support-hondurasColombia In The Shadow Of Human Rights Abuses

A Special Report by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)

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

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November 30, 2015

Venezuela elections, a battle to defend Revolution

By Gloria La Riva

PSUV supporters rally as campaigning draws to a close.

Venezuela’s upcoming Dec. 6 elections for all 167 National Assembly seats could be critical for the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The Bolivarian Revolution is the process launched by Hugo Chávez in 1999. It includes great economic and social gains, a progressive Constitution and legislation, national control of Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves, and a declared goal of building socialism.

Threatening these gains and aims is an intensifying economic and political war waged by the right-wing opposition and the U.S. government in the lead-up to the elections. The campaign of aggression shows no signs of easing after Dec. 6.

The right-wing politicians—part of Venezuela’s capitalist class—hope to derail the revolutionary government by winning a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

Ominous detailed plans by the opposition to dismantle revolutionary laws and institutions were published in El Nacional, on Nov. 23, one of the main opposition newspapers.

A “non-governmental organization” called “Un Estado de Derecho,” made up of right-wing lawyers, has prepared a 40-page analysis in which it claims how the “rule of law” can be reinstated, if the opposition wins just 50 percent plus one seat. It is a blueprint describing a takeover of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Public Defender and General Comptroller and reorganizing the Citizen and Electoral powers of the Constitution.

-read the entire story

November 27, 2015

English + Spanish subtitles for TV documentary on ISDS investment arbitration

In October, the first German public TV channel broadcast a pretty good 45 minute documentary on the investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS), in TTIP and elsewhere: "Konzerne klagen - wir zahlen".

The film goes in depth into the cases of energy giant Vattenfall vs. Germany, Bilcon against Canada as well as the numerous cases of solar investors against Spain. It includes strong statements from people from the arbitration industry, politicians, NGO activists as well as academics.

CEO and TNI have now subtitled the video in English and Spanish (you have to activate the subtitles yourselves):

Some quotes from the movie can be found below, to give you an impression.

“It’s been a bonanza for the legal industry, that’s growing up around this treaties and it’s ultimate, it only exists, because at some point everyone expects: The public will have to pay.”
-Gus van Harten, Professor for International Law

"We do see people essentially speculating on the outcomes of corporate attacks on governments.“
-Ben Beachy, Sierra Club

"The moment in which those standards as fair and equitable treatment have been applied in an extensive way, meaning that any legislative change which impairs or which brings with it as a consequence that a certain expected investment is not longer going to be possible - this is in my eyes a perversion of the system.“
-José-Maria Beneyto, Professor for international law

November 25, 2015

The pathways from mining to muck

Source: Brasil de Fato
By Joana Tavares, From Mariana in Minas Gerais state  
Translated by Judith Marshall

The rupture of the tailings dams in Mariana is being classified as the worst disaster in the mining sector in Brazil. It is not yet possible to measure the impacts of the flooding.

Plantations and animal pens were razed in the rural area of Barra Longa | Credit: Joana Tavares

In Lower Paracatu, a small district in Mariana, in the Central Region of Minas Gerais, almost all of the houses, the school, the bars, the shops, the church and the town square are covered or buried in muck.  It arrived three hours after the ruptures in the tailings ponds at Fundão and Santarém, belonging to Samarco mining company, in the Bento Rodrigues district, also in Mariana.

Two weeks after the terror began, the community looks like a war zone: the spaces that used to be streets  - now slippery tracks of heavy muck – are deserted.  Abandoned dogs roam about in search of clean wat.  There are a few trucks and scoop shovels that are slowly removing some of the er refuse. The few men at work are from one of the companies sub-contracted by Samarco such as Integral. The majority of the workers who were in the mine when the tailings dams ruptured were also employed by Integral.

In front of a house that was both imposing and impeccably clean, without a trace of muck, there were four workers, equally clean, engaged in tending the plants.  Not one of them was willing to identify himself or talk to the reporter – “Samarco itself  is the only one to be talking” according to one  – but in the end the workers let slip that the house was a country residence owned by a Diretor of Vale, the company that owns 50% of the shares of Samarco,  as part of a joint venture with another mining giant, BHP Billiton.

The Director, however, is not there.  Also absent are the the Fire Department Rescue Team, the Military Police and Social Welfare.  Not a single representative from  local or state government is present to accompany in any way the work being carried out by the Integral employees or to converse with the few people who still remain in the small ghost town.

-read or download the entire 16-page report

November 17, 2015

Interview with Francisco Ramirez Cuellar on RCI

FRANCISCO RAMIREZ CUELLAR, Colombian trade unionist, human rights activist & expert on the proliferation of multinational & Canadian corporate control of Colombia’s mining-energy extractive industries. Author of “The Profits of Extermination: Big Mining in Colombia”-Take Action Now!

Note: This interview with RCI is in Spanish

-Listen to the interview

November 16, 2015

Free Trade 101 video from Common Frontiers

-Voir la vidéo ci-dessus en français

Trade and investment agreements increase corporate power, erode state sovereignty, weaken democratic authority and are central to the neoliberal framework of privatization and deregulation. They do this by restricting government ability to regulate in the public interest, limiting progressive governance and public services, while at the same time protecting and privileging the interest of multinational corporations. This includes in many areas not directly related to trade like food production, access to medicines, health care, the internet, environment and labour regulations.

Most trade deals include investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a provision that gives multinational corporations the ability to sue governments over regulations they feel are affecting their investment, including “expected future profits”. They limit the ability of governments to expand public services by locking in privatization. It affords foreign corporations the right to sue for compensate when public services are expanded or when privatization is reversed.

We call on the government to hold public hearings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in each province and territory across Canada as well as separate and meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities and First Nations. No agreement can be ratified without full consent.

-Take Action Now!

November 13, 2015

The Worst Company in the World

Brazil’s Vale corporation masks brutal exploitation with the language of South-South solidarity.

By Judith Marshall
Jacobin Magazine

Both during and after his two terms in office, former Brazilian president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva staked much of his legacy on Brazil’s “South-South” orientation towards Africa. In return, he’s been held across the continent in nearly the same esteem as national liberation leaders such as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela or Mozambique’s Samora Machel.

On his first presidential visit to Mozambique in 2003, Lula got a hero’s welcome and gave emotional speeches about the importance of Global South solidarity. He responded with empathy to the AIDS pandemic and promised Brazilian support for a project to produce affordable drugs to combat it.

But perhaps more telling was not what Lula was saying in Africa, but who he brought along with him. The Brazilian entourage included Roger Agnelli, the brash banker who played a major role assessing the value of Brazil’s premier state enterprise, Companhia Vale de Rio Doce, in the run up to its privatization in 1997.

Agnelli subsequently became Vale’s first president and CEO — leading a corporation that was anointed the “worst company in the world” in 2012 by activists for its labor relations, community impact, and environmental record.

Not that this did much to tarnish Agnelli’s reputation. Buoyed by the “commodities supercycle” with average increases of 150 percent from 2002–2012, the seemingly bottomless Chinese demand for iron ore, and the abundant capital from the Brazilian National Bank for Social and Economic Development (BNDES), Agnelli appeared to have the Midas touch. His time in command at Vale was characterized by aggressive global expansion and fabulous profits and shareholders returns.

Agnelli’s public relations team at Vale worked hard to project a spirit of South-South cooperation in sync with Lula’s rhetoric, claiming that Brazilian mining investments in the Global South would bring jobs and economic development unlike companies from the imperialist “North.”

Yet tracking Vale’s trajectory, whether within Brazil itself, in Mozambique where it has embarked on a greenfield investment in a coal mining, railway, and port complex, or in Canada where it acquired established nickel operations, a very different picture emerges — one characterized by a marked dissonance between Vale’s rhetoric and the realities on the ground across the company’s global operations.

-read the entire article on the Jacobin website

November 12, 2015

Media Release

Canadian mega tourism projects displacing Garifuna Communities in Honduras

The Garifuna in Honduras are an indigenous people who have lived off the land for over two centuries along the Caribbean coast. Since 2007 Garifuna communities along the Trujillo region have been displaced from their ancestral lands through illegal expropriation and repression in order to make way for mega tourism projects. The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH by its Spanish acronym) has denounced Canadian investor, Randy Jorgensen’s two companies; Life Vision Developments (gated community projects) and Banana Coast (owns cruise ship terminal) tourism-related projects accused of illegal land purchases belonging to Garífuna communities.

Members of the communities of Rio Negro and Cristales, accompanied by OFRANEH, filed a lawsuit demanding absolute nullity of several fraudulent land sales made in favor of Jorgensen, also known as the Canadian “Porn King”. In June of this year, an arrest warrant was issued for him by the Honduran Attorney General’s office. Charges against Jorgensen involve the illegal purchase and on-going use of land within a community land title belonging to the Garifuna communities of Cristales and Rio Negro, located in Trujillo Bay with a court hearing to take place on November 13 2015.

In a recently released statement OFRANEH said “many years have passed before it was possible for the porn king to be prosecuted for the crime of usurping land. Now it remains to be seen whether the justice system in Trujillo works or just adheres to the tsunami of corruption that is drowning the country”. His investments in the region are seen as the seed for future and controversial Economic Development and Employment Zone (ZEDE) or Model Cities or parts of what could grow into a free trade, special development zone in the region.

Randy Jorgensen is selling these illegally-owned lands to Canadians interested in more economically viable vacation homes. Canadians should be aware that these projects are highly controversial and are not welcomed by the Garifuna communities that are losing their land and cultural integrity as a result.

Common Frontiers welcomes the recent legal developments in favour of the Garifuna community to recuperate their ancestral lands. However, given the rampant corruption and high levels of impunity in Honduras we remain vigilant to ensure justice will be served.

For additional information on the case see the following article from Karen Spring or video interview with Alfredo Lopez, Garifuna leader.

More Info In Honduras: Karen Spring, Honduras Solidarity Network, [504] 9507-3835,

More Info In Canada/U.S.:
Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers [416] 522 8615,
Grahame Russell, Rights Action, 416-807-4436,

November 10, 2015

Peace, Victims, & Corporate Interests: Colombia at the crossroads

Click on the image for larger view

Colombian labour and Indigenous leaders will discuss the peace process in Colombia and share their stories of resistance to multinational corporate plunder.

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s new “Americas Policy,” through which Canada would build trade ties with governments that shared Canada’s values of “democracy, human rights, rule-of-law and good governance.” The Canadian government then announced negotiations for a free trade and investment deal with Colombia, the country with the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA), implemented in 2011, resolved to “protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights,” and affirmed a commitment to the “protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Instead, like Canada’s previous trade deals it proved to be a standard neoliberal agreement that promotes market liberalization, privatization and deregulation.

When: Thur. Nov. 19th
Where: Friends House 60 Lowther, Toronto (wheelchair accessible )
Time: 6:30 PM

-for more details see this Facebook event

November 6, 2015

Not so fast: TPP needs public consultation, says Council of Canadians

Media Release
Council of Canadians

OTTAWA – With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text finally revealed, the Council of Canadians asks that new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not repeat the mistakes of his predecessor by failing to consult with the public about the agreement. After years of secret talks where only cleared advisors and lobbyists were consulted – with no input from Parliament, civil society or labour organizations – a full democratic accounting of this far-reaching deal is long overdue.

The Council of Canadians is asking for a full public consultation, including an independent human rights, economic, and environmental review of the document. It also asks that the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which allow corporations to sue states for lost profits, be excised from the deal. The Council of Canadians also asks that any progress made at the Paris climate talks be shielded from lawsuits.

“TPP negotiators have boasted about the supposed benefits of this deal,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “But now that the details have come to light, Canadians can judge for themselves. Without a full public consultation, this deal has no legitimacy.”

Specifically, the Council of Canadians demands:

“Trudeau is under a lot of pressure to adopt this deal as soon as possible, with calls already coming in from U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese President Shinzo Abe. But a thorough public review is needed before he can establish whether the TPP is truly in Canada’s interest,” concludes Barlow.

-read the complete release of the TPP

November 5, 2015

Ten Years After the Defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) – Lessons for Current Struggles

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the defeat of the FTAA. What can we learn from that victory and the subsequent corporate counter-offensive in Latin America for our current global struggles against free trade and corporate power?

Aldo Orellana López
Thomas McDonagh
Latin America - in movement

At the 4th Summit of the Americas 10 years ago in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas was pronounced dead and buried. Today, 10 years on, the Democracy Center has interviewed three prominent social leaders who successfully fought, alongside hundreds of activists and organizations from across the continent, against what was intended to be the world's largest free trade area and the greatest corporate offensive in modern history.

Our interviewees are all from organizations that are members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA): Alberto Arroyo from the Mexican Free Trade Action Network; Paulina Muñoz from Ecuador Decides; and Enrique Daza from the Colombian Free Trade Action Network who was also responsible for the secretariat of the HSA.

The aim of our interviews has been to gather as many lessons as possible, not only in relation to the victory against the FTAA but also from subsequent developments in the region. We critically explore the corporate counter-offensive in the Americas and worldwide and the evolving role of social movements in light of these developments. Finally, we present a series of reflections on the fight against the system globally and on the evolution of the international social movement.

Just as the FTAA was a crossroads, we are currently at another crossroads. We recently saw the announcement of the end of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and the US and EU are pushing hard to finalise the TTIP and other major trade and investment deals. The weeks and months to come will determine whether the current free trade regime can be consolidated at global level, or whether it will once again fail thanks to social movement mobilisation.

Our overarching aim is to contribute to the strategic thinking for these current struggles in the Americas, Europe and the rest of the world.

-read the entire report

October 30, 2015

Fighting TTIP, CETA and ISDS: Lessons from Canada

flagBy Maude Barlow
The Council of Canadians

This paper is offered as a warning to Europeans who care about the health of their people, the resilience of their communities, the fate of their public services, and the protection of their natural resources.
In 1989, Canada and the United States signed the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (CUSTA). In 1994, the two countries and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These two deals set the tone for the new generation of bilateral and regional trade deals, and created a model still vigorously pursued by most governments.

Under CUSTA, Canada would lose much of its manufacturing base as American corporations closed their Canadian plants and moved them offshore. Canada also gave up regulatory control of its energy reserves. NAFTA introduced a new provision – investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – whereby corporations from the three countries could sue one another’s governments for changes to laws, policies or practices that hurt the corporations’ bottom lines.

NAFTA’s legacy is alive and well in both the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. While these deals push the trade envelope in several new ways, both contain ISDS provisions, which are especially controversial in Europe.

As a result of NAFTA, Canada is the most investor-state challenged country in the developed world, and Canadians have an important story to share with Europeans as they grapple with TTIP and CETA. This paper is offered as a warning to Europeans who care about the health of their people, the resilience of their communities, the fate of their public services, and the protection of their natural resources.

-Download the complete report   English    Français   Deutsch   Español

October 28, 2015

Randy Jorgensen, the Canadian “Porn King”, To Appear in Honduran Courts for Illegal Possession of Garifuna Lands for Tourist Projects

cruise terminal
The Banana Coast cruise ship terminal, in the Rio Negro neighborhood in Trujillo. Local residents no longer have free access to the beach.

By Karen Spring

Randy Jorgensen will appear in Honduran courts under charges of usurpation, related to the illegal possession of Afro-indigenous, Garifuna lands in Trujillo, Honduras. Jorgensen, also known as the Canadian Porn King, is a major investor in various tourist projects in the Trujillo Bay area along Honduras’ northern Caribbean coast, including the ‘Banana Coast’ cruise ship terminal, and various gated-community projects. Charges against Jorgensen involve the illegal purchase and on-going use of land within a community land title belonging to the Garifuna communities of Cristales and Rio Negro, located in Trujillo Bay.

The legal hearing will take place on November 13 and the charges come after years of investigation of the illegal land sales. In June of this year, an arrest warrant for Jorgensen was issued by the Honduran Attorney General’s office. The majority of the alleged “land sales” in Rio Negro were made under threat of expropriation and repression, given the tense political environment following the June 2009 military coup in Honduras.

The Garifuna are an Afro-indigenous people that have lived for over 200 years along the Caribbean coast of Honduras, on lands now threatened by the foreign and national tourism industry. In the Trujillo region, Garifuna communities are also being evicted from their ancestral lands amid the possible construction of an Economic Development and Employment Zone (ZEDE) or Model City. Jorgensen’s investments are seen as the seed of a future ZEDE or parts of what could grow into a free trade, special development zone in the region.

-read the rest of the story here

Karen Spring is a human rights activist and the Honduras-based Coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN). Their work focuses on educating North Americans about the impacts of the political and economic policies of the U.S. and Canadian governments, transnational corporations, and International Financial Institutions, in Honduras and the region.

October 22, 2015

Unifor President Protests Colombia's Arrest Of Feliciano Valencia

unifor logoNote: This letter was originally sent on September 25, 2015

Sr. Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of Unifor, the largest private sector union in Canada representing over 310,000 members in all sectors of the economy, I am writing to express my concern over the detention of Feliciano Valencia on September 15th, 2015 in La Augustina, Cauca. Mr. Valencia was detained after participating in an indigenous education event the city of Popayan. His detention was ordered by the Tribunal Superior court in Popayan, which overturned a previous ruling that had found Mr. Valencia innocent of charges of kidnapping and assault laid in April 2009. This latest ruling violates the Colombian Constitution, and the special indigenous legal jurisdiction which makes up part of what is defined in the constitution as a multi-ethnic, pluri-cultural rule of law system.

I understand that Mr. Valencia is an indigenous leader from the Asociación de Cabildos Indigenas del Norte del Cauca, and is recognized nationally and internationally for his knowledge of ethnic rights and his contributions to advances in indigenous legislation. I also understand that he has led countless protests and campaign actions for the collective rights of communities.

Furthermore, I understand that Mr. Valencia has suffered ongoing persecution, harassment and threats, and that the Colombian state has classified his situation as high risk, and that the Inter- American Commission of Human Rights has ordered precautionary measures from the Colombian government to protect his life.

I respectfully request that:

1. Feliciano Valencia be released immediately
2. A disciplinary investigation be held into the officials who ordered his arrest

Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent matter.


Jerry Dias
National President

October 21, 2015

CUPW Calls On Canada Post to Stop Defeated Conservatives' Delivery Cuts

cup-W LogoOTTAWA, Oct. 21, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is calling for an immediate halt to the door-to-delivery cuts scheduled in the coming weeks prior to the Liberals forming the new government.

"The postal cuts were driven by the Conservatives. Now they are no longer in power, it's time to hit the brakes," said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Several neighbourhood conversions to the controversial group mailboxes were scheduled on October 19th, Election Day and still more are slated for November.

The union fears that Canada Post will forge ahead with its plan prior to the Liberal majority government taking the reins.

"We need to stop the cuts before more jobs are lost, before more damage is done to property and before more people lose this service," said Palecek.

The Liberals campaigned on an election promise to stop the cuts to home mail delivery and hold a review of Canada Post. These commitments have been welcomed by the union, but representatives say the Liberals need to move quickly and instruct Canada Post to call a halt.

"Many seniors, people with disabilities and others voted for the Liberals because they promised to stop the cuts to door-to-door delivery," said Palecek.

"It would be wrong for Canada Post to continue down this road now that the Liberals have been elected and the people have clearly spoken on this issue."

SOURCE Canadian Union of Postal Workers

For further information: Aalya Ahmad, CUPW Communications, at 613-327-1177.


October 8, 2015
For Immediate Release

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system is overly complex and under-resourced, new BCGEU report says

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system is complex, culturally unsuitable,
under-resourced, severely under-staffed and struggles under its own
complexity, according to a BCGEU report titled Closing the circle: a case
for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services released

“The political leadership of our province must take responsibility for
properly prioritizing and resourcing B.C.’s Aboriginal child, youth and
family welfare system to avoid further tragedies,” says BCGEU president
Stephanie Smith.

“As Aboriginal people, we absolutely need and deserve culturally appropriate
and adequately funded Aboriginal child, youth and family services,” says
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia
Indian Chiefs, who has endorsed the report.

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system needs to be reformed to address
cultural sensitivities and historical injustices, and define a new service
delivery model. The current system is not structured in the best interests
of Aboriginal children or families. It involves an overly complex patchwork
of agencies, relationships and funding arrangements.

B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system also requires a major investment in
resources, staffing, cultural training, and improved transparency and
financial accountability, the report finds.

Key report themes include: systemic administrative complexity; historical
and cultural factors; the lack of trust between Aboriginal families and
communities and the child and family welfare system; lack of funding for
culturally-appropriate services; insufficient staffing levels and training.

“It's time for the provincial government to fully embrace and act on this
report's findings, and ensure that Aboriginal children and families are
receiving the supports they need and deserve,” says Grand Chief Stewart

The Closing the circle report will be launched at a public event at 5:30pm
today featuring Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the B.C. Representative for
Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and Dr. Cindy Blackstock. BCGEU
union members will be attending the event via video conference at area
offices across the province. The event is at full capacity.

The BCGEU is one of the most diverse labour unions in the province,
representing 65,000 workers at 550 different employers across British

The union represents over 400 Aboriginal children, youth and family workers
at five delegated and partially delegated Aboriginal agencies out of a total
of 23 across the province.

Media: for interview requests, please call Oliver Rohlfs BCGEU
Communications (778)318-9164

-read the complete report here

October 7, 2015

WikiLeaks - The US strategy to create a new global legal and economic system: TPP, TTIP, TISA.

October 6, 2015


The TPP: A potential corporate coup d'état

Toronto (Oct. 5, 2015) –The Conservative government, and 11 other Pacific rim countries have signed a controversial and sweeping trade and investment agreement that covers 40% of the world economy. By signing this deeply flawed agreement, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Canadian government will cede further control over our food production, access to medicines, health care and the internet, and environment and labour regulations to transnational corporations. This will destroy jobs, increase privatization and strip governments of their power to regulate in the public interest.

The TPP includes anti-democratic investor-state dispute settlement provisions that give multinational corporations the ability to sue national governments over regulations and policies they don't like and put the public interest at risk. This represents a massive transfer of power to the corporate sector.

Common Frontiers is alarmed by the fact that in spite of widespread civil society opposition to this deal, the conservative government has gone ahead and signed it. According to Doctors Without Borders “the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines” with enormous impacts on public health. Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union has made it clear that the deal will threaten more than 26,000 Canadian auto jobs in both assembling and parts-making.

Until we have a genuine and public debate on the impacts of the TPP, Canadians should pressure the leaders of all political parties to commit to a genuine and broad-based public debate on the impact of the TPP, prior to it being presented to Parliament for ratification.

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

UNIFOR has a series of articles on the impact of the TPP:

The TPP and auto jobs fact sheet
A TPP Backgrounder
Sample Resolution on TPP and auto workers
Searching for Stable Ground: Securing the Future of Canada's Auto Industry

October 5, 2015

October 7 is the World Day for Decent Work!

Decent-workWhat's Happening?

The global labour movement has declared October 7 as the World Day for Decent Work. Get involved by organizing a concrete action in advance of this date.

What Can I Do?

What Else?

Work with the CLC International Department to implement ILO standards in Canada for working men and women equally.

Contact us at:

-For more information and to see the whole story about Decent Work For All, click on the image above for the English version or click here for the French.

October 2, 2015

Encuentro Hemisférico: Derrota del ALCA en Mar del Plata. América Latina y el Caribe diez años después.


-Click on the image above for a larger view

October 1, 2015

The Colombia Working Group Welcomes Steps Towards Peace Agreement in Colombia

The Colombia Working Group (CWG) welcomes the historic announcement made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC head Timochenko, which outlines their commitment to signing a final peace agreement within six months. This is an important step forward in ending an armed conflict that has lasted approximately 50 years and offers hope for a better future for ordinary Colombians.

The conflict has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the forcible displacement of millions, as well as the threatening and imprisonment of many others, including human rights workers, trade unionists, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous leaders.

We welcome agreement by the parties to address human rights abuses that have occurred during the conflict. Both parties have agreed to form a truth commission, to provide reparations to war victims, and to a form of “transitional justice,” which creates special tribunals to judge crimes committed by both members of the FARC and state agents.

Years of international campaigning have undoubtedly played an important role in helping to create the conditions for peace. In this respect, we also pay tribute to the trade unions and international solidarity groups whose efforts have helped the process reach this point.

Colombian civil society has been striving for justice and peace for several decades. An end to the armed conflict between the FARC and the Colombian government is an important step in that direction. However, there are still many challenges to constructing peace with social justice in Colombia. To overcome them, Colombia will have to break with its traditional political model of social and economic exclusion, opening up spaces for massive democratic participation at all levels.

We support the call for participation of Colombian civil society and popular movements in the process, through tables of peace called “Mesa Social para la Paz,” that seek to contribute solutions to the problems of political and social inequality that created the conditions for the armed conflict.

We call on the international community to remain fully involved in this process, and to ensure that the agreements made are respected, thereby establishing the basis for a lasting peace.

For further information:
Stacey Gomez - Coordinator - Americas Policy Group, Canadian Council for International Co-operation (438) 404-4458,
Ani Jubinville - Coordinator - Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie, 514 966 8421,

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

September 30, 2015

Letter to President of Colombia from BCGEU


President Juan Manuel Santos
Casa de Narino
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Bogota D.C. Columbia

Dear Mr. President

I am writing to express my concern over the detention of Feliciano Valencia on September 15, 2015 in La Augustina, Cauca. Mr. Valencia was detained after participating in an indigenous education event the city of Popayan. His detention was ordered by the Tribunal Superior court in Popayan, which overturned a previous ruling that had found Mr. Valencia innocent of charges of kidnapping and assault laid in April 2009. This latest ruling violates the Colombian Constitution, and the special indigenous legal jurisdiction which makes up part of what is defined in the constitution as a multi-ethnic, pluri- cultural rule of law system.

I understand that Mr. Valencia is an indigenous leader from the Asociación de Cabildos Indigenas del Norte del Cauca, and is recognized nationally and internationally for his knowledge of ethnic rights and his contributions to advances in indigenous legislation. I also understand that he has led countless protests and campaign actions for the collective rights of communities.

Furthermore, I understand that Mr. Valencia has suffered ongoing persecution, harassment and threats, and that the Colombian state has classified his situation as high risk, and that the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has ordered precautionary measures from the Colombian government to protect his life.

I respectfully request that:

1. Feliciano Valencia be released immediately.
2. A disciplinary investigation be held into the officials who ordered his arrest.

Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent matter.


Stephanie Smith
President, BC Government Employees Union


September 24, 2015

Media Release

Canada’s foreign policy fails to support human rights in Colombia

TORONTO - A new report Colombia in the Shadow of Human Right Abuses confirms that human rights violations have not abated over the four years since the implementation of the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA).

Colombia in the Shadow of Human Rights Abuses, produced by the Colombia Working Group, a platform of Canadian unions, NGOs, and social organizations consolidates compelling data documenting human rights violations in Colombia against trade unionists, human rights defenders, indigenous and Afro-descendent communities. The report and accompanying fact sheets, provide essential information that is unreported or glossed over in the Government of Canada’s annual reports on the impact on human rights of the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia.

While many sectors of Colombian society work towards building the foundation for peace, and peace negotiations progress in Havana, the Canadian government continues to fail to support human rights, social and economic justice in Colombia. Instead Canada focuses its resources on promoting private investment and investor rights in the energy and resource sector while at the same time pursuing a deeply flawed Corporate Social Responsibility strategy that allows Canadian corporations to operate in Colombia with impunity. Disturbingly Canada continues to sell military equipment to Colombia through its Canadian Commercial Corporation as the Conservative government promotes Canada’s defence industry as an economic priority.

Annie Jusbainville from Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie said “the government’s HRIA report dismisses labour concerns over unjustified stopping of citizens in the vicinity of a particular company by security force because they can’t be linked to actions taken under CCOFTA in 2014. Nonetheless, the mobilizations of the past year clearly demonstrate that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has provoked human rights violations and underlines the dishonest nature of the Canadian government”.

The pressure on the rural economy created by the so called FTA with Canada and the United States, have led to many strikes in Colombia’s rural sector, leading to a general strike in 2014. As a result, the Colombian government was obliged to establish a round table to discuss issues such as territorial politics, a renegotiation of the FTA and a moratorium on mining and oil projects. The System of Information about aggressions against defenders of Human Rights (SIADDHH) in their annual report on the human rights’ situation in Colombia clearly establishes a link between the increase of violence and the mobilization periods.

Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers, said that “The Canadian Government’s recent HRIA acknowledges labour concerns that the kind of jobs created in Colombia’s petroleum industry are precarious in nature, with little job security, again illustrating that the claims that the CCOFTA benefits Colombian workers are unsubstantiated and completely overblown, as is established in our report Colombia in the Shadow of Human Rights Abuses.”.

The flawed HRIA reports submitted by the Canadian government are a reminder that corporations benefit from impunity while these corporate trade deals disproportionally benefit Canadian corporations and the one percent in Colombia. It is imperative to demand legal mechanisms to establish mandatory corporate accountability standards for Canadian corporations operating abroad.

To read In the Shadow of Human Right Abuses report or its accompanying factsheets visit


-Lisez ce releae des médias en français

September 23, 2015

Will human rights crimes by Canadian resource companies abroad feature in Munk-hosted ­foreign policy debate?

By Sakura Saunders*

Since 75 per cent of the world’s mining and exploration companies are based in Canada and 40 per cent of global mining capital is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange, it’s easy to argue that Canada is the world leader in this industry. Mining interests influence international aid, dictate the activities of our foreign diplomats and prescribe the conditions of our multilateral investment and “free trade” agreements.

When it comes to abuse by mining companies, Canada also reigns supreme. Killings and sexual abuse by security forces and unchecked environmental devastation are regularly reported occurrences at Canadian mining sites around the world. Barrick Gold, the company founded by Peter Munk, does not escape this seeming industry norm.

The company has acknowledged a massacre at one of its mines and compensated 120 women and girls who were gang raped at another of its sites with just over $10,000 each in exchange for signing an agreement not to sue.

Beyond facing charges of human rights abuses, Barrick and Munk’s associated social enterprises have been accused on numerous occasions of thwarting efforts to correct the Canadian regulatory framework that allows these violations to continue. As such, it will be interesting to see how much Canadian mining impunity will feature in the foreign-policy debate hosted by none other than the Munk Debates, at Roy Thomson Hall on Monday (September 28).

According to a 2005 report from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.”

-read the entire story at

*Sakura Saunders is editor of and a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.

September 23, 2015

Will human rights crimes by Canadian resource companies abroad feature in Munk-hosted ­foreign policy debate?

By Sakura Saunders*

Since 75 per cent of the world’s mining and exploration companies are based in Canada and 40 per cent of global mining capital is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange, it’s easy to argue that Canada is the world leader in this industry. Mining interests influence international aid, dictate the activities of our foreign diplomats and prescribe the conditions of our multilateral investment and “free trade” agreements.

When it comes to abuse by mining companies, Canada also reigns supreme. Killings and sexual abuse by security forces and unchecked environmental devastation are regularly reported occurrences at Canadian mining sites around the world. Barrick Gold, the company founded by Peter Munk, does not escape this seeming industry norm.

The company has acknowledged a massacre at one of its mines and compensated 120 women and girls who were gang raped at another of its sites with just over $10,000 each in exchange for signing an agreement not to sue.

Beyond facing charges of human rights abuses, Barrick and Munk’s associated social enterprises have been accused on numerous occasions of thwarting efforts to correct the Canadian regulatory framework that allows these violations to continue. As such, it will be interesting to see how much Canadian mining impunity will feature in the foreign-policy debate hosted by none other than the Munk Debates, at Roy Thomson Hall on Monday (September 28).

According to a 2005 report from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.”

-read the entire story at

*Sakura Saunders is editor of and a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.

September 22, 2015

Conflict and Historical Memory in Colombia / Conflicto y Memoria Histórica en Colombia

posterFriday, October 2, 2015
Friends House – 60 Lowther Ave., Toronto, ON
6:30 – 8:30

Launch of Historical Memory Centre final report, “Basta ya! Colombia: Memorias de guerra y dignidad” (“Basta Ya! Memories of War and Dignity in Colombia”).

Join us at the Friends House (60 Lowther Avenue) for a moving and important evening. We are coming together for the formal launch of the report authored by the Colombian National Centre for Historical Memory, “¡Basta ya! Colombia: Memorias de guerra y dignidad.” The report documents the internal armed conflict that has ravaged Colombia, presents the voices of the survivors of this violence, and offers the Colombian government recommendations for moving forward with accountability, dignity, and hope. The report comes at a hugely important moment for Colombia. Peace talks between the FARC guerrilla insurgency and the Colombian government are now in their third year. Popular organizations continue to bring forward proposals for resolving the underlying causes of the conflict. The reclaiming, reconfiguration, and mass participation in historical memory is being used as a tool to promote change and seek truth and reparation.

The event will feature presentations from the report’s main authors, as well as Indigenous and international perspectives on the challenges for peace in Colombia. We invite you to come, listen, discuss, and learn with us.

Main Speakers

-more information on ¡Basta ya!:

We are grateful to all of our sponsors and supporters:
For Further Information:

September 2, 2015

PosterResistencia - Premier

June 28th 2009, the first coup d'état in a generation in Central America overthrows the elected president of Honduras. A nationwide resistance movement is born, “the National Resistance Front”. which takes inspiration from the daring act of the farmers of the Aguan Valley to take over 10,000 acres of palm oil plantations claimed by the country's largest landowner, and a key player in the coup.

Filmed over four years beginning with the coup itself, 'Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley' follows three key members of the farmers' resistance as they convert the plantations into a workers co-op and agitate for a more democratic state, all while trying to survive the violent reaction of the landlord and the coup regime.

After screening at Festivals around the world and being broadcast across Latin America on teleSUR, this is the first time Resistencia will show in Toronto. Filmmaker Jesse Freeston will be in attendance for a post-film discussion.

When: Wed Sept 17th
Time: 7:00 pm
Where: Beit Zatoun

Sponsored by: Common Frontiers, Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), and the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN).


August 27, 2015

Canadian NGO's reject repression against protesters of the National March for health in Colombia

Canadian NGOs that were part of a recent delegation to Colombia are speaking out against attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Colombia on August 19th. Copies of the letters are available for download below.

-Letter from the BCGEU (en español)   in English

-Letter from Common Frontiers (en español)   in English

August 26, 2015

Jornada Continental de Lucha Antiimperialista, del 05 a 22 de Noviembre de 2015.

LogoEstimados luchadores y luchadoras del Continente Americano

A partir de los años 90 y en los primeros años de la década de 2000, muchos de nosotros organizamos, vivenciamos o por los menos “escuchamos hablar” de la Campaña Continental contra el ALCA. Fueron realizadas diversas acciones en nuestros países: encuentros, movilizaciones en las calles, Plebiscitos Populares, campañas comunicacionales, entre tantas otras acciones que resultaron en una increíble rede de activistas contra el neoliberalismo. Esta Campaña tuvo su punto máximo de concreción con el “entierro del ALCA”, en las palabras de Hugo Chávez, en Noviembre de 2005, en la Cumbre de la OEA, en Mar del Plata Argentina, donde los Movimientos Sociales estaban presionando desde la “Cumbre de los Pueblos” realizada en paralelo.

Desde entonces han pasado diez años y muchas cosas han cambiado. Vivimos un nuevo momento de la correlación de fuerzas en nuestro Continente, hay una contraofensiva del Imperialismo frente a los pueblos del Continente y principalmente en contra los gobiernos progresistas electos en los últimos diez años. Asistimos un reagrupamiento de la Derecha y sectores conservadores, aliados a los Grandes Medios de Comunicación, con una gran ofensiva política, cultural e ideológica. Con la crisis económica internacional, se intensifica la ofensiva de las multinacionales sobre nuestros territorios y recursos naturales, principalmente en Centro América y Caribe. Frente a los nuevos mecanismos de integración, como ALBA, CELAC y UNASUR, se articula, en contraposición, la Alianza del Pacífico. Presenciamos nuevas formas de guerra y ocupación de los territorios, como en Colombia y Haití. Sentimos las profundas consecuencias de los TLC´s en México, Centroamérica, Colombia, Perú y Chile, como el desempleo, la pobreza y la migración, y además nos amenazan negociaciones de TLC´s Bilaterales con EUA y Unión Europea, en los mismos moldes de la fallecida propuesta del ALCA.

Nuestros pueblos siguen dando ejemplos diarios de lucha y resistencia frente a esa coyuntura, pero aún tenemos el gran desafío de avanzar rumbo a una integración popular en todo el Continente Nuestro Americano.

Por ello, invitamos a todos los luchadores y luchadoras del Continente Americano a construir un proceso que culmine en la Jornada Continental de Lucha Antiimperialista, del 05 a 22 de Noviembre de 2015. La Jornada se coloca en estas fechas porque justamente el 5 de Noviembre de 2015 se cumplen los 10 años de la derrota del ALCA en Mar del Plata, hecho que representa una gran victoria de todos los trabajadores y trabajadoras de nuestros países y el 22 de noviembre finalizaremos con un encuentro continental en La Habana, cuna de las resistencias y lucha contra el imperialismo.

En este sentido queremos realizar una profunda reflexión de cómo se configura la acción del Imperialismo, del capital y de la derecha en nuestro continente, y por supuesto, cómo nuestros pueblos se han organizado y luchado en este período, y cuáles son nuestros desafíos comunes frente a esta nueva coyuntura. Además, invitamos a todos y todas a organizar movilizaciones masivas en el período de la Jornada, acciones diversas según contexto y posibilidades, con el propósito de dialogar e influir más allá de los Movimientos Sociales y Populares organizados.

-Descargue la versión completa

August 15, 2015

Zombie neoliberalism threatens Ecuador's 'citizen's revolution'

By Denis Rogatyuk
Green Left Weekly

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and social movements behind Ecuador’s “Citizens' Revolution” are engaged in yet another battle against the South American country's entrenched elites.

Supporters of Correa marched through the capital of Quito on August 12 to the presidential palace, where they intend to maintain a permanent presence to help defend the elected government.

The next day, violent opposition protests led to 86 police officers being injured, the interior ministry said, along with 20 civilians and three members of the press.

What originally began as demonstrations by the country's right-wing opposition against a proposed new inheritance tax laws targetting the country's richest 2% have now turned into a full-blown attempt at a “soft coup”.

Having observed the strategy of Venezuela's far right during last year's violent demonstrations, the Ecuadorian opposition movement has combined tactics of peaceful protests and demands for Correa's resignation with open calls for a coup and even alleged terrorist attacks.

The headquarters of the governing Allianza Pais (Country Alliance) party were bombed on July 14 in the city of Guayacuil. Packages containing explosives were sent to the headquarters of the publicly-owned El Telegrafo and privately-owned El Universal newspapers.

All of this has been done under the umbrella of “defending family values” and protesting against the Correa-pushed economic model that seeks to create a “socialism of 21st century”.

Key opposition leaders are Guayaquil's conservative mayor Jaime Nebout and failed right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso. They have called for a “national strike” on August 13 involving right-wing parties, business groups and some trade unions and indigenous groups.

-Read the complete story

August 14, 2015

Postal Workers Protest Harper

From CTV News
(click on the image to view video)

CTV video


logoAugust 6, 2015

Colombia In The Shadow Of Human Rights Abuses

A Special Report prepared by the Colombia Working Group (CWG)

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s new “Americas Policy,” through which Canada would build trade ties with governments that shared Canada’s values of “democracy, human rights, rule-of-law and good governance.” The Canadian government then announced negotiations for a free trade and investment deal with Colombia, the country with the worst human rights record in the hemisphere.

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA), implemented in 2011, resolved to “protect, en­hance and enforce basic workers' rights,” and affirmed a commitment to the “protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Instead, like Canada’s previous trade deals it proved to be a stan­dard neoliberal agreement that promotes market liberalization, privatization and deregulation, and includes no binding obligations regarding human and democratic rights. The FTA raised serious human rights concerns for vulnerable populations amid Colombia’s internal conflict, including fears that it could foment and protect investments associated with militarization, violence and forced displacement. The CCOFTA’s investment chapter accorded investors powerful new rights, but no binding human rights obligations for private companies. Civil society groups that had worked in solidarity with Colombian counterparts for decades feared that introducing an FTA into the Colombian context would tilt the scales further against persecuted labour and human rights advocates.

To counter these widespread concerns, the Canadian and Colombian governments agreed to table in their respective parliaments a yearly report on the agreement’s human rights impacts. This fell short of expectations for a prior, independent, impartial and comprehensive human rights impact assessment (HRIA) as called for by international experts and the Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT).

A review of the annual human rights reports filed since 2011 exposes their shortcomings and supports the claim by human rights monitors that the Canadian government has chosen to turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis in Colombia. The reports contain little acknowledgment of human rights prob­lems, and do not examine the impact of Canadian investment in oil, gas and mining. This contradicts the very essence of the exercise, since Canadian extractive interests in Colombia were one of the government’s primary motivations for pursuing the trade deal – and the most pressing concern voiced by human rights groups worried about the agreement.

This report, "Colombia in the Shadow of Human Right Abuses," and its accompanying fact sheets paint a different picture from the Canadian government narrative that trade is the best way to improve Colombia’s human rights record. Credible human rights groups, labour unions, NGOs in Colombia and Canada, and the United Nations have compiled compelling documentation demonstrating that human rights violations against trade unionists, human rights defenders, Indigenous and Afro-des­cen­dent communities have not abated over the past four years.

This report also documents the role played by the Canadian state and Canadian multinational corporations. The latter have in some cases reaped benefits by disregarding labour rights, through dangerous and contaminating environmental practices, and by bolstering militarization that has resulted in human rights abuses.

-Download a copy of the full report and associated infographics here





August 5, 2015

Canadian corporations abuse investment treaties, bully governments into environmental backtrack: study

Canadian investors have exploited a controversial mechanism in international investment treaties to challenge public interest regulations in 24 different countries, according to a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The report, by trade and investment researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, documents the 55 known cases of Canadian investors using the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system to sue foreign governments in international trade tribunals. It finds that the ISDS process has overwhelmingly been used by Canadian resource companies to dispute resource management and environmental protection measures in developing countries.

The study comes out on the heels of a request for investor-state arbitration, filed at the World Bank on July 30, by Canadian mining firm Gabriel Resources Ltd. The company is claiming that delays to the controversial Rosia Montana gold mine in Romania have violated the government’s investment treaty rights.
“ISDS is supposed to protect foreign investors from arbitrary government actions, but in practice it is being used by multinational corporations to bully democratic governments into backtracking on actions taken in the public interest,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “Canadian companies—particularly Canadian mining companies—are among the worst in the world when it comes to ISDS.”

Among the study’s findings:

The federal government claims it has aggressively pursued new investment treaties containing ISDS in order to provide a more “transparent and predictable climate for Canadian investors abroad.” However, the study finds that it is not at all evident that the supposed benefits of these treaties for Canadian investors outweigh the proven social, political and economic costs incurred by ISDS disputes at home and abroad.

Of the 55 cases identified in the study, only four resulted in a favourable outcome for the Canadian investor. In comparison, Canada has lost nearly half the ISDS cases it has faced from foreign investors, and has been pressured into backtracking on important public health and environmental regulations as a result of those losses.

"Investment treaties have compromised Canadian democracy and the democratic policy space of Canada’s trading partners—yet historically, and in aggregate, these deals have also not created a 'transparent and predictable' investment environment for Canadian investors,” says Mertins-Kirkwood.

“Given these high costs and meagre benefits, the evidence does not support the continued expansion and intensification of Canadian investment treaties, or the inclusion of ISDS in larger free trade deals such as CETA and the TPP.”

-Download a copy of the full report here

July 24, 2015

Media Advisory

Toronto Activists To Hold Procession And Vigil Outside Pan Am Closing Ceremony In Solidarity With 43 Disappeared Mexican Students

Participants stand in solidarity with the families of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students in their struggle against State and cartel terrorism, and in opposition to Canada's support of the Mexican government.

Toronto — Activists will hold a procession and vigil outside the closing ceremony of Toronto's Pan Am Games on Sunday, July 26th at 4pm. The Toronto residents are outraged by the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa Teacher's College students perpetrated by Mexican police and cartel members. With their procession and vigil, they will join the massive, pan-American movement of people across Mexico and throughout the hemisphere demanding that the students be returned alive.

On September 26, 2014 students from the Ayotzinapa Teacher's College (Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College) were raising money to attend a protest in Mexico City when police and gunmen attacked them in the town of Iguala, Mexico. Three were killed, dozens were injured, and 43 student-teachers were forcefully disappeared, never to be seen again. The Mexican authorities' bungled investigation only proved their desire to sweep away the problem, while families of the 43 disappeared students continue searching for their sons and exposing complicity at all levels of government and law enforcement in the crime. Since the Mexican government began its War on Drugs in 2006, an astounding 24,000 people have been disappeared and 150,000 confirmed dead. In response to the disappearance of the 43 students and the impunity that has defined the War on Drugs, people throughout the Americas proclaim:

“It was the State!” “They took them alive, we want them back alive!”

The organizers of the July 26 vigil and procession ask people to join them outside the Pan Am Games closing ceremony and show that solidarity – and not just sport – stretches across the Americas.


Meet at Sunday, July 26 at 4pm in Clarence Square (Spadina Ave and Wellington St)

4:30pm- Procession departs south on Spadina Ave, east on Front St, south on Simcoe St, and west on Bremner Blvd
5pm- Vigil outside Rogers Centre on Bremner Blvd, near Roundhouse Park
6pm- Vigil ends

Before day of event: William Payne – 416.536.9511 or
Day of event: Stuart Schussler 416.625.2966

July 22, 2015

Good Riddance Infinito Gold, A Long Overdue Farewell to Costa Rica

(Ottawa) Canadian, US and other international civil society organizations welcome Infinito Gold’s announcement that it is calling it quits on its tortuous quest to open the Crucitas mine in Costa Rica in spite of the determined opposition of the Costa Rican people and repeated court decisions against it.

CostaRicaOn July 15, Infinito Gold announced that all of the company’s directors and officers have resigned and that its principal shareholder and creditor is no longer willing to put up money for this sinking ship that was reporting a deficit of over $160 million. Ronald Mannix, Infinito Gold’s longtime angel investor, finally pulled the plug after putting up some $70 million in loans.

For some fifteen years, against the wishes of the Costa Rican people, this junior Canadian mining company has sought to develop an open-pit gold mine in the north of Costa Rica, near the San Juan River on the border with Nicaragua.

Polls have shown that some 80 per cent of the Costa Rican population rejected the proposed Crucitas mine. On three occasions, from 2010 to 2013, the Supreme Court of Costa Rica denied permission to Infinito to proceed with its project.

In February 2014, after having lost its mining concessions, Infinito Gold lodged a $94 million investor-state lawsuit against the Costa Rican government in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The company was contesting Costa Rica’s legitimate rejection of the proposed Crucitas open-pit gold mine on the terms of the Canada-Costa Rica Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) signed in 1998. Legal costs to date have been estimated at $1,7 million USD. The precise status of this suit following the shuttering of Infinito Gold is not clear.

Infinito’s tenure in Costa Rica was also marred with allegations of corruption. Although the investigation was eventually dropped for lack of evidence, ex-President Oscar Arias was accused of inappropriately granting Infinito Gold a licence in 2008 when there was already a moratorium in effect on all large-scale mining in the country dating back to 2002. We have long questioned the potential influence that an alleged donation of $200,000 USD from Ronald Mannix’s Norlien Foundation to the Arias Foundation in 2008 could have had on this decision. When it was still trying to get to the bottom of these questions, the Costa Rican Attorney General stated that the Canadian Department of Justice did not answer all of its questions, which were important to proceeding with the investigation. Infinito was also accused of interfering in a Costa Rican election campaign, and in 2010 was barred from referring to municipal elections in its publicity.

This litigious company also went after its critics. Over the years, Infinito Gold initiated five lower court actions for defamation against two university professors, a lawyer for an environmental group, and two Congressional Deputies. All failed or were withdrawn.

Infinito Gold’s decision to finally fold should have come years ago. Indeed, it is a mystery why anyone would have wanted to try to push this project after Canadian mining ‘major’ Placer Dome (since merged with Barrick Gold) walked away from it in May 1998, in the face of massive public opposition. This is another victory for the people of Costa Rica who have fought long and hard to keep their country free of open-pit gold mining. We hope it is more permanent this time.

The policies and protections that Canada has been promoting to protect Canadian mining companies, however, remain in place, for which reason our fight is not over. For more than 20 years, Canada has pursued and negotiated trade and investment agreements that promote and protect the rights of investors at the expense of human rights, labour rights, and environmental standards. Even though foreign corporations have repeatedly won suits against Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canadian government has paid this high price in order to provide at least the appearance of security to Canadian companies operating abroad. The conduct of Canadian mining companies such as Infinito Gold is one of the results of that agenda. Canada must rescind, revise or renegotiate its existing trade and investment agreements and pursue an investment agenda based on respect for human, community, labour, and environmental rights.

As we continue the fight at home against such unjust corporate protections, we offer our congratulations to the Costa Rican people, and our “good riddance” to this shameful, and shameless, Canadian mining company.

Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN) (Canada)
Blue Planet Project (Canada)
Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy (US)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) (US)
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique Latine (CDHAL) (Québec)
Common Frontiers (Canada)
Council of Canadians
Entrepobles/Entrepueblos/Herriarte/Entrepobos (Spain)
Information Group on Latin America (IGLA) (Austria)
Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Program (US)
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) (Canada)
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) (Canada)
Mining Justice Alliance (Canada)
MiningWatch Canada
SalvAide (Canada)
Trade Justice Network (Canada)
TPP Canada (Permanent Peoples Tribunal on the Canadian mining industry)

July 8, 2015

We, the Latin American Movement Assembly of the People’s Social Forum in Toronto state that:

On July 8, 2015, 15 people were detained in the city of Bogotá simultaneously in operations conducted by the District Attorney of the Nation, along with the National Police. The detained were accused of being responsible for the explosions that occurred last week in Bogotá. Even without a judiciary order, official pronouncements of the Presidency, local authorities and massive media were already targeting these 15 people as responsible of such attacks.

Regarding these incidents, we denounce that the majority of the detained and accused are well known student leaders, peasants, journalists, public servants and human rights defenders who have been publicly fighting for the rights to public education, the rights of peasants, and the construction of peace. Furthermore, eleven of the detained people are part of organizations that make up "Congreso de los Pueblos" (The People’s Congress).

Despite all their help and work for Colombia, different media characterized them as “terrorists”, considering their social engagement and activism as an indicator of violent actions. Besides the stigmatization and discrimination against these people, authorities are undermining the presumption of innocence and criminalizing the freedom of expression in Colombia.

In solidarity with this situation, the Latin American Movement Assembly denounces the violation of these people’s basic human rights and demands for their immediate release until the case is investigated according to the article 8 of the Human Rights Inter-American Convention, ratified by Colombia in 1985. We are worried about the multiple cases of legal false positives that have happened and continue to happen since last year and have been generating stigmatizations and risks to the members of the social movement in Colombia.

We demand justice for these 15 activists who, through their hard work and commitment have greatly contributed to the creation of a social and political movement that promotes peace and social justice and who represent structural changes for the country.

We demand the freedom of the people deprived of their liberty with the guarantee of a due process and the recognition of the legitimacy and legality of their actions.

We call on the General Prosecutors of the nation to act in line with the principal of judicial independence by making a reasonable and technical assessment of the alleged evidence that has been collected, as they were in public and work-related activities to testify and provide justification.

We demand guarantees to political participation, the exercise of social protest and the freedom of expression in Colombia, and to detain all the mechanisms that obstruct the defense of human rights.

June 22, 2015

The E.U. Needs to Stop Dangerous Trade Deals


By Maude Barlow and Paul Moist
Council of Canadians

As the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement vote was postponed in the European Parliament on June 10th, the European Union is on the precipice of a major decision. Lurking in the background is another key decision about the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

We Canadians are writing to you, the Socialists, New European Left, and Greens, because you have the power to stop these dangerous trade deals. With this type of trade agreement, we have a choice: Do we accept rising inequality, unchecked corporate power, and lowered social and environmental standards, allowing the one per cent to become richer at our expense, or do we draw a line in the sand?

As Canadians, we have first-hand experience with these kinds of deals, having passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the U.S. and Mexico. And we have some tales to tell.

In 1988, many of us took to the streets to fight the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, later expanded to include Mexico. NAFTA included one of the first investor-state dispute settle provisions, the infamous clause that allows foreign corporations to sue governments for lost profits. We worried about losing our public services, our water, and our environmental and safety standards.

Free trade was a defining issue in the Canadian election of 1988. But while a majority of Canadians voted against the agreement, our first-past-the-post electoral system delivered a Conservative government that signed the deal.

Fast forward 27 years to present-day Canada. We now face more investor-state lawsuits than any other developed country.

Even the historic St. Lawrence River, the river that European settlers sailed down when they first explored Canada, is affected. The province of Quebec put a moratorium on petroleum exploration on the river to prevent hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a controversial extraction technique banned in France and other jurisdictions. As a result, the Canadian government was sued for $250 million by a company headquartered in Canada but registered in the United States.

-read the rest of this open letter   Français | Deutsch | Español

June 19, 2015

With the murder of Héctor Orlando Martínez Motiño President of SITRAUNAH-Choluteca section 14 people with protective measures have been assassinated

logoTo the national and international community, once again we are obligated to report on the difficult situation experienced by university employees and union members in Honduras. Last night, June 17, 2015, Héctor Orlando Martínez Motiño, President of the Workers Union for the Centro Universitario del Litoral Pacífico (CURLP) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) was murdered. Martínez Motiño was a beneficiary of protective measure, No. MC-253-14, issued by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. His murder occurs 69 days after the forced disappearance of union leader Donatilo Jiménez, ex President of this same union at Centro Universitario del Litoral Atlántico (CURLA) in La Ceiba, Atlántida.

Héctor Martínez, a university professor, was gunned down by 12 bullets fired by unknown actors riding a motorcycle who allegedly followed him when he left his workplace at 9:00 pm, heading for his home in Marcovia, when he was overtaken by the gunmen.

On January 31, 2015, the Human Rights Unit of the Secretary of Security notified him of the protective measures and documented the hostile labor environment he experienced at the CURLP. Martínez denounced before the Inter American Commission (IACHR) that these measures were not sufficient, that he was suspicious and afraid. On Facebook, he wrote:

“Despite these measures, I continue to be harassed, followed, threatened and the target of attempts against my life. I ask God and all of you to keep us in permanent prayer.”

On July 9, 2014, Martínez was the victim of an attempt on the university campus when unknown actors sabotaged his vehicle, parked in the university parking lot, five meters from the private security guard post. Unknown actors loosened the bolts on the rear tire of his vehicle which after advancing eight meters, fell off the axle. Motiño registered a complaint with the National Direction of Criminal Investigation and stated that this was the third incident of this type that he had suffered.

Prior to this attack, on May 16, 2014, he had denounced abuses on the part of university authorities including, harassment, campaigns to discredit, problems with disabilities due to health, and persecution on the part of unknown actors driving a white SUV from which photographs had been take of him. The university persecution was to such a degree that authorities requested immigration records to confirm if he was really receiving medical attention outside of Honduras and also requested that the IHSS provide doctors evaluations confirming that he required medical disability. In one instance, the attending doctor ordered his immediate hospital admission to control blood pressure.

On repeated occasions, SITRAUNAH has denounced that its members have been victims of permanent surveillance, harassment and persecution on eight university campuses.

On August 4, 2011, they publicly denounced that Mr. Donatilo Jiménez and three other members of SITRAUNAH, in different sections, were victims of death threats and that hit men in the atlántica zone had been contracted to kill the four unionists. Today, Donatilo remains disappeared.

On the same date, the union denounced that UNAH Security personnel, that were not members of the Private Security Company, Bacilides Baca y Javier Brooks, contracted by the university, were murdered in unclear circumstances. And that Rafael Arambú Rico, security supervisor, received death threats.

On March 10, 2011 the Director of the Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlántico (CURLA), Magda Hernández, was the victim of a criminal attempt according to news reports, when two subjects on motorcycles, fired at her face in the morning, at the CURLA entrance gate.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., June 18, 2015

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras

June 9, 2015

Invitation to participate in the Toronto Peoples' Social forum and PSF General Assembly July 10-12

psf logo

As a follow up to the very successful People Social Forum, we are hosting a Social Forum in Toronto to counter the Pan American Economic Summit that will bring the heads of Shell, Rockefeller Foundation, US, Canadian and European Chambers of Commerce, as well as Canada's Finance Minister, ex-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and John Negroponte to Toronto from July 8 to the 10th, 2015.
Starting July 10, the Peoples' Social Forum will be hosting a counter summit in Toronto, bringing together activists, students, unions, Indigenous peoples, youth, environmentalists, and hundreds of ordinary individuals to oppose the current political and economic direction of this country, and propose a plurality of alternative paths towards a better world.

This gathering will take place on Missassauga Anishinaabe territory. It has been a home and hunting grounds to many peoples, including the Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. It is the territory of the One Dish One Spoon treaty, which was made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenausonee in order to share hunting and fishing territories. What belongs to one belongs to all. In this spirit, we will come together to find ways to work together towards a more just and joyful world.

Host A Workshop

This is what the forum is all about – groups and individuals propose workshops within 17 themes, and the social forum organizes these into a schedule that has something for everyone. Saturday, July 11 will be the day of workshops. Most workshops will be 1.5 hours, but we can accommodate 3 hour slots if groups want to propose a Movement Assembly. June 19 is the deadline for workshop submissions. Fill out our simple workshop registration form and we'll figure out the rest!

Tabling At The Forum

Take part in the alternative media and vendors space at the PSF Counter Summit. Contact for details.

Endorse The Forum

Add your organization's name to a growing list of PSF endorsers. Support the forum and join this on-going, Canada-wide movement building process. To endorse, contact

Volunteer For The Forum

E-mail if you are interested in joining the Toronto PSF team to make this ambitious gathering a success.

House An Activist During The Forum

Do you have a spare room or a couch to share? Activists from across the country are traveling to Toronto for the counter summit and the PSF General Assembly (which will happen on Sunday, July 12). If you can spare some space in your place, please drop us a line at!

What Is The Peoples' Social Forum?

The Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) is a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. The first PSF was held in Ottawa on August 21-24, 2014 and attracted over 5000 participants from across Canada.

The PSF is a space for social movements to meet and converge for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges. It seeks to inspire practical involvement in social movements and develop networked action strategies aimed at creating convergence of struggles, toward building a broad strategic alliance against neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies in Canada. Social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy are at the centre of its concerns.The PSF is an inclusive space that must be occupied by all people and activist organizations convinced that another Canada is not only possible, but above all, necessary.

Objectives of the Peoples’ Social Forum

The PSF is part of the global movement of social forums that have emerged at different levels since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in January 2001, which was conceived as a summit to counter the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

June 4, 2015

Elections in Mexico: Organizations in Québec and Canada express their deep concern about the violent repression of the Mexican state against its civilian population

Sunday the June 7 is election day in Mexico . Elections are being held to elect governors in 9 states, mayors, local deputies in 17 states and federal deputies throughout the country. The run up to this election has been marred by extensive violence; 20 political assassinations in 10 states, 6 civilian murders (4 in Ixcaputzalgo, Guerrero and 2 in Peto, Yucatan) and 6 civilian injuries as a result of an armed confrontation with government forces in Peto and Yucatán. Furthermore, 70 kidnappings and extortion cases and death threats to people have also been reported by groups linked to electoral interest.

Most importantly, delegations of the National Electoral Institute (INE) have been reportedly attacked by dissident groups in at least six states (Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz), while electoral documentation has been destroyed or burned, in Guerrero and Oaxaca.

Mexico presently, is amidst a grave human rights crisis which has been brought to the attention of the international community and human rights watch dogs by the relentless efforts of the nation’s vibrant civil society. There has been a demand of justice in the case of the 43 students who went missing last September, and also in the case of the recent targeted killings and extrajudicial murders allegedly carried out by the Mexican army, federal and local police in Tlatlaya , Apatzingan and Tanhuato. All of these cases and the callous attitude of the government has prompted protesting organisations backed by the Mexican civil society to boycott the elections. The principle demand being the safe return of the 43 missing students belonging to the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa. These innocent students were kidnapped by the local police in collusion with the federal police and the national army. We should not forget that this landmark case adds itself to the long and cruel list of more than 24,000 cases of disappearances and kidnappings at the hand of the state since 2006; with an average13 disappearances per day, 100, 000 murders and 250 000 forced displacements, the government led by Peña Nieto ,is nothing short of an oppressive, cruel and corrupt military state running under the garb of pseudo democracy.

A statement issued on June 1, 2015 by the People's Council Tixtla, denounced the curtailing of human rights and harassment suffered by its organization by the ministerial police who as a ploy, repeatedly infiltrated the organization in plainclothes to monitor and intimidate people linked to the organization . Moreover, the Committee of students from the Normal School of Ayotzinapa say that on June 2, 2015 the federal police illegaly stormed their premises without provocation and arrested 3 students , who had to be released 24 hours later under immense pressure from the public. Continuing the string of cruelty on Wednesday, the 3rd of June, more than 1000 armed federal police personnel were stationed near the Normal School and also reportedly attacked a civilian bus carrying students and relatives of the 43 missing students, bound for Chilpancingo in Tixtla, Guerrero; this unprovoked attack left several people grievously injured.

The civil organizations on 2nd June also reported the arrival of military tanks and fully armed contingents in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan. So far the current Mexican government has behaved like a military state using the path of intimidation, oppression and torture to resolve public issues and to suppress any conflict or voice of dissent. People have been baselessly arrested, persecuted and inhumanly tortured as revealed by Juan Mendez, in his report published in December 2014 which paints a a grim picture of innocent civilians and peaceful protesters being inhumanly treated and put through misery in Mexico at the hands of the state machinery.

In the background of the atrocities, repression and the policy of criminalisation of social protest by the Mexican government, the undersigned organizations through this letter express our grave concern about the anti-democratic measures, oppression, torture and killings that may be carried out by the Mexican government in the context of maintaining order during the elections scheduled on Sunday June 7, 2015. We also demand an immediate end to the abuse of public power and strict compliance with the constitution. Most importantly, we call upon the international community to pay heed and attention to this humanitarian crisis in the making, be wary of these developments and vociferously condemn any act of oppression by any group linked to the Mexican government.

Montreal, Quebec on the 4th day of June 2015.

Centro de medios libres. “3 de junio ALERTA AYOTZINAPA: Continua y arrecia el sitio y represión federal a escuela normal Isidro Burgos”. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Elecciones en México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015

Proceso. “Elecciones 2015, el sello de la violencia”. 2 de junio del 2015. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Proceso. “Con Peña Nieto, 13 desaparecidos al día”. 7 de febrero del 2015. Fecha de consulta: 3 de junio del 2015.

Regeneración Radio. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015. comunicado-del-consejo-popular-de-tixtla-guerrero

Informe México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Comité de solidarité québécoise avec Ayotzinapa
Québec Solidaire

Download as PDF   versión española  version française

June 2, 2015

United Nations Media Statement

UN experts voice concern over adverse impact of free trade and investment agreements on human rights

GENEVA - A number of free trade and investment agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are currently being negotiated. A group of UN experts* have issued the following statement to express concern about the secret nature of drawing up and negotiating many of these agreements and the potential adverse impact of these agreements on human rights:

UN Logo"While trade and investment agreements can create new economic opportunities, we draw attention to the potential detrimental impact these treaties and agreements may have on the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in legally binding instruments, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social. Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labour standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement.

As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not constrain their ability to meet their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9).

Observers are concerned that these treaties and agreements are likely to have a number of retrogressive effects on the protection and promotion of human rights, including by lowering the threshold of health protection, food safety, and labour standards, by catering to the business interests of pharmaceutical monopolies and extending intellectual property protection.

There is a legitimate concern that both bilateral and multilateral investment treaties might aggravate the problem of extreme poverty, jeopardize fair and efficient foreign debt renegotiation, and affect the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, and other persons leaving in vulnerable situations. Undoubtedly, globalization and the many Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) can have positive but also negative impacts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, which entails practical international solidarity.
Investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) chapters in BITs and FTAs are also increasingly problematic given the experience of decades related arbitrations conducted before ISDS tribunals. The experience demonstrates that the regulatory function of many States and their ability to legislate in the public interest have been put at risk.

We believe the problem has been aggravated by the “chilling effect” that intrusive ISDS awards have had, when States have been penalized for adopting regulations, for example to protect the environment, food security, access to generic and essential medicines, and reduction of smoking, as required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or raising the minimum wage.

ISDS chapters are anomalous in that they provide protection for investors but not for States or for the population. They allow investors to sue States but not vice-versa. The adoption in 2014 of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration is an important step to address the problem of the typically confidential and non-participatory nature of investor-State agreements. Greater transparency should serve to remedy incoherence between current modes of investment with human rights considerations.

We invite States to revisit the treaties under negotiation and ensure that they foster and do not hinder human rights. If the treaties in question include a chapter on investor-State-dispute-settlement, the terms of reference of the arbitrators must be so drafted that interference in the domestic regulation of budgetary, fiscal, health and environmental and other public policies are not allowed.

Moreover arbitration tribunals should allow public review and its awards must be appealable before the International Court of Justice or a yet to be created an International Investment Court working transparently and with accountability. There must be a just balance between the protection afforded to investors and the States’ responsibility to protect all persons under their jurisdiction.

We recommend that:

All current negotiations of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements should be conducted transparently with consultation and participation of all relevant stakeholders including labour unions, consumer unions, environmental protection groups and health professionals.

All draft treaty texts should be published so that Parliamentarians and civil society have sufficient time to review them and to weigh the pros and cons in a democratic manner.

Ex ante and ex post human rights impact assessments should be conducted with regard to existing and proposed BITs and FTAs.

The Parties should detail how they will uphold their human rights obligations if they ratify the BITs and FTA’s under negotiation.

Given the breadth and scope of the agreements currently under negotiation, robust safeguards must be embedded to ensure full protection and enjoyment of human rights.”

(*) The experts:
Mr Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order,
Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities,
Mr Dainus Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,
Ms Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights,
Ms Gabriella Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,
Ms Hilal Helver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food,
Mr Juan Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debts and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights,
Mr Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drink water and sanitation,
Ms Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,
Ms Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity.

For further information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / ) or write to

May 23, 2015

Job Posting

2 Coordinators for the Peoples Social Forum

Location: Toronto
Term: 8 weeks
Start date: ASAP
Rate: $5,000 (per coordinator)
Reporting to: Social Forum Steering Committee

Position Summary: Peoples’ Social Forum General Assembly Coordinator

The position:
The coordinators will help build, promote and roll out the Toronto Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) General Assembly and linked activities that will take place in Toronto from July 10th to July 12th 2015.

The coordinators will work as a team coordinating all aspects of the General Assembly with external partners in Toronto (i.e. community groups, labour, NGOs) and liaise with internal committees such as the Steering Committee, national committees, expansion commissions and national caucuses.

The deadline for application is May 26th 2015. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Submit resume and cover letter to:
Raul Burbano and Louise Casselman

Download the complete job description  (PDF 452 kb)

May 22, 2015

Transforming Education in Bolivia

OSSTF/BCTF delegation reports on their visit to Bolivia


"The OSSTF/BCTF delegation was greeted at the Cochabamba airport with flowers, photographers and a videographer hired to document the arrival of the presidents and their staff!

"Feeling like rock stars, Nancy Knickerbocker and I (Domenic Bellissimo) proceeded to accept the flowers and thanks on behalf of Jim Iker (BCTF President) and Paul Elliott (OSSTF/FEESO President). Throughout the visit, explanations were well received about the circumstances which prevented Paul from coming and Jim from staying in Bolivia for the graduation ceremony on May 1.

"In fact, the education struggles we are currently engaged in became the high points in our speeches to the graduates during the opening of their ceremony. Bolivians, especially rural ones, seem to be inherently combative as witnessed by the fact that the right to strike and blockade roads is enshrined in their constitution. They were quite proud of their anti-colonial stories of resistance and in fact the main square in La Paz features a town hall clock which appears to be counting backwards—as a reminder of the need to erase a colonial legacy."

Read the complete report  (PDF 2.8MB)

May 21, 2015

Digby Neck Quarry Bilcon Case,
Tribunal Decision and Dissent

Quarryby Janet M Eaton, PhD.
Originally Published May 11, 2015

The announcement that a NAFTA Investor State Tribunal had overturned the decision of a Canadian Federal Provincial Environmental Joint Review Panel decision to reject a US mega-quarry proposed by Bilcon of Delaware Inc. for Whites Point, Digby Neck, Nova Scotia has sent shock waves across the

The decision has caused indignation amongst the many Nova Scotians who had been involved in the lengthy and hard fought struggle to preserve the small scale scenic, rural fishing community and economy on the ecologically sensitive and unique Bay of Fundy with its endangered right whales.

At the same time the Bilcon decision has been making waves internationally, sparking a new level of long standing debate about the failures of NAFTA Chapter 11 to safeguard laws put in place by democratic nations.

In this regard it has been providing ammunition for the tireless crusade of activist lawyers, researchers and NGOs fighting to have this mechanism removed from the upcoming mega-trade agreements under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Trade and Investment Agreement (TPPA), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Canada - EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Read an analysis of the decision by Janet Eaton, PhD. (PDF 41kb)

Janet M Eaton, PhD [Marine Biology] Dalhousie University, is an independent researcher, and part-time academic who has taught courses in Critical perspectives on Globalization, Community Political Power and Environment and Sustainable Society. She has been a volunteer with Sierra Club Canada for over a decade, was one of four SCC researchers who contributed to the Terms of Reference for the proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] and to Sierra Club Canada’s lengthy response to Bilcon’s EIS. She also testified twice before the Joint Review Panel.

May 20, 2015

Op-ed: 'Zombie' Canadian mining company, Infinito Gold, stalks Costa Rica

aerial view
An aerial photograph of the Crucitas gold mining site in San Carlos, Alajuela, in northern Costa Rica. Photo: The Tico Times

By Rick Arnold
The Tico Times

Most of us are familiar with zombies featured in scary B movies, otherwise known as the living dead. Now a recent study by Tony Simon, co-founder of the Canadian entity Venture Capital Markets Association, has found that there are some 588 junior resource firms with negative working capital (more dead than alive) listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange Venture Exchange (TSXV).

These include Infinito Gold, the Calgary-based mining company that is still fighting over its defunct open-pit gold mine project in Costa Rica.

This appears to be contrary to the Venture Exchange’s continued listing requirements, which stipulate that firms have to be able to show at least 50,000 Canadian dollars ($41,000) in working capital (more alive than dead). Mr. Simon uses the term “zombie company” for corporations bleeding red ink and suggests that the TSXV follow its own rules and de-list them right away (and protect the small investor).

Mr. Simon has Infinito Gold sitting at #587 on his “zombie” list — sporting the second greatest negative working capital, a whopping negative $127 million.

With no functioning mines to draw capital from, and its own CFO cautioning trouble if any of the long overdue loans are called in, Infinito Gold should be six feet under, except for a major shareholder who from behind the scenes keeps loaning money to keep the firm on life support.

Some 15 years ago Infinito Gold bought previously prospected land in northern Costa Rica (Las Crucitas) thinking to establish an open-pit gold mine. But from the get-go the company chose to ignore the many signs that this Central American nation sees itself as an eco-friendly destination, wishing to avoid the damage that mining can unleash on pristine rivers and forests.

For Infinito Gold a “No” from Costa Rica has never meant “No.” This despite the fact that polls have shown that 80 percent of Costa Ricans oppose the mine, a statistic backed by large street demonstrations.

A single-minded Infinito has lumbered on over the years employing a battery of local lawyers to unsuccessfully challenge Supreme Court decisions ordering (and then re-confirming) the mine’s closure, while simultaneously trying to intimidate Costa Rican academics and environmentalists by suing those who dared to speak out (Infinito lost all six of these court cases).

You might think that after scoring zero in the country’s domestic court system, Infinito would have called it quits. Not so! The company’s main backer has sought to up the ante by bankrolling this shell of a company to try and land a $94 million mega-award against Costa Rica via a private, investor-friendly, World Bank tribunal, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Canada has felt the fiscal pain of being the biggest loser of international investor challenges to domestic public policy under the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But apparently no lessons have been learned here as the country is now providing cover for this ICSID challenge by a zombie Canadian firm determined to make Costa Rica pay for the courage shown by its judges in upholding the country’s environmental legislation.

Rick Arnold is a retired Canadian social activist who has lived and worked in Costa Rica.

Editor’s note: The Tico Times sought a response from Infinito Gold to this opinion piece. Calls made to the company’s Costa Rica office and to its Canadian headquarters were not returned, and emails were unanswered.


May 16, 2015

Stop the Suits Tour wraps up with final Toronto events

Stop the Suits tour officially drew to a close last night. We started the day downtown with street theatre in front of Ocean gold offices and ended with an evening event with the Salvadorian community in Toronto. The tour was very well received in all cities with good media coverage and well attended events. Click on any of the pics below to see a larger version.




May 13, 2015

NDP calls on government to respond to requests for action on missing Mexican students

A major accomplishment from the Mexican caravan. A letter from the official opposition to the minister of Foreign affairs, Rob Nicholson asking the gov. of Canada to heed our requests during the caravan

Dear Minister Nicholson

We write to you today on behalf of the Official Opposition concerning the situation of the 43 students forcibly disappeared in Guerrero State, Mexico, in September of last year.

On September 26, Mexican police and gunmen attacked a group of students from a teachers' college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, killing 6 people and forcibly disappearing 43 others. This crime has become emblematic of the acute human rights crisis in Mexico. The disappearances and the ensuing investigation have made headlines throughout the world, and drawn the attention of many Canadians.

Thus far, the various investigations into the disappearances have uncovered more than 15 mass graves in Guerrero - one of which contained the bodies of 28 people - yet so far the body of only one missing student has been conclusively identified through DNA analysis.

Unhappy with the slow and partial progress of the Mexican government's investigation, representatives of the parents of the missing have enlisted the help of a team of Argentinean forensics experts to study the available evidence. This team recently issued a statement pointing out a number of discrepancies in the government's investigation, and claiming that the government had presented biased analyses of the scientific evidence to support its (most recent) conclusion that the youths were killed, their bodies burned to ashes and their remains thrown into a river to hide the evidence.

Unfortunately, the Ayotzinapa disappearances are not an isolated case. According to Human Rights Watch, roughly 26,000 people have been reported missing or forcibly disappeared in Mexico during the period of 2007-2014. Prosecutions have been few and the the overwhelming majority of the victims have not been located.

-read the complete letter to the Minister

May 5, 2015

Stop the Suits Tour: International Investment Agreements Threaten People and the Environment from El Salvador to Canada

(Montreal/Ottawa/Toronto) In anticipation of an imminent ruling from a little-known arbitration tribunal at the World Bank that could force El Salvador to pay Canadian-Australian mining firm OceanaGold US$301 million, a Salvadoran delegation will visit Canada next week to discuss how investor-state arbitration threatens democratic decision-making, public health and the environment here and beyond our borders.

OceanaGold is suing El Salvador for an amount equivalent to 5% of its gross domestic product for not having granted it a permit to put a gold mine into operation, despite its project not having met regulatory requirements. Originally, Pacific Rim Mining launched the suit in 2009 after the first of three successive Salvadoran Presidents committed to an effective moratorium on new mining projects given concerns over potential impacts on already taxed water supplies. OceanaGold purchased Pacific Rim Mining in 2013, narrowly saving it from bankruptcy, and has stubbornly continued with the case. The International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) at the World Bank could release its decision on the suit any day.

From May 11 to 15, Yanira Cortez, Deputy Attorney for the Environment for El Salvador’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office and Marcos Gálvez, President of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES, a founding member of the National Roundtable against Metal Mining) will travel to Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto. They will speak publicly and meet with Members of Parliament to request support for the Salvadoran people’s struggle and warn of dangers that Canadians face through investor provisions in existing and proposed free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Canadian taxpayers have already paid out tens of millions to foreign corporations and could be on the hook for tens of millions more in suits brought under NAFTA for decisions made in the public interest. In a case eerily similar to the one El Salvador faces, Lone Pine Resources is suing Canada for $250 million in response to Quebec’s decision to put a moratorium on shale gas mining, better known as fracking. This measure, broadly supported in Quebec, is premised on concern for people’s health and the environment. Calgary-based Lone Pine Resources is using a US affiliate to bring the suit and has insisted that it will continue to pursue the case unless Quebec lifts its moratorium.

-read complete tour details and contact information

May 2, 2015

Mexican mom seeks justice for missing son

Hilda Ligideno Vargas holds a photo of her missing son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideno, 20, one of 43 college students who disappeared in Mexico, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The mother of one of 43 missing Mexican students who vanished last fall is in Canada to seek the federal government's help in pressuring Mexico for answers.

Hilda Legideno Vargas's 20 year-old-son disappeared in Mexico, likely at the hands of drug cartels, in a case that human rights groups say the Mexican government is covering up.

She wants the government to pressure the Mexicans to find answers in the case so she can get justice for her son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa.

Tizapa was among the 43 students who disappeared Sept. 26 from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College in the city of Inguala.

The Mexican government says it wants to see the case resolved and justice done , but Legideno Vargas doesn't believe it, and wonders whether the local authorities were somehow complicit in the attack.

"Everything that I am doing here I'm doing out of love for my son," the 43-year-old single mother said Friday in an interview conducted through an interpreter.

"We've had to come here to Canada to have our voices heard because the Mexican government is not doing what it needs to do."

Legideno Vargas met with Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson's senior foreign policy adviser, Monika Le Roy, to press her case. She also testified in earlier in the week to the House of Commons human rights subcommittee.

-read the complete article

May 1, 2015

Parlamento de Quebec más preocupado por caso Ayotzinapa que Congreso mexicano: legisladora

(01 de mayo, 2015. Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO).- La diputada representante del Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Morena), Luisa María Alcalde Luján declaró que el Estado mexicano ha ignorado sistemáticamente la crisis de derechos humanos que se vive en el país, pues en el caso específico de la desaparición de 43 normalistas de Ayotzinapa, no ha respondido con acciones concretas para solucionar la desaparición forzada de los estudiantes.

“Este no es un hecho aislado y, como muchos otros similares, forma parte de la constante actuación autoritaria y contraria a derechos humanos por parte del Estado mexicano”, argumentó la legisladora.

Recordó que Amnistía Internacional ha señalado que existe una discrepancia entre la versión oficial del gobierno de la República y lo que se presume que verdaderamente pasó la noche del 26 y madrugada del 27 de septiembre de 2014 en el municipio de Iguala, Guerrero, donde elementos de la policía municipal de la comunidad, en contubernio con el crimen organizado, desaparecieron a los normalistas.

-leer el artículo completo

April 26, 2015

Diputados de Quebec piden a México una investigación transparente sobre Ayotzinapa

Periódico La Jornada

Foto - Padres y madres de los estudiantes, en MontrealFoto La Jornada

Una delegación de padres, madres y compañeros de los normalistas de Ayotzinapa desaparecidos visitó ayer en Montreal, Canadá, la Asamblea Nacional de la provincia de Quebec, donde legisladores de todos los partidos representados aprobaron una moción por unanimidad donde expresan su preocupación por los estudiantes y sus familias y llaman al gobierno mexicano a hacer una investigación ‘‘completa y transparente’’ sobre el caso.

Marie-Eve Marleau, coordinadora en Montreal del Comité por los Derechos Humanos en América Latina, indicó en entrevista con La Jornada que el órgano legislativo expresó su ‘‘viva preocupación’’ por los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos desde septiembre de 2014 y su solidaridad con las víctimas de estos hechos, además de subrayar la importancia de hacer una investigación eficiente para identificar y castigar a los responsables.

Lo ocurrido en Ayotzinapa, indicó la activista, ‘‘nos preocupa bastante porque se trata de un caso emblemático que habla de una grave crisis de derechos humanos en México, y escuchando sus testimonios estamos todavía más preocupados. No son sólo los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos (en Iguala), sino las más de 26 mil personas que han sufrido este crimen desde 2007’’.

De igual forma, deploró que el gobierno canadiense haya incluido en 2013 a México en la lista de ‘‘países seguros’’, que pueden hacerse cargo de la integridad de sus ciudadanos, pues de esta forma se niega a los mexicanos la posibilidad de solicitar asilo político. Por último, Marleau dijo que si bien no se comprometieron de forma clara a visitar el país, los integrantes de la Asamblea de Quebec sí mencionaron la posibilidad de enviar un grupo de parlamentarios a México, como parte de la moción de solidaridad con Ayotzinapa.

Por su parte, Hilda Legideño, madre del normalista Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, explicó que los legisladores quebequenses les dieron una buena recepción y se comprometieron a pedir a las autoridades de México que sigan buscando a los estudiantes desaparecidos y respeten las garantías básicas de los familiares de las víctimas.

Las actividades de la comisión que se encuentra de gira por Canadá desde el 12 de abril y hasta el 2 de mayo, de la cual también forma parte el estudiante Jorge Luis Balbuena, ‘‘se están desarrollando muy bien, hemos tenido cobertura de los medios y hay mucha solidaridad y sensibilidad para el tema’’, encomió.

‘‘Para nosotros es muy importante salir a difundir lo que pasó porque queremos ver a nuestros hijos. Lo que queremos es encontrarlos; no creemos en la versión del gobierno (de que fueron asesinados y quemados) y por eso vamos a seguir buscando. No nos conformamos y nuestra lucha es por encontrarlos a ellos y a la verdad’’, enfatizó.

El próximo 28 de abril, la delegación visitará la sede del Parlamento Federal de Canadá, en la ciudad de Ottawa.

April 22, 2015

Idle No More in Solidarity with Ayotzinapa


On September 26, 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College, in Iguala, went missing after they were attacked by state police and gunmen. Three students were killed and forty three “disappeared.” The bodies of the disappeared students have never been found and the Mexican government has not undertaken a credible investigation into the disappearance. The families keep struggling to find out what happened to the students.

This atrocity is part of a landscape of violence and impunity carried out through alliances between elements of the Mexican state and organized crime. The search for the students has uncovered more than 15 mass graves in neighbouring areas of the state of Guerrero, none of them containing the bodies of the students. In response, a national movement of resistance has emerged.

Idle No More organizers stand in solidarity with the missing 43 students and their families and the Caravan to Ottawa delegation travelling to share their story of resistance and hope. Their struggle and search for their loved one’s resonates with us as we seek justice for the murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirits in Canada. The murder of Indigenous people’s across the Americas is at epidemic proportions and it’s time for governments to take action to protect Indigenous lives.

Canada plays a critical role in supporting the Mexican state’s responsibility for the disappearances. In 2012, two way trade between Mexico and Canada totalled $20 billion. As a signatory to NAFTA, Mexico is Canada’s 5th largest export destination. Despite the human rights crisis in Mexico, Canada’s refugee system has deemed it a ‘safe country.’

Grand Chief Philip Stewart, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out Canada’s involvement: “I call onThomas Mulcair, the leader of the official opposition to raise this issue in the house. I call on the Conservative government to make a statement about the situation in Mexico and cut off relations with Mexico until human rights are respected."

Join Idle No More at the Public Forum With Leaders of Mexican Social Uprising - Ayotzinapa to Toronto as we join the delegation and lift our voices together and speak out against state violence.

April 29, 7pm: Public Forum With Leaders of Mexican Social Uprising - Ayotzinapa to Toronto at Ryerson University - 350 Victoria Street (@ Gould), Library Lecture Theatre, Room 72

- For further information about the caravan to Ottawa visit this page

For media requests contact:
- Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers, (416) 522-8615,

- For more information visit this page

April 21, 2015

Ayotzinapa-Ottawa Caravan Public Forum in Ottawa

posterThe Ayotzinapa-Ottawa caravan will be making its way to Ottawa on April 27,28 & 29.

Community organizers are putting together a Public Forum on April 28, at 6h30 PM at the PSAC building (233 Gilmour). Click on the image of the poster for complete details.

Background: On September 26, 2014, Mexican state security forces attacked a group of students from the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, killing 6 people and forcibly disappearing 43 others who were never seen again.

The crime has pulled the veil off an acute human rights crisis in Mexico. The search for the students has uncovered more than 15 mass graves, none of them containing the bodies of the students.

Now, Canadian solidarity and human-rights organizations are organizing a Caravan from Ayotzinapa to Ottawa that will bring a student leader from Ayotzinapa, a parent of one of the disappeared students, and a human-rights lawyer representing the students’ families to Canada in order to tell their story to the public and to Canadian policy makers.

The caravan will take place from 11 April to 2 May 2015 and encompass events in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario.

This will be a bilingual event (English Spanish). Admission by Donation, but no one will be turned down for lack of funds. Free parking at the back of the building.

- For more information visit this page

April 20, 2015

Public Forum With Leaders of Mexican Social Uprising - Ayotzinapa to Toronto

poster7pm, April 29, 2015
Ryerson University - 350 Victoria Street (@ Gould)
Library Lecture Theatre, Room 72

-please share on Facebook!

On September 26, 2014, 43 Mexican student-teachers, were kidnapped by Mexican state authorities in Ayotzinapa, Iguala district, Mexico. The resulting social movement has seen millions of people take to the streets in over 100 cities around the world. Now, for the first time, organizers from Ayotzinapa will be speaking in Toronto about their experiences, and calling for support.


Canada plays a critical role in supporting the Mexican state responsible for the disappearances. In 2012, two way trade between Mexico and Canada totalled $20 billion. As a signatory to NAFTA, Mexico is Canada’s 5th largest export destination. Despite the human rights crisis in Mexico, Canada’s refugee system has deemed it a ‘safe country’.

In the lead up the Pan-Am Games, the Pan-Am Economic Summit and the Pan-Am Climate Summit, join us on April 29th to learn about what's happening in Mexico and how we can support them from here in Toronto.

Supported by: CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and Common Frontiers

Endorsed by: No One Is Illegal | Personne n'est illégal | Nadie es ilegal - Toronto, United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada, Amnesty International Toronto Organization and Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network.

For more information see the website or the Facebook page

April 15, 2015

CNN-Mexico covers arrival of Mexican delegation to Canada


Familiares de desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa llevan su pedido de justicia a Canadá

(CNNMéxico) — Una delegación de familiares de los 43 normalistas desaparecidos en Iguala, Guerrero, llegó a la ciudad de Vancouver, Canadá, para iniciar un recorrido en diferentes ciudades de ese país.

El recorrido comenzará este domingo y finalizará el 2 de mayo, anunció el centro de derechos humanos Tlachinotlan en un comunicado.

La delegación se reunirá con legisladores y organizaciones de la sociedad civil en Columbia Británica, Quebec y Ontario, para presionar a los parlamentarios canadienses y los responsables políticos a que reconozcan la crisis de derechos humanos en México.

También realizarán una serie de actividades informativas como conferencias y reuniones con académicos, estudiantes, sindicatos y organizaciones no gubernamentales, detalla el comunicado de prensa.

El grupo lo conforman la señora Hilda Legideño Vargas, madre de Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, uno de los normalistas desparecidos; José Luis Clemente Balbuena, integrante del comité estudiantil de la Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa.

El abogado que representa legalmente a los familiares de los normalistas, Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, se sumará a la comitiva a finales de mes.

La delegación tendrá actividades en la Universidad de Quebec, en Montreal, además de una reunión con el subcomité de Derechos Humanos del Parlamento canadiense en Ottawa.

April 12, 2015

Jorge Garcia-Orgales's from the USW speaking in Toronto at the Vigil in support for peace in Colombia

April 11, 2015
Media Release

Ayotzinapa delegation to testify before civil society and policy makers about human rights crisis in Mexico

Family members and representatives of 43 missing students touring Canada for the first time calling for end to state violence and lack of accountability in Mexico

Canada -- Hilda Legideño Vargas, a single mother and crafts seller whose son was disappeared in the September 26th attack; Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a member of the student committee of the Ayotzinapa teachers' college; and Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, a lawyer from the human-rights center Tlachinollan who is the legal representative of the families of the 43 disappeared students will be touring across Canada, meeting with law-makers and civil society groups in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario to press Canadian parliamentarians and policy makers to acknowledge the human rights crisis in Mexico. On April 28th, they will testify before the Subcommittee for International Human Rights at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

Public events & media briefings
April 12, 2pm: Presentation at SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver
April 13, 10am: Media briefing outside Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (Union of BC Indian Chiefs) and Vancouver-East MP Libby Davies
April 17, 6pm: Fundraiser at Commercial Dr. Royal Canadian Legion Hall, Vancouver
April 22, 6pm: Presentation at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Quebec
April 23, 9am: Media Briefing at the Quebec National Assembly, Quebec
April 24, 7pm: Cultural event and solidarity night at Parroquia San Esteban, Toronto
April 26, 12pm: Community gathering at Six Nations
April 29, 5pm: Dinner and presentation, Shelldale Community Centre, Guelph

-view full schedule of events and background information

April 10, 2015

Declaración Foro Sindical de Las Américas

9 de abril, Ciudad de Panamá
“Las Américas que queremos” Con Democracia, Justicia e Inclusión Social!!!
Con Paz, Soberanía y Autodeterminación!!!
Con Desarrollo Sustentable y Trabajo Decente!!!

-Declaración Foro Sindical de Las Américas - PDF

April 8, 2015

New book launches for Continental Crucible

"Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America"

book posterBy Edur Velasco Arregui and Richard Roman

The crucible of North American neo-liberal transformation is heating up, but its outcome is far from clear. Continental Crucible examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pan-continental and a class struggle perspective. This book also illustrates the ways in which the capitalist classes in Canada, Mexico and the United States used free trade agreements to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally.

The failure of traditional labour responses to stop the continental offensive being waged by big business has led workers and unions to explore new strategies of struggle and organization, pointing to the beginnings of a continental labour movement across North America. The battle for the future of North America has begun.

Click the image for more details about the book

Upcoming Book Launches:


At Fernwood Community Association, 1923 Fernwood Road, Victoria, British Columbia, V8T 2Y6.
Monday night, April 13, 7-9:30



Corporate Offensive: Continental Perspectives:
A Panel Discussion of Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America, 2nd edition, 2015

Monday April 28, 2015 7–9:00pm
People’s Co-op Bookstore
1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver


April 7, 2015

CLC adds its support to Colombian mobilizations

April 7, 2015

Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
President of the Republic of Colombia

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) wishes to associate itself to the demonstrations this week in Colombia, which aim to build support for the peace process between your government and the FARC.

We join the call from broad sectors of the Colombian society in expressing our support for positive outcomes from the negotiations that are now taking place in Cuba.

We believe the historical moment to end the long-standing conflict has arrived and we join the call from throughout the Americas for support of the peace process.

We also call on you to strengthen your resolve in promoting peace through the current negotiations and in supporting this week’s demonstrations by ensuring the safety of participants and integrity of their aims.

The CLC calls for a bilateral ceasefire and for an inclusive process that seeks to bring social justice to all Colombians.

Yours sincerely,
Hassan Yussuff, President

cc: La Confederación Sindical de las Américas (CSA)
Frente Amplio por la Paz Colombia
CLC Colombia Working Group

April 3, 2015

Solidarity with the April 9th, 2015 mobilizations in support of peace, social justice and democracy in Colombia

Solidarity with the April 9th, 2015 mobilizations in support of peace, social justice and democracy in Colombia. This mobilization is an important expression of unity and desire of all Colombians for peace.


April 2, 2015

A message from SINTRAMINERCOL, the Columnbia Mining Workers Union

March 31, 2015

The Podemos revolution: how a small group of radical academics changed European politics

Just 15 months after it was founded, Podemos now leads the polls in Spain. Can this grassroots party win power – or is its bubble about to burst?

By Giles Tremlett
The Guardian

Demonstrators gather near Madrid’s Puerta del Sol for a ‘March for Change’ organised by Podemos in January. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty

At the start of the 2008 academic year, Pablo Iglesias, a 29-year-old lecturer with a pierced eyebrow and a ponytail greeted his students at the political sciences faculty of the Complutense University in Madrid by inviting them to stand on their chairs. The idea was to re-enact a scene from the film Dead Poets Society. Iglesias’s message was simple. His students were there to study power, and the powerful can be challenged. This stunt was typical of him. Politics, Iglesias thought, was not just something to be studied. It was something you either did, or let others do to you. As a professor, he was smart, hyperactive and – as a founder of a university organisation called Counter-Power – quick to back student protest. He did not fit the classic profile of a doctrinaire intellectual from Spain’s communist-led left. But he was clear about what was to blame for the world’s ills: the unfettered, globalised capitalism that, in the wake of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, had installed itself as the developed world’s dominant ideology.

Iglesias and the students, ex-students and faculty academics worked hard to spread their ideas. They produced political television shows and collaborated with their Latin American heroes – left-leaning populist leaders such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador or Evo Morales of Bolivia. But when they launched their own political party on 17 January 2014 and gave it the name Podemos (“We Can”), many dismissed it. With no money, no structure and few concrete policies, it looked like just one of several angry, anti-austerity parties destined to fade away within months.

A year later, on 31 January 2015, Iglesias strode across a stage in Madrid’s emblematic central square, the Puerta del Sol. It was filled with 150,000 people, squeezed in so tightly that it was impossible to move. He addressed the crowd with the impassioned rhetoric for which opponents have branded him a dangerous leftwing populist. He railed against the monsters of “financial totalitarianism” who had humiliated them all. He told Podemos’s followers to dream and, like that noble madman Don Quixote, “take their dreams seriously”. Spain was in the grip of historic, convulsive change. The serried crowd were heirs to the common folk who – armed with knives, flowerpots and stones – had rebelled against Napoleonic troops in nearby streets two centuries earlier. “We can dream, we can win!” he shouted.

Polls suggest that he is right. Since 1982, Spain has been governed by only two parties. Yet El País newspaper now places Podemos at 22%, ahead of both the ruling conservative Partido Popular (PP) and its leftwing opposition Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). If Podemos can grow further, Iglesias could become prime minister after elections that are expected in November. This would be an almost unheard-of achievement for such a young party.

-read the entire article

March 26, 2015

Bill C-51 means return to out-of-control state surveillance, postal workers warn

postalThe union representing 51,000 postal workers, which has a lengthy history of allegedly being spied upon by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP, warned that Conservative government’s sweeping anti-terrorism legislation Bill C-51 would bring back the days of out-of-control state surveillance.

“The Canadian Union of Postal Workers knows what it is like to experience out-of-control state surveillance,” Denis Lemelin, National President of Canadian Union of Postal Workers said.

In the early days of the union, the CSIS mole Grant Bristow, was discovered to be working at a postal plant and in the 1980s, CUPW’s national office was bugged by the RCMP.

In the 1990s, the union asked for its security files under the Access to Information Act, only to be denied the bulk of the records, deemed “harmful to the defence of Canada.”

What was released revealed not only a massive surveillance operation on the daily activities of union members, but also collusion between the RCMP and Canada Post management.

The postal workers warn that Bill C-51 would give CSIS even broader powers to invade the privacy of Canadians in the name of combating terrorism

Similar concerns over the bill’s overly sweeping reach was raised by the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Hassan Yussuff, who appeared today before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU).

“Increasing the powers of the security establishment will not necessarily make us safer,” Lemelin said. “The lack of civilian oversight and the dearth of monitoring information-sharing between government agencies in this bill is very disturbing.”

“Bill C-51 would make it all too easy to target ordinary working people or any marginalized group and label them ‘terrorists’,” Lemelin concluded. “We should accept no violations of our human rights and freedoms in the name of national security.”

Former Prime Ministers, legal scholars, academics, labour leaders and First Nations chiefs, have joined thousands of citizens across Canada protesting against the bill, which is supported by the Liberal Party but opposed by New Democrats and the Greens.

March 24, 2015

Violent Reality in Honduras Highlighted in Documentary Released on 35th Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's Death

The most violent country on the planet isn’t halfway across the globe; it is a 2.5 hour flight from Houston. Most U.S. citizens are at best dimly aware of the bloodshed that is the defining feature of present-day Honduras. Last summer, 2014, Honduran children surfaced on the southern U.S. border by the tens of thousands, prompting a Texas congressman to decry this “invasion of our nation.” Likewise, protesters in California met the young immigrants with angry slogans like “return to sender!” But did protesters have any understanding of the situation these youth were escaping? The violence they’d be thrown back into if they were indeed “returned to sender”?

La Voz Del Pueblo is an 18-minute documentary that explores the difficult and violent Honduran reality through the perspective of journalists at the Jesuit-run radio station, Radio Progreso.

-watch the documentary

March 20, 2015

What keeps this Mexican journalist going?: Salutin

A reporter covering the horrors of the Mexican drug wars on the anger that fuels his work.

By Rick Salutin
Published in the Toronto Star

Luis Hernandez Navarro has exhaustively reported the horrific events in the small city of Iguala, Mexico, in the turbulent state of Guerrero. (Photo

Luis Hernandez Navarro was in Toronto this week to speak about the crisis in Mexico after the deaths and kidnappings of student teachers last fall. He’s an eminent journalist and opinion editor at La Jornada, Mexico’s second largest daily. It’s well to the left of leftish papers elsewhere like the Star or Guardian.

He’s exhaustively reported those events in the small city of Iguala in the turbulent state of Guerrero. The students were from one of Mexico’s fabled rural teachers’ colleges, which have been crucial to social progress since the revolution 100 years ago. They were exploring ways to travel to Mexico City to mark the anniversary of a 1968 massacre of student protesters. That included “fishing” for busses which they would “borrow,” and then return. It’s a bit loosey-goosey but so has social order been during the “drug wars” of the last decade. Probably over 120,000 killed; 23,000-30,000 missing. People tolerate informal arrangements. But six of the students were killed in encounters with police and military; 43 disappeared, or were kidnapped. It wasn’t the first or last time but for some reason it resonated nationally and sparked outrage.

It’s routinely mysterious what ignites social explosions, though you can always speculate afterward. In Tunisia in 2010, a street vendor, humiliated by police, set himself afire and the Arab Spring immediately followed. He wasn’t the first or last either. It’s one reason I drifted from my early Marxist leanings: you just can’t “analyze” history well enough to anticipate or manipulate it.

Luis says (in retrospect) that the Iguala events were “the last straw.” Mexico has been deteriorating from a “narco-state” — strong central government colluding with crime cartels — to a “mafia state” — numerous political and criminal elements battling each other chaotically. What resonated from Iguala wasn’t the brutal deaths (face of one student ripped off his skull) but the missing. You can’t stop hoping they’re still alive, though it’s hopeless. And the authorities do nothing, or less: they cover it up, generating more rage. Half of Guerrero’s municipalities have now been seized and governed by local, unofficial groups.

There’s also the resonance of the rural teachers’ colleges. They were part of the two key elements in the original revolution: free universal education and land reform. They brought literacy and hygiene to peasants and still do — though they’ve been under attack since the ’68 protest. They have a legendary status.

And there’s this: in Mexico the revolution never dies away. In the U.S. their revolution is a faded memory, preserved mainly by laughable “re-enactors.” In Canada our relation to our past is so tenuous we must be constantly reminded to recall it. (Remember the War of 1812? Remember last year’s commemoration of it?) In Mexico, history — especially the revolution — always seems right there.

Luis says the momentum from last fall appears to have stalled. The struggle is now between memory and forgetting of that particular event, though others will surely take their place. I asked what keeps him going. He sighed and said, “Right now I am feeling great anger.” He used the word indignation, an interesting term that has recurred in social justice movements lately. I think its appeal is that it contains the term for dignity. Tunisians called their movement the dignity revolution though media tried to label it the “jasmine revolution.”

But he said youth give him hope. In Mexico City, dentistry students asked him to speak about Iguala, to describe “what wasn’t on TV.” They thanked him for telling them what they already felt but didn’t fully know. It’s surprising where you can find hope for a nobler future: dentists. Take note, Dalhousie.

Then he asked why this interested me. Without a ready answer, I said too glibly, Because nothing human is alien to me. Aha, he replied, “Carlos Marx said that too. You’re not as far from him as you think.” It’s true, there was a 19th-century version of the lightning round and Marx gave that line, in the original Latin, as his favourite saying. And glibness aside, I believe it. You don’t have to be an expert or linguist to find things that are common and even inspiring in distant settings. Besides, we’re cellmates, us and the Mexicans, in NAFTA.

March 19, 2015
Media Release

WSF tunisian organising committee calls for international solidarity

IndustriALL Global Union strongly denounces yesterday’s abhorrent terrorist attack in Tunis, which has killed at least 22 people and injured more than 40. The brutal attack at the Bardo museum in the Tunisian capital is a bitter blow to the country, which has had two peaceful democratic elections since dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted by a popular uprising in 2011.

“We will not let you steal our revolution,” was the message being shouted on the streets of Tunis in an immediate reaction to the attacks, said Tahar Berberi, leader of IndustriALL-affiliated metal and electronics workers' union FGME-UGTT.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of the murdered victims and hope that the many who are injured make a quick recovery. Terrorists must never be allowed to undermine the Tunisian people’s desire for democracy and peace, for which the unions have fought so hard,” said IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina.

To show their anger, the national trade union centre, UGTT, is leading a sit-in of unionists and citizens outside the national parliament this afternoon, to express solidarity for the victims and their rejection of terrorism.

“Unions in Tunisia are united in condemnation of this cowardly attack, which will only strengthen our solidarity. We will emerge stronger than before,” said Berberi.

Unions have played a pivotal role in achieving democracy in Tunisia and toppling the dictatorship four years ago.

“All the civic and political parties have cast aside their differences and are behind the President and the Tunisian government,” said Berberi.

Twenty of the dead were foreign tourists, according to Tunisian authorities.

“In addition to the human tragedy, it will harm the country and its economy,” said Berberi. “Tourist agencies are already cancelling trips.”

On Sunday, the UGTT executive committee will discuss a call for an international conference to fight terrorism which would include global social forces and civil society, said Berberi.

In recognition of unions’ contribution to democracy, IndustriALL held its Executive Committee meeting in Tunis last December to support building a new society in which trade unions and workers are important players.

Next week IndustriALL will send a sizeable delegation to the World Social Forum taking place in Tunis next week from 25–28 March. “The social movement in Tunisia and the region counts on the global support of democratic forces to oppose violence and terrorism,” said the Forum’s coordinator Abderrahmane Hedhili.

IndustriALL will be participating in several workshops with affiliates and social partners at the event.

“Now, more than ever, the international community must show its solidarity for Tunisia,” said Raina.

March 12, 2015

Defend our Freedom: A Day of Action to Stop the Secret Police Bill C-51 #StopC51


There has been a call out to protest Bill C-51 on March 14, 2015 in cities across the country.

The proposed legislation Bill C-51 would clearly allow for the violation of Charter Rights, facilitate spying on innocent Canadians, and create a secret police force with little oversight or accountability.

This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials. This bill will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people.

C-51 is reckless, irresponsible and ineffective.

We are calling on the government to withdraw the legislation.

We are calling on everyone to do what they can to bring attention to this governments attempt to compromise privacy for false security, while promoting a culture of fear and racism.

Please send a message to your MP, share this event, and join us on March 14!

To find an event near you click here

March 11, 2015

Mexican Network Deplores Conclusion of Canadian Investigation into Blackfire in Chicomuselo, Chiapas

In a letter from Staff Sergeant Les Dolhun, team leader for the K Division Federal Policing South’s Financial Integry Team, based in Calgary, Alberta and dated February 18, 2015 (Reference: 2009-479985) to MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian government delivered its response to the case of Blackfire Exploration Ltd. and Blackfire Exploration Mexico S. de R.L. de C.V. with regard to the bribery and corruption in 2008 of then Municipal President in Chicomuselo, Chiapas - Julio César Velázquez Calderón - from the PRD party.

“Thank you for your referral. We have completed our investigation into this matter. The assessment of the evidence does not support criminal charges and accordingly, we will be concluding our file. Please be advised that the RCMP does not comment on concluded investigations which do not result in criminal charges,” is the response. This letter concludes the investigation into a conflict that culminated with the murder of Mariano Abarca Roblero, a member of the Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples (REMA by its initials in Spanish). Since 2010, it was clear that the RCMP should carry out an investigation in situ, but that was never done.

Rather, since five years ago when Canadian organizations MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers, United Steelworkers and others submitted irrefutable evidence, including copies of cheques paid out to the then Municipal President, the Canadian government has continually demonstrating its partiality toward Canadian companies beyond its borders allowing them to operate with impunity and without respect for human rights. On the basis of the recent report about Canadian Embassy support for Excellon Resources in Durango and other companies in Mexico, it is clear that the Canadian government backs human rights violations in connection with its companies, making it complicit in violence, corruption and bribery.

The Mariano Abarca Environmental Foundation (FAMA by its initials in Spanish) and Otros Mundos, A.C., both members of REMA in Chiapas, denounce the lack of commitment on the part of the Canadian government to protect and promote human rights enshrined in international conventions in the framework of the United Nations. This decision to leave this case in impunity clears the way for Blackfire, which still has mining concessions in Chiapas, to continue with business as usual in a municipality where the installation of a military barracks has just been announced. The VII Military Region of the State in White Rock (Predio Piedra Blanca) will occupy 60 hectares where a batallion will operate and reside. Given this, we also denounce the militarization of a region plagued with mining concessions.

As peoples, organizations and social movements we will continue struggling in defense of land and territory. We will not allow more Canadian mining companies on our territories.

For a Chiapas free of mining!

Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Peoples – Chiapas (REMA Chiapas)


Translated from the original in Spanish:

March 3, 2015

Action:reAction 2015 student social-forum

ChavezThe Human Rights Committee
of OSSTF District 12
invite you to the upcoming:

2015 student social-forum.

April 30th, 2015
8:30 am to 3:30 pm

Vaughan Road Academy
529 Vaughan Rd
Toronto, ON
(near St. Clair West subway station)

For more details:
follow this link

March 3, 2015

Defend the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
Stop Imperialist Aggression!

ChavezFriday March 6 2015
New Location (due to Cupe 3901 Unit 1 strike)
SteelWorker's Hall
25 Cecil St.
Toronto, ON

Organized by:
Hands Off Venezuela
Hugo Chavez People's Defense Front
Luis Riel Volivarian Circle
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network

Sponsored by:
Socialist Action, Community Party of Canada, Common Frontiers, Fight Back, Casa Maiz, Arts and Resistance, Casa Slavador Allende, Young Communist League, Toronto Forum on Cuba.

March 1, 2015

International Solidarity With The Bolivarian Revolution Week

image1We are popular movements, social and cultural centres, community media, solidarity circles, Union groupings, cooperation networks; accompanied by intellectuals, artists and by people in general who are supportive of the popular cause and identified with revolutionary processes, we are fighting for independence, sovereignty and social justice.

Faced with the attacks on Venezuela by capitalism’s power nexus, we are called on and we call on others to organize a simultaneous week of solidarity with Venezuela. Through exchanging and articulating cultural activities, this initiative aims to bring together expressions of world solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

These activities, which will take place between 1 and 8 March, plan to create spaces where various peoples can showcase their own cultural expressions: cine-fora, places for debate, rallies, artistic activities, etc.

Organising the ideological and cultural battle

The attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution is an extremely important goal for the international right. It includes systematic propaganda by the privately owned international media linked to other aspects of the capitalist offensive. The ideological arena, the battle of ideas, is a key area for the Revolution, both nationally and internationally.

Expressions of solidarity from millions of people, and in some case, from their governments, is the main international support for the Venezuela, attacked on all sides by imperialism, especially by the most conservative sectors in the US and their accomplices.

This is why we must coordinate this force so that it can have a greater impact. Every advance made in unity and brotherhood among peoples is an achievement that works in favour of the profound social changes that we need all over the planet. Defending the Bolivarian Revolution means contributing to those advances, therefore, we call on all to coordinate our efforts, adding our voice in all five continents.

For more information or to join the campaign send an e-mail to

-Manifiesto (castellano) pdf
-Manifiesto (frances) pdf

Common Frontiers is one of hundreds of organizations around the world (and possibly the only Canadian organization, so far) to sign on to this week of solidarity. To see the complete list, click on the link below:
-List of signatories (PDF)

February 27, 2015

The 2015 Michael Baptista Lecture

Education and Mobilization in Contested Mexico Situating Ayotzinapa

Presented by: The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)

posterOn September 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College were attacked by police and gunmen in the town of Iguala. Three were killed, dozens injured and 43 student-teachers were taken away, never to be seen again. This atrocity is part of a landscape of violence and impunity carried out through alliances among elements of the Mexican state and organized crime. In response, a national movement of resistance has emerged. This panel of experts on contemporary Mexico explores the context surrounding these events including the rise of drug violence, long standing popular movements among teachers and students, meaningful democracy, and the links between powerful interests in licit and illicit industries.

Note Change of Location:
Nancy's Auditorium,
YWCA Toronto,
87 Elm St
Date and Time: March 18th, 2015 from 5:00 - 8:00
Facebook page

Ayotzinapa Media Release - PDF


Reception to follow - Food and refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by CERLAC, York University, Common Frontiers, and Amnesty International

February 13, 2015

Condemning coup attempt in Venezuela by anti-government forces

demoCommon Frontiers condemns the attempted coup plot orchestrated by anti-government forces to coincide with the commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the violent opposition-led demonstrations that saw more than 43 people killed.

As anti-government demonstrations once again clash with police on the streets, hurling Molotov cocktails injuring five security officials and three demonstrators, behind the scenes the architects of the failed coup were meticulously planning. Details released by government sources indicate that a small group of civilians and air force officials were recruited to carry out the plan, which included bombing the Presidential Palace, the offices of teleSUR, assassinating President Maduro, and installing a “transitional government”. The leader of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello revealed the government has confiscated grenades, military and Sebin (intelligence) uniforms, and a video with masked military officials speaking out against the government and detailing the plan.

The Bolivarian project has undertaken 18 internationally recognized democratic elections over the past fifteen years winning all but one. In 2013, pro-government candidates obtained 54% of the national vote in nation-wide municipal elections winning in over three-fourths of the municipalities. These victories are testament to the overwhelming support for the Bolivarian project in Venezuela.  The failure of the opposition in the electoral arena has motivated them to undertake extreme measures to challenge the government. Under a campaign called “the exit” they have publicly called for regime change and aligned with the business elites engaging in economic destabilization through hording of products as part of a psychological war to create fear and chaos.  

Common Frontiers stands in Solidarity with the people of Venezuela and rejects attempts at undermining Venezuela's sovereignty. We oppose any efforts both locally or internationally that seek to rupture the Constitutional order in Venezuela.

We call on the Canadian government and Parliament to:

Common Frontiers

January 31, 2015

Canadian MPs support for prisoners' rights misses the mark on at least one "political prisoner"

We were delighted to read that your party participated in an event advocating the promotion and protection of human rights on the eve of the first anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. We were however, dismayed to see included in the list of political prisoners, Mr. Leopoldo López referred to as a “distinguished” Venezuelan by Conservative MP Scott Reid. López is indeed distinguished but not for being a democrat or respectful of his country’s constitution but rather for his long history of violence and corruption while seeking to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected governments of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His own allies, staff at the US embassy in Caracas described him as “arrogant, vengeful, and thirsty for power” according to documents released by Wikileaks.

LopezHe is the de facto leader of the extreme right wing opposition leading demonstrations organized as part of a strategy launched by him and other hard-line opposition members, called “the exit” in English. The strategy led to 43 deaths and hundreds wounded, including security officers, civilian bystanders and members from both sides.

López has made no secret of his intention to ultimately remove President Maduro from office and was arrested after leading a large opposition demonstration in central Caracas on the 12th of February 2014, which led to three deaths and the destruction of the Attorney General’s office. The state maintains that the march’s main aim was to destabilize the country by provoking a coup d'etat. Even fellow opposition members called his “push for street demonstrations as irresponsible”.

Like in Canada, the judicial system in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is autonomous and President Maduro cannot interfere in judicial proceedings; any attempt to do so would be a flagrant violation of judicial sovereignty and autonomy. The government has indicated that proceedings against López are being conducted within the framework of the law and have nothing to do with the president. An independent judge found enough evidence to have López stand trial for serious charges that include public incitement (to violence), criminal association, and property and fire damage. The prosecution presented more than 108 witnesses to support their case. López supporters claim that the delay in his trial is tantamount to political repression. However, Venezuelan constitutional lawyer, Jesus Silva points out that it’s the defense’s own tactic to repeatedly delay proceedings to avoid going to trial and use it “as an international political platform”.

López is no stranger to the criminal system in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and his distinguished criminal record dates back to when he was Mayor of Chacao. In 2008, he was accused of corruption stemming from his majorship when it was uncovered he had diverted public funds from the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A to his political party, Primera Justicia. He was barred from seeking public office for 6 years by the national comptroller-general. López challenged these charges in 2011 but lost when the Supreme Court upheld the ban.

López has been engaged in destabilizing activities against the Bolivarian government for many years. There is well documented evidence that he has received extensive funding from US agencies, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) whose end goal is regime change.

Lopez is infamous for orchestrating and leading violent protests that lead to the coup d'etat against former president Hugo Chavez in 2002. He played a key role in the illegal arrest of Chavez's interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín and signed the now infamous “Carmona Decree” which dissolved the Venezuelan constitution and appointed Pedro Carmona as interim president. After the failed coup, López and his co-conspirators were charged but were fortunate that former president Chavez issued a general amnesty to all those involved in the coup.

Most recently, Leopoldo made headlines again but this time in Singapore where the Singapore Research Department opened an investigation against several people for fraud, including himself and his father, for money laundering.

If any Venezuelans deserve to be honoured, they are the victims of violence caused during the protests that were led by extreme right wing leaders like López. The relatives of victims of the opposition violence have announced that they have formed an action committee to seek justice and raise awareness about the right-wing violence.

We applaud efforts to draw attention to political repression around the world but not when it serves the interests of the right-wing agenda in Canada and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Raul Burbano
Common Frontiers – Program Director

January 30, 2015

Carbon Copy: The Economic War in Venezuela

After losing the elections of April 14, 2013, and having failed in their efforts to cast doubt on the electoral results, the Venezuelan right-wing, with the advice of U.S. agents, changed its tactic: they recycled a plan of action formerly used against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and launched an economic sabotage aimed at bringing down the Venezuelan government on the eve of the municipal elections of December 8. As a response, the Bolivarian government is working through its institutions to form an alliance with workers and other sectors of the organized population. The aim of this alliance is to combat hoarding and speculation, which are the principal elements of the economic struggle that is now taking place in Venezuela

Carbon Copy: The Economic War in Venezuela (video) from Red ALBATV on Vimeo.

January 28, 2015

Contesting Big Mining from Canada to Mozambique

By Judith Marshall

During a visit to Mozambique in September 2014, I witnessed a protest against Brazilian mining giant, Vale. Villagers from Bagamoyo, adjacent to Vale’s coal mine, were fighting construction of a chain met- al fence through their community. Vale claimed it was fencing off “unoccupied land” leased from the Mozambican government. If a “trespasser” had an accident, Vale would be liable!

Chatting with community members as they made their protest signs, it became abundantly clear that this “unoccupied” land was, in fact, the village “commons”. While their houses were within the village, they and generations before them had lived off land on the village outskirts and even used part of the land as a cemetery. The Mozambican government had included this land in the leasehold with Vale for its mining operations without informing the Bagamoyo community members. Their farms and their mango trees were on this land. They raised their goats and cattle there. This land was a source of firewood and charcoal for cooking, thatch for roofing and sticks for drying racks for cassava roots, and clay for building blocks. Vale had already bulldozed some of their kilns built next to the clay deposits.

What has given big mining companies the power to grab land already under traditional communal usage all around the globe? Why do governments of every stripe – dictatorial, liberal, socialist – baptise these extractive sector companies as ‘development partners’ and abdicate any stewardship role over their country’s natural resources and the rights and well-being of their own citizens?

-download the complete article (pdf 358KB)

January 27, 2015

28 Orgs in Canada & USA demanded an investigation in Honduras

Abog. Óscar Fernando Chinchilla
Fiscal General de la República
Tel. (504) 22215665
Correo electrónico:

Dear Abog. Oscar Chinchilla,

On January 5 of this year, Juan Francisco Martínez, a member of the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz (MILPAH), was found murdered in his community of Tapuyman in Santa Elena, La Paz, Honduras.  According to the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC), his body was found with burn marks and his hands were bound with laces from military boots. Based on this evidence, Juan Francisco is believed to have been assassinated. Since August, Juan Francisco’s family has also received repeated threats of violence. 

The below-signed organizations and individuals share the worry of Honduran organizations that Juan Francisco’s murder was a direct result of his efforts in defense of collective Indigenous land.  In particular, the organization to which he belonged, the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz (MILPAH), has been very active in challenging a high-profile hydroelectric energy project that has made the organization and its supporters targets of similar assassinations, and left many the victims of death threats, kidnapping, and vandalism. The Los Encinos S.A. dam is part of an energy project funded by Gladys Aurora López, a National Party Deputy and Vice President of the Honduran Congress. Permission to build the project was granted without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected community. This is a blatant violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Honduras has endorsed, as well as the International Labour Organization Convention 169 and other international jurisprudence. 

-read the entire letter
-Leer la historia original en español

January 26, 2015

Canadian MP asks his government for the report on the alleged donation to Fundación Arias


Canadian MP, Peter Julian, asks his government for the report on the alleged donation to Fundación Arias.

New Democratic Party member criticizes his government for not being open and for not releasing information of public interest.

After two requests for information, the Costa Rican Attorney General asked for the case against the ex-president of Arias to be dismissed.

by Manuel Sancho,
published by in Costa Rica

-read the English translation on Julian's website
-Leer la historia original en español

January 11, 2015

Qué está pasando en Venezuela?

-To enable captions, click on CC in the menubar. -more help

January 10, 2015

Michael Harris shares his findings about the Harper Government at Unifor Ontario Regional Council
video- November 2014

January 5, 2015

Why Is CRA Reinterpreting Rules to Shut Down Charities It Doesn't Agree With?

by Gareth Kirkby
From The Huffington Post

It's what charities have feared. The results are trickling in from the Harper government's program of stepped-up Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audits of charities that tend to have different policy ideas than those of this government -- and it ain't pretty.

Sadly, the early results are in sync with the findings of my recent thesis, which triggered a national conversation about political interference by the Harper government in the workings of the taxman and causing an advocacy chill in charity communications. And that in turn impacts on Canada's public discussions and thus on the vigour of democracy itself.

The first of the latest two charities to make the news include Alternatives, a small Montreal-based development and human rights organization, which has been around since 1994 doing work through partners in developing nations.

Toronto-based Environmental Defence a three decades-old and highly regarded Ontario environmental charity, is the other group to be given bad news, though it has received a reprieve from being closed down so that it can appeal a death sentence. While the main focus of media attention has been on whether charities will lose tax receipting privileges because of CRA's changing interpretations of acceptable activities, the problems faced by these two organizations is of a different, though very disturbing, nature.

CRA is telling them that they will lose their charitable status because their very activities have been reclassified as "non-charitable," that previous finding them in good stead were wrong, and that they should not have been given charitable status in the first place.

Alternatives is expecting to close shop, and it's understandable. Executive Director Michel Lambert told CBC News reporter Dean Beebie, that he expects CRA to offer them a contract in order to continue their work but that he expects the terms will not be ethically acceptable. That's because Alternatives has an approach to its work with Third World partners that respects the ability of the partner to run the programs funded by Alternatives.

Alternatives' approach to partnerships may seem obvious to readers, who cannot imagine that Montreal staff of a Canadian charity would know the details of what is best for Third World partners and their clients. Are charities expected to duplicate former Colonialist power structures by micromanaging the work of Third World locals in order to satisfy the Canadian taxman?

Well, actually, yes. Media reported last summer on the experience of CoDev, a very small Vancouver development charity that works to empower Latin American communities. But CRA upbraided them for not having sufficient control over their partners. Shocking but true. But also, I suspect, also unworkable and so, ultimately, likely to lead to CoDev losing its charitable status in a future audit unless CRA comes to its senses.

-read the entire blog post

December 16, 2014

The Situation of Human Rights and Democracy in Honduras Since the Elections of November 2013

Written testimony of Alexander Main to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons of Canada; December 9, 2014.
Center for Economic Policy and Research

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss with you the current situation of human rights and democracy in Honduras. In my work as an analyst for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, I focus primarily on political, economic and social developments in Latin America and the Caribbean. For the past five years I have been closely monitoring developments in Honduras and have had frequent interaction with human rights defenders, academics, journalists and officials located in that country.

On June 28, 2009, a coup d’Etat led to the forced removal of democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya. The coup was followed by widespread repression, media closures and censorship and a prolonged political crisis. Elections held under the coup government of Roberto Micheletti in late 2009 were boycotted by opposition groups and were recognized by only a small number of the region’s governments, among them the U.S. and Canada.

Honduras has long been plagued by poverty, high levels of crime, and weak and corrupt institutions. The 2009 coup dramatically escalated these problems and has sparked significant regression in other areas. Following the coup, the Honduran government’s democratic legitimacy was severely compromised; targeted killings, violent attacks and threats against members of at-risk sectors of society escalated; impunity reached record levels; and law enforcement became increasingly militarized.

In November of 2013, new elections were held. Opposition parties participated, the European Union and Organization of American States sent electoral monitors, and human rights groups expressed hope that the elections would allow the country to begin turning the page on the coup and its bitter aftermath. This hope was dampened by political violence and reports of irregularities and fraud.

My presentation today will focus on the 12 months that have transpired since these elections. I'll offer my assessment of whether or not the country’s negative trends in the areas of human rights and democracy have begun to reverse course under the government of the contested winner of the 2013 elections, Juan Orlando Hernández. I’ll focus on addressing the issues that the Subcommittee has expressed particular interest in, and will also touch on additional aspects that I believe can help provide a better understanding of the overall situation.

-read the transcript of his testimony
-download a PDF

December 11, 2014

Petition calls on Canada to remove Mexico from the refugee list of safe countries

petitionThe Canadian government considers Mexico, its North American Free Trade Agreement partner, a safe country for refugees.

Since the 2012 Refugee Exclusion Act, Mexico and forty other countries have been placed on the "Designated Countries of Origin" list. Refugee claimants from these countries face a different legal system: they have fewer rights and the timelines for their claims are shorter. This enables Canada to fast-tracks deportations to these countries.

Common Frontiers has joined many other organizations and individuals in sponsoring a petition calling on the Canadian government to remove Mexisco from the refugee list of safe countries.

-go to the petition site for complete details
-read a full backgrounder and statement: in English  en Español

December 10, 2014

Anti-mining activist killed and Ecuadorean partners harassed on eve of Lima meetings

by Rachel Warden
Originally posted to on Dec 4

I have been in Quito, Ecuador meeting with KAIROS partners Acción Ecológica and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) before heading to Lima, Peru for the Peoples’ summit and the 20th UN Conference on climate change, known as COP20.

<students>Today, I visited the offices of Acción Ecológica. I was anticipating a celebratory mood as the team prepares for the gatherings in Lima, but instead I found a strong, collective feeling of concern and grief over two disturbing and tragic events.

Ecuador Youth Caravan SoldiersThe caravan with members of the movement defending Ecuador’s Yasuni national park against the destructive oil extraction (Yasunidos) was heading to Lima from Quito (about a 4 day journey) in a very visible, colourfully painted bus when it was detained several times by police in Ecuador. The Yasunidos is a movement of mainly young people, students and artists who are committed to protecting the Yasuni and keeping the oil in the ground. They are on their way to Lima to present the Yasuni’s case at a Tribunal on the Rights of Nature on Friday Dec 5.

Being young and savvy in social media, the group disseminated information about their harassment and detention. Esperanza Morales, part of the Acción Ecológica team, explained that the caravan had been detained several times, that the Yasunidos had been harassed, and that their documents and cell phones were confiscated. At about 4am, when the bus was detained for a 5th time and they were forced off course and into a small town, the delegation, still determined to get to Lima, decided to complete the journey on local buses and left two representatives with their beloved bus. Esperanza said the government is trying to prevent the caravan from getting to Lima. “These youth, students and artists are the new political prisoners here,” she added. She shared photos of the students being detained, kneeling with their hands on the bus, and of members of the police and military occupying the bus. Acción Ecológica asked me to share this information widely to protect the caravan. The Yasunidos were shaken and delayed, but thankfully no one was hurt. However, these events demonstrate the lengths to which the government is willing to go to prevent those voices from being heard in Lima, as well as the sheer determination of the students.

Ecuador Soldiers
The Acción Ecológica team was also reeling from news received that morning of the killing of Shuar leader, Jose Isidro Tebdetza. Jose Isidro was president of a community in the Cordillera del Condor, in southeast Ecuador, that is impacted by the Mirador Copper mine. The mine was owned by a Canadian company, Corriente Resources, until 2010 when it was bought by a Chinese-owned enterprise. Jose Isidro was a visible and outspoken critic of the mine, which generated a lot of tension and conflict in the community. Gloria Chicaiza, coordinator of Acción Ecológica’s mining work, shared the horrific details of Jose Isidro’s death. He had disappeared last Friday on his way to a community meeting. That morning, family members identified his body from photos. His hands were tied and there were signs of torture. Acción Ecológica was working on a bulletin and urgent action and I will circulate this information when it becomes available.

What was meant to be a celebratory launch for Acción Ecológica’s delegation to the Peoples’ Summit and COP20 in Lima had become an emergency meeting as they struggled to respond to these terrible events, which are further evidence of the repression and threats facing the ecological justice movement and Indigenous leaders in Ecuador.

Tomorrow I leave for Lima. I will be joining a delegation of 30 women from Ecuador and 11 from the rest of Latin America who will focus on the gendered impacts of resource extraction and climate change. KAIROS has supported this work through our partnership with Acción Ecológica, and I feel privileged to be able to accompany the delegation. On Friday, I will be participating in the Tribunal on the Rights of Nature in which the case of the Yasuni will be presented. I hope the Yasunidos will arrive safe and sound and on time to share their testimonies.

-Follow this story in Climate Justice on

December 9, 2014

Justice for Aboriginal Peoples -- It's time

December 8, 2014

Leftist Parties Win Important National Elections in 2014

By Asad Ismi

The Latin American Revolution continued to score major victories in 2014 with the re-election of leftist parties in Brazil, Bolivia and El Salvador. This is the left’s fourth consecutive term in Brazil, its third in Bolivia, and its first re-election in El Salvador (see “Social movements and the FMLN’s second term,” October 2014). Altogether leftist parties now govern in 10 Latin American countries, with these latest victories showing a deepening of the revolution, and a growing political maturity and confidence on the left.

On October 26, President Dilma Rousseff of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), which has been in power for the past 12 years, narrowly defeated pro-business rival Aécio Neves by 3.5 million votes. Rousseff describes herself as an economist, a mother, grandmother and wife who has overcome lymphatic cancer. She is also a former member of the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard, a Cuban Revolution–inspired urban guerrilla organization that fought the brutal 20-year U.S.-backed military dictatorship that seized power in 1964. She was imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship.

The close margin of Rousseff’s victory is not particularly unusual, since many U.S. presidents have won with similar numbers. This was, when all is considered, a vote for continuity. However, the tight race does signify important changes in the composition of the PT’s base. Where previous elections were won with support from the middle class in the south of the country, this time Rousseff can thank the poor who live mainly in the north of Brazil.

According to Manuel Larrabure, a PhD candidate in political science at York University who is writing his thesis on alternatives to neoliberalism in Brazil and Venezuela, the Brazilian middle class is split: one faction still supports the PT while another has gone over to the neoliberal opposition represented by Neves.

“The pro-PT middle class could be called the ‘progressive’ middle class,” Larrabure explains. “Although there is some disappointment with the PT in this section of the middle class, most of it voted PT. However, some of this section has drifted to [other parties on] the left.

“The anti-PT middle class opposes the PT’s social programs and could be called the ‘centrist’ middle class. Some of this middle class voted PT in the past hoping for growth and employment. However, a significant part of this middle class switched to Neves in this election in part because of the slowing economy and in part because of the fear and demonization campaigns launched by the corporate media against the PT.”

-read the entire article

Asad Ismi is an international affairs correspondent for The Monitor and the author of the anthology The Latin American Revolution, which can be ordered from the CCPA by writing For his publications visit

December 6, 2014

AFL-CIO letter to Equitable Origin’s recent certification of the Pacific Rubiales and Quifa production sites of Pacific Rubiales

The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial organizations (AFL-CIO) has sent a letter to the president of Equitable Origin expressing "serious concerns" regarding Equitable Origin’s recent certification of the Pacific Rubiales and Quifa production sites of  Pacific Rubiales and the process that led to it.

"Our organization represents 12.5 million workers in the United States, including many thousands in the petroleum and gas sectors. We also coordinate actions with institutional investors that make serious efforts to encourage socially responsible investment. For reasons detailed below, we strongly believe that certifying these Pacific Rubiales sites was an egregious mistake that will damage the credibility of Equitable Origin's incipient efforts to certify oil and gas produ ers as socially and environmentally responsible."

-Read the entire letter  Attachments (en Español)

December 4, 2014

Partners in Crime: The Mexican state, North American Capitalism, and the 43 Missing Students

When: Friday, December 12th, 7pm
Where: Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St. (Bathurst & Bloor)

missing boysThe signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement came with the promise of prosperity and jobs for all and the extension of human rights. These are, it needs hardly saying, promises unkept.

On September 26th 2014, over 100 students from a rural teacher’s college were passing through the nearby town of Iguala in Guerrero en route to a demonstration in Mexico City. Three were killed along with three bystanders and 43 are still missing. The families of the students continue to demand that their children be returned alive.

The search for the students has unearthed a number of mass graves and has lead to an eruption of p...rotests across the country. The parents of the missing students have traveled throughout the country meeting with communities that have also experienced killings and disappearances. The family insists it was not simply a local occurrence but something that happens in many places, and that the responsibility lies with the state.

The incident has highlighted this ongoing problem in the country – exceedingly high rate of disappearances and murders related both to the drug war and the state’s attempt to suppress opposition to neo-liberal reforms, reforms which have been intensified under the current Peña Nieto regime.

Despite the human rights violations and repression by the state, the U.S. continues to praise the Mexican President and fund the drug war. Canada is also complicit in backing the state and pushing for business-friendly policies.

At the end of 2013, reforms were passed to open Mexico's petroleum sector to foreign investment and to make it easier for mining companies, many of which are Canadian, to displace local populations for mining projects.

Please join us as our panel explores these and other issues underlying the recent tragedy.


Anna Zalik, Associate Professor at York University, writes extensively on the oil sector and capitalist development in Mexico, Nigeria, and Canada.

Richard Roman, co-author of Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers, and Unions in the Transformation of North America.

Judith Adler Hellman, Professor of Political Science at York University and author of The World of Mexican Migrants (2008), Mexican Lives (1999) and Mexico in Crisis (1988).

Ricardo Bocanegra Meza, Student at York University, organizer of Mexico solidarity actions in Toronto

For more information see the Facebook event

Sponsored by: Centre for Social Justice and Common Frontiers

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