The expansion of agrofuel mono-cultures, mainly for biodiesel, is threatening the lives, livelihoods and lands of Afro-Colombian and peasant communities and indigenous people
by Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch
Below is a new email alert against human rights abuses and deforestation in Colombia which are linked to palm oil, much of it now grown for biofuels.
This email alert is supported by the the Colombian Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace, a human rights organisation which has been supporting communities in Curvarado and Jiguamindo. It calls on the Colombian government to
- protect the human rights of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities affected by large-scale monoculture plantations;
- immediately restitute the ancestral land to Afro-Colombian communities and indigenous people affected by monoculture plantations, such as the Curvaradó Afro-Colombian communities affected by palm tree plantations and call on the Government to implement the 169 Convention of the International Labor Organisation and the Order of Provisional Measures of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favour of the `humanitarian refuge’ zones of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó;
- stop further deforestation and exploitation of large-scale palm tree plantations in the Curvaradó river basin and elsewhere in Colombia;
- guarantee the reparation of human and environmental damages generated by the imposition of large-scale monocultures and human rights violations by State Forces;
- recognise and respect local civilian initiatives aimed at protecting the environment, such as the recent creation of Biodiversity Zones;
- review Colombia’s biofuel policy and the impacts of large-scale monocultures in general on communities, human rights and the environment, including the impacts of rainforest destruction on climate change, and impose an immediate moratorium on biofuel developments from large-scale monocultures, including from oil palms.
For a full background, see: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/files/columbian_alert_background.doc Please forward this alert widely. Thanks.
Protest Destruction of Colombian Rainforests and Murder to Feed Automobiles
It is gravely unethical and ecologically devastating to expand production of biofuels at the expense of ancient primary rainforests, biodiverse grasslands, local communities and their food sovereignty.The Colombian government is embarking on a massive expansion of oil palms, sugar cane and other monocultures for agrofuels and other markets at the expense of rainforests, biodiverse grasslands and local communities. Sugar cane monocultures are being expanded in the Cauca Valley, whilst hundreds of thousands of hectares are being turned into oil palm plantations in the Pacific region, the eastern plains and the Caribbean region.Palm oil expansion is linked to large-scale rainforest destruction and to serious violence and human rights abuses. NGOs have documented 113 killings in the river basin of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, in Chocó region at the hands of paramilitaries who are working with plantation companies to take over land which legally belongs to Afro-Colombian communities. The paramilitary groups operate with the support of the 17th Colombian Army Brigade.
Following a campaign of violence, forced displacements and massacres since 1996, Afro-Colombian and other peasant communities have recently returned to their land, but have found much of it planted with oil palms, even though the communities hold legal land titles. They have received repeated death threats from paramilitaries. So far, the government has done nothing to protect the communities and their land rights.
The expansion of agrofuel mono-cultures, mainly for biodiesel, is threatening the lives, livelihoods and lands of Afro-Colombian and peasant communities and indigenous people, not just in Chocó, but elsewhere, including in Tumaco, Magdalena Medio, Vichada, Meta and the Amazon regions. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, 200,000 people are displaced every year in Colombia, totalling some 4 million over the past 20 years – the second highest rate of displacement in the world – with land expropriation in excess of 6 million hectares. The root cause of many forced displacements relates to land issues including the drive to expand monocultures and other agro-business.
The Chocó forests which are being destroyed by palm oil expansion are some of the largest remaining coastal lowland rainforests in the world and are amongst the most biodiverse forests on Earth. They are home to 7,000 to 8,000 species, including 2,000 endemic plant species and 100 endemic bird species. Even before the current palm oil and agrofuel expansion, 66% had been destroyed.
Please write to the Colombian government and ask them to protect the rights of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities affected by large-scale monoculture plantations, to stop further deforestation for oil palm plantations, impose a moratorium on further palm oil expansion and on the country’s biofuel programme, which is a major cause of monoculture expansion, and to protect the land rights, the food sovereignty and the environment on which local communities depend.
This email alert is supported by the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz) in Colombia, a human rights organisation which has been actively supporting local communities in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.