Report Links Canadian Business to Paramilitary Violence in Colombia

A new report uncovers links between Canadian investment in Colombia and the violence that has cost 35,000 lives since 1990, forced two million to flee their homes and led to the "disappearance" of about 3,000. The report, titled "Profiting from Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia," is written by Asad Ismi and published by "Americas Update" magazine.

"This timely report provides disturbing evidence of the apparent complicity of Canadian business in systematic human-rights violations by the Colombian Government and the right-wing paramilitary," said Professor David L. Raby, Chair, Canadian Initiatives for Peace with Justice in Colombia.

Canadian investment in Colombia is $5 billion and is concentrated in the same economic sectors where state and paramilitary repression is the greatest — oil and gas, telecommunications, and mining. The report identifies Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines as Canadian corporations that directly fostered state repression by providing military equipment to the Colombian Army's 14th Brigade, which, according to Amnesty International, has an atrocious human rights record.

"Most Canadians are unaware that some of this country's largest corporations are profiting from the Colombian government's brutal repression of dissent and democracy," Ed Finn, General Editor for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives noted. "Asad Ismi's shocking exposé of this corporate collaboration with Colombia's ruthless dictatorship is recommended reading for everyone concerned about social and economic justice."

As the report documents, the Government of Canada has greatly encouraged investment and trade links with Colombia, especially in the oil and telecommunications sectors. Ottawa considers Colombia "a very favourable climate for investment."

Canadian government agencies such as the Export Development Corporation, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade have all actively encouraged Canadian investment in Colombia.

"At a time when the US is intensifying its military aid to Colombia under the pretext of the "war on drugs," it is extremely important that Canadians should understand what is really at stake in Colombia," Raby noted.

For more information or to order copies of the report contact Asad Ismi at (416) 920-8331.