Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cafe Simpatico on zoom Dec 11

Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic we have been unable to have Café Simpatico live at the Fernwood Community Association as we have for more than 30 years.  Following October’s successful ZOOM presentation of Kay Gimbel speaking about Nicaragua, we are pleased to present:

YVES ENGLER  speaking from Montreal on ZOOM on:

Canada’s role in Latin America with special emphasis on Venezuela and Bolivia.

Yves Engler is Canada’s best political analyst and writer. His work is well-researched, insightful and vital to an understanding of Canada’s political policies and our place in the global power struggles.  It is essential reading for all solidarity and social justice activists.

Author of 10 books, Yves has written among others:

-Canada In Africa — 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation

-The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy

-Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid

-A Propaganda System — How Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation

 House of Mirrors: Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy which is latest book.

Engler has spoken at public meetings and book launches many times in Victoria.  Unfortunately he was unable to come to Victoria and BC this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic to launch House of Mirrors: Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy.

(Please order it from your local book seller)

We are pleased to have the opportunity to present Engler on ZOOM to discuss:

 Canada’s role in Latin America with special emphasis on Venezuela and Bolivia.

Please join Yves with us:    Friday: December 11:  at 7 pm PST

 Link to Zoom Meeting:

Sponsored by the Victoria Central America Support Committee and the Mining Justice Action Committee

Café Simpatico Friday Nov. 29

Taking a Stand

Filmmaker Pamela Vivian presents film and discussion about the story of the BC volunteers of the legendary International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

1923 Fernwood Road Victoria BC
Doors open at 7 pm
Music with Wayward Sirens 7:30 pm
Presentation 8 pm

Presented by the Victoria Central America Support Committee
All welcome
Admission by donation
Refreshments and Fair Trade Organic Coffee

Undermining Indigenous Rights: Pan American Silver in Guatemala

The Mining Justice Action Committee and the Victoria Central America Support Committee

invite you to an evening with Guatemalan activists on:

Undermining Indigenous Rights: Pan American Silver in Guatemala

Nov. 18th, at 7 PM Cadboro Bay United Church 2625 Arbutus Rd.


Luis Fernando García Monroy was shot outside the mine when he was participating in a peaceful protest in 2013 and was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Tahoe Resources that just finished; he works as a paralegal/community organizer with the Xinka Parliament now)

Ellen Moore’s path to extractive industry work began in Guatemala with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala. 2015, Ellen joined the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

All Welcome: Admission by donation

Cafe Simpatico Friday, March 29

You are invited to a presentation and discussion with

Steve Stewart on Canadian foreign policy in Latin America with Venezuela, Honduras and beyond

The Canadian government’s inflammatory position regarding Venezuela has been in the news recently, but much more is happening that does not make headlines in Canada. Steve will present on the impacts of Canadian foreign policy in Venezuela, Honduras and elsewhere in Latin America.

Steve Stewart is CoDev’s Executive Director, and a former journalist.  He covered the civil wars and land, labour and human rights struggles during the 1990s in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador for the CERIGUA news agency. He was the Co-Chair of the Americas Policy Group from April 2016-March, 2019 and is active with BC CASA/Cafe Justicia and the Mining Justice Alliance. CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev) is a Vancouver-based NGO that builds partnerships between organizations in Canada and Latin America to support women’s, workers and human rights and sustainable development.

1923 Fernwood Road

Doors open at 7 pm: Music at 7:30 p, Presentation at 8:0 pm

All welcome: Admission by donation

Refreshments: Fair Trade coffee


Mark the date for our first cafe of 2019 on January 25!

1923 Fernwood Road
Doors open at 7
Live Music at 7:30 pm
Presentation at 8 pm


Slide show and panel lead by Eric Doherty with other speakers, Followed by ample time for discussion and action ideas. Climate change is affecting the lives of many Central Americans as well as Canadians and has widespread global consequences. We can be part of the solution!

Refreshments: Fair Trade Organic Coffee from Nicaragua

Admission by donation   All welcome!

Sponsored by the Victoria Central America Support Committee

Cafe Simpatico: Digging Spanish Earth

New documentary film screening and discussion by filmmaker Tom Shandel
Friday, November 24
1923 Fernwood Road
Doors open at 7 pm  Music 7:30 pm, Presentation at 8 pm 
“In 1937, Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, together with Ernest Hemingway, traveled to Spain to make a film supporting the democratic Republican Government against the nationalist/fascist revolt led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the events which would open the way to the Second World War.  The Ivens film, titled El Tierra Español, is considered a cinematic masterpiece, the first consciously propaganda documentary, attempting to get America to give food and munitions to the beleaguered partisans fighting for their democratic survival.Digging the Spanish Earth explores the original masterpiece and the consequences still evident in Spain today. 


Presented by the Victoria Central America Support Committee (CASC)
Refreshments served-Fair Trade organic coffee for sale-admission by donation

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.


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

Foreign Affairs Minister, Canada
Chrystia Freeland
125 Sussex Dr.,
Ottawa, ON

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

Excellon Resources
Andre Fortire Chairman
20 Victoria St., Suite 900
Toronto ON

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

La Casa de la Salud, El Milagro & Victoria’s Delegation 2014 to El Salvador

You may remember that in 2012 some CASC members went to El Salvador to be election observers, we later reported back at Cafe Simpatico; we also visited various community projects and organizations, including a village 
called El Milagro which is one the 6 poorest villages in El Salvador. The people who live there were displaced from their homes some years ago by a natural disaster the then government dumped them on a notorious garbage dump 
outside the capital city, a lava field where the bodies of people killed by police & soldiers were thrown. Under the FMLN government these people were give a village site in a valley north of San Salvador and with little except 
scrounged materials make their homes in El Milagro; they now have title to their lots. The money CASC gave went towards supporting a chicken project that people had decided would help their nutrition and provide some income. I saw this project when I was there; people were optimistic, happy and working to build a new life.

Several CASC members are going to El Salvador this year and will be going to El Milagro again. This year the community is seeking funds to repair and build a building that will be a clinic for visiting medical teams and provide a community workshop-meeting space. They need $1500 for materials; most of the work will be done by volunteers. La Casa de la Salud in El Milagro, will serve more than 80 families. The existing building needs a new cement floor, roof repairs, a small open room for community events, and a nice coat of paint! The estimated cost is $1500. CASC and other Victoria groups have already donated money and we are inviting individual CASC member to also donate if they wish. Please participate, support and make it possible.

Send your cheques to Victoria CASC
c/o Treasurer Carlos Flores, 3835 Saanich Rd. Victoria BC V8X 1Y4
Please put Casa de la Salud, El Milagro in memo line. The funds will be delivered in person by CASC members.


El milagro_sept_2013 clinicel Salv Mex 2012 054


For nearly 10 years CASC has been selling, at a small mark-up, – coffee beans raised organically on the island of Omotepe in Lake Nicaragua.We get the beans from a Salt Spring volunteer group who negotiate a fair trade price with the farmers and then bring it into BC where the green beans are stored and roasted locally. With our small mark-up, made possible by CASC volunteers ordering, bagging, & distributing the coffee on order & at monthly Cafe & other events, CASC is able to donate to many projects, including El Milagro and elsewhere.We order small quantities at a time, so Cafe Simpatico is always fresh, med-dark beans. A full pound/454 gram costs $13.


Our only retail outlet is Blair Mediterranean & Middle Eastern Market, 924 Pandora St. which also sells Fair trade Palestinian olive oil.

If you need coffee – please phone Gerd at 250 59
for pickup or delivery in town of 2 or more pounds.

Mandela's speech in Cuba

Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Rally in Cuba

Speech published in “How Far We Slaves Have Come”, By Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro; New York: Pathfinder. 80 pp


First secretary of the Communist Party, president of the Council of State and of the government of Cuba, president of the socialist republic of Cuba, commander-in-chief, Comrade Fidel Castro;

Cuban internationalists, who have done so much to free our continent; Cuban people; comrades and friends:

It is a great pleasure and honour to be present here today, especially on so important a day in the revolutionary history of the Cuban people. Today Cuba commemorates the thirty- eighth anniversary of the storming of the Moncada. Without Moncada the Granma expedition, the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, the extraordinary victory of January 1, 1959, would never have occurred.

Today this is revolutionary Cuba, internationalist Cuba, the country that has done so much for the peoples of Africa.

We have long wanted to visit your country and express the many feelings that we have about the Cuban revolution, about the role of Cuba in Africa, southern Africa, and the world.

The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.


From its earliest days the Cuban revolution has itself been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gains made in the Cuban revolution.

We too want to control our own destiny. We are determined that the people of South Africa will make their future and that they will continue to exercise their full democratic rights after liberation from apartheid. We do not want popular participation to cease at the moment when apartheid goes. We want to have the moment of liberation open the way to ever-deepening democracy.

We admire the achievements of the Cuban revolution in the sphere of social welfare. We note the transformation from a country of imposed backwardness to universal literacy. We acknowledge your advances in the fields of health, education, and science.

There are many things we learn from your experience. In particular we are moved by your affirmation of the historical connection to the continent and people of Africa.

Your consistent commitment to the systematic eradication of racism is unparalleled.

But the most important lesson that you have for us is that no matter what the odds, no matter under what difficulties you have had to struggle, there can be no surrender! It is a case of freedom or death!

I know that your country is experiencing many difficulties now, but we have confidence that the resilient people of Cuba will overcome these as they have helped other coun-tries overcome theirs.

We know that the revolutionary spirit of today was started long ago and that its spirit was kindled by many early fighters for Cuban freedom, and indeed for freedom of all suffering under imperialist domination.

We too are also inspired by the life and example of Jose Marti, who is not only a Cuban and Latin American hero but justly honoured by all who struggle to be free.

We also honour the great Che Guevara, whose revolutionary exploits, including on our own continent, were too powerful for any prison censors to hide from us. The life of Che is an inspiration to all human beings who cherish freedom. We will always honour his memory.”

We come here with great humility. We come here with great emotion. We come here with a sense of a great debt that is owed to the people of Cuba. What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations with Africa?

How many countries of the world benefit from Cuban health workers or educationists? How many of these are in Africa?

Where is the country that has sought Cuban help and has had it refused?

How many countries under threat from imperialism or struggling for national liberation have been able to count on Cuban support?

It was in prison when I first heard of the massive assistance that the Cuban internationalist forces provided to the people of Angola, on such a scale that one hesitated to be-lieve, when the Angolans came under combined attack of South African, CIA-financed FNLA, mercenary, UNITA, and Zairean troops in 1975.”

We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us.

We know also that this was a popular action in Cuba. We are aware that those who fought and died in Angola were only a small proportion of those who volunteered. For the Cuban people internationalism is not merely a word but something that we have seen practiced to the benefit of large sections of humankind.

We know that the Cuban forces were willing to withdraw shortly after repelling the 1975 invasion, but the continued aggression from Pretoria made this impossible.

Your presence and the reinforcement of your forces in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale was of truly historic significance.

The crushing defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for the whole of Africa!

The overwhelming defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale provided the possibility for Angola to enjoy peace and consolidate its own sovereignty!

The defeat of the racist army allowed the struggling people of Namibia to finally win their independence!

The decisive defeat of the apartheid aggressors broke the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressors!

The defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the struggling people inside South Africa!

Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been unbanned!

The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today!

Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation!

Cuito Cuanavale has been a turning point in the struggle to free the continent and our country from the scourge of apartheid!

Apartheid is not something that started yesterday. The origins of white racist domination go back three and a half centuries to the moment when the first white settlers started a process of disruption and later conquest of the Khoi, San, and other African peoples—the original inhabitants of our country.

The process of conquest from the very beginning engendered a series of wars of resistance, which in turn gave rise to our struggle for national liberation. Against heavy odds, African peoples tried to hold on to their lands. But the material base and consequent firepower of the colonial aggressors doomed the divided tribal chiefdoms and kingdoms to ultimate defeat.

This tradition of resistance is one that still lives on as an inspiration to our present struggle. We still honour the names of the great prophet and warrior Makana, who died while trying to escape from Robben Island prison in 1819, Hintsa, Sekhukhune, Dingane, Moshoeshoe, Bambatha, and other heroes of the early resistance to colonial conquest.”

It was against the background of this land seizure and conquest that the Union of South Africa was created in 1910. Outwardly South Africa became an independent state, but in reality power was handed over by the British conquerors to whites who had settled in the country. They were able in the new Union of South Africa to formalize racial oppression and economic exploitation of blacks.

Following the creation of the Union, the passing of the Land Act, purporting to legalize the land seizures of the nineteenth century,” gave impetus to the process leading to the formation of the African National Congress on January 8, 1912.

I am not going to give you a history of the ANC. Suffice it to say that the last eighty years of our existence has seen the evolution of the ANC from its earliest beginnings aimed at uniting the African peoples, to its becoming the leading force in the struggle of the oppressed masses for an end to racism and the establishment of a non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic state.

Its membership has been transformed from its early days when they were a small group of professionals and chiefs, etc., into a truly mass organization of the people.

Its goals have changed from seeking improvement of the lot of Africans to instead seeking the fundamental transformation of the whole of South Africa into a democratic state for all.

Its methods of achieving its more far-reaching goals have over decades taken on a more mass character, reflecting the increasing involvement of the masses within the ANC and in campaigns led by the ANC.

Sometimes people point to the initial aims of the ANC and its early composition in order to suggest that it was a reformist organization. The truth is that the birth of the ANC carried from the beginning profoundly revolutionary implications.

The formation of the ANC was the first step towards creation of a new South African nation. That conception was developed over time, finding clear expression thirty-six years ago in the Freedom Charter’s statement that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” This was an unambiguous rejection of the racist state that had existed and an affirmation of the only alternative that we find acceptable, one where racism and its structures are finally liquidated.

It is well known that the state’s response to our legitimate democratic demands was, among other things, to charge our leadership with treason and, in the beginning of the 1960s, to use indiscriminate massacres. That and the banning of our organizations left us with no choice but to do what every self- respecting people, including the Cubans, have done—that is, to take up arms to win our country back from the racists.

I must say that when we wanted to take up arms we approached numerous Western governments for assistance and we were never able to see any but the most junior ministers. When we visited Cuba we were received by the highest officials and were immediately offered whatever we wanted and needed. That was our earliest experience with Cuban inter-nationalism.

Although we took up arms, that was not our preference. It was the apartheid regime that forced us to take up arms. Our preference has always been for a peaceful resolution of the apartheid conflict.

The combined struggles of our people within the country, as well as the mounting international struggle against apartheid during the 1980s, raised the possibility of a negotiated resolution of the apartheid conflict. The decisive defeat of Cuito Cuanavale altered the balance of forces within the region and substantially reduced the capacity of the Pretoria regime to destabilize its neighbours. This, in combination with our people’s struggles within the country, was crucial in bringing Pretoria to realize that it would have to talk.

It was the ANC that initiated the current peace process that we hope will lead to a negotiated transfer of power to the people. We have not initiated this process for goals any different from those when we pursued the armed struggle. Our goals remain achievement of the demands of the Freedom Charter, and we will settle for nothing less than that.

No process of negotiations can succeed until the apartheid regime realizes that there will not be peace unless there is freedom and that we are not going to negotiate away our just demands. They must understand that we will reject any constitutional scheme that aims at continuing white privileges.

There is reason to believe that we have not yet succeeded in bringing this home to the government, and we warn them that if they do not listen we will have to use our power to convince them.

That power is the power of the people, and ultimately we know that the masses will not only demand but win full rights in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

But we are not merely seeking a particular goal. We also propose a particular route for realizing it, and that is a route that involves the people all the way through. We do not want a process where a deal is struck over the heads of the people and their job is merely to applaud. The government re
sists this at all costs because the question of how a constitution is made, how negotiations take place, is vitally connected to whether or not a democratic result ensues.

The present government wants to remain in office during the entire process of transition. Our view is that this is unacceptable. This government has definite negotiation goals. It cannot be allowed to use its powers as a government to advance its own cause and that of its allies and to use those same powers to weaken the ANC.

And this is exactly what they are doing. They have unbanned the ANC, but we operate under conditions substantially different from that of other organizations. We do not have the same freedom to organize as does Inkatha and other organizations allied to the apartheid regime. Our members are harassed and even killed. We are often barred from holding meetings and marches.

We believe that the process of transition must be controlled by a government that is not only capable and willing to create and maintain the conditions for free political activity. It must also act with a view to ensuring that the transition is towards creating a genuine democracy and nothing else.

The present government has shown itself to be quite un-willing or unable to create a climate for negotiations. It reneges on agreements to release political prisoners and allow the return of exiles. In recent times it has allowed a situation to be created where a reign of terror and violence is being unleashed against the African communities and the ANC as an organization.

We have had ten thousand people murdered in this violence since 1984 and two thousand this year alone. We have always said that this government that boasts of its professional police force is perfectly capable of ending this violence and prosecuting the perpetrators. Not only are they unwilling, we now have conclusive evidence, published in independent newspapers, of their complicity in this violence.

The violence has been used in a systematic attempt to advance the power of Inkatha as a potential alliance partner of the National Party. There is now conclusive evidence of funds provided by the government—that is, taxpayers’ money—to Inkatha.

All of this indicates the necessity to create an interim government of national unity to oversee the transition. We need a government enjoying the confidence of broad sections of the population to rule over this delicate period, ensuring that counterrevolutionaries are not allowed to upset the process and ensuring that constitution making operates within an atmosphere free of repression, intimidation, and fear.

The constitution itself, we believe, must be made in the most democratic manner possible. To us, that can best be achieved through electing representatives to a constituent assembly with a mandate to draft the constitution. There are organizations that challenge the ANC’s claim to be the most representative organization in the country. If that is true, let them prove their support at the ballot box.

To ensure that ordinary people are included in this process we are circulating and discussing our own constitutional proposals and draft bill of rights. We want these to be dis-cussed in all structures of our alliance—that is, the ANC, South African Communist Party, and Congress of South African Trade Unions, and amongst the people in general. That way, when people vote for the ANC to represent them. in a constituent assembly, they will know not only what the ANC stands for generally, but what type of constitution we want.

Naturally these constitutional proposals are subject to re-vision on the basis of our consultations with our membership, the rest of the alliance, and the public generally. We want to create a constitution that enjoys widespread support, loyalty, and respect. That can only be achieved if we really do go to the people.

In order to avoid these just demands, various attempts have been made to undermine and destabilize the ANC. The violence is the most serious, but there are other more insidious methods. At present there is an obsession in the press, amongst our political opponents, and many Western governments with our alliance with the South African Communist Party. Newspapers continually carry speculations over the number of Communists
on our National Executive and allege that we are being run by the Communist Party.

The ANC is not a communist party but a broad liberation movement, including amongst its members Communists and non-Communists. Anyone who is a loyal member of the ANC, anyone who abides by the discipline and principles of the organization, is entitled to belong to the organization.Our relationship with the SACP as an organization is one of mutual respect. We unite with the SACP over common goals, but we respect one another’s independence and separate identity. There has been no attempt whatsoever on the part of the SACP to subvert the ANC. On the contrary, we derive strength from the alliance.

We have no intention whatsoever of heeding the advice of those who suggest we should break from this alliance. Who is offering this unsolicited advice? In the main it is those who have never given us any assistance whatsoever. None of these advisers have ever made the sacrifices for our struggle that Communists have made. We are strengthened by this alliance. We shall make it even stronger.

We are in a phase of our struggle where victory is in sight. But we have to ensure that this victory is not snatched from us. We have to ensure that the racist regime feels maximum pressure right till the end and that it understands that it must give way, that the road to peace, freedom, and democracy is irresistible.

That is why sanctions must be maintained. This is not the time to reward the apartheid regime. Why should they be re-warded for repealing laws which form what is recognized as an international crime? Apartheid is still in place. The regime must be forced to dismantle it, and only when that process is irreversible can we start to think of lifting the pressure,

We are very concerned at the attitude that the Bush ad-ministration has taken on this matter. It was one of the few governments that was in regular touch with us over the question of sanctions, and we made it clear that lifting sanctions was premature. That administration nevertheless, without consulting us, merely informed us that American sanctions were to be lifted. We find that completely unacceptable.

It is in this context that we value our friendship with Cuba very, very much. When you, Comrade Fidel, yesterday said that our cause is your cause, I know that that sentiment came from the bottom of your heart and that that is the feeling of all the people of revolutionary Cuba.

You are with us because both of our organizations, the Communist Party of Cuba and the ANC, are fighting for the oppressed masses, to ensure that those who make the wealth enjoy its fruits. Your great apostle Jose Marti said, “With the poor people of this earth I want to share my fate.”

We in the ANC will always stand with the poor and right- less. Not only do we stand with them. We will ensure sooner rather than later that they rule the land of their birth, that in the words of the Freedom Charter, “The people shall govern.” And when that moment arrives, it will have been made possible not only by our efforts but through the solidarity, support, and encouragement of the great Cuban people.

I must close my remarks by referring to an event which you have all witnessed. Comrade Fidel Castro conferred upon me the highest honour this country can award. I am very much humbled by this award, because I do not think I deserve it. It is an award that should be given to those who have already won the freedom of their peoples. But it is a source of strength and hope that this award is given for the recognition that the people of South Africa stand on their feet and are fighting for their freedom. We sincerely hope that in these days that lie ahead we will prove worthy of the confidence which is expressed in this award.

Long live the Cuban revolution!

Long live Comrade Fidel Castro!


Protecting lives in Colombia


The Breaking Down the Walls Campaign and the Ties of Dignity Foundation send this URGENT ACTION so that the Colombian government will guarantee human dignity and the right to life, integrity and personal security of political prisoner NORBEY TRIVIÑO, according to the following:


1. On April 29, 2012, around noon, NORBEY TRIVIÑO, who is being held in Patio 7 of La Dorada (Caldas) Maximum Security Prison, was a victim of physical aggression with a weapon by other inmates, resulting in serious injuries.

2. The health status of the victim is unknown, as are the reasons for having a weapon in a maximum security facility.


This aggressive act is the responsibility of the Colombian State, the head of the National Penitentiary Institute (INPEC), and the national government, for breaching international humanitarian law that requires all states to ensure political prisoners are held in special institutions (apart from the general prison population).

INPEC denies the existence of political prisoners, at the direction of the national government, which obligates them to be held alongside prisoners associated with paramilitarism and common crimes, demonstrating the absence of guarantees to protect the rights to life and personal security of political prisoners.

At the same time, the presence of arms inside prisons is forbidden and is the responsibility of INPEC, particularly in maximum security prisons, where prisoners’ rights are restricted. In this case, the application of restrictions was insufficient to protect the life and personal security of political prisoner NORBEY TRIVIÑO.


1. The Colombian State must establish special institutions for the retention of political prisoners, according to the norms of humanitarian and human rights law.

2. The Public Defender and Attorney General of Colombia must urgently verify the state of health of political prisoner NORBEY TRIVIÑO and demand that INPEC guarantee his human dignity and rights to life, integrity and personal security.

3. Investigations must be undertaken to determine responsibility, and punish the prisoners responsible for the attack, as well as the guards that may have let it happen.


We ask all media, national and international human rights organizations, social movements and those in solidarity to spread this urgent action and support our demands by sending letters to the following Colombian authorities:

Presidente de la República de Colombia
Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño Bogotá
Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71

Vicepresidente de la República de Colombia
Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.
Teléfonos (57 1) 444 2120 – 444 2122
Fax: (57 1) 596 0651

Ministro de Justicia y del Derecho de Colombia
Carrera 9a. No. 14-10 – Bogotá, D.C.
PBX (+57) 444 31 00 Ext. 1820

Procurador General de la Nación
Cra. 5 No.15 – 80F Bogotá D.C.

Defensor del Pueblo
Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá
Fax: (+571) 640.04.91


As you know Lila
ny Obando who visited Victoria twice has been released from prison. But she is still on trial & is in great danger. PLEASE READ THIS STATEMENT & THEN USE THE SAMPLE LETTER which follows (sent to us by a UK support group) AS A GUIDE TO WRITE YOUR OWN LETTER TO THE COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR IN OTTAWA.

At 8.30pm on 1st March 2012, Liliany Obando, Colombian trade unionist, academic and human rights defender, was freed after being detained for more than 3 years and 6 months in Buen Pastor Prison, Bogota. Liliany had been held in “preventative detention” since 8th August 2008 falsely accused of“rebellion” on the basis of evidence ruled inadmissible in a separate case. Her legal process suffered severe delays incurred by the authorities and the Colombian legal period for pretrial detention expired in April last year. Ms. Obando’s legal team repeatedly filed for her release on this basis, and on 29th February 2012, the Superior Tribunal of Bogota finally upheld their appeal. Despite her release, the spurious legal case against Ms. Obando continues. Her security situation also remains of utmost concern, as she has received several threatening phone calls, has been under constant surveillance by unidentified men and continues to be branded a terrorist. In particular, an El Tiempo newspaper article on 1st March describes her as “Liliany Obando of the FARC”, an allegation which puts her life in grave danger. Twenty nine trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia in 2011 and six so  far this year – help us make sure it does not happen again.

TAKE URGENT ACTION TO PROTECT LILIANY OBANDO, Colombian trade unionist and former political prisoner.

Write to: H.E.  Ambassador Clemencia Forero-Ucros, #1002,  360 Albert St. Ottawa, ON. K1R 7X7        T:613 230-3760                                                      Fax: 613 230-4416                              E:


Dear Ambassador,

I am writing to ask for the  urgent protection of Ms. Liliany Obando, Colombian academic, trade unionist and human rights defender and to an end to the false accusations against her.

Ms. Obando was detained for more than 3 years and 6 months in Buen Pastor Prison Bogota, without being convicted of any crime. On 1st March she was released from prison, however a spurious legal process continues and her security situation remains of utmost concern: she has received death threats,has been under constant surveillance by unidentified men and continues to be branded a terrorist. In particular, an El Tiempo newspaper article on 1st March describes her as “Liliany Obando of the FARC”, an allegation which puts her life in danger. Former political prisoners have been assassinated in recent years so I ask you to ensure she is protected urgently.

Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist, with 29 assassinated in 2011 and six so far this year. Your government claims to be committed to improving human rights. If this is so, at the very least the state must provide measures for Liliany and other human rights defenders and trade unionists whose lives are in danger. The Colombian authorities must also put an end to the false legal cases and imprisonment.

I look forward to progress in this matter,

Yours sincerely,