For the past 22 years, the waste pickers of Colombia have been fighting for recognition of their work. “There are no borders for those who fight,” is the slogan that symbolizes the struggle of the more than 15 million waste pickers, who are facing global threats – against their lives, organization and towards the environment.
In a video produced by ARB and supported by WIEGO, Silvio Ruiz Grisales, a Colombian recycler, spoke about the continued fight for the right to waste management in Bogotá.
As of 14 January, Gustavo Petro was still the mayor of Bogotá. But only for 10 days. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.
We invite concerned groups and individuals across the globe to support a petition by Bogota’s informal recyclers (waste pickers) urging Colombia’s Inspector-General, Alejandro Ordóñez, to reverse the decision to oust the democratically-elected Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro. The ruling against Mayor Petro was based on actions he took against private waste management companies in the process of implementing an inclusive Zero Waste Program in Bogota.
Waste pickers have found that collective action in defense of their rights and livelihoods is an effective solution to transforming the difficult working conditions, discrimination and harassment they face.
Here is a video of the Goldman Prize acceptance speech of Nohra Padilla, informal recycler and leader of the Colombian waste pickers’ movement. As part of the Goldman Prize, Padilla and other supporters of inclusive waste management (including the director of the Bogotá solid waste management department) were taken on a tour of San Francisco’s Zero Waste program. See the gallery of photos in this post. Also, Nohra Padilla is also scheduled to meet with President Obama. More on that soon!
“Chronicle of a Fight for Inclusion: The December 2012 garbage crisis of Bogota” now with English subtitles
“Chronicle of a Fight for Inclusion: The December 2012 garbage crisis of Bogotá” (now with English subtitles) shows organized waste pickers promptly taking actions to reduce the impact of the garbage crisis in Bogota and giving an account of the series of unfortunate events and bad decisions that led to it, and of their struggles and victories throughout time to secure their rights and livelihoods. In doing so, they demonstrate their capacity to provide efficient and quality services to the city’s waste management system.
This video discusses Auto 275, a Bogotá law meant to protect waste pickers’ rights as public service providers and to guarantee payment. It led to the court order that resulted in the organized waste pickers of Bogotá receiving priority as service providers and receiving payment for the first time. Auto 275 is explained via interviews conducted by a Bogotá waste picker with government authorities. The version with English subtitles is coming soon!
After over 20 years of fighting for recognition and inclusion in the city’s waste management system, the organized waste pickers of Bogotá finally saw their dreams come true when the municipal government issued them in March their first payment for the collection and transportation of recyclable materials. It was the first time they were paid as public service providers to the city.
“Chronicles of a struggle for inclusion: The December 2012 garbage crisis of Bogota” shows organized waste pickers promptly taking actions to reduce the impact of the garbage crisis in Bogota and giving an account of the series of unfortunate events and bad decisions that led to it, and of their struggles and victories throughout time to secure their rights and livelihoods.
Comunicado del Gremio Reciclador a la Opinion Publica – La Voluntad del Alcalde Mayor de Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, destrabo 25 años de lucha
In the city of Bogotá, Colombia, waste pickers of the Recyclers’ Association of Bogota (ARB) have been organizing themselves for more than two decades. ARB is one of the oldest independent waste picker-run associations in the world. But the association and its 2,500 members are not being recognized by the current municipal government of Bogotá. Their livelihoods are threatened by the interests of big companies and members of the government who are trying to take over the profitable business of solid waste management.
This is the English translation of the petition for an inclusive recycling in Bogotá, Colombia.
Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá: I want your guarantee of real inclusion of all waste pickers in Bogotá.
I want him to ensure the real inclusion of all waste pickers in Bogotá.”On December 18th 2012, the department of the district government which is responsible for waste management in Bogotá, UAESP, plans to deliver new contracts to fictitious waste picker organizations. It is demonstrating once again a lack of compliance with its agreements, and jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of waste pickers and their families.” Read the full petition in English.