On the surface, the Clinton Foundation seems like a decent non-profit corporation. The foundation’s website details the many avenues by which they purport to help people across the world. “What began as one man’s drive to help people everywhere grew quickly into a foundation committed to helping people realize their full potential. Because the best thing we can do together is give others the chance to live their best life stories.”
Of course, when they aren’t waxing poetic on the web, the Clintons are generally up to no good.
The truth is that the Clinton Foundation actually had a tremendous potential to do something great, but they chose to help themselves, and their ilk, rather than those less fortunate. And no place greater depicts this squandered potential than Colombia.
Colombia is a country that has been devastated by drug wars, lopsided development and decades of conflict. The nation has also been a point of focus for the Clinton Foundation. Bill and Hillary have become quite close with the country’s ruling party, visiting the country many times. Of course, Colombia is also home to Canadian financier Frank Giustra’s oil and gas holdings, and he’s one of the Foundation’s largest individual donors. But surely, that has nothing to do with their interest in the country.
Recently, The American Media Institute (AMI), a nonprofit news service based in Alexandria, Virginia, partnered with Fusion to investigate what, if any, impact the Clinton Foundation has had on Colombia. Together, they interviewed more than 50 people in the country, and found that the Colombian reality was a stark contrast to what the non-profit claims about its work.
Many of the Clinton Foundation’s so-called “success stories” were critical of the organization’s effect on their lives. For example, labor leaders and activists say that the programs launched by the non-profit harmed the environment and caused indigenous people to be displaced. The people of Colombia also say that the Clinton Foundation’s programs helped Giustra acquire a larger share of the nation’s energy and mining resources. Wealthy people helping other wealthy people become richer? Big surprise.
Giustra was also involved with a now-bankrupt oil company that used the Colombian military and surveillance programs to quash a strike being led by its workers. The aforementioned oil company also worked very closely with the Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton-Giustra partnership in Colombia was supposed to be a thing of greatness – and the foundation certainly reported it as such. Fusion interviewed dozens of young women who took part in their training programs, business owners who sought to utilize their programs and people who worked for their largest donor’s oil company. What they found was that many of these people felt that they had been led on by the foundation, and got nothing from it.
Sandra Valdivieso is the owner of a fish market named Pescaderia Perlamar del Caribe. In 2013, she joined the Clinton Foundation’s “Acceso Oferta Loca” program – which was supposed to help match poor business owners with bigger, wealthier corporations and boost business. Valdivieso says they helped her business at first, but things changed after just a few months. Instead of selling directly to buyers, Accesso wanted her to start selling her fish to them – at a much lower price point. Accesso would then re-sell the fish, acting as a middleman and reeling in all the profits for themselves. Valdivieso left the program, stating that she was worried that she would lose her business if she remained.
Legendary local oil-workers’ union leader, Rafael Cabargas, was dismissive of the Clinton Foundation and Giustra’s efforts in Colombia. Indeed, Cabargas seems to have no illusions about the true nature of these so-called altruists.
“They are doing nothing for workers. I don’t even know what they are doing in this country other than exploiting poverty and extracting money.”