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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

The election of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez, seen as a result of national strikes and mobilizations, is now under threat. The current Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, linked to the previous government, alleges campaign finance violations by the FECODE teachers union, attempting to suspend the transition to a new Attorney General. Despite intimidation, no credible witnesses support Barbosa's claims. The coup plotters, employing "lawfare," advise the armed forces not to obey the president. The U.S. role is complex, with past Republican strategies against Petro and the Biden administration seeking to influence his policies on Venezuela. High-level U.S. officials' recent visits to Colombia raise concerns of foreign interference. Demonstrations supporting the elected government are planned globally, emphasizing opposition to any coup and the respect for the Colombian people's will. A coup threatens Colombia's peace process and intensifies risks to Venezuela and the region, urging global support for the people of Colombia.

News Article

Medea Benjamin and Steve Ellner argue that the Trump and Biden administrations' continuation of the 19th-century Monroe Doctrine has led to disastrous consequences in Latin America. The authors highlight the failure of US policies towards Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, leading to economic sanctions, coup attempts, and a migration crisis. They propose a new approach based on Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" from the 1930s, emphasizing the need to end military intervention, close US military bases in the region, stop political meddling, eliminate economic blackmail, and support trade policies that benefit people and the environment. The authors also call for a humane immigration policy, recognizing Latin America's cultural contributions and addressing the root causes of migration. They argue that a New Good Neighbor Policy is essential for mutual respect, non-intervention, and cooperation in the 21st century.

News Article

Communities and social leaders in both rural and urban areas of Colombia have experienced a significant increase in violence over the past year, making it difficult to find a safe haven. The narrative follows Erik, a farmer, who starts his day optimistically but highlights the underlying threat and danger faced by many. Armed groups roam freely, posing a heightened risk to social leaders, human rights defenders, and farmers. The article reflects on the grim reality of escalating violence, with a particular focus on El Guayabo, a campesino community accompanied by CPT Colombia for over a decade. The message extends prayers and thoughts to all affected peasant communities, expressing concern for their ability to cultivate the land and the fear of displacement. The hope is for a dignified life for all, free from violence, where stories can revolve around sunny days, cultivating the land, and sharing moments under an old mango tree.

News Article

The Colombian Ombudsman’s Office (DPC) has reported that 181 social leaders and human rights defenders were murdered in 2023, marking a 16 percent decrease from the previous year. The annual report highlights the challenging situation faced by those dedicated to promoting and safeguarding community rights. Despite the decrease, the Ombudsman expressed concern about ongoing risks in regions affected by armed conflicts. The most affected groups include community members, indigenous people, peasants, Afro-descendants, victims, SOGID-LGBTIQ+ individuals, and human rights activists. The report indicates that April, June, and July had the highest number of murders. Cauca, Antioquia, and Nariño accounted for 41% of the cases, with Cauca being the most affected. The Ombudsman calls for intensified efforts to protect human rights defenders, urging state entities to implement preventive measures. Despite the 2016 peace accord, serious human rights concerns persist in Colombia, including abuses by armed groups, limited access to justice, and high poverty levels, particularly affecting Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. The government generally investigates these issues, but delays are common. Armed groups, including former guerrillas and drug traffickers, contribute to human rights abuses.

News Article

Over the last 12 months, there have been 1,482 ICE removal flights, mostly to Latin America and the Caribbean. Notably, there is a focus on removal flights to countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, raising concerns about the impact on individuals' rights and well-being. Three-quarters of removal flights are to those three countries. 

The lack of access to asylum at ports of entry has led to distressing situations for asylum seekers. US lawmakers are considering stricter restrictions on asylum, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals. The need for improving access to asylum and addressing the challenges faced by asylum seekers, especially women and children, is crucial. 

Read the full IRTF Migrant Justice Newsletter each month at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog .

 

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