Defending human rights in Colombia: the battle of Rios Vivos Antioquia Movement against the Hidroituango dam

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Rincón Henao, Diana
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The construction of the Hidroituango- the largest dam in Colombia- has produced serious environmental and social impact on the population surrounding the project. That is why inhabitants affected by the dam founded the Rios Vivos Antioquia Movement (RVAM) to fight against this construction and defend the human rights of the community. This research analyses the strategies used by the movement in its opposition to the project, the support of external actors in the development of those strategies and the outcomes at the local and national level. To frame the empirical data, a review of the theoretical approach about social movements and human rights defenders is presented. In addition, the research explored tactics used by RVAM to persuade, socialise and pressure in human rights violations campaigns, according to Keck and Sikkink frames and the contentious politic defined by Tilly and Tarrow. To analyse the movement’s strategies, this thesis used data from RVAM's website and is based on interviews with leaders of the movement and external actors that have supported them. This analysis concluded that although the social and environmental strategies developed by the movement have not succeeded in stopping the construction of the dam, these actions have resulted in the strengthening of social struggle in the area and the empowerment of women. In addition, these strategies exerted pressure on the government to set up collective protection measures for human rights defenders in risk in the whole country. Furthermore, the accompaniment of external actors has helped to develop networks with other organisations and to increase the international advocacy for the movement. The battle of RVAM is not only against the construction of the dam but also against the current development model that violates the human rights of individuals and groups around the world. Key words : Social movements, human rights, human rights defenders, human rights violations, Rios Vivos Antioquia Movement, Hidroituango, dam, strategies, advocacy.
Second semester University: University of Deusto, Bilbao
Colombia, social movements, environment, human rights, advocacy, human rights workers, women, human rights violations