Global Justice Colombia 2018The Colombian government signed peace agreements in the autumn of 2017, but troubles remain.

Armed paramilitary forces connected to large landowners and corporate economic interests are active throughout the country and have been linked to over 125 killings since the signing of the accords. These abuses continue despite the disarmament of the FARC, a national liberation movement, and they threaten the hopes for a genuine peace process that addresses the social and economic roots of the armed conflict.

In other words, peace deals have been signed, but peace has not yet been achieved. That’s why CUPE and other Canadian unions continue their solidarity work with Colombian workers and Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities through the Frontlines Initiative (an initiative involving four public sector unions in Canada).

For over 15 years, Frontlines has been organizing worker-to-worker solidarity exchanges with Colombian unions and social movement groups that focus on supporting the peace process and exposing the negative impacts of Canadian investors and harmful economic policies, including privatization and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The goal of our delegations is to build mutual solidarity between public sector workers in Canada and Colombia in our mutual fight to stop the privatization of public services and to support that country’s fragile peace process.

In February 2018 Frontlines sent a Canadian labour delegation to Colombia that included CUPE, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The delegation met with communities struggling against water privatization, the impact of resource extraction by Canadian firms and the free trade agreements that are threatening the livelihoods of workers, farmers, Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian people.

The delegation came away with a deeper understanding of how privatization, land grabs and massive dislocation of the rural population continue to be commonplace. The delegation also learned how communities and unions that resist are being criminalized and silenced through legislation, the justice system and/or paramilitary violence.

CUPE, along with its Canadian partner unions, continues to work to shed light on the situation in Colombia.