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The report, commissioned by CUPW and authored by Asad Ismi, details the impact of Canada’s trade policies with and investment in Colombia.  The author reports shocking human rights abuses linked to prominent Canadian companies.  The report alleges that at least six Canadian owned companies are linked with military and paramilitary repression in Colombia and two companies in particular are linked to at least eight murders of trade unionists and human rights activists.

The extensive 178 page report provides damning evidence of callous behaviour of some of Canada’s most prominent companies.  It also details the role of the Canadian government in creating the space that allows such atrocities to continue.  The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement which came into effect on August 15, 2011 is entirely aimed at increasing Canadian exploitation of Colombian resources and pays little attention to the major human rights issues overshadowing the situation.  In this way the Harper Government is contributing to the implementation of a neo-colonial model of exploitation of Colombia.

Under the governments of Alvaro Uribe Velez (2002—August 2010) and Juan Manuel Santos (August 2010—present, he was Defence Minister under Uribe), the multinational corporate exploitation of Colombia has intensified to an unprecedented degree characterized by the virtual give-away of precious national resources to foreign companies.  This means more poverty and unemployment for an already dispossessed population.  Canada’s corporations and its government have played an important role in promoting the corporate takeover of these critical resources in Colombia’s important oil and mining sectors.

 Multinational dominance in Colombia is brutally enforced by the country’s military and its affiliated paramilitaries.  Several Canadian companies are linked to this extremely repressive security structure.  In these ways, Canada’s role in Colombia has increased the enormous suffering of its people; the Canadian government and companies have expanded their penetration of the Colombian economy by exacerbating the poverty and inequality that are the main causes of the country’s civil war.

This report links ten Canadian companies in Colombia to the genocide of indigenous Colombians, to complicity in eight murders and one attempted murder, to other significant military/paramilitary repression, to large-scale displacement, and to environmental destruction on a massive scale as well as to labour union busting, strike-breaking, and worker exploitation.  These corporations are the four oil companies Talisman, Gran Tierra, Pacific Rubiales, and Petrominerales, and the six mining companies Gran Colombia Gold, Eco Oro Minerals, Cosigo Resources, B2Gold, Midasco Capital and Antioquia Gold.  Never before have Canadian companies in Colombia been so destructive.  This opens up these corporations to the criminal charges of genocide, murder, complicity in murder, environmental damage, displacement and the violation of labour rights.  The 2006 edition of this report found four Canadian corporations to be linked to military/paramilitary repression in Colombia. (...)

Colombia is the Western Hemisphere’s worst human rights disaster and the massive political violence of the Colombian state is driven by economic imperatives; the U.S.-backed Colombian ruling elite is determined to control national economic resources (land, oil, coal and gold amongst others) and deny them to the majority of the population.  The poverty and inequality generated by this policy has led to a four decade-long civil war with guerrillas and a “dirty war” waged on civilians.  Three percent of Colombians own over 70% of arable land while 57% of the poorest farmers survive on less than 3%.  The richest 20% of Colombians get about 62% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while the poorest 20% are left with only 2.7%.  Colombia is the third most unequal country in Latin America and one of the most unequal globally.  Sixty-five percent of Colombians live below the poverty line and this figure is 82% for the rural population.


Download Full Report (PDF, 178 p)


About the Report :

Research for this report was completed on January 14, 2012 (except for the epilogue).  The report was submitted to the CUPW on February 2 and the union released it on May 3.  Also releasing the report along with CUPW were three organizations including the Colombian Network Against Large Scale Transnational Mining (RECLAME), a coalition of 80 rights and environmental organizations in Colombia.  RECLAME was represented at the release by Brother Andrés Idarraga, a prominent Colombian labour organizer.  Two Canadian Colombia solidarity organizations were presents at the release of this report: Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC), based in Montreal, and Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA), based in Toronto.

The information presented in bold type in this report is new information; that presented in normal type is from the 2006 edition of the report which is still relevant. About 80% of the information is new.

Published by Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Ottawa, April 2012
Copyright Asad Ismi 2012

About the autor :

Asad Ismi is an award-winning writer on international politics specializing in the impact of U.S. and Canadian imperialism on the Global South.  He is international affairs correspondent for The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, Canada’s biggest left-wing magazine (by circulation).  Asad is the author of more than a hundred articles, nine reports, five radio documentaries and two books.  His latest radio documentary “The Latin American Revolution” has been aired on 40 radio stations reaching an audience of 33 million people in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  Asad has written for 21 progressive Canadian unions and non-governmental organizations.

The groundbreaking three editions of Profiting from Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia (2000, 2006, 2012) constitute the most comprehensive and indepth account of this subject presently in existence.  For Asad's publications, visit

Asad Ismi