Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash


International Civil Society Organizations Call for the Colombian Government to Investigate Killing of Marco Rivadeneira and to Protect Human Rights Defenders March 25, 2020


We are grieved to learn of the death of Marco Rivadeneira, a community leader in Putumayo, Colombia. Rivadeneira was killed on March 19, 2020 by three armed men who entered a meeting where Rivadeneira and other community members were discussing voluntary eradication agreements between farmers and the Colombian government.

Rivadeneira was a human rights defender, a promoter of the peace accords, and a proponent of voluntary coca eradication efforts in his rural community. He was a leader of the Puerto Asis Campesino Association and a representative to the Guarantees Roundtable (a process intended to protect human rights defenders). Rivadeneira was also the representative of his region for the national network of 275 Colombian human rights groups known as the Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos. Coordinación and its members are close partners of many of our organizations.

This killing “underscores once again the lack of security guarantees for the work of human rights defenders and the lack of political will on the part of the Colombian government to dismantle the criminal structures and paramilitary organizations that continue to attack social leaders and those who defend peace in the countryside,” as Coordinación asserts. The Coordinación urges the government to act decisively to ensure that “enemies of peace” do not use the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 virus to continue to exterminate social leaders.

107 social leaders were assassinated in 2019, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Colombia. One out of three human rights defenders killed in 2019 (documented by Frontline Defenders) was from Colombia. 2020 has started off with a wave of violence against them.

We urge the Colombian government to ensure this crime is effectively investigated and prosecuted and to communicate what steps are being taken to bring the perpetrators to justice. We also urge the Colombian government to provide effective guarantees for human rights defenders, social leaders, and those working to build peace in Colombia. This starts with the vigorous implementation of the 2016 peace accords in Colombia, including convoking the National Commission of Security Guarantees to create and implement a plan to protect communities and social leaders at risk.

We urge the U.S. government to vigorously support peace accord implementation in Colombia. This includes adhering to the drug policy chapter of the accord which mandates working closely with farming communities to voluntarily eradicate and replace coca with government assistance, rather than returning to ineffective and inhumane aerial spraying programs.

Colombia must not lose more leaders like Marco Rivadeneira who have worked so valiantly to bring human rights protections and peace to their communities.

Signed by:

AFL-CIO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amazon Watch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Amnesty International U.S.A.
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)                                                                                                                                                                                                  Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America                                                                                                                                                                                      Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Church World Service                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Colombia Grassroots Support                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        New Jersey Colombia Human Rights Committee                                                                                                                                                                                                              Institute for Policy Studies                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Drug Policy Project International                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Latin America Working Group (LAWG)                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office                                                                                                                                                                                                Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Movement for Peace in Colombia, New York                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oxfam                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Presbyterian Peace Fellowship                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights                                                                                                                                                                                                                              United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries                                                                                                                                                                                              Washington Office on Latin America                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective

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The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America and our Chicago partners made a visit to Senator Durbin’s office on Monday, May 18th in celebration of the international Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. This year’s theme was “Tomorrow’s Peace Starts Today”. We delivered a “SHALOM” banner, courtesy of the 8th Day Center for Justice, and we discussed calls for the U.S. government to shift billions in military aid to help implement the Peace Process in Colombia.

We discussed the root causes of the conflict and asked that Senator Durbin, with his position on the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate’s powerful Appropriations Committee, use his power to move U.S. aid away from military funding and towards support for civic efforts like the Labor Action plan and land restitution work. We delivered articles about problems of inclusion in the peace process; the historic and fundamental conflicts over land and problems of paramilitaries; and models of countries where militarization does not dominate social policies. 

We’ll continue to push Senator Durbin’s office to change the nature of U.S. support for a militarized Colombia within a process for peace. Here from Chicago, we’ll keep working to make sure that tomorrow’s peace starts today! ‪#‎DOPA2015


La Red de Líderes Religiosos en Chicago para América Latina y nuestrxs compañerxs visitamos la oficina del Senador Durbin este lunes pasado, 18 de mayo para celebrar los Días de Oración y Acción por la Paz en Colombia. El tema de la celebración internacional este año fue “La Paz de Mañana Empieza Hoy”. Llevamos un cartel de “SHALOM”, hecho por nuestxs amigxs en el Centro de Justicia 8º Día, y exigimos al  gobierno Estadounidense que cambie su apoyo militar para empezar la implementación de Proceso de Paz en Colombia.

Discutimos los orígenes del conflicto y pedimos al Senador Durbin, con su posición en el Subcomité de Defensa en el poderoso Comité de apropiaciones del Senado, use su poder para cambiar el  apoyo militar de EEUU a Colombia a un tipo de apoyo que hace posible esfuerzos cívicos como el Plan de Acción Laboral y la restitución de las tierras a comunidades desplazadas. Llevamos con nosotrxs artículos sobre los problemas de inclusión en el proceso de paz; los conflictos históricos y fundamentales sobre la tierra y problemas de paramilitares; y modelos de países donde la militarización no domina política social.

Seguimos exigiendo que la oficina del Senador Durbin trabaje para cambiar el apoyo militar a Colombia dentro de un Proceso de Paz.  Desde Chicago, seguimos trabajando para asegurar que ¡la paz de mañana empieza hoy! #DOPA2015

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Call your representative and

ask them to support House Resolution 618, which brings attention to the situation of Afro-Colombians and calls on the U.S. to actively consult with these communities.



to read the resolution.

Afro-Colombians are harshly affected daily by extreme poverty, racial discrimination, and ongoing violence in regions with large Afro-descendant populations. Whether they are “caught in the crossfire” or specifically targeted, Afro-Colombians are often forced to leave their communities and ancestral lands behind. As a result, Afro-Colombians now constitute 40 percent of Colombia ‘s 3.8 million internally displaced. Meanwhile, aerial spraying is destroying many of the food crops traditionally grown by Afro-Colombians, leading to further displacement and insecurity.

The resolution, which was introduced by Rep. Donald Payne during the August recess, calls on the Colombian government to combat racial discrimination and protect Afro-Colombians from human rights violations. H. Res. 618 also rightly urges the U.S. and Colombian governments to consult with Afro-Colombians while developing policies that will affect their communities.

Take Action!

See below for a list of Illinois Representatives, Foreign Policy staffers, and their contact information. Also, if you don’t know who your Representative is go to


and type in your zip code to find out.

The Congressional Switchboard Number is 202-224-3121.

When you call, ask to speak with the foreign policy aide

. If he or she is unavailable, please leave the following message on his or her


“My name is _____. I live in ( city neighorhood or town ). I am calling to ask Rep. _________ to support House Resolution 618 to

bring attention to the situation of Afro-Colombians and call on the U.S. to actively consult with these communities.

It urges the Colombian government to do their part to combat all forms of racial discrimination and attacks against Afro-Colombians, and to work with Afro-Colombian communities to develop viable social and development programs. It sends the message the United States is concerned about the human, cultural and territorial rights of Afro-Colombians gravely affected by the armed conflict.

Will Rep. ­­________ cosponsor H. Res 618 to combat

racial discrimination in Colombia and protect Afro-Colombians from human rights violations


Only three Illinois Representatives



Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and Phil Hare


have co-sponsored H. Res. 618 to support Afro-Colombians as they strive for dignity and security, while

Democratic Reps. Dan Lipinski, Jan Schakowsky


Melissa Bean,


Republican Congressmen Donald Manzullo


Peter Roskam

have all committed to looking at the Resolution. Please urge your Representative – along with others who have yet to respond – to support this important Resolution protecting Afro-Colombians from the vicious cycle of discrimination and violence.

Calls to Rep. Donald Manzullo in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs are especially important!

Please let us know if you hear back, or for more information, contact:

Danielle E. Wegman, CRLN Public Policy Coordinator,

, 773-293-2964



Bobby Rush (D-




-Speak with John Marshall,


Jesse Jackson (D-



) ­

-Speak with Charles Dujon

, 202-225-0773

Dan Lipinski (D-




-Speak with Keith Devereaux,


Luis Gutierrez (D-4



Speak with Greg Staff

, 202-225-8203

Rahm Emanuel (D –




-Speak with Luis Jimenez,


Peter Roskam (R




Speak with Vicky Sanville,


Danny Davis (D




-Speak with Charles Brown,


Melissa Bean (D-8



-Speak with JD Grom,


Jan Schakowsky (D-9



-Speak with Megan Garcia

, 202-225-2111

Mark Kirk (R-10



-Speak with Richard Goldberg,


Jerry Weller (R-11



-Speak with Alan Tennille,


Jerry Costello (D-12



-Speak with Dan McCarthy,


Judy Biggert (R-13



-Speak with Paul Doucette

, 202-225-3515

Dennis Hastert (R-14



-Speak with Paul Sorenson,


Timothy Johnson (R-15



-Speak with Jen Mascho,


Donald Manzullo (R-16



-Speak with Nien Su,


Phil Hare (D-17



-Speak with Kemi Jemilohun,


Ray LaHood (R-18



-Speak with Erin Reif,


John Shimkus (R-19



-Speak with Greta Hanson,


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The grueling, decades long conflict in Colombia between the government, right-wing paramilitary groups, and leftist rebels may be coming to an end in the coming months. Over the last several years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (also known as FARC) reached an agreement

with the Colombian government

on a peace accord that could end the aging war. The talks have included the topics of the political participation of the FARC, drug-trafficking, the fundamental issue of the distribution and ownership of land in Colombia, the rights of victims and the conditions for insurgents to turn in their weapons.

The FARC, just one of many rebel groups, has been in conflict with both government military forces as well as with paramilitary groups, such as the United Self-Defense Force of Colombia (called AUC, the umbrella name for a collection of paramilitary groups). The AUC, formed in 1997, has garnished a reputation for drug-trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion in their many human rights violations. Although 30,000 members of AUC were supposedly demobilized by the government between 2003 and 2006, many AUC members formed successor paramilitary groups under different titles. Two of the groups most prevalent are the Aguilas Negras and the Rastrojos. Their power has largely stemmed from their misty relationships with Colombian military and political circles. While their paramilitary status is not so prevalent anymore, they still remain active in the drug-trafficking community. As

Thomas Shannon

, Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State puts it, “I wouldn’t call them paramilitary groups. I would call them drug-trafficking organizations or weapons-trafficking organizations or criminal organizations.”

In addition to FARC and the AUC, groups involved include the National Liberation Army (ELN),

a marxist group spurred in 1965

by the ideologies of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. When peace talks between FARC and the government began in 2012,

the ELN showed interest in some forms of negotiations

, though they were swiftly turned down. Since the progression of the talks with FARC, however, President Juan Manual Santos has reached out, saying that the government is “ready to talk” with the ELN, and hopes to begin peace talks with them as soon as possible.

For the time being though, the peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government are going swimmingly. Many critics of both sides, however, are doubtful, even as the accord comes to some form of conclusion, as the three previous negotiations between FARC and the state have

resulted in failure.

“We’ve never been so close to an agreement before,” said Santos on Twitter. The agreement, formulated after three years of working with the government, the rebels, and some of their victims, creates a truth commission to clarify what happened in the war and promises to search for thousands of missing people, identify their remains and return them.

The agreement sets in place special courts that will try former combatants for their crimes. This includes FARC rebels


government soldiers, demonstrating both sides’ willingness to find peace.

The courts would reduce the sentencing of those who admit guilt and aide the peace-seeking process

, but will deny amnesty for anyone found guilty of crimes against humanity. It also attempts to ensure those hurt by the war will not be victimized again. Alan Jara, who was held hostage by FARC for over seven years was shocked, but delighted to see his former captors working peacefully with the state for once. “It is the people who haven’t suffered directly [that are] the ones who are least willing to accept a peace deal,” says Jara. “We who lived it are more accepting.” The victims, although cautiously open to the agreement, have long demanded truth and reparations, rightfully so, and it seems that they may get it

with the involvement of the United Nations Security Council, who was voluntarily brought in by the negotiating parties.


tripartite system

will have UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon make recommendations as to the operational details of the mission, which is hoped to reach a final agreement by March 23rd.

With UNSC involvement, FARC cooperation, and government compliance, it seems that the world’s longest-running war may be coming to an end. Until the issue of illegally armed groups is resolved, however, peace will not be possible within the local communities and the violence they face from these  groups. Also, as with many political issues that traverse a number of political, social, and economic demographics, it is critical to involve as many third-party actors not actively siding with either the government or the FARC in the implementation of the peace accords as possible: actors such as Colombian and international NGO’s, and the UN, and religious organizations. A more stabilized peace will not be possible in Colombia without a combined effort from those previously left out of the peace talks.

Written by Luke Burrows (CRLN Intern)
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Guns and Fumigation

U.S. policy toward Colombia relies on massive military aid and harmful chemical fumigation.  Colombian religious and human rights leaders have urged an end to U.S. military aid, saying it only fuels violence and increases human rights violations. They also say U.S.-funded fumigation of coca poisons people, food crops, land, and water.  Both military aid and fumigation displace entire communities – harming indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and rural campesino communities the most severely.  Despite this call, Congress continues to fund new military aid to Colombia with little or no debate.


In response to all of this, CRLN has invited a dozen religious and human rights leaders to Chicago from Colombia over the last six years to meet with CRLN members, the media, and Congressional staffers.  In 2001, CRLN organized 12 of its members to participate in the historic Witness for Peace delegation of 100 U.S. citizens to Colombia to investigate the impact of the U.S. $1.3 billion “Plan Colombia”.  In 2003, CRLN also organized 8 African American leaders from Chicago to participate in a special Witness for Peace delegation to visit Afro-Colombian communities under siege.   In 2006, CRLN organized a 10-members delegation from the Chicago Presbytery for the 150th Anniversary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, a vital leader of ecumenical peace and human rights advocacy. To learn more about CRLN Delegations,
click here.

Advocating for Human Rights and Developmental Aid

Each year prior to key votes, CRLN members appeal to Congress for the protection of human rights, the removal of military and fumigation funds in the Foreign Aid Appropriation bill, and a reduction of U.S. troops & contractors deployed in Colombia.  Each week, CRLN interns and volunteers draft and fax letters on CRLN letterhead to government and military officials in Colombia responding to human rights urgent action alerts.

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Después de unos días cuando comunidades Afro-Colombianas ocuparon la Panamericana en el Norte de Cauca, y después de sostener ataques de gas lacrimógeno y balas de goma por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad, oficiales locales y federales comenzaron a negociar con las comunidades. Afro-Colombianxs organizadxs insisten que sus territorios sean reconocidos y respetados ahora y durante la implementación de los Acuerdos de Paz. Mientras negocian, muchos de los líderes Afro-Colombianos están recibiendo amenazas por actores paramilitares. CRLN y muchos otros demandan que estos paramilitares sean desmobilizados si el Proceso de Paz en realidad llevará paz al país.

Haga click aquí para apoyar la expansión del Proceso de Paz

entre el estado Colombiano y los guerilleros ELN. Estaremos en comunicación continua con más oportunidades de acción y mientras tanto,

haga click aquí para una oportunidad de ir a una delegación

enfocada en lo que está pasando en Colombia en este momento clave de la historia del país.


De 4/27/2016: La semana pasada, CRLN estuvo en Washington DC, hablando con miembros del Congreso de Illinois pidiendo que apoyen una Comisión Étnica en las negociaciones de paz de Colombia en Havana, Cuba. Ahora,

2,000 Afrocolombianxs están bloqueando la Panamericana en Cauca

exigiendo respeto para sus territorios ancestrales según Ley 70 & que sus comunidades y pueblos Indígenas tengan un lugar en la mesa de negociación para terminar con una guerra que les ha afectado desproporcionadamente mas:

Lxs manifestantes piden diálogos con el estado Colombianx para hacer posible esta Comisión Étnica representando gente Afrocolombiana y pueblos Indígenas.

En vez de diálogos, están atacados con gas lacrimógeno y balas de goma.

¿Qué puedo hacer?

  1. Llame

    su miembro del Congreso

    y pida que: “contacte el Departamento del Estado para urgir un fin inmediato a las agresiones contra las manifestaciones pacíficas de Afrocolombianxs en Cauca. En vez de atacar, el estado Colombiano debe de dialogar con estas comunidades porque diálogo, no violencia, crea paz. Por favor exprese su apoyo para voces Afrocolomianas e Indígenas en la mesa de negociación de paz por una Comisión Étnica.”
  2. Mandar mensajes de Twitter a Presidente Santos: “.

    @JuanManSantos, @carmeninesVicen Nos preocupa mucho: reportes q niños Afrocolombianos están afecatdox por acciones de ESMAD en Cauca!”

  3. Done para apoyar a los esfuerzos de las comunidades Afrocolombianas organizadas

    para exigir respeto a sus territorios y un lugar en la mesa de necociación.

¿Cómo puedo ver noticias de la situación?

Sigue la página de Facebook de CRLN

y vea el

sitio de la Red de Solidaridad con Afrocolombianxs

, de cual CRLN es una organización miembo.

¿Por qué es tan importante esta situación?

Comunidades Afros e Indígenas han sido afectados desproporcionadamente por cinco décadas de guerra civil, desplazadas de sus territorios ancestrales reconocidos legalmente, e invadidos por industrias extractivas y otros intereses privados. Si la gente más afectada por la violencia no tienen voz en decidir como termina la violencia, no somos optimistas de los resultados de las Negociaciones de Paz.

¿Qué ha sido la respuesta del estado Colombiano?

Hasta ahora, la respuesta es gas lacrimógeno (que mandó a tres niños al hospital), bombas de humo, y balas de goma. La gente exigen diálogo, no violencia.

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From the Fellowship of Reconciliation Website:

In July 2007, FOR and the American Friends Service Committee released a report documenting the first-person experiences of women peace activists in Colombia. “I Will Never Be Silenced: Testimonies of Hope from Colombian Woman” highlights the words and work of 13 women from throughout Colombia – rural and urban, old and young, Afro-Colombian, indigenous and mestizo, artists, religious, political, feminists. These women have tirelessly and fearlessly worked to create peace and justice.

Order your copy today!

Elizabeth Lozano explains in the report’s introduction:

“The violence faced by women is not only inflicted by the machetes, guns, and landmines of the ‘enemy.’ It is also carried out by ‘friendly’ fire, so to speak, in the woman’s daily life. This is the normalized violence exercised without the weapons of war, and manifested in abusive marital relations, implicit or explicit threats of rape, absence of education opportunities, lack of sexual education, and in the general expectation that her right place is the kitchen and the bedroom.”

“I Will Never Be Silenced” brings to readers women who endure these various forms of violence to speak about their experiences and their work to end the violence and impunity in their country.

The 40-page report is available for $6 postpaid for individual copies, or $30 for 10 copies, postpaid.

To order your copy

, please send a check to the FOR office at:

2017 Mission St, 2nd Floor

San Francisco, CA 94110

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Español aquí

Photo: Government and FARC negotiators finalize details of the Peace Accords where the Ethnic Chapter will be included

After four and a half years of preliminary and formal negotiations and 52 years of war, the Colombian state and FARC guerillas have concluded their peace negotiations and finalized the Peace Accords.

This moment is certainly historic and will mark the first experience of official peace ever experienced by many Colombians. And while we celebrate an end to the fighting between the Colombian state and FARC guerrillas, we also know that the months and years to come will be deeply challenging as real peace is hopefully established for the many sides of Colombian society, not just these two sides of the armed conflict.

CRLN first heard about the finality of the Accords on Tuesday, August 23rd, when our partners at Black Communities’ Process (PCN, their acronym in Spanish) alerted us that the agreements would be signed without the inclusion of an ‘Ethnic Chapter’. For years, African descendant and Indigenous communities have been fighting for a place at the negotiating tables and have organized themselves into an Ethnic Commission constituted by the National Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA), the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and the High Government of Indigenous Authorities.

The Ethnic Commission is crucial to a successful and sustainable peace, because much of the peace process concerns rural land that is ancestral territory to the disproportionately African descendant and Indigenous survivors of displacement and violence.

The Ethnic Commission drafted an in-depth ‘Ethnic Chapter’ for the negotiating parties to include in their final accords that would help guarantee successful implementation of the accords in many rural, Indigenous and African-descendant territories. This Ethnic Chapter represents the concerns of organized communities most affected by the violence of the conflict and will help ensure that this final agreement complies with international and Colombian law and anti-racism agreements.

When the Ethnic Commission called for action on Tuesday morning, CRLN and coalition partners across the country responded with as much pressure as possible on Colombian and U.S. officials to include the Ethnic Chapter in the final accord language. Black and Indigenous leaders flew to Havana late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to negotiate the final version of the Ethnic Chapter. Late on Wednesday night, August 24th, we heard from Colombian partners that the ethnic chapter was included, albeit reduced from nine pages to four, in the official Colombian Peace Accords.

Due to consistent pressure, solidarity work and on the ground mobilizations by African descendant and Indigenous peoples, the Ethnic Commission has helped shape what peace will look like in their territories for the mostly Black and Indigenous survivors of violence, most of whom are women.

At CRLN, we will continue working in coalition with national and international allies until true peace is achieved in Colombia. We will continue monitoring the situation as the accords move through a plebiscite vote by the Colombian people. We’ll continue following the lead of our partners in Colombia’s Ethnic Commission, who will be monitoring the implementation of the Accords, ensuring that the Colombian state integrate the Ethnic Commission’s recommendations for peace in their communities.

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Honorable Members of the United States Congress, Washington D.C.

Dear Members of Congress:

We, the undersigned, are U.S. and Colombian people of faith, convinced that God calls us to be on the side of the weak, the victims and the poor.  For this reason, as representatives of numerous faith communities and churches, we come to you because we understand that soon you will consider two pieces of legislation that would have a significant impact on Colombia and the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  We write in the hope that your decisions may build the foundation for dignified life for all and promote the justice and peace that we so desire.

For more than 50 years Colombia has suffered through armed conflict, violence, inequalities and injustices.  The civilian population is most affected by the armed conflict.  More than four million people have been displaced from their lands.  This conflict kills more than 3,000 people annually and tens of thousands of paramilitary and guerrilla victims today call for truth, justice and reparations.  Meanwhile, the United Nations indicates that more than 45 percent of the Colombian population lives in poverty.

We have closely followed the congressional debates regarding human rights in Colombia and the balance between U.S. military and social aid for Colombia.  We applauded Congress’ achievement last year when you cut $142 million in military aid and added $97 million in social aid to the aid package.  We know that this year President George Bush has once again called on Congress to pass an aid package with approximately 75 percent in military aid.  We, who work with the victims of the conflict or accompany them from the United States, hope that congress prioritizes work for peace and socio-economic assistance rather than military aid.

At the same time, we know that Congress may soon consider the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement negotiated between Colombia and the United States.  Being faithful to our principles, we must view any public policy from the point of view of the poor and the victims.

Therefore, in Colombia we must consider how the trade agreement would affect what the United Nations estimates are the close to nine million Colombians living in rural areas – the family farmer, the indigenous and the Afro-Colombians – 80 percent of whom live in poverty, according to USAID.

According to the United Nations, 21 percent of employed Colombians work in Agriculture, the vast majority in rural areas.  Research on the impact of free trade agreements between underdeveloped countries, such as Colombia, and countries with large economies, such as he United States, show that underdeveloped countries lose a significant number of agricultural jobs.  For example, independent studies indicate that in Mexico at least 1.3 million family farmers have been displaced from their agricultural production due to subsidized imports from the United States.

While in Mexico many of these family farmers have attempted to survive by migrating into the United States, in Colombia there would be a risk of increasing the number of internally displaced persons, a population that is already the second largest in the world.  We are deeply concerned that the livelihood of the rural population – individuals who have already suffered greatly from the consequences of the armed conflict – would be further put at risk by this trade agreement.  This population would then face decisions that have historically reproduced violence and poverty in Colombia; migration to urban settings, forced internal displacement, illicit crop production, recruitment by illegal armed groups, among other ill-fated consequences.

We are also concerned that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement would put Colombians’ food security at risk, as the country would, in large part, be dependent on U.S. imports for basic grains and other key foods for daily consumption.  Furthermore, this trade agreement does not have sufficient protection for workers nor the environment.  Such labor protections are particularly important in Colombia, the country with the highest number of murdered trade unionists.  And without necessary environmental protections in the agreement, we would be jeopardizing Colombia’s environment, considered the second most bio-diverse in the world.

For that reason, we ask you, honorable members of Congress, to take into account the following requests before considering the proposed aid to Colombia or the ratification of the free trade agreement.

  • Further cut U.S. military aid and aerial fumigation, which does not bring us closer to peace in Colombia, while significantly increasing aid for the poor, the displaced, refugees and the victims of the armed conflict.
  • Insist that the State Department strongly enforce the human rights conditions in law, which is especially important as we are seeing a concerning increase in killings of civilians as well as other human rights violations attributed to the Colombian Armed Forces.
  • Do not ratify a U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which would increase the already concerning poverty rate among rural Colombians, would put Colombia’s food security at risk and lacks sufficient protections for workers and Colombia’s bio-diverse environment.
Esteemed members of Congress, we ask that you consider our concerns in order to find the authentic paths for justice and peace in Colombia, the United States and the world.

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A fines de 2016 y 2017, se aprobaron los Acuerdos de Paz entre el gobierno colombiano y el grupo rebelde más grande la FARC y una nueva ronda de conversaciones de paz fue iniciada entre el gobierno y el grupo rebelde más pequeño, ELN. En este punto, la FARC se ha desmovilizado y sus miembro se están trasladando a “campamentos” designados, donde vivirán por un tiempo asignado antes de ser libres para trasladarse. Se les ha dado el derecho de formar un partido político y dirigir candidatos para cargos públicos.

Sin embargo, otros grupos armados que no formaron parte de los Acuerdos de Paz todavía recorren el campo y se mueven con sus armas entre los espacios que la FARC controlaba. Estos son los sucesores de los grupos paramilitares de derecha supuestamente desmantelados hace diez años. La gente local, a la cual aterrorizan, dicen que estos nuevos grupos son formados por muchas de las mismas personas que pertenecían a los grupos paramilitares anteriores. También dicen que las fuerzas de seguridad nacionales no hacen nada para detener la violencia paramilitar, incluso cuando están estacionadas cerca y se les pide que lo hagan.

Estos grupos armados a menudo han sido desplegados para promover intereses privados en tierras valiosas -por ejemplo, desplazar violentamente a comunidades de pequeños terratenientes para proporcionar tierras a individuos o corporaciones ricas y que asi planten plantaciones de aceite de palma. En el 2017, ya más de 6 millones de personas han sido desplazadas violentamente de sus tierras en Colombia durante la guerra de más de 50 años.

Desde diciembre de 2016, estos grupos paramilitares reorganizados han comenzado a agitarse, particularmente en zonas con poblaciones indígenas africanas y han matado a cientos de personas. No hay paz, a pesar de los Acuerdos de Paz, en las muchas áreas donde estos grupos están activos. Sin un cierto compromiso por parte del gobierno colombiano de desarmar y desmantelar a estos grupos paramilitares reorganizados, no habrá paz en Colombia. Tampoco habrá paz si los miembros de los grupos paramilitares que han cometido violaciones a los derechos humanos están sujetos a las mismas normas de justicia que los miembros de la FARC durante el período de justicia transicional en el camino hacia la paz.

Antes de que dejara el cargo, el presidente Obama había prometido 450 millones de dólares a Colombia, la mayor parte de la cual se debe dar a las ONGs en lugar del gobierno, para apoyar la implementación de los Acuerdos de Paz. Aunque CRLN apreció el desvío de fondos militares a fondos para la paz, pensamos que estos fondos serían mejor utilizados si se distribuye directamente a los grupos de base colombianos activos en los lugares locales donde acuerdos de paz deben realizarse entre los ex combatientes en lados opuestos de la guerra o entre los combatientes de ambos lados y a civiles sobrevivientes de la violencia. Este puede ser un punto discutible, ya que el Presidente Trump y su Secretario de Estado, Rex Tillerson, han señalado que Estados Unidos puede retirar totalmente el apoyo del proceso de paz de Colombia. Debemos defender el apoyo continuo al proceso de paz, dada su fragilidad y los desafíos que enfrenta.

CRLN va a estar presente en Washington DC del 21 al 24 de abril, visitando la delegación de Illinois en el Congreso. ¡Envíe su firma a Washington DC con CRLN!​ Nuestra demanda sera financiamiento para implementar los Acuerdos de Paz en Colombia y para que funcionarios colombianos desmantelen paramilitares aún activos en el país.

¡Únase a nuestras cartas aqui!

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