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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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February 13, 2018
bombing and forced displacement of members of the Wounaan Indigenous reservation of Chagpien Tordó during armed clashes between the Colombian Army and the ELN (National Liberation Army) in Litoral de San Juán, Chocó Department.
February 12, 2018
assassination of Afro-descendant community leader and political organizer Temístocles Machado, a leader of the Black Communities Process (PCN), in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Dept.
January 26, 2018
More than 1,000 palm oil workers on strike outside San Alberto, Colombia are seeking recognition as employees. As subcontracted workers, they have no rights under Colombia’s labor laws, including freedom of association and the right to negotiate working conditions.
The workers walked off the Indupalma plantation on Thursday, after 668 out of 682 palm oil workers cast their ballots for a strike in a vote observed by the regional director of the Colombia Ministry of Labor.
January 16, 2018
The US Department of Labor issued a progress assessment calling on Colombia to more fully comply with obligations outlined in the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement [of 2012], noting “lack [of] a national inspection strategy” and neglect of “associational rights of workers.” “Today’s update merely calls for continued consultation, monitoring, and assessment over the upcoming year – this is simply not good enough, given the depth of the problems and how long they have been festering. We need more proactive action and for this Administration to focus and engage with Congress to ensure all our trading partners have fair labor standards.” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), member of the Colombia Monitoring Group of the House Ways & Means Subcommitte on Trade, US Congress
January 13, 2018
In the last year, 170 leaders and social activists known for their various missions in defense of indigenous rights, coca rights substitution, Afro-Colombian rights, labor rights, and LGBTQ. The majority of violence has erupted in sectors left vacant by the guerrilla groups, which have since been invaded by paramilitary groups. Of all of these, trade unions have risen to the top in the number of the nation's homicides and victims of violence and death threats, making Colombia the most dangerous nation for union members in the world. Over the last 20 years, about 3,000 unionists have been murdered with an outrageous rate of impunity at 87 percent, with thousands of death threats never being investigated.
January 12, 2018
A peace accord has ended the fighting [between the Colombian Army and FARC rebels]. But the countryside is littered with landmines, and criminal gangs are growing.
January 11, 2018
violent attack on members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Antioquia Department, injuring legal representative Germán Graciano Posso; threats by neo-paramilitaries to attack again soon.
January 11, 2018
death threat to Germán Graciano Posso, legal representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Antioquia Department and subsequent armed attack on him and other community members by neo-paramilitaries
December 26, 2017
attempted assassination of radio journalist Luis Carlos Ortiz by the mayor of Rionegro, Santander Department
December 25, 2017
assassinations of social leaders across the country, Dec 4-18: Alfonso Giraldo Valencia, member of FENSUAGRO (United Agricultural Workers Federation) , Putumayo Dept; Oscar Pai Pascal, indigenous leader, Nariño Dept.; Jhon Jairo Ortiz Betancur, former FARC member, Antioquia Dept.; Alexander José Padilla Cruz, member of National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Growers (COCCAM), Córdoba Dept.; José Rafael de la Hoz Villa, peasant farmer and rural activist, Magdalena Dept.; Alfonso Pérez Mellizo, community leader, Cauca Dept.