Kimy Pernia Domico was an Indigenous Embera Katio water justice activist in Colombia who was disappeared fifteen years ago today.
In June 2001, the Council of Canadians issued a media release that, “expressed deep concern for the well being of Kimy Pernia Domico.” That statement noted, “On Friday, June 2 at 6:20 pm Mr. Pernia was forced on to a motorcycle at gunpoint by unidentified men, and driven out of town. Pernia has been invited as a guest of the Council of Canadians to speak at the international conference, ‘Water for People and Nature’ being held in Vancouver July 5-8th. Prior to the conference, he is scheduled to undertake a cross-Canada tour to talk about water and human rights.”
In July 2001, at our water conference that was dedicated to Kimy, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow said, “The disappearance of Kimy highlights the pressure on the developing world, on the poor and on First Nations to hand over their water resources for private benefit, no matter the cost. We are here in Canada with delegates from over 30 countries to push back, to protect the world’s water from the corporate forces that want to profit from it, and today we’re doing this in Kimy’s name.”
Sadly, in January 2007 paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso admitted to participating in the disappearance and killing of Kimy.
Kimy opposed the Urra hydroelectric dam on the Sinú River, a project that flooded crops and sacred sites in his people’s territory. He visited Canada on a number of occasions to testify about the devastation caused by this dam, which was partially financed by Canadian tax dollars through Export Development Canada. In 1999, he testified before a Canadian parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development in Ottawa. In April 2001, just weeks before his disappearance, he was in Quebec City during the time of the Summit of the Americas to speak against the Urra dam and its effects on the Embera Katio peoples.
One way to remember Kimy’s struggle is to ensure that Canadian tax dollars are never used again for projects like the Urra dam.
On May 18, international development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the government will hold public consultations on international assistance. The minister has already stated she wants to see what more can be done to help Indigenous peoples affected by Canadian operations abroad. That should include mechanisms to ensure that aid (through Export Development Canada and other agencies) fully respects the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guarantee of free, prior and informed consent.
Kimy’s struggle for water justice and Indigenous rights will not be forgotten.