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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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June 14, 2018
On May 17 there was an attack on the binational indigenous Yukpa people living in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander Department. Jesuit Refugee Service has reported that 106 indigenous people, including 56 children, were forced to move in search of refuge and assistance from the local authorities. Some were subsequently displaced to the Venezuelan border.
June 12, 2018
Massive arrests of dozens of elected community leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia on April 23: Among them are members of the Black Communities’ Process (PCN), an internationally recognized organization that has worked to dismantle illegal armed groups’ activities in Afro- descendant territories.
May 26, 2018
Continual flooding related to the construction of the Hidroituango Hydroelectric Project is having disastrous effectson the communities along the Cauca River in the municipality of Valdivia in Antioquia Department.
May 11, 2018
Assassination of Hugo Albeiro George Pérez, member of the Association of Victims and Those Affected by Megaprojects (ASVAM) outside of Ituango, Antioquia Department. ASVAM is one of 15 organizations affiliated with Living Rivers of Antioquia (MRVA) opposing the Hidroituango hydroelectric project, under construction on the Cauca River. His nephew, Domar Egidio Zapata George, was also killed in the attack.
April 24, 2018
Two social leaders, Maria Magdalena Cruz Rojas and Belisario Benavidez Ordoñez, were murdered in two separate attacks on March 30. In a report at the end of March, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated that “…since the implementation of the peace agreements, the murders of human rights defenders have increased persistently. According to an Ombudsperson’s report, between January 2017 and February 2018, there have been 121 murders of human rights defenders.”
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