Liliany Obando is free again (for now)

Last evening I was in the Obando family Bogota apartment, busy preparing for a morning meeting with the judge in charge of Liliany Obando’s case, when the door bell rang.  Upon openning the door there stood Liliany, next to a huge bodyguard and two lawyers.  It seems that in the midst of a meeting that the lawyers were having with the prison authorities, trying to get medical attention and legal aid for Liliany, the prison director said, “If you have a car, then just take her away!”.  It would appear that all the emails and phone calls from all over the world, demanding Liliany’s release, had finally had an effect. For more info see – http://www.inspp.org/

She is still under house arrest, unable to work or go to school, with no income, and, as always, under threat from death squads.   But at least she is home with her family.  I was fortunate to have also been present when she was first released from prison in 2012.  And just like that time, after all the hugging and kissing was done, she immediately set to work on press releases and communications with supporters and the media.  She may be out of prison, but she has not forgotten that 9500 other poitical prisoners are still languishing in Colombian prisons, and we should not forget them either.

So for the next 2 weeks of my visit, I will be sharing Liliany’s house arrest with her and her family, and for good reason. On July 24th, Reinel de Jesus Cano, the president of a farmers’ union, ANUC, was murdered, immediatey after attending the funeral of the recenty executed ANUC union manager, Pablo Garcia Liano.  These are just two of dozens of attacks and executions of unionists this year (http://survey.ituc-csi.org/Colombia.html?lang=en).  Why are Liliany Obando, and all other Colombian labour leaders, living in fear of execution by death squads, who are protecting Canadian companies making billions from the resources and cheap labour of Colombia?  Where is the protection for Colombian labour activists, that Mr. Harper’s Canada/Colombia Free Trade agreement, was supposed to guarantee?  

In Colombia, and in Canada’s corporate board rooms, profits come before justice.  Canada’s economy is being supported by Colombian blood.

Liliany, her family, myself and the lawyers who got her released.

Liliany (center), with her children, mother, myself and the two lawyers who just got her released.

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