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19 July 2009 | | |

In the Spotlight

Interview with Gabriel Enau, member of La Via Campesina Colombia

2:43 minutes
Download: MP3 (1.9 Mb)

The struggle for the rights of peasants and mining workers of the southern region of Bolivar, Colombia, took one of Gabriel Enau´s children away. He was murdered by the paramilitary forces. However, this did not drive Enau away from his goal to organize the poorest populations of the countryside to fight for their right to land and a dignified life.

Gabriel Enau is Vice-President of the Peasant and Mining Federation of the South of Bolivar, member of La Via Campesina Colombia, one of the organizers of the international mission that travelled around the country the first two weeks of July. The mission met with different authorities about the impacts of sugar cane and oil palm monoculture plantations.

In an interview with Real World Radio, Enau talked about his personal story and the situation of displacements, fear, disappearances and death of popular activists in his country.

“The communities have been suffering extremely serious consequences due to this multinational oil palm company, such as the inability to survive in the region due to land grabbing, damages to the environment, loss of marshes and rivers, which has an impact on fisheries, the livelihood of many communities. They say that it is a sign of development that these companies come here, but the Colombian people are witnessing this is not the case. Because when a company settles here, and there are no roads or food for people, we know it is a big lie.”

The leader of La Via Campesina Colombia cannot go to his region, where his family still lives, without armed custody. This is the situation of thousands of peasant, worker, social and student leaders who are persecuted in their country, as the International Mission could verify. However, Gabriel Enau told us he refuses to call himself a “displaced person”.

“The government wants one to declare as a displaced person so that they can provide aid, when in fact it is the government itself which is responsible for the displacements. They want to obtain more lands for transnational corporations. I am a social leader who grew up with the communities and we defend our territory, this is why I won´t call myself a displaced person”.

In the federation, peasants and mining workers united, something which is not common in a grassroots organization. Enau explained: “We are a grassroots organization which was born from strong social mobilizations, and we decided to have a federation of peasants and mine workers as a way to build a region for all. Peasants building food sovereignty –as long as they allow us because we are persecuted, sprayed…, we´ve taught the mine worker to live not only from the grains of gold, but also to build their own sovereignty”.

Imagen: http://colombiasolidarity.blogspot.com

(CC) 2009 Real World Radio

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