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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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Four-year-old María Ángel Molina was recently found dead in rural Colombia, making her one of 18 confirmed cases of femicide this year- with 13 more cases pending verification. Rights groups are concerned about the safety of women and girls, particularly during lockdowns due to coronavirus which forces them indoors with abusive men. Femicide Foundation Colombia, an NGO that provides support for women and tracks gender-based violence, in 2020 confirmed 229 femicides, of which 35 were girls, and is trying to verify a further 260 cases. Horrifying murders of women and girls are not uncommon in Colombia, and are sometimes committed by authority figures. In June 2020, scandal engulfed the military after seven soldiers gang-raped a 13-year-old indigenous girl. “We know that this is not an isolated issue, it is structural,” said Aida Quilcue, at the time a human rights adviser at the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).
News Article
By the 1980s, the FARC had territorial control of the town of Palestina, Huila Department. Enrique Chimonja says: “what happened was repression and in some way the assassination and extermination of campesino leaders, [putting] a permanent fear in the population.” His own father (Tuliio Enrique Chimonja, age 33) was forcibly disappeared in 1983. “ Tulio Enrique Chimonja is one of many campesinos who lost his life — or in his case, enforced disappearance — for having found himself in the middle of an armed conflict,” Enrique says. Now, Enrique, his family, and other victims are occupying the mechanisms of transitional justice set up after the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP to expand their search for truth and justice, and finally find Enrique’s father. Using these institutions, they hope to empower themselves and find closure for the tragedy that has marked their lives for over 30 years. It is not a perfect process, but Chimonja pushes forward anyway in a search for truth and to honor the memory of his father.
News Article
By the 1980s, the FARC had territorial control of the town of Palestina, Huila Department. Enrique Chimonja says: “what happened was repression and in some way the assassination and extermination of campesino leaders, [putting] a permanent fear in the population.” His own father (Tuliio Enrique Chimonja, age 33) was forcibly disappeared in 1983. “ Tulio Enrique Chimonja is one of many campesinos who lost his life — or in his case, enforced disappearance — for having found himself in the middle of an armed conflict,” Enrique says. Now, Enrique, his family, and other victims are occupying the mechanisms of transitional justice set up after the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP to expand their search for truth and justice, and finally find Enrique’s father. Using these institutions, they hope to empower themselves and find closure for the tragedy that has marked their lives for over 30 years. It is not a perfect process, but Chimonja pushes forward anyway in a search for truth and to honor the memory of his father.
News Article
CONTENT WARNING- violent language quoted in tweet. An anonymous aggressor threatened 11 year old environmental activist Francisco Vera via a (now suspended) Twitter account. The individual tweeted a desire to "skin him" and "cut his fingers off". "These threats should help put a spotlight into the serious risks faced by environmental leaders, particularly in remote regions of Colombia,” Juan Pappier, Senior Americas Researcher for Human Rights Watch, said.
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On the first day of the year, two members of FECODE, the largest federation of teacher trade unions in the country, were killed in separate attacks. In the first case, Gerardo León was murdered in Puerto Gaitán, department of Meta, alongside 16-year-old Esneider Amaya León. The attack took place in the Sikuani indigenous community of El Tigre. The second incident saw Diego Betancourt Higuera killed in Yopal, department of Casanare. Diego was a primary teacher at the college El Triunfo Tacarimena, where the attack reportedly was carried out.
News Article
The year 2020 was the most violent in Colombia since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016, with widespread attacks on social activists, trade unionists and former guerrillas in the peace process. The figures released by the INDEPAZ human rights NGO make for shocking reading. During the calendar year, 309 social activists and human rights defenders were killed (totalling 1,109 since the peace agreement was signed) and 64 FARC former guerrillas were killed (249 in total). There were also 90 massacres which claimed the lives of 375 people. Additionally, state security forces killed at least 78 people.
News Article
We continue to organize our communities in support and defense of immigrants, especially those in vulnerable situations. Connect with Immigration Working Group CLE, a collaborative of community advocates and organizations across NE Ohio. Ask about the group’s Immigrant Defense Fund, Rapid Response Team, Bond Reduction Project, volunteer needs, legislative advocacy, vigils, rallies, marches, and more. Contact iwgcle@gmail.com or see www.facebook.com/iwgCLE

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