6-8pm Thursday 17th November
Room 349, 3rd floor of Senate House
Malet St London WC1E 7HU (near SOAS; nearest tubes Goodge Street or Russell Square)
Higher Education, Environment and Human Rights in Colombia today
Speakers: Berenice Celeyta – Director of Asociacion Nomadesc, Colombian human rights NGO based in Valle de Cauca, Southwest region.
Carlos Gonzalez- President of Sintraunicol Valle del Cauca (Valle del Cauca section of National Union of University Workers)
Institute for the Study of the Americas staff
Berenice and her colleagues have received numerous death threats, and in 2004 she was targeted for assassination in a government-sponsored plan known as “Operation Dragon”. The reported plan was to kill 175 labour and social movement leaders in Cali, the state capital of Valle del Cauca, who were opposing the privatization of the city’s water, electric, and telecommunications utility company EMCALI.
“We have worked on several important topics concerning privatization, the presence of international business interests, and have been able to make people aware of various grave human rights violations in these areas with regard to strategic natural resources like gold, petroleum, nickel, and uranium”
Carlos too has been targeted for assassination. His union is campaigning alongside the student movement against the government’s proposed reforms to higher education, opening the door to privatisation. Sintraunicol prioritises links and joint working with community groups and other social organisations, and promotes the participation of women.
Berenice and Carlos were both delegates to the Congress of the Peoples that took proposals from diverse social movements towards a common popular agenda. They are well placed to comment on these grass roots developments.