Colombia still the most dangerous place in the world for human rights and labour activists

Colombian human rights advocate and forensic anthropologist Berenice Celeyta, wants the Colombian government of President Santos to acknowledge that there continues to be armed conflict in that country.

Both the Canadian and Colombian governments maintain that Colombia in a post- conflict era after years of violent civil war in which thousands of union leaders and social activists disappeared,were killed, or injured by government paramilitary. Ms Celeyta told a group of 50 at CUPE's national office that since August, 2010 under the newly elected Santos government there has been the assassination of more than 2,000 people.

One of the key issues in the ongoing conflict is land ownership. Multinational companies are interested in mining the land - and indigenous peoples are being removed from their homes. It is estimated that 4.5 million Colombians have been displaced because of potential resources in their land.

Celeyta said,"We are persuaded that peace has to be accompanied by health, education, housing and public services. But the Colombian government is carrying out free trade treaties, which will not respect these rights. They say Colombia is Latin America's oldest democracy, but more people have died under this so-called democracy than under the dictatorships of Chile or Argentina."

CUPE partners with NOMADESC - the association for social research and action, in the union's work in Colombia. The three pillars of NOMADESC are education, research and communication. CUPE national president Paul Moist committed CUPE's ongoing support to NOMADESC and their important labour and human rights work., Thurs Mar 2 2011

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