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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates

News Article
The Pacific port city of Buenaventura has a long history of violent conflict, which led to it being dubbed Colombia's "capital of horror". Since 1988, armed gangs have battled for territorial control of drug routes out of the port and carried out gruesome dismemberments in "casas de pique" (Spanish for chop houses). Buenaventura is now suffering a new wave of violence, and midwives like Feliciana Hurtado put themselves at risk by confronting armed fighters to help women living in violent areas deliver babies.
News Article
WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America) summarizes recent human rights cases in Colombia from the past several weeks including murders of social leaders, violence and threats towards Indigenous and Afro-Colombian elders and social leaders, violence of paramilitary towards individuals and in Indigenous territories, and continued fighting of paramilitary groups in Buenaventura, the large port city on the Pacific coast. The city’s majority Afro-Colombian population lacks access to necessities like clean water, decent jobs, and educational opportunities. Residents are calling for major policy changes to address both the current conflict and underlying issues.
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Widespread violence continued to impact Colombia’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities and social groups in 2020, according to the annual report on the country by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report also found alarming levels of inequality, with women badly affected, and lack of access to essential services, with some regions lacking clean water and medical care. In many instances, the Colombian state has failed to address security and humanitarian concerns, particularly in regions long impacted by conflict, structural poverty and historic state abandonment. The global pandemic also impacted on the human rights of the population. Among its recommendations, the OHCHR prioritised full implementation of the peace agreement in addressing the endemic violence which has claimed hundreds of lives since late 2016.
News Article
In Buenaventura, the port that accounts for 70 percent of Colombia’s import-export activity, a paramilitary-derived gang that briefly dominated criminality in the city, “La Local,” underwent a December schism into two factions, the “Chotas” and the “Espartanos.” Daily street fighting has ensued, leaving much of the city’s 400,000 people in the crossfire. Estimates of the toll so far in 2021 range from 20 to 52 killed, and 112 to 1,700 families displaced.
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Colombian President Iván Duque on February 8th decreed that all Venezuelans who arrived in the country before January 31 may receive a “Temporary Status for Venezuelan Migrants” (ETPV) allowing them to stay in the country for 10 years, to work legally, and to access health and education services, including COVID-19 vaccines. El Tiempo revealed a February 6 communication that the Cuban embassy in Colombia shared with the Colombian government, the chief of the UN Verification Mission, and two Catholic Church representatives. It reads: “Our embassy received information, whose veracity we cannot assess, about an alleged military attack by the Eastern War Front of the ELN in the coming days. We have shared this information with the ELN peace delegation in Havana, which expressed total ignorance and reiterated the guarantee that it has no involvement in the organization’s military decisions or operations.” In Buenaventura, the port that accounts for 70 percent of Colombia’s import-export activity, a paramilitary-derived gang that briefly dominated criminality in the city, “La Local,” underwent a December schism into two factions, the “Chotas” and the “Espartanos.” Daily street fighting has ensued, leaving much of the city’s 400,000 people in the crossfire. Estimates of the toll so far in 2021 range from 20 to 52 killed, and 112 to 1,700 families displaced.
News Article
Social organizations based in the city of Buenaventura, Colombia’s largest Pacific port, have warned of a deteriorating humanitarian situation due to the presence of paramilitary groups and increased violence against residents.
News Article
Colombia’s largest port city, Buenaventura, saw a 200 percent increase in homicides in January, compared to the same time period last year. The killings are attributed to deep-rooted problems: state abandonment, systemic racism, and a lack of concerted investments in Afro-Colombian communities.
News Article

“I Come from a People Who…” is a series of events with Native author, playwright and poet Marcie Rendon that weaves together the themes of the 2021 Humanities Festival and the 40th anniversary of community organization InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia: identity, memory and resistance.

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