- About Us
- Rapid Response Network
- Young Adults
- Get Involved
- Memory & Resistance Coalition
You are here
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.
Learn more here.
May 4, 2021
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.
May 2, 2021
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.
April 15, 2021
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.
April 9, 2021
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.
March 31, 2021
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.
March 30, 2021
Wesent letters to the president and attorney general of Colombia about the assassinations of social leaders (as well as other human rights crimes) that occurred during the last week of March. Those killed include: (1) Carlos Andrés Bustos Cortes, a former FARC combatant enrolled in the reincorporation process. Puerto Asis, Putumayo. March 23 2021. (2) Carlos Alberto Vidal, president of SINTRACOS sugar workers union. Flórida, Valle del Cauca Department. March 29 2021. (3) José Santos López, 54-year-old Awá indigenous leader, and Jhon Edwar Martínez, a 22-year-old Awá indigenous man. Tumaco, Nariño Department. March 29 2021. We echo the call by the United Nations Mission in Colombia, urging “the implementation of concrete measures for the comprehensive protection of all communities as well as the strengthening of security guarantees in the territories affected by the violence.”
Environmental Human Rights: 25 Organizations Call for an End to U.S. Support for Aerial Herbicide Fumigation in Colombia
March 30, 2021
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.
March 13, 2021
We wrote to officials in Colombia because of our concern for the safety of church leaders who are speaking out against armed violence. We are especially concerned that Bishop Ruben Dario Jaramillo, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Department, is receiving death threats. The bishop told a radio journalist on March 3 that he received a death threat via WhatsApp and was warned he could become the victim of a bomb attack. We are concerned that paramilitary organizations are succeeding in seizing control over several districts of Buenaventura because the local security forces are complicit in allowing them to do so. The paramilitary groups are trying to impose their control in the city through fear, various extortionist tactics, and advertising what they call a “social cleansing” in the city. In the process, they are forcibly recruiting youth. The ongoing violence in Buenaventura is a clear example of how impunity for paramilitary actors threatens the true possibility of peace.
March 12, 2021
We urge protection for Wounan Phobur indigenous leader Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia, a director of the Association of Communities Building Peace in Colombia (CONPAZCOL); he is being threatened in Buenaventura, Colombia. In 2003 paramilitaries forcibly displaced Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia and his community from Bajo Calima village. In order to preserve their cultural identity, he and many of his indigenous community members temporarily settled in a small area designated by the Community Council del Bajo Calima. Since then they have been waiting for the national government’s Territory Renewal Agency (ART) to designate another site for definitive relocation. We are urging that (1) authorities investigate the threat received by Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice; (2) the National Protection Unit activate preventative protection measures, in consultation with Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia, and according to his wishes; and (3) the Territory Renewal Agency (ART) guarantee the definitive relocation of the Wounan Phobur indigenous community as soon as possible.
March 11, 2021
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.