Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 6, 2002
Canadian aid often finances disater
WCR columnist Hank Zyp has suffered a stroke and is currently in the University of Alberta Hospital. We encourage his readers to pray for his recovery.
Early April, CBC's Disclosure aired a program which featured CIDA-INC's involvement in the building of a dam in Belize.
The project is located in the middle of a pristine jungle and engineered by the Canadian company Fortis which has a virtual monopoly on energy delivery in Belize.
In response to local protests, another Canadian company, AMEC, supervised the environmental assessment, with alleged instructions to recommend approval.
We like to think of foreign aid as humanitarian assistance, alleviating poverty.
Major development projects are the worst offenders, and tend to create major disasters for the poor.
The misery these projects create for the local, often indigenous, populations is justified by their presumed benefit to the greater economy.
The real beneficiaries however, are Canadian businesses who receive CIDA or EDC assistance to bring our technological know how to the underdeveloped nations in the hope that the benefits will trickle down to the backward masses.
The negative effects of these mega development schemes, impacting native populations throughout the world, include dispossession of ancestral land, flooding of sacred sites, deforestation and destruction of traditional agriculture, and loss of sustenance fisheries.
Even more horrendous is the fact such projects often come paired with military protection of corporate property and violent loss of life.
This is not the first disastrous development scheme Canada has promoted.
The Three Gorges dam in China received U.S.$155.5 million from Canada for a feasibility study.
The project will flood an area 660 km long and displace anywhere between 1.3 and 2 million people.
In 1995, a Canadian owned gold mine in Guyana spilt 3.2 billion litres of cyanide and heavy metal effluent in the country's main waterway, endangering the health of 23,000 people and killing the fish.
Canada's Export Development Corporation, a publicly owned financial institution, provides funding or insurance to Canadian companies to take advantage of lucrative development opportunities to export goods and services abroad.
From 1993 to 1999, its volume of business tripled from $11.7 billion to over $40 billion according to the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of faith and social justice groups.
One such funded project was the Marcopper mine in the Philippines, where a massive spill in 1996 forced the evacuation of five villages and resulted in a total loss of aquatic life.
A similar accident occurred in 1998 at a Canadian funded mine in Kyrgystan, where two tonnes of cyanide spilled into a river.
Two died and six hundred people were hospitalized.
EDC provided U.S.$18.2 million for the construction of the Urra Hydro project in Colombia, destroying the traditional food supply of the indigenous Embera Katio people.
Natives protesting the dam have been killed by paramilitary groups with links to the Colombian army.
Kimy Pernia Domico, a leader of the Embera Katio tribe, came to Canada in 1999 to testify before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade about the devastating effect the dam had on his people.
Kimy came back to Canada in 2001, to participate in FTAA protests in Quebec city.
When he returned to his native Colombia, he was abducted and is assumed killed.
So much for benefiting the poor.
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