Uribe announces the Panamerican Highway

( Translated by Marguerite Brink, a CSN volunteer translator)

To the people of the world, Uribe announces the Panamerican Highway.
We reinstate to the people of the world, and of the Cacarica, Cavida community, self-determination, life, and Dignity. With this we object to the development of the Panamerican highway inside the territories of the indigenous towns. Its development would cause irreparable damage to the environmental integrity.  Neither have the indigenous communities been consulted nor has there been a dismantling of the paramilitary structure.  The armed conflict continues.  Agro-business continues to develop, stained with corruption and supportive of corrupt institutions.
The communities do not matter. Bogotá, D.C. October 6, 2009 Intereclesial Commission of Justice and Peace.
Humanitarian Zones of Cacarica.  October 2, 2009.  

Mestizo and Afro-Colombian men and women threatened with having to defend their lives, territories, and the inhabitants of their collective territories denounce the continuing construction of giant works such as the Transversal of the Americas recently referred to by president Uribe.  On the agro-industry side of the banana harvest for the sale on the part of Delmonte, Multifruis, and others plans for a business project directed by Amador Caicedo, ex-mayor of Chigorodo occupant of bad faith, to that which was called the International Commercialization Cacarica.  The announcement of these huge works on roads and energies began to solidify just as was suggested by the advice of the communal government of Apartado, Antioquia on Saturday October 3rd.  Alvaro Uribe Velez made a public decision to construct the Panamerican Highway, which is now called the Transversal of the Americas, on a plot of 62 kilometers on the left bank of the Atrato River in the area of Choco. Within the Transversal, arose the construction of a bridge that permits the connection of the higway that was built during the Turbay administration from Baranquillita to Lomas Aisladas. He also said that this would connect with the Caribe Highway from the boundary of the Paraguachon bridge with Venezuela.  President Uribe said also, that the construcion of the highway would act like an open check to the ISA, one of the biggest companies in Colombia, so that in time there could be an electrical interconnection with Central America.  This would guarantee according to the government that there wouldn’t be any great difficulties in the development of either of the projects. The construction of the Transversal of the Americas would pass through our territory, the collective lands of Cacarica from which we were forcefully displaced in February of 1997 and again in 2001 when the paramiltaries settled in Balsa for the development of their banana project. The locations named by the president are stained with blood.  Baranquillita is under paramilitary control, the same with the whole trajectory up to Lomas Aisladas.  Even though the president has named many of the paramilitaries that should be arrested, the same day that he announced the construction of the Transversal of the Americas, the control continued benefiting the biggest businesses.  On the America Bridge, where a woman was abused during Operation Genesis, lead by General Rito Alejo del Rio, today there is permanent control by the military who acts in conjunction with the paramilitaries that we encountered during our displacement. Also, on the America Bridge, over the Perancho River, the point known as the “Loma” was the site of the murder of many of our brothers.  Now we can clearly see that which we have always known, that our forced displacement was meant to ensure that these lands would later be free for their development projects.  On this point on the America Bridge, which we have traditionally called the Travesia, is where the government wants to construct the bridge. In Palo de Letras is the boundary with Panama.  To get there from America Bridge one would have to cross through all of our collective territory. The government wants to make it appear that there are not people in the lands on which they will construct these projects.  Here we are, women, men, children, Afro-descendents and indigenous peoples and we occupy the Katios en Huinphubur area that would also be affected by the construction. The Trasversal, the bridge and the electric interconnection are works that threaten our cultural integrity, biodiversity and the ecosystems upon which we survive.
Additionally the implementation of these mega projects failes to recognize the ethnical territorial rights granted to the communities that were traditionally occupied.  This include the right  to be consulted before implementation of projects that affect our social, cultural, political and economonic lives.  As communities that make up part of Consejo Mayor of the basin of Cacarica and live in zones of biodiversity, we form part of the Association of Cavida, the movement of victims of crimes of the state and the network of Alternatives.  We reclaim our right to be consulted.
We demand of the Colombian government that they recognize our humanity in the media announcement, like what Consulta Previa has done in conformity with the 169 of OIT
We demand of the Colombian government that they give us the results of environmental/social impact studies that have been completed to asses the effects of these projects.
We demand of the Colombian government that they recognize operations that seek to dismantle the paramilitary operations found in Cacarica. We ask the Colombian government to act urgently against the illegal sale of our lands. We invivte the indigenous, Afro, and mestizo peoples of Panama and the social organizations to participate in the town consultations.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

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