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Colombia, the Conflicts and Beyond: Perspectives on a Canadian Ally
A Public Workshop
Sunday, April 19 2009
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
*5:00 pm Reception following workshop (with Colombian music)
SFU, Segal School of Business
Event Rooms 1300 - 1500
500 Granville Street, Vancouver (W Pender & Granville)
Free Admission and Open to the Public
SFU Latin American Studies Program, UBC Latin American Studies Program, Latin American Studies Students’ Union (SFU), Simon Fraser Students’ Society (SFSS), and the SFU Graduate Student Society.
In a brief tour of Latin America in July 2007, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a major foreign policy shift towards increased Canadian engagement in the Americas. One of his stops included a visit to Colombia, a troubled country that has since become one of Canada’s closest political allies in the region.
While there has been much academic and public debate on recent political and social ‘left turns’ in Latin America, Colombia appears to have followed a diverging path. Marred by the decades of violence affected by government forces, right-wing paramilitary groups and Latin America’s longest-standing guerrilla insurgency, Colombia is the site of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, with 4 million people having been forcibly displaced. This situation has not advanced without rising contention from below. Colombian social and popular movements are emerging with vibrant proposals for peace, local autonomy and ‘a country without owners,’ facing down violent repression from all the armed actors.
Drawing on the perspectives of leading academics and social movement activists from across North America and Colombia, this full day public workshop is intended as a space to inform and discuss Colombia’s complex history, present, and the role of Canada in its future.
Jasmin Hristov (York University)
Forrest Hylton (New York University)
Catherine LeGrand (McGill University)
Micheál Ó Tuathail (Simon Fraser University, La Chiva Collective, Canada)
Nazih Richani (Kean University, NJ)
Julian Torres (University of British Columbia, Okanagan)
Manuel Rozental (Pueblos en Camino Collective, Hemispheric Social Alliance)
Gustavo Ulcué (Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, Colombia)
Welcome and Introduction
- Eric Hershberg, Simon Fraser University
- William French, University of British Columbia
The Roots and Evolution of Conflict in Colombia
Moderator: UBC Grad Student TBA
Situating the problem of violence in Colombia historically, encompassing both domestic dynamics of social and political exclusion and the influence of the international context.
- Forrest Hylton, New York University
- Catherine LeGrand, McGill University
- Nazih Richani, Kean University, New Jersey
Coffee and refreshments
The Armed Conflict and Beyond
Moderator: Luis Moncayo, MA Candidate, Latin American Studies (SFU)
Colombia’s conflict in its contemporary context, outlining the interests of armed actors and the relationships among them. This session will further consider other actors involved in the conflict, displacement and humanitarian issues, the rise of paramilitarism and the contemporary decline of the armed insurgencies.
- Julian Torres, University of British Columbia, Okanagan
- Jasmin Hristov, York University, Toronto
12:45 - 2:00
The Converging Paths of Social Movement Actors
Moderator: UBC Grad Student TBA
The reemergence and convergence of Colombia’s invisible struggles are guiding trends toward a non-violent and popular resistance to Colombia’s status quo. Critical to these processes is the role of social movements, including those associated with addressing the root causes as well as the lingering effects of Colombia’s social and political crises in a dynamic national and regional context. What are the hopes and challenges for social movements in Colombia? How does this relate to the position of the current Canadian government and social movements in Canada?
- Gustavo Ulcué, Tejido de Comunicacion y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida, Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), Colombia
- Dr. Manuel Rozental, Hemispheric Social Alliance, Pueblos en Camino Collective
- Micheál Ó Tuathail, MA Candidate Latin American Studies (SFU), La Chiva Collective (Canada).
Coffee and refreshments
Final Comments and Conclusions
Moderator: Eric Hershberg
5:00 pm RECEPTION TO FOLLOW WORKSHOP
with Colombian music by the very talented SFU LAS graduate student,
Jasmin Hristov is a PhD candidate in sociology at York University, Toronto, and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Latin America. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Journal of Peasant Studies, Social Justice, and Latin American Perspectives. She is the author of Blood and Capital: the Paramilitarization of Colombia (Ohio University Press 2009).
Forrest Hylton is a PhD candidate in History at New York University and has written extensively on Bolivia and Colombia. He is a regular contributor to New Left Review, The Real News and NACLA Report on the Americas, an editor of and contributor to Ya es otro tiempo: Cuatro momentos de insurgencia indigena, 2nd edition, and author of Evil Hour in Colombia (Verso 2006).
Catherine LeGrand is associate professor of history at McGill University. Her research focuses on the agrarian, social and cultural history of Latin America in the 19th and 20th centuries and cultural aspects of US and Canadian relations with Latin America. She has written on the impact of agricultural export economies (coffee, bananas, and sugar) on land tenure and social relations in frontier areas and on rural conflict in Colombia. She has also published on the historiography of foreign enclaves in Latin America, on the Colombian Violencia of the 1950s, and on the current conflict in Colombia.
Nazih Richani is an associate professor of political science at Kean University, New Jersey. He is the author of numerous articles on the political economy of the armed conflict in Colombia, including the influential work Systems of Violence: the Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia (SUNY Press 2002).
Julian Esteban Torres Lopez is Ph.D. Candidate at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. At the University of New Hampshire he aquired a B.A. in Philosophy and Communication, a M.A. in Justice Studies. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia Okanagan concentrating on the study of violence in Colombia. His research is guided by the following question: why the historical lack of hegemony in Colombia?
Manuel Rozental is a practicing surgeon and social movement activist. Forced into exile in Canada several times, Manuel has helped to found and develop several solidarity initiatives, including the Canada-Colombia Solidarity Campaign and Pueblos En Camino, an ongoing effort committed to weaving popular initiatives throughout the Americas. For over 10 years, he has been part of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) in southwestern Colombia. He is a collaborator with the Hemispheric Social Alliance. In this capacity, he toured Canada in 2007 as part of a CLC-CCIC campaign on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Dr. Rozental is currently Adjunct Research Professor at the University of Algoma in Northern Ontario, He has also held several teaching positions at the National University in Colombia.
Gustavo Ulcué is a Nasa indigenous communicator and member of the Tejido de Comunicación (Communications Network) of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), Colombia, currently one of the country’s most influential social movements. His organization was instrumental in leading a march of more than 60,000 indigenous peoples into the city of Cali in September of 2004. This march has lead to ongoing mobilizations and activities, which include the ‘Liberation of Mother Earth,’ a popular referendum on the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the US, a national consultation to weave a ‘People’s Agenda for Colombia’, and the ‘Social and Community Minga’, an ongoing popular mobilization that made international headlines in the Fall of 2008. The Tejido was recognized as the best community communications network in Colombia in 2007 and one of the country’s ‘most influential people’ in 2008.Micheál Ó Tuathail is an MA Candidate in Latin American Studies at Simon Fraser University. His research focuses on the transnational dimensions of political activism, alternative media activism and solidarity movements. He is a founding member of the La Chiva Collective, a Western Canada-based group working in solidarity with Colombian social movements and communities, a member of Mingas-FTA, a North-South coalition organizing around the Free Trade Agreements, and has worked as an independent researcher and journalist in Colombia.