A group of farmers critical of Canadian mining interests in their native Dominican Republic has been blocked from travelling to Saskatoon, Toronto and other cities. “It’s so preposterous,” said Irena Smith of St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan. The three farmers, representing La Federación de Campesinos Hacia el Progreso, were due to arrive in Toronto Wednesday and travel to Saskatoon on Saturday to speak at various events.
Smith, an organizer for the Saskatoon leg of the speaking tour, said the farmers planned to speak about their work forming co-operatives and implementing environmentally-friendly innovations such as shadegrown coffee.
The farmers also planned to speak critically about Canadian mining companies and their multi-billion dollar operations in that country. The cross-Canada speaking tour has been in the works for a year, Smith said.
The farmers went to the Canadian embassy in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo this month, bringing letters of support from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and its youth wing, Just Youth, as well as other groups.
Canadian embassy officials in Santo Domingo rejected their applications for visitor visas. Smith said they were told there was insufficient evidence they’d return to the Dominican.
Smith said that’s absurd.
The farmers have deep roots, land and families in the Dominican and have spent their lives fighting for their community. They are not the type of people who would abandon their homes, she said.
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