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Jamie Kneen: Afro-Colombian Leaders to speak at Corelton U.

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------- Forwarded Message

From: Jamie Kneen <jkneen@web.net>
Subject: Afro-Colombian Leaders to speak at Corelton U.


The Caribbean and Latin American Solidarity Group (CLAS), OPIRG-Carleton
and OPIRG-Ottawa Present:

	Territory, Identity and Autonomy

Carlos Rosero and Libia Grueso, leaders of the Afro-Colombian Communities
Movement (PCN) come to speak on their struggle for cultural, ethnic (the
right to their identity) and territorial rights in the vast rainforest
region of Colombia's Pacific Coast.

	7:00 PM
	Room 305, Dunton Tower
	Carleton University
	1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa

Donations appreciated.


- - Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal -
November 22 to 28


Carlos Rosero and Libia Grueso are two leaders of Proceso de Comunidades
Negras (PCN), a broad-based Colombian social movement from the Pacific
Coast region of Colombia. The PCN struggle is based on the recognition of
cultural, ethnic (the right to identity) and territorial rights and seeks
to challenge Western modernization and development efforts for the vast
rain forest region of the Pacific.

In 1991, through a constitutional reform process, Afro-Colombian
communities of the Pacific were granted collective rights to the
territories they have traditionally occupied. They were also granted the
right to establish mechanisms to protect their cultural identity as well as
the right to control their own economic and social development.

Colombian Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast of Colombia is a unique rain forest region, among the
world's largest (70,000km), rainiest, and biodiverse. There, the
Afro-Colombian people there have maintained a distinct material and
cultural existence, inhabiting the banks of the more than 240 rivers which
flow from the Andes towards the coast. They have sustained multiple
subsistence and economic activities involving agriculture, fishing, hunting
and gathering, small-scale gold mining and timber collecting. They have
preserved a culture of strong extended families with matrilocal social
relations, strong oral traditions and religious systems, and distinct forms
of knowledge about and use of the diverse ecosystem.

Opening up to Global Markets

Because of its rich natural resources, the vast rain forest of the
Colombian Pacific is coveted by international capitalist developers and the
national government is doing all it can to open up the area to global
markets. These actors consistently reduce the region to a source of raw
materials and allegedly inexhaustible natural riches. For instance, in July
of 1998, the Colombian government expedited Decree 1320, which seeks to
limit and undermine the participation of the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous
communities in decision-making processes concerning the exploitation of
natural resources. With the application of this decree, the Colombian
government can grant concessions to innumerable mega-projects which, aside
from violating the rights of ethnic groups inhabiting the region, threaten
the ecosystems and biodiversity that these groups have helped to conserve
and are a part thereof.

Social Control over Territory and Biodiversity

PCN has centred much of its work around exercising social control over the
territory as a precondition for survival, recreation and strengthening of
culture. For both black and indigenous groups in the Pacific, this control
is the central axis for the conservation of biodiversity and genetic
resources and the management of natural resources. The PCN's movement,
through their appropriation of territory and process of cultural
affirmation, have been instrumental in resisting the onslaught of Western
capitalist development in their region.

Grassroots Mobilization

Colombian activists who work along the rivers, like Carlos and Libia, have
advanced a powerful pedagogical process, relying on the broad participation
of local people in the articulation of their own rights, aspirations and
dreams. Through this process, they have worked to transform "the logic of
the rivers and forest" into a concrete platform for the construction of an
autonomous perspective of the future. The local river communities have
engaged in a process of participatory investigation of the historical,
cultural, political and livelihood realities of their communities in order
to build a broad-based proposal for the movement.


This autonomous movement represents an integrated process that covers the
areas of indigenous rights, traditional knowledge, sustainable resource
management, conservation of biodiversity, sustainable development
alternatives, territorial re-ordering and the generation of new forms of
governance based on local participation.

The PCN has a great deal to share with academics, activists and development
practitioners on advancing the agenda of building a new society, based on
participatory democracy and local control and autonomy. Their movement is
also generating new knowledge and ideas concerning the relationships
between territory, nature, culture and development and how these articulate
with the rest of civil society.

Jamie Kneen 					     tel: 613.236.9188
4-259 Cambridge St. North		             fax: 613.236.8632
Ottawa, Ontario  K1R 7B1  Canada		e-mail: jkneen@web.net

------- End of Forwarded Message

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