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Colombia: News & Updates

Colombia has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (five million) due to the half-century internal armed conflict—the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere (since 1964). Control for territory and popular support among the three main groups (left-wing rebel forces FARC & ELN, right-wing paramilitaries, Colombian police/military) has left 220,000 killed, 75% of them non-combatants. Since 2000, the US has exacerbated the violence by sending more than $9 billion in mostly military assistance. Colombia, which has both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, holds strategic interest for the US for global trade and military posturing.

   

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News Article
Right now, a massacre is being perpetrated by the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron-ESMAD. Between 6am on April 28 and 10am onMay 4, 2021, ESMAD and Colombian Armed Forces killed at least 26 protesters, committed 1181 cases of police violence, sexually violated nine women, shot 17 people in the eyes, committed 988 arbitrary detentions, and 56 persons had been reported missing.
News Article
The countries of Latin America commemorated International Labor Day on May 1 with restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic but with firm claims of a speedy economic recovery. Colombia again witnessed demonstrations but, unlike the previous three days of protests against the tax reform proposed by the government, they took place calmly and without major incident on May Day in different cities, where better labor conditions were demanded. Hundreds of Honduran workers marched to demand that the government promote “mass vaccination” against COVID-19 and other measures to mitigate the crises caused by the pandemic. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Latin America in March 2020, the region has lowered its gross domestic product to 2010 levels, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, 57 percent of employment is precarious and poverty has returned to the levels of 15 years ago, according to the secretary general of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) for Education, Science and Culture, Mariano Jabonero, in a recent interview with EFE.
News Article
As armed groups continue their calculated attempts at recruiting children and teens, Colombia's teachers work to protect their students. This can often cause them to become targets themselves.
News Article
Justice for Colombia is starting a new series spotlighting women activists. This first spotlight is on Olga Quintero, a leader in the Catatumbo Peasant Farmers Association (ASCAMCAT). ASCAMCAT has about 5,000 affiliated members and works to defend its members rights over land and territory and works to advance peace and justice in the region.
News Article
The high risks attached to labour organising in Colombia have once again been emphasised with the murder of yet another trade unionist, as the country remains by far the most dangerous in the world for those in the role. On Monday 29 March 2021, Carlos Vidal was shot dead while walking his dog near his home in Florida, Valle del Cauca. Carlos was the president of the SINTRACOS union for sugar industry workers and a member of the CGT trade union centre. He was also known for his community activism. Following on from at least 20 murders of trade unionists in 2020, the latest case is at least the fourth this year.
News Article
Summary: Colombia’s government is moving closer to reinstating a program, suspended in 2015, that would spray herbicides from aircraft over territories where coca is cultivated. The country’s highest court has required President Duque’s government to meet a series of health, environment, consultation, and other requirements before reinstating the aerial fumigation program. Colombia’s defense minister is now saying that the spraying could restart in April. Urging President Joe Biden to avoid US support for a renewed fumigation program, 25 organizations from the US and Colombia have signed a letter that succinctly lays out the reasons why this would be an unfortunate and harmful policy mistake. The letter was shared with the White House on March 26.
News Article
Criminal groups vying for control of illegal economies in Buenaventura, a port city on Colombia’s Pacific Coast, have long caused violence. In addition, the city’s majority Afro-Colombian population lacks access to necessities like clean water, decent jobs, and educational opportunities. Recently, residents have been raising awareness and calling for major policy changes to address both the current conflict and underlying issues. Over the last few weeks people have organized marches and protests to demand the attention and help they need. Young people have taken an especially active role in organizing, using the hashtag #SOSBuenaventura on social media to publicize their efforts.

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