Partner Spotlight: Corporación Cactus
Corporación Cactus was established in 1995 to investigate, document and expose the problems generated by the production and commercialization of Colombian cut flowers for export.
Cactus’s activities include trainings for flower workers; raising awareness among consumers; researching the effect of flower production on the environment, workers, and communities; and researching the working and living conditions of flower workers. Over the past ten years, Cactus has used legal strategies that combine analysis, direct legal service and alternative mechanisms for promoting human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. In addition to pursuing general research methods, Cactus has also designed an advocacy strategy to address public policies and company programs, as well as a communications strategy to educate the public.
Cactus seeks to promote and strengthen social participation processes, amongst residents of the different municipalities around Bogota. Working closely with women, youth, and social organizations, it promotes initiatives that support sustainable development in this region. This work has three programmatic areas: Participation and communication for development; work, women, and agro exports; and the environment and food sovereignty. The organization also seeks to raise awareness amongst consumer groups about labor abuses in the cut flower industry in Colombia; provide trainings for women workers; and research the effect of flower production on the environment, workers, and communities.
Cactus has also been working to strengthen the independent union organizations that belong to Untraflores by giving particular attention to the gendered power dynamics prevalent in the Colombian floriculture industry and carrying out a range of activities with women flower workers. Together with Untraflores, the organization has conducted trainings on labor issues, occupational health risk present in flower farms, and carried out workshops aimed at building skills in the area of crafts, painting, silk screening, photography, etc. Cactus has also provided support for awareness-raising activities and has supported educational activities and the spread of information related to union organizing processes led by Untraflores and its member unions. It has done this on a local, national and international level, often using commercial and international media.
In addition to the above, Cactus has also accompanied and provided theoretical and practical trainings for Untraflores workers, so that it can produce and maintain a weekly radio program facilitated by the union. Cactus has facilitated the development of five workshops for Untraflores unions, largely focused on women’s rights. It has also encouraged the union’s engagement in celebrations around International Flower Workers’ Day, to promote the recognition of flower workers, particularly those who have organized to defend their rights.
Through these initiatives, Cactus has gained knowledge and experience in demanding respect for labor rights from a gender-based perspective. The organization has acquired significant expertise in the global production and trade of cut flowers, fair trade campaigns, codes of conduct in the flower sector, and social organizing processes. Cactus has used alternative communications mechanisms, such as the radio and the press, for educational purposes and to share information about the social, economic, cultural and political situation of the Bogotá region, with the local and international public. Cactus has recently broadened its focus to include not only the flower sector, but also a more general focus on regional sustainable development in Central Colombia.