For over sixty years, the Cauca River in Cali, Colombia has been home to thousands of residents who farm, run businesses and live along its banks (known as el Jarillón). Since October 2016, families in the Venecia Las Vegas neighbourhood of el Jarillón have been forcibly displaced and seen their houses torn down by the municipality of Cali to make way for a tourist walk way and cargo port. Now the municipality intends to begin demolitions in the neighbourhood of Brisas del Cauca.
Over 340 houses have been demolished in the Vencia Las Vegas neighbourhood, all without prior consultation, legal notice of eviction, or proper compensation or relocation to similar housing conditions. In October 2016, flyers were distributed announcing that families had six days to vacate their homes. The flyers did not constitute legal eviction notices – families should have received individual notices specifying the details of the evictions including specific times and dates of demolitions, and the authorities responsible for the evictions. In addition, no prior community consultation had been carried out by the municipality, and no relocation proposals were provided to families.
The manner in which evictions and demolitions have been carried out compounds the violation of these families’ civil rights. Community members report having their houses torn down with no proper notice and with their belongings still inside. Families who have refused to relocate have been threatened that their houses will be torn down while they are still inside. Others have been told that by refusing to vacate their homes they are endangering their children, and that they will be taken into state home if they fail to leave their homes.
The evictions have been accompanied by up to 1200 police from various forces including riot and military police. Community members report being threatened and intimidated by police, being told they are not allowed to video police actions as they facilitate demolitions, and being illegally detained when recording police actions.
Join CoDevelopment Canada in asking the Mayor of Cali to:
- Suspend all forced displacements and demolitions of houses in the Jarillón del río Cauca until the displacement procedures are revised to respect and protect of human rights as guaranteed by national and international norms;
- Immediate solutions and compensation for the families who have been displaced and respect for their economic, cultural and social rights.