mercury to separate the gold from the earth. Both are extremely toxic and poisonous substances and gold mining generates vast residues of waste and effluent (called tailings) containing them. Canadian mining companies have acquired a bad reputation abroad due to burst tailings dams which have massively polluted water sources in the Philippines, Spain and Guyana. CBC Television called these companies (Placer Dome, Boliden and Cambior) "The Ugly Canadian[s]", the title of a program on the issue.(76) The Canadian mining companies in Colombia have the added burden of being junior exploration companies. In a survey undertaken by the London (U.K.)-based group, Minewatch, of all Canadian companies operating in Latin America, "virtually none of the juniors had any cogent policy for environmental protection, site rehabilitation or social responsibility." (77) Few junior companies will mine an ounce of gold themselves since they lack the expertise and capital required. Upon finding a promising deposit, they usually become partners with larger companies. Ten junior Canadian mining companies have left Colombia during 1997-1998 (see list at end of this section) due to the low price of gold and/or the security situation.(78)
With assets of $16.9 million, Conquistador is incorporated in British Columbia butheadquartered in St. Helena, California (U.S.). The company is focused on developing gold, silver and platinum properties in Colombia and the U.S. Conquistador's main acquisition is The
Marmato Project (in the Marmato mining district of Western Colombia) which contains up to 15.9 million ounces of gold; 28 surface holes have been drilled on this project revealing the presence of 14 zones of gold mineralization across a 700 metre wide portion of the Marmato gold system. The average grade of these zones is in excess of 2.2 grams of gold per ton (g/t). The Marmato Project is in Caldas department where Conquistador also owns the the Oro Fino and La Mariela properties. In adjoining Antioquia department, the company owns the Montoya, El Rayo and Montoya-Argelia properties. (79)
Oro Fino has a 50 to 100 metre wide zone of gold mineralization. The 25,000 hectare El Rayo property contains a large set of northwest trending gold systems located to the northeast of Medellin. Tests have yielded 10.25 to 18.6 grams of gold per ton, signifying very high potential.(80) Conquistador has also acquired the Abejorral Project, a sample from which revealed more than one ounce of platinum per ton. (81) Consequently, in May 1998, the company formed Corona Platinum S.A., a Colombian subsidiary, to conduct its Platinum Exploration Project. Conquistador has applied for several new licenses for platinum exploration.
Before January 30, 1998, Conquistador operated in Colombia through its subsidiary, Corona Goldfields S.A. On that date the two amalgamated as Conquistador Mines Ltd. According to the Colombia Support Network, during 1997, Corona expressed interest in exploiting a gold mine in the town of Simiti in the southern part of Bolivar department in northern Colombia. Ownership of the mine was claimed both by the Higuera-Palacios family and 35,000 poor miners who had worked the mine for thirty years. Thirty thousand of the miners are affiliated with ASOGROMISBOL (Agromining Association of the South of Bolivar).
At about the same time that Corona expressed interest in the mine, paramilitaries started appearing in Simiti, stating their intention to "recover" the area. During March 1997, these death squads killed 19 people in towns around Simiti. On April 25, paramilitaries entered the town of Rio Viejo and announced their intention to "cleanse" the area and "hand it over to multinational corporations because they will provide jobs and improve the region." The paramilitaries cut off the head of miner Juan Camacho and kicked it around like a soccer ball. They then placed the battered head on top of a long stick facing the mining zone to indicate the location of their next attack.
On July 20, death squads tortured and killed Luis Orlando Camacho, Vice-President of ASOGROMISBOL. Such killings continued in 1998 and 1999 with three people being assassinated in Cerro de Burgos on June 11, 1998. On June 23, representatives of the miners' community told Colonel Reynaldo Rodriguez-Santos, the military commander of the area, that the presence of the paramilitaries coincided with that of multinationals in the region. They pointed out that along with Corona Goldfields, another foreign company, Archangel, was also present in the area. The miners stressed that this was a problem not only in Bolivar department but also in other gold producing areas such as Guainia, Vaupes and Choco. Col. Rodriguez responded that the miners were in league with guerrillas.
On July 24, peasants, leaders, city council members and miners in towns around Simiti were targeted by paramilitaries and forced to flee. During July-August, five thousand people from Bolivar State were displaced to the city of Barrancabermeja, Colombia's oil centre. The miners sent a delegation to camp at the gates of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota because as they put it, "if the government and the multinationals from that country want to get us out of our plots and mines...we will be here until their paramilitaries are removed." On August 21, representatives of the 5,000 displaced met President Andres Pastrana and charged that multinational mining companies were funding the paramilitaries that had forced them to flee their homes. (82) The violence continued during 2000 with the army and navy bombing and strafing villages in Cantagallo municipality. Military and paramilitary units also carried out a joint operation in San Pablo and Simiti. (83)
CSN's above account was confirmed by Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, President of the Colombian Mine Workers Union (SINTRAMINERCOL) who visited Canada on a speaking tour in April-May 2000. According to Ramirez, Corona Goldfields is attempting to acquire property in the south of Bolivar through Minera San Lucas, a front company which Corona set up for this purpose. Ramirez explained that the death squad killings are aimed at displacing small miners to make way for foreign capital. "Our curse," he said, "is to possess enormous natural resources and be in a geopolitical location of major interest to multinational corporations." Ramirez added that along with Corona, Sur American Gold is also interested in the south of Bolivar. A third Canadian mining company, BMR Gold, owns a mine in the south of Bolivar (see below).
Ramirez pointed out that since June 1998, paramilitaries have killed 259 people in the south of Bolivar, burnt down 689 homes and sacked seven villages. The death squads operate with the open collaboration of the armed forces and police. Ramirez called for a halt to foreign investment in Colombia's mining sector until the labour rights and human rights of workers are respected. (84)
In November 1999, Conquistador Mines signed an exploration agreement for Colombia with AngloGold South America. Anglogold is the world's largest gold producer and is 54% owned by Anglo American Corporation which dominates mining in South Africa. Anglo American is part of a consortium which recently bought Carbocol, Colombia's state coal company (see introduction). The mining industry in South Africa was the bedrock of apartheid. Under the agreement with Conquistador, AngloGold will fund exploration programs for up to five years in an effort to discover and develop "a major economic orebody." (85)
From the accounts of the Colombia Support Network and Ramirez, it appears that foreign corporate presence in Colombia's mining sector encourages violent displacement of peasants and miners. This is another example of the Colombian elite's use of terror and foreign capital to deny its people access to their own resources.
The killings in Bolivar described above occurred near an area known as the Serrania of San Lucas. This is where BMR Gold's 7,000 hectare gold-silver San Lucas property is located. Vancouver-based BMR owns one property in the U.S. and one in Colombia. The company acquired its San Lucas project in September 1996. Samples reveal up to 2.9 ounces per ton gold. The Colombia Ministry of Mines (MINMINAS-DNP) rates the San Lucas area as "the most promising zone for commercial gold discoveries in the highly prospective Andrino system." BMR hopes to determine the feasibility of developing a large tonnage, open-pit gold mine as well as the potential for developing high grade underground gold mines. According to the company, all work at the San Lucas mine is suspended at the moment because "rebels have taken over the area." The Serrania of San Lucas produces 12 tons of gold a year and with modern methods could produce six times that. According to CSN, the Colombian government "is keen to induce foreign companies to take part in exploiting the region's reserves."
The assets of BMR are hard to determine since the company has not had an independent evaluation done of its two properties. The Toronto Stock Exchange has suspended trading in BMR stock because the company has not spent the minimum required capital on its mining leases, four of which it has lost in the U.S. BMR's cash shortage stems from extensive delays in the development of its America mine in California which was supposed to finance other operations. The delays were caused by a bombing attack on the mine by two U.S. Marine fighter jets on a training mission. BMR sued the U.S. military over the bombing in 1993 and the case continues. (86)
Grey Star Resources
Vancouver-based Grey Star was formed in August 1997 and has assets of $27.4 million. Kinross Gold Corporation, North America's fifth largest gold producer, owns 22% of Grey Star. Grey Star's exploration programs are concentrated in Spain and Colombia where it owns 100% of the Angostura Gold-Silver Project located 35 kilometres from the city of Bucaramanga in northeast Colombia. The 4,230 acre Angostura Project is Grey Star's largest endeavour and consists of five separate concessions which contain an estimated 6.7 million ounces of gold. According to the company, its gold-silver resource inventory places Angostura amongst "the largest recently-discovered gold deposits in South America." Drilling began in July 1995 and up to October 1999, 181 holes had been drilled. In October 1998, Grey Star acquired a new exploration license for 5,310 acres contiguous with Angostura, thereby doubling its land holding. During 1999, Grey Star added three new areas to Angostura: La Perla, Los Laches Norte and Cristo Rey. The company is optimistic about laying plans for a mine in the near future, pending the results of a feasibility study. (87)
In July 1998, Edward Leonard, a mineral explorer working for Terramundo Drilling Inc.(a Canadian company contracted by Grey Star to drill on Angostura) was kidnapped by guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who were looking for a Grey Star employee. On October 6, Norbert Reinhart, the owner of Terramundo, exchanged himself for Leonard. The site Grey Star contracted Terramundo to drill on is in the middle of FARC territory. In mid-October, Grey Star terminated Terramundo's contract. Reinhart was released by his captors in January 1999.
Sur American Gold
With assets of $4.3 million, Sur American is a Vancouver-based company which owns properties in Colombia and the U.S. In Colombia, the company is focused on gold projects in the Marmato mining district where Conquistador is also exploring. Sur owns three properties in the Marmato Trend, a belt of gold deposits best known for Marmato Mountain which is estimated to contain 100 million ounces of gold. The properties are: Mina Rica, Gavia and Loma Guerrero. Sur also owns the El Tambo copper-gold porphyry project located near the city of Pasto in southern Colombia. According to one analyst, Sur American properties "offer multimillion ounce, large tonnage, bulk mineable targets [with] a potential two or three grams per ton gold average." Sur American aims to acquire a total of 23 exploration licenses in Colombia.(88)
Three thousand metres have been drilled at Mina Rica resulting in the discovery of widespread potentially economic gold mineralization in excess of 2.5 grams per ton (g/t) gold. Drilling at Gavia has revealed gold grades averaging about 1 g/t. Sur American estimates that Gavia has a gold potential of over 20 million ounces, based on mapping, soil samples and existing tunnels. Loma Guerrero contains an average of 2 g/t gold near surface areas and gold mineralization in some cases exceeds 10 g/t gold over a 2,300 by 800 metre area, making this property (according to the company) "a potentially big gold target." Mapping at the El Tambo project has revealed "highly anamolous concentrations of copper and gold" and Sur believes the property "represents a potentially very large copper-gold porphyry system." Gold mineralization ranges from 0.5 to1 g/t gold. (89)
Summary of Canadian mining companies present in Colombia as of September 2000:
Conquistador, Grey Star, Sur American, BMR.
Canadian mining companies that left Colombia during 1997-1998:
Gran Colombia, Chivor, Latin Gold, Venoro, Odin, Bolivar, Randsburg, Continental, Santa Catalina, Resource Equity.
Privately-owned Kruger is a major pulp and paper company headquartered in Montreal. In 1997, Kruger acquired Scott Paper, Canada's largest manufacturer and supplier of tissue products. Kruger has 10,000 employees and operations in Canada, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. The company has been producing tissue products in South America for the last forty years. In Colombia, Kruger owns 100% of Papeles Nacionales S.A.(PN), one of the country's largest manufacturers of paper products. PN's tissue mill has an annual capacity of 71,000 tonnes and is located in Pereira, near Buenaventura, Colombia's main Pacific port. The company distributes bathroom tissue, napkins, paper towels, facial tissue, wrapping paper and commercial products throughout Colombia. PN has been in operation for fifteen years and exports to Ecuador and Peru. PN's affiliate, Fibras Nacionales Ltda., processes waste paper in Colombia and exports to Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, Ecuador, the U.S. and the U.K. . In July 1999, Kruger bought Shepherd Tissue Mill, (U.S.) one of the world's leading tissue and pulp and paper companies. (90)
Quebecor World Inc.
Montreal-based Quebecor World (QW) is the largest commercial printer in the world with 43,000 employees in 15 countries. QW is a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc., a communications conglomerate with $14.8 billion in assets. QW became the industry leader in August 1999, when it bought control of World Color Press Inc. (U.S.). In October 1998, QW bought 60% controlling interest in Impreandes Presencia S.A., the fourth largest printer in Colombia. Impreandes is based in Bogota with annual revenues of U.S.$24 million and over 300 employees. Impreandes specializes in producing educational books, 50% of which are exported to Brazil and other South American countries. The remaining 40% of Impreandes is shared between the Aguirre family (QW's South American partner) and the company's management. QW also owns Peru's largest printer, 50% of Chile's biggest commercial printer and the printing assets of Editorial Perfil, Argentina's largest publisher. Quebecor entered the South American print market in 1997. (91)
The market for processed foods in Colombia was worth about $1.3 billionin 1996. The processed foods sector accounts for 23% of all manufacturing making it the largest manufacturing industry in Colombia. (92)
McCain Foods Ltd.
Based in Florenceville, New Brunswick, McCain is one of the largest frozen food manufacturers in the world. The private company has assets of $3.5 billion and 16,000 employees in 55 manufacturing operations located in 11 countries. McCain is the world's largest processor of french fried potatoes. In May 1996, McCain bought Prodelpo of Medellin (a medium-sized potato and yuca processor) and renamed it McCain Andina S.A. The company's Medellin plant was expanded and upgraded. McCain Andina is the second largest producer of frozen french fries in the Colombian market and also makes potato, corn and casava snack products; all these are distributed through major supermarkets and McDonald's outlets. The company imports vegetables, juices, desserts and some of its french fries from Canada. (93)
Bata Shoe Organization
With 57,000 employees in 60 countries, Bata is the world's largest manufacturer and retailer of footwear. Bata owns 62 manufacturing units and 4,458 stores. The Toronto-based private company operates in Colombia through Manisol S.A., a fully owned subsidiary. Located in Manizales, Manisol runs one of Colombia's five largest shoe factories and exports to neighbouring countries. Bata has been in control of Manisol for ten years and this investment reflects the shift of shoe manufacturing to the Third World during the last three decades. In South America, Bata also has investments in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and French Guiana. (94)
Colombia is Canada's third largest trading partner in South America behind Brazil and Venezuela.(95) In 1999, Canada imported $281 million worth of goods from Colombia (compared to $372 million in 1995). Canadian exports to Colombia in the same period were worth $255 million (compared to $393 million in 1995). Goods from Canada account for 3% of Colombia's imports. The main Canadian imports from Colombia in 1999 were, in order of value, coffee, bananas, cut flowers and coal. The leading Canadian exports to Colombia were meslin and wheat, newsprint, lentils, paper, beans, telecommunications equipment, peas, asbestos and motor vehicle parts. (96)
Comparing 1999 and 1998, overall exports have gone down by 46%. Export of grains and newsprint decreased by 47% and 11% respectively while paper increased by 5%, telecommunications equipment decreased by 36%, asbestos went down by 53%, and motor vehicle parts decreased by 79%. Imports went down by 22% in the same period with coffee and flowers decreasing by 25% and 4% respectively. Banana imports increased by 3% and coal by a significant 52%. All of Canada's major imports from Colombia are basic commodities with little or no value added. This is also true of most of Canada's main exports to Colombia, telecommunications equipment and motor vehicle parts being the exceptions. Currently, the value of these two exports is low; both together made up only 7.4% of the nine leading exports in 1999. The drastic reduction in trade can be attributed to a severe recession in Colombia during 1999 when GDP fell by more than 3%. The Colombian peso was devalued by 28.2% against the Canadian dollar. The major increase in coal imports may be linked to the closure of the Phalen coal mine in Nova Scotia announced in January 1999. Nova Scotia became a destination for Colombian coal for the first time last year, receiving 34% of this import; the rest went to New Brunswick (60%) and Quebec (6%). Canada imported $38 million worth of Colombian coal in 1999. (97)
Canada's asbestos exports to Colombia imperil the health of Colombians. Asbestos causes lung cancer and is the "most documented workplace killer in existence." The use of asbestos has almost disappeared in Canada, and the U.S., and the European Union has banned the mineral. The Canadian government and the asbestos industry are therefore peddling this deadly product to the Third World. Exports to Colombia provided 8% of total asbestos revenues for Canada in 1998. Asbestos will claim 500,000 lives in Europe and 200,000 in the U.S. There are no comparable figures for Canada. (98)
Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (BHTC)
Based in Mirabel (Montreal, Quebec), BHTC is a subsidiary of Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.(BHTI) of Fort Worth, Texas (U.S.), the world's largest manufacturer of helicopters. BHTC built the twelve 212 Bell helicopters that BHTI sold to the Colombian Air Force and police in 1994 with the Canadian government's encouragement. The helicopters's twin engines were built by Pratt and Whitney (Canada). The frames and most of the component parts were also made in Canada and the final assembly was done at Mirabel. The transmissions, blades and "other dynamic components" for all Bell aircraft come from Fort Worth. The Mirabel plant does not manufacture engines. (99)
This sale of Canadian helicopters has been opposed by human rights groups in Canada and Colombia. The Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) has pointed out that although the 212 is presently classified as a civilian helicopter, it originated as a military aircraft and has a history of being used in counterinsurgency operations (especially in Vietnam) including the bombing of civilian areas. Canadian unionists on a trade union delegation tour of Colombia in 1997 observed two Bell 212 helicopters in military camouflage sitting on the tarmac at Bogota airport. There is no way of knowing however whether or not these particular helicopters were Canadian-made. Rev. Javier Giraldo, former head of the Peace and Justice Commission, a Colombian human rights group, also opposes the sale of these helicopters which he finds "very disturbing." Giraldo believes that "the Canadian government must reclassify what is classified as civilian or military" and that "what should be prevented is the commerce which directly contributes to the war."(100) Rev. Giraldo was forced into exile after the Colombian army's assault on the offices of the Peace and Justice Commission in March 1998.
The 212 is a "utility" helicopter which means that it has multiple uses and can easily be converted for military purposes. It is cheaper to convert commercial helicopters than to buy military ones.(101) There also has been no monitoring system put in place to ensure that these helicopters are not being used in military or paramilitary operations; instead of addressing these matters, the Canadian government is encouraging the sale of even more aircraft to the Colombian armed forces.(102) Ottawa has responded to ICCHRLA's concerns about the helicopter sales by sticking to the technicality that the 212 is a civilian aircraft. Clearly, selling these aircraft to a military responsible for massive human rights violations expands its repressive capacity. Even if the helicopters are never used for military purposes, the fact remains that they can be.
With revenues of over $500 millon annually, BHTC employs more than 1,600 people at its 570,000 sq. ft. Mirabel plant which produces 57% of the world's commercial helicopters. BHTC's parent company, Bell Helicopter Textron, is itself a subsidiary of Textron Inc. based in Providence, Rhode Island (U.S.). Textron is a U.S. $11 billion conglomerate with 68,000 employees in more than 100 countries. BHTC's Mirabel plant was set up in 1986 and now carries out Bell Helicopter's entire commercial production. Bell's military helicopters are manufactured in Fort Worth.(103) In addition to the 212, BHTC currently manufactures seven different types of helicopters including the 206-B III Jet Ranger, 206L-IV Long Ranger and 407 light helicopters.
BHTC enjoys considerable government support. The Mirabel plant was set up with millions of dollars in subsidies from the Quebec and federal governments(104) and the former has funded training programs for the company's work force. Canadian embassies worldwide promote BHTC's sales and the company was part of a Team Canada trade mission to Colombia in 1994 and to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1998.
It is incumbent upon the Canadian government to refrain from any future sale of high-tech equipment that could be used in repression carried out by the Colombian state or its agents. Also, an effective monitoring system needs to be established, to ensure that technology already sold as a "dual-purpose" item is not used to violate the rights of Colombian citizens. Further, the l999 Canadian Labour Congress convention resolution on Colombia called on the Canadian government to "refrain from selling any equipment that could be used for repression in Colombia."
Colombia is the world's second largest coffee producer after Brazil.(105) Colombia is the largest supplier of coffee to Canada, providing 24% of its imports in 1999 and 23% in 1998. In 1999, Canada imported $96 million worth of Colombian coffee. Coffee has fallen from 65% of total Colombian world exports in 1978 to 18% in 1996.(106) One million hectares of land are under coffee production out of a total of 5.3 million hectares under cultivation;(107) nearly 23% of the agricultural labour force is involved in coffee.(108) In 1999, Colombia exported $2.1 billion worth of coffee. (109)
Colombia's coffee sector is characterized by a large number of small producers who often exist at or below the poverty line. Most coffee farms are owned by small producers but larger producers usually control the bulk of the coffee area and hold disproportionate amounts of the better quality agricultural land. According to the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), there were 100 human poisonings and one death due to the use of Endosulfan (a highly toxic insecticide previously used in the flower industry) in the production of Colombian coffee in 1993. In 1994, more than 100 poisonings and three deaths were reported. The Colombian health ministry banned Endosulfan in 1995 but this ban has not been made official and so is ineffective. The use of Endosulfan in coffee and vegetable production continues. PANNA attributes the failure of the ban to the influence of the chemical's manufacturer, AgrEvo, a German multinational. AgrEvo was formed in 1994 when the agrochemical divisions of the German chemical giant Hoechst and Schering (another German chemical company) combined. Hoechst has close relations with the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA), the Colombian pesticide licensing agency.(110) Endosulfan has been banned or greatly restricted in many countries including Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and several European countries.
Colombia is the third largest banana producer and exporter in the world with about 45,000 harvested hectares and foreign sales of U.S.$459 million in 1996.(111) Colombia is the second largest supplier of bananas to Canada after Ecuador. In 1999, Canada bought $61 million worth of Colombian bananas which made up 43% of its imports. The main banana producing areas in Colombia are on the Caribbean coast, at the Gulf of Uraba and Santa Marta. Colombia's main markets are the U.S. and Belgium. On April 6, 1999, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against a banana import quota system maintained by the European Union (EU) which favours former European colonies in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific. The quota had been challenged by the United States. Since Colombia is not part of the group of countries covered by the EU quota, the WTO ruling could increase its banana exports to Europe.(112)
The banana workers union in Uraba has almost 10,000 members;(113) they work for absentee plantation owners who under contract with large national and multinational corporations ship the fruit to the U.S. and Europe. The banana workers' labour conditions include hard labour, low wages, risk of exposure to harmful pesticides and victimization by the Colombian military and paramilitary death squads. Twenty banana workers were massacred by the Colombian army in 1988.(114) Given its strategic importance and resources as explained in the introduction to this report, the entire Uraba region is enclosed by paramilitary groups which have systematically massacred thousands of people.
Cut flowers are Colombia's third largest agricultural export after coffee and bananas(115) and reached U.S.$555 million in 1998.(116) Colombia is the second largest exporter of cut flowers in the world (after Holland) with 11% of the global flower market, and the biggest supplier to the U.S. and Canada. Eighty percent of Colombia's flower exports are destined for North America (U.S. 77%, Canada 3%). Canada imported $40 million worth of Colombian flowers in l999; this represents 47% of its total imports of cut flowers. (117) The Colombian flower industry was set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) in 1960, specifically for export purposes. More than 90% of Colombia's flower production takes place in fertile farmland southwest of Bogota where 450 flower companies cultivate 4,200 hectares. Carnations and roses are the main flowers grown and 95% of the product is exported. The flower industry employs about 80,000 workers, 60% of whom are women. Another 75,000 people are indirectly employed in supplying inputs such as pesticide and plastics.(118)
According to one observer, the Colombian flower industry is "responsible for some of the worst labour and environmental abuses in the country."(119) Due to the use of 127 pesticides, two-thirds of the flower workers suffer from headaches, nausea, impaired vision, conjunctivitis, rashes, asthma, still births, miscarriages, congenital malformations and respiratory and neurological problems.(120) As one worker explained:
"It started with an allergy. My skin started to blister and break up because of the heat and humidity under the plastic greenhouses and the chemicals staying in the air. Then my hair started to fall out. I had appetite loss and lost a lot of weight over a short space of time. I have had terribleaches and pains in one of my arm and legs. A lot of people here have been ill in one way or another."(121)
Doctors in flower-producing areas report up to five cases of acute poisoning a day.(122) Workers are not trained to handle pesticides or given gloves and protective clothing, nor are they informed about the types of pesticides being used. Toxicological records of stored pesticides do not exist and the quantities used are not registered. Secure showers are not available near the workplace. Many companies do not have a doctor for emergencies or the capacity to respond to accidents resulting from exposure to pesticides. (123)
The flower industry uses 200 kilos of pesticide on each hectare (double the amount used in Holland)(124) and three of the pesticides are considered to be extremely toxic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Twenty-five percent of the pesticides imported by Colombia from the U.S. are not registered for use in the latter. Twenty-percent of the pesticides are banned or not registered in the U.S. or U.K. because they have carcinogenic effects and extreme toxicity. (125) Pesticide use harms the entire population of Bogota by polluting rivers which contaminates vegetables, cow's milk and many other products. Levels of agrochemicals above WHO standards have been found in the breast milk of local women who are not flower workers. This means that the contamination level around Bogota is very high.(126)
While poisoning its workers, the flower industry has hired "thugs" who have "brutally repressed" their attempts to organize against such conditions. Consequently, no effective union exists in the sector.(127) Less than 20% of the workers are organized in company unions that do little for them.(128) Under pressure from the flower industry, the Colombian government legalized short-term work contracts in 1990. The 1990 labour law reforms are a good example of the neoliberal model that negatively impacted on employment and union stability in not only the flower sector but throughout the Colombian economy. Few stable jobs remain in the flower industry today. Short-term contracts make union organizing difficult and reward individual productivity, thus making workers compete against each other. As one worker put it,
"We are not allowed to talk to each other at work. We get one break a day of forty-five minutes. Anyone who even speaks about trying to organize is fired. If anyone so much as complains, they are fired immediately. If this happens, the worker gets nothing, not even any compensation, even though they should get paid for forty-five days." (129)
Wages for flower workers are just above minimum-U.S.$110 a month(130) (Cdn.$162). Many workers are single mothers with small children who have little choice but to take the jobs under hazardous conditions. Displacement due to violence in other parts of Colombia has also swelled the ranks of flower workers. When workers get too sick to carry out their tasks due to pesticide use, the companies fire them.
In addition to pesticides, flower cultivation also requires massive amounts of water. The farms around Bogota have used up most of the surface water sources and are digging wells to depths of 100 metres. In the 1980s, municipalities near Bogota experienced a water crisis and had to be connected to the city's aqueduct system. Now even the deep wells are becoming inadequate. The intense demand for water is lowering the subterranean water table and the companies have to keep drilling deeper.(131)
A significant new factor in the Colombian flower industry is the arrival of U.S. multinationals, Dole Food Company Inc. and USA Floral Products Inc. Dole is the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, and USA Floral recently bought Florimex, the world's largest flower trading company. Floral also bought twenty-three of the main U.S. flower importing companies and the top ten bouquet producers; some of these companies were previously owned by Colombian flower firms. These acquisitions, which cost U.S.$236.8 million, make USA Floral the largest importer and distributor of cut flowers in the U.S (132)
Dole has recently bought three Colombian flower companies: Floramerica S.A.(for U.S.$150 million), Finesse Farms and Four Farmers Inc. Dole also signed a letter of intent to buy a fourth flower company, the Clavecol Group. Floramerica is the largest producer of cut flowers in Colombia; the company accounts for 35% of cut flower production and has subsidiaries in Ecuador and Mexico and its own distribution centres and importers in the U.S. Dole aims to acquire a large share of the U.S. flower market estimated to be worth U.S.$9 billion; two-thirds of the fresh-cut flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in Colombia.(133) Dole's growing domination of the Colombian flower industry is not a positive development for workers. The company has a reputation of being anti-union and its presence is likely to lead to further deterioration of labour conditions.
Colombian security forces and their death squad allies have killed tens of thousands of people. In such a context, Canadian corporate investment cannot help but become a part of this dirty war. Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines, as part of the OCENSA consortium have not only transferred military equipment to known assassins but they have also given these forces information that identifies potential targets, according to Amnesty International. The presence of Conquistador Mines and its interest in the south of Bolivar appears to have encouraged the murder of local community leaders and the massive displacement of peasant miners and their families. The other Canadian companies in Colombia are not directly linked to human or labour rights violations, but they still benefit from the "economics of repression." The systematic massacres and displacements of Colombian citizens by a combined military-paramilitary assault have the dual effect of creating a vast pool of cheaper labour and giving foreign companies access to valuable natural resources they may not otherwise be able to obtain. Repression serves to greatly reduce the price and organized resistance of labour and clears the land of people who would resist the take over of Colombian natural wealth by multinational capital. This is how Canadian corporations profit from the repression even when they do not directly contribute to it. This is also why the Canadian government can call Colombia "a very favourable climate for investment."
The economics of repression are difficult to change in Colombia because they have become such a common feature of the global economy. Colombia is but one of the worst examples of the subjugation of the "south" by those who control the "northern" capitalist world. The unlimited desire of northern corporations and governments led by the United States, for cheap labour, raw materials and markets is what ultimately fuels the endless slaughter of innocents.
Creating and strengthening the bonds of solidarity between Colombian popular organizations and the international community have never been more important than they are today. In the face of "Plan Colombia" which will greatly exacerbate and further "Americanize" the war, Canadians must demand that Canadian investment in and trade with Colombia fully respect international standards on human rights, labour rights and environmental protection, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their traditional societies. Such conditions must also apply to any Canadian government assistance provided to Canadian corporations through the Export Development Corporation or other state institutions. Above all, the
Canadian government must refrain from participating in any aspect of "Plan Colombia" and instead, commit resources to Colombian civil society initiatives that seek a lasting peace process that is built on the collective social, economic and cultural rights of the people.
1. Quoted in Leslie Wirpsa, "Economics Fuels Return of La Violencia", National Catholic Reporter, October 24, 1997, p. 13.
2. Human Rights Watch, "Human Rights Situation in Colombia and the Implications of U.S. Security Assistance," September 21, 2000: Paramilitary death squads were responsible for 80% of political killings in 2000 (uptil September); The Ties that Bind: Colombia and Military-Paramilitary Links, February 2000; Colombia's Killer Networks: The Military-ParamilitaryPartnership and the United States, November 1996; "Massacres Increase," Colombia Bulletin, Winter 2000, p. 4; Amnesty International, "Fundamental Human Rights are not Negotiable", AMR 23/66/98, September 9, 1998; Cecilia Zarate-Laun (Colombia Support Network), Interview with Author, August 1, 2000.
3. Francis M. Deng, "Don't Overlook Colombia's Humanitarian Crisis", Christian ScienceMonitor, October 6, 1999.
4. International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), "Survey 2000," www.icftu.org; "Unions Claim Seven Activists Killed during Colombian Strike", Agence France-Presse, October 27, 1998; Statement by Colombian Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations, "Murder of the Vice-President of the CUT: Response of the National Public Sector Strike", October 21, 1998; "Colombia Government Accused of 'Cynical Manipulation,' " ICFTU Online, June 13, 2000.
5. Report of the Canadian Trade Union Delegation to Colombia, "A Life Threatening Activity": Trade Unionism Under Attack in Colombia, Toronto, Canadian Auto Workers, February 1998, pp. 3, 4, 10.
6. Wirpsa, op.cit., p.15.
7. Ibid; Tom Boswell, "Begging for Peace Amid So Much Death", National Catholic Reporter, January 24, 1997, p. 10; Alicia Korten, "Paving the Pan-American Gap," Multinational Monitor, November 1995, p. 19; Jon Barnes, The Colombian Plan Pacifico: Sustaining the Unsustainable, (report), London, Catholic Institute for International Relations, 1993, p. 7; Sarita Kendall, "Conservation by Consensus," Choices, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1994, p. 4.
8. Del Rio's remark quoted by Zarate-Laun, op.cit.; Washington Office on Latin America, "Human Rights Advocates Under Attack in Colombia," 1997.
9. Human Rights Watch, Colombia's Killer Networks: The Military-Paramilitary Partnership and the United States, op.cit., p. 3.
10. Wirpsa, op.cit., p. 16.
11. Human Rights Watch, op.cit., p. 17; Amnesty International, Colombia: Political Violence:Myth and Reality, New York, Amnesty International Publications, 1994, p. 56; Steven Dudley, "U.S. Interests Stoke the Violence in Colombia", The Progressive, February 1997, p. 27; Peter Dale Scott, "Colombia: Washington's Dirtiest 'War on Drugs'", Tikkun, May-June 1997, p. 29.
12. Government of Colombia (GOCL), "Foreign Investment", wwwcol.presidencia.gov.co/economy/foreign, pp. 1-2; "Economic Report no.33", December 4, 1997, .../economy/inf33, p. 10; GOCL, "Colombia: A South American Secret"(Special Advertising Section), Time, June 7, 1999.
13. Report of the Canadian Trade Union Delegation..., op.cit., p. 10; Government of Canada, Canadian Embassy/Colombia (CEC), "Colombia: A Guide for Canadian Exporters and Investors", February, 1999, p. 9; Government of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), "Colombia: A Guide for Canadian Exporters and Investors", 1997, p. 4; Amnesty International, Urgent Action 302/00, "Fear for Safety/Extrajudicial Executions: Leaders of SINTRAEMCALI and Other Trade Unions in Valle del Cauca Department," AMR23/79/00, September 28, 2000; Andy Higginbottom, "Cali Workers Fight Privatization," October 11, 2000.
14. CEC, op.cit., p. 8.
15. DFAIT, op.cit., p. 23; CEC, op.cit., p. 8; Government of the United States, Energy Information Administration (U.S. EIA), "Colombia, July 1998," www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/colombia: The U.S. government's EXIM bank loans to Colombia were frozen during 1996-1997 and resumed in April 1998.
16. Rod Giles (EDC), Letter to Pavitra Elliot (Probe International), March 2, 1999; Colombia Human Rights Network, "The Embera Katio People Under Threat by Urra Hydroelectric Project", January 4, 1999, www.igc.org/colhrnet/urgentaction/urra.htm; Steve Dudley, "Paradise Lost", In These Times, August 8, 1999, p. 8; Mario Murillo, "Indigenous Communities Caught in the Crossfire", NACLA, July/August 1999, pp. 10-11; Paul Knox, "Agency Under Fire over Dam", The Globe and Mail, November 16, 1999; Rhoda Metcalfe, "Colombian Indians Battle Dam for Survival," CBC Newsworld Online, July 5, 1999; Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA), "Canadian Churches hold Colombian Government Responsible for Embera Katio Disappeared by Paramilitary and Call for Prompt Intervention to Save their Lives," September 19, 2000; "21 Abducted Embera Katio Released," October 16, 2000; "Indians Ask Spain for Asylum," The Globe and Mail, May 1, 1999.
17. Government of Canada, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Project Summaries, December 1, 1998: "Sector Reform in Telecommunications-Colombia"; "Energy, Mining and Environment"; "Plan Pacifico-Training and Technical Assistance."
18. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, Address to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, October 21, 1997, p. 3. Whether or not Canadian investment in the three sectors mentioned is the largest is difficult to independently verify. The political import of the statement, however, speaks to the aggressive manner in which representatives of the Colombian state applaud and further encourage the sale of Colombian resources to foreign interests.
19. U.S. EIA, "Colombia, March 2000" and "Colombia, June 1999", op.cit.; "Indians, Oil and the Internet", The Economist, June 6, 1998, p. 34.
20. British Petroleum, "Colombia: Fields and Pipelines", www.bp.com/colombia.
21. U.S. EIA, "Colombia, June 1999,"op.cit.
22. Alan Kovski, "Ecopetrol's Rendon Predicts Oil from Cusiana will make up 25% of U.S. Sweet Crude Imports", The Oil Daily, March 22, 1995.
23. U.S. EIA, op.cit.
24. U.S. EIA, "Colombia, June 1999" and "Colombia, July 1998", op.cit.; Occidental Petroleum, "Colombia," www.oxy.com.
25. U.S. EIA, "Colombia, June 1999", op.cit.; Dudley and Murillo, op.cit., p. 44.
26. "Crippled Colombia Crude Pipeline Reopens," Reuters, September 19, 2000; "Pipeline Bombers' Denials Condemned", Toronto Star, October 21, 1998.
27. Amnesty International, "Colombia: British Petroleum Risks Fuelling Human Rights Crisis Through Military Training", AMR 23/44/97, June 30, 1997; John Pilger, Hidden Agendas, London, Vintage, 1998, p. 86.
28. Dudley and Murillo, op.cit., p. 46.
29. David Harrison, "The Oilmen's 'Colombian Kiss'", The Observer, November 3, 1996; "BP at War: Colombia", The Economist, July 19, 1997, p. 32; Pratap Chatterjee, "Mercenary Armies and Mineral Wealth", Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1997, pp. 28, 37.
30. Cesar Chalala, "Washington: Colombian U'wa Face Hazards of Oil Drilling", The Lancet,July 18, 1998, p. 209.
31. "Occidental Petroleum Relinquishes U'wa Lands But Fight Not Yet Over", NACLA, July/August 1998, p. 1; "Colombia: Tribe Threatens Suicide", Toronto Star, September 22, 1999; Rainforest Action Network, "Colombian President Pastrana Condemned for Granting Occidental Permit for Oil Drilling on U'wa Tribal Land", September 21, 1999, www.ran.org; "Stop the Eviction of the U'wa," Colombia Support Network, September 15, 2000.
32. Chalala, op.cit.
33. Dudley and Murillo, op.cit., p. 45.
34. Ibid, p. 44.
35. Harrison, op.cit.
36. John Otis, "Oil and Poverty Just Don't Mix", Insight on the News, February 24, 1997,p. 45.
37. U.S. EIA, "Colombia, March 2000" and "Colombia, June 1999," op.cit.; GOCL, "Economic Sectors", wwwcol.presidencia.gov.co/economy/sectors.htm, p. 5.
38. Nicholas Coghlan, Letter to Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, (President, Colombian Mine Workers Union), Bogota, Colombia, July 6, 1998.
39. TransCanada Pipelines (TCPL), Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997; News Release, December 8, 1999; Enbridge Inc., Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997.
40. TCPL, "OCENSA", www.transcanada.com/business/ocensa, p. 1; TCPL, Press Release, September 7, 2000.
41. John Skalski, "Line Extension Part of Colombian Production Surge", The Oil and Gas Journal, July 28, 1997, p. 67; TCPL, Press Release, op.cit.
42. Amnesty International, "Amnesty International Renews Calls to Oil Companies Operating in Colombia to Respect Human Rights", AMR 23/79/98, October 19, 1998.
43. "The Dirty War of the Pipeline", Colombia Bulletin, Spring 1999, pp. 11-13; Zarate-Laun, Interview with Author, July 15, 1999.
44. TCPL, News Release, February 4, 2000.
45. TCPL, "CentrOriente", www.transcanada.com/business/centro, pp. 1-3; Annual Report 1998.
46. TCPL, "TransGas", www.transcanada.com/business/transgas, p. 1; U.S. EIA, op.cit.
47. Canadian Occidental, Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997; News Releases: September 18 and August 1, 2000, www.cdnoxy.com.
48. International Rochester Energy, "Colombia's Largest Exploration Acreage Holders", www.rochester-energy.com/sld007, p.1; CanOxy, Annual Report 1999; Second Quarter Interim Report, June 30, 2000; News Releases, op.cit.
49. Alberta Energy Company, Annual Report 1999; "Who Are We", "AEC International", "Remarks by Gwyn Morgan, President and CEO, AEC" February 8, 1999, www.aec.ca ; Pacalta Resources, Annual Report 1998 and "Colombia", www.pacalta.com; Brian Bergman, "Disturbing the Peace", Maclean's, February 8, 1999, p. 25; Jill Mahoney, "Ludwig Granted Bail as Intrigue Grows", The Globe and Mail, February 19, 1999.
50. Talisman Energy, Annual Report 1999; David Mann (spokesman for Talisman), Interview with Author, October 6, 2000; "Operations,"; www.talisman-energy.com; David Ljjungren, "Oil Firms Inflame Sudan's War: Probe," Toronto Star, February 12, 2000; "Canada's Complicity in Sudan's Civil War," Toronto Star, February 15, 2000; "Oil Firms in Sudan Lengthen War: Probe," The Globe and Mail, February 12, 2000.
51. TecnoPetrol, "Oil and Gas: A New Presence in Colombia's Dynamic Oil and Gas Industry".
52. The Invest in Colombia Corporation (COINVERTIR), "Two More Oil Contracts Awarded to Multinationals", www.coinvertir.org.co/News/1998.09.News, September 7, 1998, p. 5; U.S. EIA, "Colombia, March 2000," op.cit.
53. Quadra Resources, "Properties"; News Releases: January 27, 2000, November 4 and October 28, 1998. www.quadrares.com.
54. Petrolex Energy, Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997; News Releases: April 14, May 31, August 29, September 21, 2000; News Release, October 4, 2000, www.bizyahoo.com/prnews.
55. Vanguard Oil, Annual Report 1999; First Quarter Interim Report, March 31, 2000; Kappa Energy, "Corporate: Background" and "Operations: Colombia", www.kappaenergy.com/the1.htm; Kappa Energy, Annual Report 1998; First Quarter Interim Report, March 31, 1999.
56. Millennium Energy, Annual Report 1999; Mera Petroleums, Annual Report 1999; News Release, January 28, 2000.
57. CEC, op.cit., p. 17.
58. Nortel Networks, "Nortel and Colombia's Telecom Sign Agreement to Deploy 210,000 Lines in Cali", www.nortelnetworks.com/home/press/1997c/8, August 27, 1997, p. 1.
59. Bank of America, "Colombia: Telecommunications Equipment and Services", www.tradeport.org/ts/countries/colombia, September, 1995, p. 2.
60. GOCL, op.cit., pp. 7-9.
61. David Scanlan with Sandra Mateus, "Colombia Opens Bidding on Long Distance Phone Market", Bloomberg Business News, March 30, 1996.
62. CIDA, op.cit., "Sector Reform in Telecommunications-Colombia".
63. BCE, Annual Report 1999; Guy Dixon, "Nortel's Complicated Spinoff Set to Go," The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2000.
64. BCI, Annual Report 1999; BCE, "Bell Canada International: A Fast Growing Player on the World Stage", bce.ca//bce/e/about/companies/bci/, p. 1; "BCI Selling Stake," Toronto Star, September 1, 2000.
65. Robert Brehl, "Ringing Success Abroad Bell's International Unit is Investing Around the World and Honing Skills for Big Battles Here", Toronto Star, January 12, 1997; BCE, Annual Report 1999, 1998; "BCI Selling..."op.cit.; "Bell International Moves on Latin America," Toronto Star, September 27, 2000.
66. "Bell Buys Cellphone Firm in Western Colombia", Montreal Gazette, March 27, 1998; BCI, "Colombia: COMCEL", www.bci.ca/bci/e/south_america/comcel, pp. 1-3; BCE, op.cit.; GCOL, "A South American Secret", op.cit.; "Telecommunications", The Globe and Mail, September 9, 1999; BCE, Annual Report, 1999; BCI, Annual Report 1999.
67. BCI, "Colombia: COMCEL," op.cit.; Annual Report 1999.
68. BCE, Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997.
69. Nortel Networks, "Investor Relations: Financial Information for 2000," "Colombia", "Latin American Telecommunications Boom Translates Into Record Year for Nortel CALA" www.nortelnetworks.com; Nortel Networks, Annual Report 1998, 1997.
70. Nortel Networks, "Colombia"; "Nortel Reaches Milestone One Million Subscribers in Colombia", www.nortelnetworks.com.
71. Government of Canada, Export Development Corporation (EDC), Press Releases, July 23, 1996 and March 7, 1995.
72. Carlos Eduardo Rivera, Interview with Author, July 23, 1999.
73. "300,000 Displaced...", Colombia Bulletin, op.cit.; Colombia Support Network, "Urgent Action: Stop Forced Displacement in San Pablo", www.igc.apc.org/csn/, November 4, 1999. . 74. GOCL, op.cit., p. 7; Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, President, Colombian Mine Workers Union, Speaking Tour-Canada, Toronto, April-May, 2000.
75. Arturo Escobar, "Destruction of the Colombian Pacific Coast By Industrial Gold Mining on the Rise", www.alternatives.com/libs/bizmine2.
76. CBC Television, "The Ugly Canadian", aired July 6, 1998.
77. Panos, "The Lure of Gold: How Golden is the Future?", Media Briefing no.19, May 1996, www.oneworld.org/panos/briefing/gold, p. 7.
78. Companies Concerned [see list at end of mining section], Interviews with Author.
79. Conquistador Mines, Annual Report 1999, 1997; Raul J. Madrid CEO, "Letter to Shareholders", May 14, 1999.
80. Conquistador Mines, Annual Report 1997.
81. Conquistador Mines, News Release, May 12, 1998.
82. Cecilia Zarate-Laun (Colombia Support Network), "A Case Study of Globalization: A Chronology"; "Transnationals Allegedly Fund Paramilitary Groups", InterPress Service, August 21, 1998; Yadira Ferrer, "Paramilitary Squads Help Canadian Gold Miners in Colombia", InterPress Service, November 16, 1998.
83. "Villages Bombed," Colombia Bulletin, Winter 2000, p. 3.
84. Ramirez Cuellar, op.cit.
85. Conquistador Mines, News Release, November 19, 1999.
86. BMR Gold, Annual Report 1997; "South American Gold/Silver Property", "Colombia Exploration Program Commenced", News Release, January 9, 1997, email@example.com/southamerica; "BMR Gold Corp. Reports on the Status of the Company", News Release, July 1999; BMR Gold, Corporate Relations, Interview with Author, August 3, 1999; Colombia Bulletin, op.cit.
87. Grey Star, Annual Report 1999, 1998, 1997; News Release, October 5, 1998; "Angostura Comparison", October 1998.
88. Sur American Gold, Annual Report 1999, 1997; "Investor Relations: Corporate Update 2000," www.suramerican.com; John Schreiner, "Sur American Shares Jump on Early Report of Gold", The Financial Post, March 19, 1997;
89. Sur American Gold, Annual Report 1997; News Release, May 10, 1999; "Projects," www.suramerican.com.
90. Kruger Inc., "Papeles Nacionales S.A.", "The Kruger Organization", "Kruger Inc.Acquires Shepherd Tissue, Forms New Company"Global Tissue LLC", www.kruger.com; Kruger Inc., Corporate Relations, Interview with Author, July 28, 1999; Carlos Van Cotthem, Commercial Officer, Canadian Embassy, Colombia, Interview with Author, July 22, 1999.
91. Quebecor Inc., Annual Report 1999; Quebecor Printing, Annual Report 1998, 1997; Press Release, October 19, 1998; "South America", www.quebecorprinting.com; Les Whittington, "Quebecor Takes on the World", Toronto Star, July 13, 1999; "Quebecor Printing Gains Control of World Color", The Globe and Mail, August 21, 1999; Chantal Hebert, "Peladeau's Tangled Web", Toronto Star, August 24, 1999; "Quebecor Shuffles Management," Toronto Star, September 23, 2000.
92. DFAIT, op.cit., p. 6.
93. McCains Foods, "Media Releases", www.mccain.com/press/press5; "South American Operations",...com/locations/colombia; Constanza Salamanca, McCains International (Colombia), Interview with Author, December 10, 1998; DFAIT, "Colombia: A Guide for Canadian Exporters and Investors," op.cit.
94. Bata, "Welcome to the Bata Shoe Organization", "Shoemakers to the World", www.bata.com; CEC, op.cit., p. 11; Van Cotthem, op.cit.
95. DFAIT, "Canada-Colombia Trade and Investment Relations", www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/.
96. Ibid; Government Of Canada, Industry Canada (IC), Trade Data Online: Canada-Colombia Exports and Imports, http://strategis.ic.gc.ca: This site lists Canadian world trade figures by product and country for the last five years. Click on "Trade and Investment," then "Trade Data Online," then "Trade by products," and then choose countries and specific products.
97. IC, op.cit.; U.S. EIA, "Colombia, March 2000,"; BCI, Annual Report 1999; "Leaving the Mines," The Globe and Mail, January 11, 2000.
98. Jim Young, "Cancer for Sale: Canada's Asbestos Crusade", In These Times, September 5, 1999, p. 10.
99. Bell Helicopter Textron (BHT), www.belltextron.com/lowrez/cn/BellCanada.
100. Evangelina Sapp, "The Colombian Resistance: An Interview with Javier Giraldo", Briarpatch, July/August 1998, p. 25.
101. Ken Epps, Project Ploughshares, Interview with Author, November 20, 1998.
102. CEC, op.cit., p. 22.
103. BHT, op.cit.; Textron, www.textron.com.
104. Epps, op.cit.
105. "Colombian Crop Estimate Sends Coffee Prices Lower", The Globe and Mail, November 11, 1998.
106. GOCL, "Foreign Trade", wwwcol.presidencia.gov.co/economy/trade, p. 1; IC, op.cit.
107. GOCL, "Economic Sectors", op.cit., p. 2.
108. Robert A. Rice and Justin R. Ward, Coffee, Conservation and Commerce in the Western Hemisphere, (email version), Washington D.C., Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the National Resources Defense Council, June 1996.
109. Ibon Villelabeitia, "Coffee Icon Juan Valdez Turns 40," Toronto Star, September 13, 2000.
110. PANNA, "Enosulfan to be Banned in Colombia?", June 16, 1995, www.igc.org/panna/. (PESTIS database).
111. GOCL, op.cit., p. 2.
112. IC, op.cit.; "Caribbean Heads of State Meet to Discuss Economic Integration, Tourism and the ╬War' Over Banana Quotas", Noticen: Central American and Caribbean Affairs, April 22, 1999.
113. Boswell, op.cit.
114. Human Rights Watch, op.cit. p. 73;
115. Lourdes Molina Navarro, "Flower Power: Floriculture in Colombia", The WorldPaper Online, August 1997, www.worldpaper.com/august97/navarro, p. 1.
116. Larry Rohter, "Foreign Presence in Colombia's Flower Gardens", New York Times, May 8, 1999.
117. Rhoda Metcalfe, "Colombian Flower Farms"Where Roses Don't Smell So Sweet", Ottawa Citizen, December 28, 1997; Jeroen van Wijk, "Floriculture in Colombia", Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 20, September, 1994, p. 4; Molina Navarro, op.cit.; GOCL, "Colombia: A South American Secret", op.cit.; IC, op.cit.
118. Cruz Emilia Rangel, Bettina Reis and Patricia Sierra, "Forms of Labour Contracting in the Colombian Export Flower Industry: The Rise of ╬Temporary Services' Companies", Beyond Law, Vol. 5, March 1996, pp. 56-57.
119. Cyndi Mellon, "Women and Flowers: A Toxic Combination", Americas Update March/April 1996, p. 4.
120. Trade and Environment Database [TED], "Rose Trade and the Environment", gurukul.ucc.american.edu/TED/ROSE, January 1998, p. 5.
121. Christian Aid, "Interviews with Colombian Flower Workers", 1997..
122. TED, op.cit., p. 6.
123. Cactus (the Colombian flower workers' support group), "Check List for Evaluating the Conditions of the Use of Pesticides in Flower Producers".
124. FNV, "A General Introduction to International Horticulture", Netherlands, p. 17.
125. TED, op.cit., p. 5.
126. Ibid; Metcalfe, op.cit.
127. Mellon, op.cit., p. 5.
128. Emilia Rangel et. al., op.cit., p. 56.
129. Christian Aid, op.cit.
130. Mellon, op.cit., p. 4.
131. Metcalfe, op.cit.
132. Gilma Madrid, "Transnationals in the Colombian Flower Industry", September 1998, (email version).
133. Ibid; "Dole Food Buys Flower Importers, Colombian Farms", Miami Herald, August 5, 1998; "Dole Buys More Flower Concerns", New York Times, August 5, 1998; "Dole Diversifying Colombian Investments Through Acquisition of Local Flower Producing and Exporting Firms", El Tiempo, June 28, 1998; Rohter, op.cit.
Comfortable, smug analysts in the North like to claim that "history is over," and that there's no alternative to following the path of global neoliberalism. But the rebellion in Colombia is proving once again that poor people everywhere will continue to fight back, against incredible odds, for a better way of life. History, in other words, is still being made. Asad Ismi's thoroughly documented review of Canada's shameful involvement on the wrong side of the Colombian battle will be a valuable tool for solidarity activists everywhere. It's a wake-up call to Canadians to start fighting now to end our participation in what is quickly looking like another Vietnam.
This timely report provides disturbing evidence of the apparent complicity of Canadian business in systematic human-rights violations by the Colombian Government and the right-wing paramilitary. At a time when the U.S. is intensifying its military aid to Colombia under the pretext of the "war on drugs," it is extremely important that Canadians should understand what is really at stake in Colombia and should put pressure on their own Government to dissociate itself from U.S. policy and ensure that Canadian companies observe ethical norms in their Colombian operations. Asad Ismi's report is essential reading and deserves the widest possible audience.
Asad Ismi's report on Canadian corporate complicity in Colombia shines the spotlight on a country that few people know anything about, thanks to the mainstream media's distortions of Colombian reality. Most Canadians only know that Colombia is full of drug dealers and Marxist guerrillas roaming the jungle. Few, if any, know the truth about the many Canadian corporations that invest in Colombia, and thereby help Colombia's repressive state apparatus. Asad Ismi's report should be required reading for anyone who wants to look behind the headlines and unmask the Canadian links to military atrocities, paramilitary death squads, and human rights violations.
Most Canadians are unaware that some of this country's largest corporations are profiting from the Colombian government's brutal repression of dissent and democracy. Asad Ismi's shocking exposÄ of this corporate collaboration with Colombia's ruthless dictatorship is recommended reading for everyone concerned about social and economic justice.
Asad Ismi is an excellent investigative researcher whose work has helped me enormously over the years.