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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Colombia Forum - Dec.2 &3



"Colombia remains embroiled in civil war almost 40 years old. The causes
of this conflict are rooted in a long-standing history of societal and
structural inequity. Violence, delinquency, poverty, displacement, human
rights violations and the disintegration of the social fabric are all
symptoms of this structural malaise and are problems which can only be
solved through patient, open, tolerant and democratic deliberation among
all of those affected by it.  The United States government has designed
an intervention into Colombia. The intervention is called Plan Colombia,
a US$1.3 billion military aid package portrayed as an effort to combat
drug trafficking and the “narco-guerrilla” which is said to finance its
activities through the drug trade.  The US government justifies its
action through a simplistic claim that drugs are the root of all of
Colombia’s evils.  The $1.3 billion package covers up the true causes of
the conflict by advancing military solutions to social problems and
threatens to give rise to quite possibly the most severe humanitarian
crisis the continent has yet to witness."

1. Raise the profile of the Colombian crisis within Canada
2. Create awareness and understanding about the popular and civil
alternatives for peace being proposed such as the National Convention
for Peace, the Black people's autonomous movement, the many indigenous
processes (Nasca, Embera Katio, U'was), the Displaced Communities Social
Movement, the Communities and Territories for Peace, all valiantly born
within the context of war. These are some of the most innovate and
daring proposals for achieving lasting peace and overcoming the
historical and structural determinants of war yet to be seen on the
world stage. 
3. Discredit the myth upon which the US intervention in Colombia is
based and expose its consequences; and, 
4. Establish a platform for Canadian and international solidarity for
peace in Colombia.
The emphasis of the Forum will be on the constructive influence that
international civil mobilization can have on the outcome of Colombia’s
crisis. As such, the Forum will reach out to Canadian civil society in
the broadest and most inclusive sense of the concept: Organized labour,
church, student, ethnic communities, NGOs and social movements.
To achieve this end, the Forum will be structured in a chronological
format, examining the Past, Present and Potential Future Scenarios of
Colombia’s conflict.  Within this framework, the following themes are
proposed for discussion:
·	The Present: Diagnosis of the Current Situation (What is happening?)
·	The Past: Historical Determinants of the Crisis and Conflict (How did
it come to this?)
·	The Future Scenarios: The Role of International Solidarity (How to
The specific content of the three general themes above listed are yet
undefined since they will depend largely upon the availability and
disposition of persons who could speak to them. Nevertheless, it is
likely that the topics will cover the following areas:

Under the examination of the roots of the crisis and characterization of
the problem:

1.	Labour, Political Intolerance and Human Rights
2.	Profiting from Repression: Canadian Corporate Investment and its
Links to Military and Paramilitary Violence.
3.	Social Exclusion and Violence
4.	Land, Resources and Ethnic/Territorial Rights
5.	Oil and Colombia: A “strategic interest” for the West and more fuel
for war.

Under the Options for Intervention:

1.	Plan Colombia:  An American Plan for Colombia and the Myth of the
Drug War
2.	A Look at the US and European Solidarity Experiences
Under the examination of the Peace Processes:

1.	Looking a the Two Proposals for Peace: Government-ELN,
2.	The Lessons from the Central American Peace Process: Guatemala and El
3.	Proposals for Peace from Civil and Popular Society

The above topics are subject to change, expansion and will hopefully be
a reflection of the collective interests of the participating and
sponsoring organizations as much as they will be defined by any other

The expected outcome of this Forum will be a solid platform for
Canadian/North American solidarity with Colombia.

Format and Structure

The Colombia Forum is foreseen as a 2-day event that will likely take
place from December 2-3 at the University of Carleton, making use of a
large auditorium for the plenary presentations and various smaller rooms
for the workshop-style strategy building for Canadian/North American

The Forum will be divided into two distinct moments: 
1.	Day 1 (Dec.2): Plenary presentations with questions and answer. All
participants will be present in the large auditorium These presentations
will be divided into the three above general themes: 
i.	The Present Situation
ii.	The Historical Determinants of the Conflict
iii.Intervention: Options for the Future.

2.	Day 2 (Dec.3): Strategy Building Sessions. Participants will divide
into specific working groups in order to define strategies for distinct
3-4 Action Fronts. The conclusions of each of the Action Fronts will be
presented to the Plenary for debate and refinement. The final
conclusions will be drafted into a document reflecting:
i.	An agreement in principle regarding the direction that a concerted
solidarity campaign should take; 
ii.	The consolidation of the different Action Fronts with associated
activities, wherever possible; and,
iii.The establishment of a functional network to facilitate coordination
of the various Action Fronts of the campaign.

* An important element of the strategy building will be coordination
with the US-based solidarity organizations.

Several organizations have lent and/or provided sponsorship for the
forum as a way of sending the message that the crisis of Colombia is
worthy of collective civil concern and as such, demands broad,
cross-sectoral solidarity. 

So far, these groups are:

·	Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)- Ottawa University and
Carleton University Chapters
·	Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
·	Research and International Support for Colombia (RISC) - Toronto
·	Pueblos Hermanos Lazos Visibles - Canadian Chapter
·	The Canadian Colombian Association (CCA) - Toronto
·	International Network for Human Rights in Latin America - Montreal
·	Colombia Committee of Montreal
·	International Committee of the FMLN
·	Chicago Colombia Committee - USA
·	World Inter-accion Mondial (WIAM)

Groups and organizations that are being approached are: 

·	Canadian Union of Autoworkers (CAW)
·	The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
·	Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
·	The United Church - Ottawa
·	Interchurch Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA)
·	Center for Rights and Democracy - Montreal
·	PWDF of the Anglican Church - Toronto
·	Mining Watch Canada
·	Christian Committee for Human Rights in Latin America - Montreal
·	Amnesty International- Ottawa Office
·	US/Colombia Coordinating Office
·	Latin American Working Group (LAWG)
·	Global Exchange (Colombia Human Rights Program)

For more information, contact us at: colombiacrisis@latinmail.com
Or visit the Colombia Forum website: www.gratisweb.com/colombiacrisis
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