Afro Colombian Civic Strike Leaders panel discussion
University of Toronto
Sidney Smith Hall
100 St George St.
Room 2127
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Join us on Thursday, November 8th


Maria Miyela Riascos Riascos – became a spokesperson of the Buenaventura Civic Strike Committee in early 2017, when several civil society groups and grassroots organizations formed a coalition to protest precarious conditions in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca and to demand access to public services.
Miyela is an anthropologist promoting the defense of territorial, environmental and human rights, and the peace process, as a member of the Pastoral Social of Buenaventura. During the Colombian armed conflict, as a child Miyela was forcibly displaced by paramilitary groups from her village outside Buenaventura.
Miyela together with other social leaders coordinated the civic strike in the port city for more than 20 days. In February 2018, she became one of several strike leaders to receive death threats.

Olga Arauo Casanova – is a human rights defender and popular educator who holds a degree in social sciences. Olga works for the Association for Social Research and Action (Nomadesc), an organization that accompanies Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, campesino and labour groups in southwestern Colombia, providing advice and training on human rights and community organizing. In Nomadesc, Olga is responsible for outreach, networks and community organizing. She worked extensively to assist organizations in Buenaventura to prepare the community assemblies prior to the general strike.
Olga is also on the Academic Council of Nomadesc’s Intercultural University of the Peoples.

In the spring of 2017, workers and residents of Afro-Colombian city of Buenaventura, Colombia’s principal pacific port city launched a general strike that, remarkably, shut down the port. After three weeks of mass marches, roadblocks, and bloody clashes with militarized riot police, an agreement to end the strike was reached.

For years, community and labour organizations unsuccessfully urged the Colombian government to restore basic public services and rights. Then, in 2016 they began organizing community assemblies throughout the city to articulate a common list of demands and a strategic plan to ensure their demands were heard. Hundreds of thousands of Buenaventura residents responded to the strike call in May 2017.

Their victory has come at a high cost, dozens were wounded by security forces during the strike and since then shadowy paramilitary forces have exacted revenge on the strike committee.

The event is organized by Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA), CBTU Ontario, Canada, Common Frontiers, Amnesty International (Canada), University of Toronto faculty of History

This is part of a National tour sponsors by:

Americas Policy Group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), Amnesty International (Canada), CoDevelopment Canada, Comité des droits humains en Amérique Latine (CDHAL), Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers, InterPares, KAIROS, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Steelworkers Humanity Fund.


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