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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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July 22, 2021
Cleveland friends Mary Kelsey (illustrator) and Steve Cagan (photographer) have been traveling to El Chocó, Colombia, for the past several years, documenting the impacts of mechanized gold mining. They currently have an exhibit of their illustrations and photographs at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, running through August 15. This Thursday, July 22, 6-9pm, we invite you to join them for a conversation about “The Price of a Rainforest in Gold.”
July 5, 2021
On June 29, the Bogotá-based Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP), announced that it was investigating 240 attacks on members of the press amid demonstrations that have been ongoing for the past two months, including 138 attacks by police. Two of those assaults happened on that very day. In Bogotá, police officers of the ESMAD unit (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios, or Anti-Riot Squad) assaulted two journalists while they covered protests for the independent broadcaster RCN Radio. Katy Sánchez, a reporter, and Alexandra Molina, an intern, were attacked by police officers while they were filming ESMAD police beating and kicking a youth during the demonstration. One officer shoved Katy Sánchez to the ground with his shield, kicked her in the back, and hit her with his nightstick, leaving her with a badly sprained left ankle and bloodied knees—injuries that would prevent her from working for at least a week. We demand that the government of Colombia protect both the demonstrators and journalists who are reporting on their legitimate activities—activities that should be protected by their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
July 2, 2021
In a letter to the president and attorney general of Colombia, we expressed our outrage at the alarming rate of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia, especially in Antioquia Department. Social leader Ángel Miro Cartagena Correa, a member of Community Association of High Quality Coffee Producers of Dabeiba (APROCAD), went missing on June 14. His tortured body was found in the Urama River in the rural area of Dabeiba municipality, Antioquia, on the afternoon of June 20. We are urging authorities in Colombia to (1) conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the assassination of Ángel Miro Cartagena Correa, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice; (2) seek all necessary strategies to guarantee the life and integrity of social leaders in Antioquia, in strict accordance with their wishes; (3) join with the National Commission of Security Guarantees to establish and implement policies that will identify, prosecute, and dismantle the intellectual authors, financiers, and members of the neo-paramilitary and other criminal groups that are continuing to interfere with the implementation of the peace process
July 1, 2021
We wrote to the president and attorney general of Colombia about the alarming rate of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia, now at 80 for this year. Diana María Jaramillo Henao became one of the latest victims on June 20. Diana Jaramillo (age 49) was dedicated to community work in the 5 Estrellas neighborhood of La Gabriela, municipality of Bello in Antioquia Department. She was murdered along with a married couple: Wilson Alfonso Zapata Guisao (age 51) and Nubia Isleny Pérez Cárdenas (age 50). Police reported the discovery of their bodies put in bags and sealed with tape. We are urging authorities in Colombia to: (1) conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the killing of Diana María Jaramillo Henao, Wilson Alfonso Zapata Guisao, and Nubia Isleny Pérez Cárdenas, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice, and (2) seek all necessary strategies to guarantee the life and integrity of social leaders in Antioquia, in strict accordance with their wishes.
June 30, 2021
Please see a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, and (3) bring human rights criminals to justice. IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
June 25, 2021
State-sponsored violence against popular demonstrations has continued over the past several weeks, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 Colombians. In the Usme neighborhood of south Bogotá on June 21, ESMAD repeatedly attacked demonstrators, killing one person, injuring at least 42 and arresting many more. Jaime Alonso Fandiño, age 33, was killed after an ESMAD agent shot him in the chest with a high-powered projectile from close range. Media reports said that ESMAD agents also attacked medical teams and journalists, while threatening at least two human rights observers.
May 28, 2021
Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network volunteers write letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn, or ask us to mail you hard copies.
May 16, 2021
Together with the movement against militarism in Colombia, we denounce the sexual violence committed by members of the ESMAD anti-riot police that also caused a young woman to commit suicide. We raise our voices in outrage at the systematic sexual and gender violence carried out by the Army and the Public Force members. These violations are a serious expression of patriarchal violence exercised under the power of an institutional armed actor, which legalizes and legitimizes the idea that power is exercised over the bodies of women, teenagers, and girls. We join with civil society organizations across Colombia who are organizing resistance to war and speaking out against all forms of violence.
May 13, 2021
State-sponsored violence against popular demonstrations across Colombia has left upwards of 40 people dead. We are calling on the government to: (1) withdraw all military personnel from the streets because soldiers are trained for armed conflict, not for public safety; (2) investigate all reports of violence against demonstrators by security personnel and address any violations of human rights; (3) continue official talks with the National Strike Committee, which represents various groups including indigenous people, unions, environmentalists and students, to discuss key demands; (4) stop stigmatizing protesters and suggesting that they are linked to armed rebel groups; (5) guarantee the rights of peaceful assembly and to protest
May 7, 2021
On April 2, INDEPAZ (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Paz) documented the 24th massacre of 2021. The three victims in La Pata, Huila Department, belonged to the same family: 55-year-old Luis Eliber Quintero Trujillo and his sons, 32-year-old Ricardo and 29-year-old Luis. By April 26, the 32nd massacre was recorded. It occurred in the rural area of Sonsón, Antioquia Department, where paramilitary groups have recently intensified their activities, particularly around control of illegal mining operations. Three people were shot dead at 9:40pm on Sunday night, April 25. The victims were Yulieth Natalia Díaz Carmona (age 23), Julián Vanegas Marulanda (age 26), and Michel Daiana Sánchez (age 13).