[Sust-mar] URGENT - blood coal and NB Power

tracy at jatam.org tracy at jatam.org
Mon Sep 4 16:18:09 EDT 2006

* Some of the coal used by NB Power and burned in Belledune is imported
from Colombia. Much of this coal is mined in Colombia's poorest province,
La Guajira. El Cerrejón is the world's largest open-pit coal mine. The
mine's expansion has wiped communities off the map and brought poverty,
sickness, environmental degradation, and hardship to local communities.

* Below you will find a media statement on NB Power and its purchase of
coal from Colombia that is associated with human rights and environmental
abuses. It calls on the candidates in this NB election time to take a
stand. It is seeking endorsements from New Brunswick groups. Please let me
know if your group can endorse it. I have included the groups that have
signed on so far in the statement below. Please forward to any groups in
New Brunswick who may want to sign on like unions, human rights groups,
environmental groups, etc. Because many are away on the long weekend, the
deadline for endorsements is now Tuesday, September 5. To sign on, email
tracy at jatam.org

* Chris Arseneault who has recently returned from Colombia has an article
about his visit here: http://www.herenb.com/fredericton/index.html

* Debbie Kelly from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and
Healthlink also recently returned from Colombia has this important message
that our groups should consider supporting: "Healthlink wants to give back
something to the communities that have suffered so much in providing
energy for our homes and businesses. The women of Guajira have a long
tradition of weaving. They have asked us to help their communities survive
by bringing their products to Americans. We will be importing unique and
colorful Columbian handbags just in time for Christmas and Channukah
gift-giving. The money you pay for these bags goes directly to the women
of Tabaco and Tamaquito whose lives, families, and villages are under
siege from the impact of the gigantic Cerrejón coal mine....while this may
be a short term solution at best, it will at least provide food for many
who have little or no way for decent meals, especially for the children
and the sick. Some community people only eat every 3 days and for the
smiling little children, it is hard to take. Even though their little body
is racked in open sores from contaminated water, they don't cry. It takes
a little more than a week to hand weave these beautiful bags and the small
price of $70 to $100 dollars (med to large bags) still fall short of "Fair
Labour costs", but it will help them so much. Most of us make more than
$100.00 in less than a day, but to them, it will go a long way. If you can
find it in your heart to reach out to help these incredible Afro-Colombia/
Wayuu/Indigenous peoples, you will be directly saving a life. I will be
sending out a report with pictures (some have some now) so you can see
some of the people (children) you will be helping. I will also be bringing
two of the bags on my trips to Ottawa and NB. One thing we all can do, it
to let our Power Company in NS and NB know we expect them to pressure the
Cerrejon Mine officials that their horrible violations of basic human
rights is not acceptable and that they must relocate the people of Tabaco
and the other 4-5 affected communities."  I can send a photo of these bags
to anyone interested. I can't send to the listserve because the file is
too big.

* We will be meeting in September in Fredericton to discuss further action
on this. If you haven't already, let me know if you are interested on
working on this at tracy at jatam.org


For Immediate Release

September 5, 2006

New Brunswick groups ask candidates to take a stand on NB Power's role in
human rights abuses and environmental degradation in Colombia

Fredericton - Energy is emerging as one of the hot button issues in the
provincial election campaign, and a coalition of New Brunswick groups
hopes to get commitments from  candidates on more than gas prices and home
heating fuel rebates. The groups that include social justice, labour,
environmental and faith-based organizations such as the Atlantic Regional
Solidarity Network, the Saint John Chapter of the Council of Canadians,
the Advocacy Collective, Citizens' Press, the Tantramar Environmental
Alliance, the United Church World Outreach Committee of Woolastook
Presbytery, and the Atlantic offices of the Canadian Union of Postal
Workers and the Public Service Alliance want candidates to commit to
addressing the fact that part of New Brunswick's energy comes from coal
that is linked to documented human rights and environmental abuses in

The election is not the first time this issue has been raised by concerned
New Brunswickers. In March of this year some of the groups involved in the
current campaign hosted a tour by Colombian community leader, Jose Julio
Perez. At great personal risk Perez travelled, for the first time, outside
of his native Colombia to tell the story of how his community was
destroyed to allow the expansion of the Cerrejon coal mine in 2001. Perez
was touring regions where coal from the mine is used to generate power
including New Brunswick. While in New Brunswick, Perez met with Energy
Minister Brenda Fowlie and NB Power executives, and made public
presentations in Fredericton, Hampton and Sackville.

"Minister Fowlie and NB Power reps were visibly moved by Perez's story and
committed to looking into the situation further," comments Ramsey Hart of
Baie Verte, New Brunswick, one of the organizers of the tour. Since that
time, however, no concrete action or public statement has been made by
either NB Power or the Ministry of Energy. Attempts to follow up on the
meetings by the organisers of Perez's visit have been fruitless. This is
in contrast to other companies such as Dominion Energy and jurisdictions
such as Salem, Massachusetts that have made public statements denouncing
the human rights abuses and urging a just resolution for the displaced

"One by one, small indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that have
lived together, farmed, hunted, and fished for centuries, are being
destroyed. Company agents illegally wiped the village of Tabaco off the
map in 2001 to expand the mine and, on the expanding edge of the pit, the
villagers of Tamaquito are being asphyxiated by the dust. We learned first
hand from local villagers and the mine owners about the terrible human
impact of this mine," stated Debbie Kelly from Halifax who participated in
an international group of concerned citizens on a Witness for Peace
delegation to Colombia to visit the mining region in August 2006.

To ensure that NB Power is held accountable and the purchase of Colombian
blood coal deservedly becomes an election issue, the New Brunswick
coalition is calling on all New Brunswickers, individuals and
organizations, to contact the candidates in their riding with their
position and demand action on this important issue.


In Baie Verte: Ramsey Hart, 538-1066, typha at nb.sympatico.ca
In Fredericton: Tracy Glynn, 454-9527, tracy at jatam.org

For more information, http://www.arsn.ca

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