Letter from Pierre Pettigrew, responding to Probe International’s Patricia Adams

September 7, 2000

“The Canadian government is of the view that any continuing [Urra] issues should be settled in accordance with Columbia’s laws and justice mechanisms,” writes Mr. Pettigrew.

Ms. Patricia Adams
Executive Director
Probe International
225 Brunswick Ave
Toronto, Ontario,

Dear Ms Adams:

Thank you for your letter of June 23, 2000, concerning the Urra hydroelectric project in Columbia.

The Canadian Ambassador has discussed at length with the Columbian Environment Minister our concerns about the treatment and compensation of indigenous groups displaced by the Urra dam. The Columbian Minister, who has a distinguished record of defending aboriginal interests in Columbia, believes that every reasonable effort has been made to meet the demands of those affected by Urra. My understanding is that other Indigenous groups, as well as non-Indigenous resettled people, have accepted the compensation measures offered by the company.

This issue was reviewed by the courts of Columbia over an extended period of time, during which the process was halted. Filling the dam was postponed until an agreement between the company and the complainants could be reached. It is my understanding that some of the Embera affected by the dam accepted a settlement offered by the Government of Columbia several months ago and that the remainder accepted a revised settlement in April of this year. The Canadian government is of the view that any continuing issues should be settled in accordance with Columbia’s laws and justice mechanisms.

Furthermore, only the Columbian authorities have the jurisdiction or the mandate to investigate and bring to justice those who have allegedly perpetrated crimes against the Embera leadership.

With regard to an Urra II project, it is our understanding that the Government of Columbia has no intention of proceeding with further hydro-electric development in the area. Should this position change, I am confident that EDC would again act competently and responsibly in supporting any Canadian supply which may be proposed.

Please be assured that the Government of Canada continues to attach a high priority to the protection and promotion of human rights in Columbia.

Thank you again for writing.


Pierre S. Pettigrew.
Minister for International Trade
Ottawa, Canada
September 07, 2001


Categories: EDC, Export Credit, News

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