July 20th, 2015
For over a century, the Raizal people of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina off the coast of Colombia – islands with a long history of colonization and the brutality that brings to people and nature – have fought for independence. They’ve sought relief from the United Nations and other international bodies, but to no avail.
Several years ago, the International Court of Justice ruled in a long-running dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua, that Colombia will retain authority over the islands, and Nicaragua will control much of the marine areas around the islands.
Shrimp and lobster are abundant here, as part of the traditional fishing grounds of the Raizal people, which are threatened now by Nicaraguan exploration for oil extraction. Coral reefs, marine life, and wildlife on the islands are at risk. In addition, rising sea levels from global warming are threatening the Archipelago.
Representatives of the Raizal people contacted CELDF for help in establishing their right to self-determination and the rights of nature. This month, CELDF is traveling to the Archipelago for the launch of the Raizal Self-Determination School, and will be presenting at their Emancipation Week conference. The School is modeled after CELDF’s Democracy School but tailored specifically to the Raizal people and their unique history.