All posts by favabean

Cuba in Transformation: New Openings, New Challenges

Cafe Simpatico
Friday, April 28, 8pm
1923 Fernwood Road.

Event Poster: Cuba in Transofrmation

Our speaker, Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at UVic. Since 2000, she has conducted ethnographic research in Cuba about youth, popular culture, music, media, and infrastructure.

Many things have happened since December 17, 2014, the day that Barak Obama and Raul Castro announced the beginning of the process of normalizing the relationship between Cuba and the United States. This talk will discuss the current and near future changes occurring in Cuba due to this opening, with a specific focus on economic, political, and cultural implications.

Admission by donation

Refreshments available

 

Blood of Extraction Canadian Imperialism in Latin America

Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber.   2016. Fernwood Publishing. Halifax and Winnipeg, Canada

ISBN: 9781552668306

Author Jeff Webber Review and photo of author, Jeffrey Webber, by Theresa Wolfwood

“In recent years, the Canadian state has lent its support to a repressive post-coup regime in Honduras; had provided military and ideological backing for a repressive regime in Colombia, one which boasts the hemisphere’s worst human rights record; has aggressively interfered in the domestic affairs of left-of-centre Latin American governments such as that of Higo Chavez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador; it has supported ecological destruction and the dislocation of vulnerable populations in the region through its support Canadian natural resource companies…”  from the introduction

At a time when many Canadians are becoming aware of the role of Canadian registered mining companies (75% of all mining companies in the world are Canada-based) Gordon and Webber have provided an important documentation of how Canada operates as an imperial power globally, nowhere more egregiously than in Latin America. Canadian mining companies devastate the social and physical environment of many communities from Mexico to Peru, destroying the social fabric of people who were not consulted about mines, accrue no benefits and hose human rights are tragically disregarded. As Gordon and Webber illustrate, Canadian government foreign policy developed lock step with corporate expansion. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the changes in Canadian development aid. Canadian aid used to be directed to the poorest of the poor. CIDA had a record of assisting vulnerable populations throughout the world.  Now, as the authors write, things are different; they quote a Harper government official, “Our government is strengthening its development assistance in the Americas because this is our neighbourhood, where we have significant interests.”  Grants to faith-based groups that worked with communities, the Mennonites, Catholics and ecumenical organizations, that criticized Canadian mining projects were cut.

Corporate Social Responsibility, a nice phrase which this reviewer considers an oxymoron, really is a cover-up for aid projects that partner with corporations; they may appear benign by helping train and prepare for resource exploitation; in reality this aid masks the human rights abuses, community intimidation and the provision of brutal private security forces that are an inseparable part of Canadian mining companies’ operations and profiteering.

The authors provide chapters of context, history and details about Canadian involvement in Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and an overview of Central America.

In just one example, in Honduras, after the overthrow of democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya who had attempted some reforms, including a new constitution, education benefits, raising the minimum wage and, in mining, he planned to implement stricter environmental regulations. Maybe the red flag was his intent to ban open-pit mining.  Canada rushed in after the coup, even as poverty and violence increased; Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, mainly of journalists, activists, reformers, including most recently, the assassination of activist Berta Cáceres. Yet Canada actively refused to support a return to democracy in Honduras, as the new government welcomed openly foreign investment.  The Canadian governments continued in Honduras as throughout Latin America to support the profitable expansion of Canadian capital.

Gordon and Webber put it this way, “Canadian capital continues to tread heavily over the lives of ordinary Latin Americans, the mass of evidence we have accumulated in this makes a mockery of mining and maquila executives who plead not guilty…We have likewise exposed the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims of genuine commitment to democracy in contemporary Latin America…”

Altogether the analysis and documentation expresses clearly that Canada is capable and guilty of as crass greed and ruthlessness as any imperial power, including the one to south of us. We may be tiny but we can play with the big boys.  It is obvious our politicians prefer to identify with the interests of Canadian capitalism rather than its citizens.  It may appear on the surface that repression and power say equate with stability but as we know and as the authors emphasize, there is another force in Latin America, Canada and the world.  As the authors express it, “Out of cracks of this international system of domination, powerful and creative forms of self-organization and resistance have emerged against the odds. They represent the greatest threat to the reproduction of capitalist imperialism, and the greatest to humanity, social justice, and ecological sustainability.”

We might well ask ourselves and our politicians to answer the question posed in the famous song, “Which side are you on?”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Theresa Wolfwood is Victoria activist and writer. More of her book reviews may be read on http://bookreviews.bbcf.ca/   Her poetry collection, “Love and Resistance” is available at Ivy’s bookshop.

 

CAFÉ SIMPATICO Friday Feb. 24

Music 7:30pm  with Nedjo Rogers Presentation:  8pm

Palestine in my heart:

a journey into a land of olives and occupation

with Terry WolfwoodTerry reports with a slide presentation on her recent journey to Palestine and Jordan where she met with teachers, students, farmers, activists, artists, writers and local officials to learn about their struggles for justice in their occupied country. She also participated in the olive harvest, help plant olive trees to replace those destroyed by the occupier; olives and olive oil are the main source of income in Palestine. Discussion & action ideas to follow.  Free admission

Special Palestinian refreshments served

1923 Fernwood Road

Write a Letter: Human Rights in Mexico

After January, 2017 Café with excellent presentation by Claudia Barrueta Martinez and Tim Boultbee, we encourage CASC supporters to take this follow-up action:

Below is a letter addressed to our Prime Minister and other officials regarding the ongoing human rights abuses in Mexico. I wrote the letter to Trudeau because I believe that while learning about an issue is valuable, it is usually not followed up by any action. The letter to Trudeau gives you the opportunity to do something. Change it if you wish so that what you send becomes something from you in your own words – but please, do something!
The contents of the letter come from a report I wrote in September, 2015 called Mexico – Human Rights in a Narco State.  At the end of the report, I provide a list of sources so that anyone who reads the report can go into more detail by going over the evidence first hand.
If you think that sending a letter to Trudeau will not make a difference, I would like to tell you the following story. During the Vietnam war, the Nixon administration’s message to protesters was that the peace movement was not affecting government policy. Years later, however, when papers from the Nixon administration were declassified, they showed that the administration was very concerned about the what people were saying and doing to stop the war. With this in mind, we have to realize that our efforts to create a world where social justice and environmental values are the bedrock of our existence will never be recognized by those in power.
If you read Mexico – Human Rights in a Narco State, please follow up your growing awareness by taking action such as writing a letter to our prime minister and other officials. We may never receive acknowledgement for what we do, but as the protests from the Vietnam era show, officials seem to pay attention to our efforts to create a better world.

Thank-you for doing something!

In Peace,

Tim Boultbee, Victoria, B.C.

 

January 2017

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing this letter to you because I am concerned with the ongoing and deteriorating human rights situation in Mexico.
One matter I find greatly disturbing is the situation between the Toronto based mining company Excellon and its la Platosa mine in Mexico’s state of Durango. In February, 2015, MiningWatch Canada and the United Steelworkers released a report called Unearthing Canada’s Complicity: Excellon Resources, and the Canadian Embassy, and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico. In part, the authors write that

“documents obtained from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) under an access to information request directly implicate the Canadian Embassy in Mexico in Toronto-based Excellon Resources’ efforts to avoid addressing the violation of its agreement with the agricultural community (Ejido) on whose land it operates the la Platosa mine in the state of Durango. This included Embassy tolerance of, and even support for, violent state repression against a peaceful protest at the Ejido La Sierrita during the summer of 2012.”

This dispute has not been resolved as evident in an article in the Mexico News Daily written in January of this year.
Sir, I find it appalling that the Government of Canada, through its embassy in Mexico city, is in any way linked to repressing the rights of Mexican citizens to peacefully address issues pertaining to the operation of the la Platosa mine. I would like to hear your views on this issue and what the Government of Canada is doing in light of the above revelation.
I would also like to bring to your attention a report written in 2015 by the Permanent People’s Tribunal which states that Mexico’s government has acknowledged that over 26,000 Mexicans disappeared between 2006 and 2012. This figure does not include the 43 students from the Raul Isidrio Teacher’s College of Ayotzinapa that disappeared on September 26, 2014. After an “investigation,” Mexican officials stated that the police detained the students, and then handed them over to a criminal gang who killed the students and burned their bodies. I hope that you, like me, find it incredible that a police force would work with a criminal organization to disappear anyone. Almost a year later, the Inter-American commission on Human Rights rejected the Mexican government’s account of the Ayotzinapa case.
Given incidences like Ayotzinapa, and the conflict at the la Platosa mine, I urge you, Mr. Trudeau, to do all you can to help reverse this crisis by speaking up about human rights, by directing your government and Canadian embassies worldwide to uphold international laws regarding human rights and protection of the environment. I further urge the Government of Canada to enact laws that govern the means by which Canadian companies like Excellon conduct their operations outside the country and punish those companies that violate such laws.

Sincerely,

cc. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland; Mexican Ambassador Augustin Garcia-Lopez Loaeza; Excellon Resources Chairman Andre Fortire; Murray Rankin, Victoria M.P.

Prime Minister Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St.,
Ottawa, ON
K1A-0A2

Foreign Affairs Minister, Canada
Chrystia Freeland
125 Sussex Dr.,
Ottawa, ON
K1A-0G2

Mexican Ambassador to Canada
Augustin Garcia-Lopez Loaeza
45 O’Connor St., #1030
Ottawa, ON
K1P-1A4

Excellon Resources
Andre Fortire Chairman
20 Victoria St., Suite 900
Toronto ON
M5L-2N8

Don’t forget to send a copy of any letters you write to your local MP

Book Launch: The Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America

Mining Justice Action Committee (MJAC) & UVIC Social Justice Studies (SJS) and the Central America Support Committee (CASC) present the Victoria launch of this important new book:
The Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America – by Todd Gordon and Jeffrey Webber.
Wednesday January 25th 7 pm—-9 pm.
University of Victoria: David Turpin Building, Room A-120
Author Jeffrey Webber will be the keynote speaker with a Q & A after his talk.

Books will be for sale at the event and we will provide a book signing opportunity.Canadian mining investment abroad

https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/blood-of-extraction

Noam Chomsky writes– “This careful and comprehensive analysis of Canada’s economic policies and political interference in Latin America demonstrates in brutal detail the predatory and destructive role of a secondary imperialist power operating within the overarching system of subordination of the Global South to the demands of northern wealth and power. It also reveals clearly the responsibility of citizens of Canada and other dominant societies to join in the resistance of the victims to the shameful and sordid practices exposed graphically here.”

Rooted in thousands of pages of Access to Information documents and dozens of interviews carried out throughout Latin America, Blood of Extraction examines the increasing presence of Canadian mining companies in Latin America and the environmental and human rights abuses that have occurred as a result. By following the money, Gordon and Webber illustrate the myriad ways Canadian-based multinational corporations, backed by the Canadian state, have developed extensive economic interests in Latin America over the last two decades at the expense of Latin American people and the environment.

Latin American communities affected by Canadian resource extraction are now organized into hundreds of opposition movements, from Mexico to Argentina, and the authors illustrate the strategies used by the Canadian state to silence this resistance and advance corporate interests.

Please join our event on Facebook.

Call for Action: “A Stake in the Peace”

After November, 2016, Café Simpatico’s excellent presentation on the Site-C dam with film speakers, CASC agreed to buy “a stake in the Peace” for $100.

This dam is not necessary; in fact it appears both unneeded for BC as well as socially and environmentally destructive. Its construction is an act of violence against the social and physical environment, economically devastating to BC taxpayers and violates Treaty 8 with First Nations of the Peace River area.

If we need more electricity, experts say that more power can be produced by adding turbines to existing dams as well as through renewable forms such as solar and wind power. Taxpayers would not have to pay more than $10 billion (and inevitable overruns) for the largest infrastructure project in BC history.

Building the dam will flood a unique and precious valley and create a reservoir more than 100 km long (the distance from Vancouver to Chilliwack) and would cover many farms and homes.

This land, if saved could, according to agriculturists, sustainably produce enough food for one million people. What is left of the Peace Valley would be lost if this dam is built; this is the last major fertile valley in the province. Already some farmers have received threatening letters of eviction and farmers and First Nations, united in their opposition to this dam, have been served SLAPP suits by BC Hydro.

Many more jobs could be created permanently in this region by developing farm land and creating sources of truly renewable energy, rather than the boom of short term construction work.

Please contact your local MLA to call for an end to this violent project; write to P.M. Trudeau and call for cancellation of federal government permits.

If you are interested in supporting this act of solidarity see: http://www.stakeinthepeace.com/

Yours for the CASC planning committee, Terry Wolfwood

 

Cafe Simpatico Nov. 25: Fractured Land and the Fight to Stop the Site C Dam

Come and view this excellent new film on the impact that resource extraction is having in B.C.’s northeast. After the film we will have an update on the movement to stop the site C Dam with members of the Kairos Rolling Justice Bus trip that visited the area last summer.

 

Friday, November 25th 8pm *

1923 Fernwood Rd.

*Music by Art Farquarson 7:30pm*

Admission by donation * refreshments available * 250-598- 7690

Cafe Simpatico Highlights: October 2016

Thanks to Jane Brett for this review of October’s Cafe Simpatico with Dr Bill Carroll.

I am thrilled to be able to share some highlights from last night’s Cafe Simpatico organized by the amazing Central American Support Committee:

Diana Lindley’s Love-a-lution” song is up on the UN site.

Dr. Bill Carroll’s short videos about a world in crisis and the political possibilities for a better future are up on his YouTube channel. We saw the following four which made for an excellent discussion afterwards:

Details of the
“Corporate Mapping Project”
which Bill is involved with are also available online.