Skip to main content

The Colombian minister of Mines and Energy, Federico Renjifo Vélez, will be at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal this week. On Tuesday, he will be attending a working breakfast titled Doing Business with Colombia. The minister’s visit comes on the heels of a May 2013 report issued by the Colombian comptroller general that links the extractive industry in Colombia to armed conflict and human rights violations.

The report states that an astounding 80 per cent of the human rights violations, 87 per cent of forced displacements, 78 per cent of crimes against unionists, 89 per cent of crimes against indigenous people and 90 per cent of crimes against Afro-Colombians happen in mining and oil-producing regions. The report’s authors recommend a moratorium on all mining concessions in Colombia until the country revamps its extractive policy and regulatory process.

Many of the extractive companies active in Colombia are registered in Canada — a presence that has been embroiled in controversy. The latest involves Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy, which is currently being sued in Colombian court for labour rights violations.

The report by the comptroller general of Colombia is a sign that what social organizations in Canada and Colombia have been documenting for years is finally trickling up to the Colombian government. At this important juncture, we hope that Quebecers and conference attendees will ask Mr. Renjifo Vélez, and Canadian officials present at the Forum, what the true cost of doing business with Colombia is.

Leah Gardner

Project Accompaniment and Solidarity with Colombia