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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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April 1, 2018
Assassination of Silvio Duban Ortiz Ortiz, age 27, and his brother Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortiz, age 32, sons of Bernardo Cuero Bravo, the leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), who was assassinated in front of his wife on June 7, 2017. The brothers were gunned down and killed instantly just 13 days after attending a judicial hearing on their father's murder case and a public demonstration demanding justice.
March 30, 2018
Urgent call to authorities to search for campesino leader José Herrera, who was disappeared March 20 in the north of Antioquia Department, in hopes that he be found alive. (It was mistakenly reported March 22 that his body had been found. But that misinformation was corrected a couple days ago. He is reportedly still missing. ) The well-known and respected community leader is president of the Community Action Board of the Vereda Mesetas of Puerto Valdivia. He is also president of the Association of Peasants of Toledo (ASCAT-NA) and a founding member of the Patriotic March Movement-Antioquia Movement and of ASOCBAC (Rural Association of Bajo Cauca). José Herrera is one of the municipal spokespersons for the Comprehensive National Crop Substitution Program. Farmers involved in that program have been under attack by armed groups.
March 24, 2018
Forced eviction of the historically binational Yukpa indigenous people from Cúcuta, Colombia, into Venezuela. They are currently living in highly precarious conditions, lacking basic services such as drinking water, food and access to health and education. They keep returning to Colombia because there are no guarantees of food or health care if they stay in Venezuela.
March 23, 2018
Assassination of community leader Juan Mena Ortiz in Quibidó, Chocó Department. He was a merchant and President of the Communal Action Board of the Alamos Neighborhood. Armed men approached Juan Mena and shot him multiple times while he was walking in public at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon, March 18.
February 15, 2018
attempted assassination in Bogotá of trade unionist German Espinel of the Association of Agroecological and Mining Brotherhoods of Guamocó (AHERAMIGUA) and active member of the Patriotic March Social and Political Movement
February 13, 2018
bombing and forced displacement of members of the Wounaan Indigenous reservation of Chagpien Tordó during armed clashes between the Colombian Army and the ELN (National Liberation Army) in Litoral de San Juán, Chocó Department.
February 12, 2018
assassination of Afro-descendant community leader and political organizer Temístocles Machado, a leader of the Black Communities Process (PCN), in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Dept.
January 26, 2018
More than 1,000 palm oil workers on strike outside San Alberto, Colombia are seeking recognition as employees. As subcontracted workers, they have no rights under Colombia’s labor laws, including freedom of association and the right to negotiate working conditions.
The workers walked off the Indupalma plantation on Thursday, after 668 out of 682 palm oil workers cast their ballots for a strike in a vote observed by the regional director of the Colombia Ministry of Labor.
January 16, 2018
The US Department of Labor issued a progress assessment calling on Colombia to more fully comply with obligations outlined in the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement [of 2012], noting “lack [of] a national inspection strategy” and neglect of “associational rights of workers.” “Today’s update merely calls for continued consultation, monitoring, and assessment over the upcoming year – this is simply not good enough, given the depth of the problems and how long they have been festering. We need more proactive action and for this Administration to focus and engage with Congress to ensure all our trading partners have fair labor standards.” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), member of the Colombia Monitoring Group of the House Ways & Means Subcommitte on Trade, US Congress
January 13, 2018
In the last year, 170 leaders and social activists known for their various missions in defense of indigenous rights, coca rights substitution, Afro-Colombian rights, labor rights, and LGBTQ. The majority of violence has erupted in sectors left vacant by the guerrilla groups, which have since been invaded by paramilitary groups. Of all of these, trade unions have risen to the top in the number of the nation's homicides and victims of violence and death threats, making Colombia the most dangerous nation for union members in the world. Over the last 20 years, about 3,000 unionists have been murdered with an outrageous rate of impunity at 87 percent, with thousands of death threats never being investigated.