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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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Thanks to all those who participated in Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. This year, nearly 500 faith leaders representing approximately 20 denominations from the U.S. and Colombia sent a letter to members of Congress, urging them to end military aid and aerial spraying and to oppose the U.S.-Colombia FTA.  If you’re active in your faith community, feel free to share it there.

You can also send it to your Senators and Representative with a short cover note, asking them to reduce military aid to Colombia in the upcoming foreign aid bill.  To keep your members of Congress informed, click here

https://www.crln.org/Foreign_Aid_Bill08

 

In the letter below, over four hundred church representatives-representing over 4.3 million Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical churchgoers and 20,000 congregations in the United States and Colombia-write to Congress to express their views on U.S. military and socio-economic assistance to Colombia as well as the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.

Signatories to the letter include the heads of the U.S. and Colombian Presbyterian Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Colombian Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the U.S. and Colombian Mennonite Churches, the Colombian Conference of Men and Women Religious, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and a Catholic Bishop. Additionally, hundreds of regional and local church leaders from across the United States and Colombia, representing nearly twenty denominations, signed this letter.

The letter’s signatories call on Congress to:

• Further cut U.S. military aid to Colombia and aerial fumigation, which does not bring Colombia closer to peace, while significantly increasing aid for the poor, the displaced, refugees and the victims of Colombia’s armed conflict.

• Insist that the State Department strongly enforce the human rights conditions in law, key today due to an increase in killings of civilians as well as other human rights violations attributed directly to the Colombian Armed Forces.

• Do not ratify the 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.

U.S. and Colombian Church Leaders Call on Congress to Substantially Reduce Military Aid, to Strengthen Human Rights Protections and to Vote No on the U.S.-Colombia FTA.

 

And the work of righteousness shall be peace;

and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Isaiah 32.17

 

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-U.S. military and social assistance through Plan 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 the 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 could 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 for Colombia, the United States and the world.

Sincerely,

Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick Stated Clerk Presbyterian Church USA Rev. Juan Alberto Cardona Gomez Bishop Methodist Church of Colombia
Rev. John H. Thomas General Minister and President United Church of Christ Helis Barraza Diaz Moderator and President Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Rev. William G. Sinkford President Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Alix Lozano President Colombian Mennonite Church
Jim Schrag Executive Director Mennonite Church USA Sister Luz Marina Valencia President Conference of Men and Women Religious of Colombia
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton Archdiocese of Detroit Ricardo Esquivia Peace Commission Coordinator Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Marie Lucey, OSF Associate Director Leadership Conference of Women Religious Jairo Barriga Jaraba Regional Secretary for Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela Latin American Council of Churches
James E. Winkler General Secretary General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church Rev. Jairo Suárez Director Justice and Life Office Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia
Wayne Miller Bishop Metropolitan Chicago Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Sister Norma Inés Bernal Justice, Solidarity and Peace Coordinator Conference of Men and Women Religious of Colombia
The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal Conference Minister and President Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree Conference Minister Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ Father Javier Giraldo Moreno, S. J. Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback Conference Minister Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ Rev. John M Gantt Interim Conference Minister Central Pacific Conference United Church of Christ Father Emigdio Cuesta Pino SVD Provincial Counselor Missionaries of the Divine Word Colombia
Rev. Kent J. Siladi Conference Minister Florida Conference United Church of Christ Randy Hyvonen Conference Minister Montana-Northern Wyoming Conference United Church of Christ Sister Ester Giraldo S. Provincial Superior Consolata Missionaries Colombia
Duncan Smith Conference Minister Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference Mennonite Church USA Wayne Hochstetler Executive Conference Minister Illinois Conference of Mennonite Church USA Jaime A. León President Claretiana Norman Pérez Corporation Colombia
Rev. J. George Reed Executive Director North Carolina Council of Churches Rev. Jose Luis Casal General Missioner The Presbytery of Tres Rios Presbyterian Church USA Sister Gloria Cecilia Lodoño Provincial Compañía de María Order Colombia
Tom Milligan Moderator Presbytery of the Miami Valley Presbyterian Church USA The Rev. Shannan R. Vance-Ocampo Monmouth Presbytery Presbyterian Church USA María Irma Sánchez President Daughters of Jesus of Kermaría Colombia
Sister Jan E. Renz, ASC Regional Leader, U.S. Region Adorers of the Blood of Christ Rev. John McCullough Executive Director and CEO Church World Service María Tardecilla Campo Sisters of Our Lady of Peace Colombia
Dave Robinson Executive Director Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement Melinda St. Louis Executive Director Witness for Peace Sister Pilar Alonso Fernández Colombian Delegate Carmelitas of Charity Colombia
Mary Ellen McNish General Secretary American Friends Service Committee Arli Klassen Executive Director Mennonite Central Committee Sister Martha Lucia Mejía Local Coordinator Teresiana Colombia
Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D. Executive Director The Fellowship of Reconciliation Rick Ufford-Chase Executive Director Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Jorge A. Tobón Jaramillo Colombian Coordinator Brothers of Jesus Colombia
Joe Volk Executive Secretary Friends Committee on National Legislation Marie Dennis Director Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Diana Milena Alzate Franco Community Director Sisters of the Sacred Family Colombia
Rev. Carol Rose Co-Director Christian Peacemaker Teams Cally Rogers-Witte Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ and Co-executive, Global Ministries Sister Luz Marina Provincial Coordinator Santa Teresa de Jesus Community Colombia
David A. Vargas President, Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Co-Executive, Global Ministries Anne H. Griffis Chair National Action/Global Concerns Committee Church Women United Sister Silvia Conde Latin American Provincial Auxiliadoras del Purgatorio Congregation Colombia
T. Michael McNulty, SJ Justice and Peace Director Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) The Reverend Chris Pierson Director, Connectional Ministries Illinois Conference United Methodist Church Sister Yolanda Bocanegra Provincial Siervas de San José Colombia
Rev. Dr. Jerrold L. Foltz Associate Conference Minister Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ Rev. Patricia Barth Interim Associate Conference Minister Chesapeake Association Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ Claretianos Missionaries Western Province Colombia
The Rev. Dr. Lois K. Happe Regional Minister Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ Art Smoker Overseer, Tennessee-Carolina-Kentucky District Virginia Mennonite Conference Gloria Ulloa Executive Secretary Caribbean Coast Presbytery Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Rev Dr Michael S Penn-Strah South Central Regional Minister Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ Virgil Vogt Associate Conference Minister Illinois Mennonite Conference Rev. Diego Higuita Executive Secretary Caribbean Coast Synod Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Richard A.White Administration Ministry Team Central Pacific Conference United Church of Christ Sherry Mason Taylor Associate Conference Minister New Jersey Association Central Atlantic Conference United Church of Christ Rev. David Illidge Executive Secretary of the Central Presbytery Presbyterian Church of Colombia
David J Dutschke Parish Social Ministry Department Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc. Louisville, KY Gary Hougen Chair, Board of Church and Society Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Church Osvaldo Ardila Frías Executive Secretary Colombian Ecumenical Network
Edgar Hiestand Ecumenical/Interreligious Office Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Church Alka Lyall Chair, Outreach Ministry Area Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Church Christians for Justice and Peace Colombia
Larry Greenfield Executive Minister American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago Joetta Venneman Office of Global Ministries on behalf of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Nazareth, KY Sister Cecilia Naranjo B Member of the Sacred Heart Order Representative Interreligious Justice and Peace Commission Colombia
Sr. Marian Durkin, CSA For the Congregational Leaders Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Richfield, OH Sister Agnes Johnson, OP Vice President Racine Dominicans Racine, WI Jenny Neme Director Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action-Justapaz Colombia
Sister Margaret Bulmer, CCVI Office of Social Concerns Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Houston, TX Sister Marge Wissman, OSF Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Director Sisters of St. Francis Oldenburg, IN Carol Byler Director The Colombian Mennonite Foundation for Development (MENCOLDES) Colombia
Sister Kristine Vorenkamp Director of Religious Education Sisters of the Living Word Sister Jean Verber Coordinator Justice Outreach Office Racine Dominicans Jairo Muñoz Muñoz Director Fundación SERCOLDES Colombia
Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians) Rev. Deborah Blood Chair of the Board of Directors United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries and Common Global Ministries Amparo Beltrán Co-Director Grassroots Communication Center for Latin America (CEPALC) Colombia
Rev. Felix Ortiz-Cotto Executive Latin America and the Caribbean Global Ministries Rob Keithan Director, Washington Office for Advocacy Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Luz Dary Guerrero Coordinator Theological Studies Ministerial Program -PROMESA Colombia
Jean Stokan Policy Director Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry General Assembly Council Presbyterian Church USA Rev. John Hernandez Director Lutheran Theological Seminary Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia
Rev. Dr. Mari E. Castellanos Justice and Witness Ministries United Church of Christ Barbara Gerlach Colombia Liaison Justice and Witness Ministries United Church of Christ Fabio Alonso Meza Ramírez Coordinator Ecumenical Peace School Colombia
Adonna R. Bowman Executive Director, Office of Disciples Women Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell Director, World Mission Presbyterian Church USA Albeiro Santana Pinzón Secretary General Apostolic Christian Evangelical Church of Colombia
N. Sharon Leatherman President Church Women United in Maryland Joan S. Brown President Ohio State Board of Church Women United Alba Luz Arrieta Cabrales National Coordinator Violence Alternatives Program Colombia
Judy Reimer President Nebraska Church Women United Marla McGarry-Lawrence Convener, Oregon Chapter Episcopal Peace Fellowship Jhon Fredy Cardona H. Western Regional Peace Commission Coordinator Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Jim Vondracek Managing Director Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America Brian Stefan-Szittai InterReligious Task Force on Central America Cleveland, OH Daniel Vargas R. Tolima Peace Commission Coordinator Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
David Horvath and Pat Geier Co-Chairs Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean Louisville, KY Paul Horst Colombia Sanctuary Project Coordinator Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance Luz Amanda Valencia G. Women’s Network for Life and Peace Coordinator Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Anne Barstow Co-Coordinator Presbyterian Accompaniment Program in Colombia Rev. Michael Joseph Global Ministries Missionary Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia* Karina Torres Meriño Documentation for Advocacy Program Coordinator Peace Commission of the Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Cynthia Lapp Pastor Hyattsville Mennonite Church Hyattsville, MD The Rev. John A. Nelson Pastor and Teacher Niantic Community Church (UCC/UMC) Niantic, CT Lucia Teresa Cardona Herrera Western Region Coordinator of Advocacy and Conflict Resolution Peace Commission of the Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
The Reverend Cheryl Pyrch Associate Pastor Rutgers Presbyterian Church New York, NY Patsy Taylor Griffith Lay Leadership Hope Presbyterian Church Austin, TX Martín Peinado Documentation for Advocacy Program Central Regional Coordinator Peace Commission of the Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Dr. Jim Henkelman-Bahn Christ Congregational United Church of Christ Silver Spring, MD Rev. Daniel Dale Pastor Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ Chicago, IL Gladys Cecilia Cedeño Uribe Western Coordinator of the Women’s Network Peace Commission of the Colombian Council of Protestant and Evangelical Churches
Ryan Lambert Associate Minister First Congregational United Church of Christ Corvallis, OR Rev. Susan Leo Bridgeport United Church of Christ Portland, Oregon Wuillian Soto Rodriguez Pastor and Secretary Tolima Association of Evangelical Ministers Tolima, Colombia
Rob Hanson Sister Church Committee Chair Hyde Park Mennonite Church Boise, ID James F. Bundy Pastor Sojourners United Church of Christ Charlottesville, Virginia Henrry Martin Gonzalez Vice-President Tolima Association of Evangelical Ministers Tolima, Colombia
The Reverend Nancy Goede Pastor Mount Zion Lutheran Church Oak Lawn, IL Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Adjunct Minister Peoples Congregational UCC Washington, DC Rev. Milton Mejia Former Secretary General Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Rev. Joni Stoneking Forest Grove United Church of Christ Forest Grove, OR Rev. Dr. Donna J Martin Chaplain Heartland Hospice Baltimore, MD Miguel Ceballos Urbano President Nariño Association of Pastors Nariño, Colombia
Corliss Marsh The Dalles United Church of Christ The Dalles, OR Paul H. Saddler, D Min Pastor 12th Street Christian Church Washington, DC Jhon Jairo Londoño Valle Regional Coordinator Christian Crusade Church Valle, Colombia
Rev. Bee Neufeld Lake Oswego United Church of Christ (Congregational) Lake Oswego, OR Rev. Art Waidmann Bethesda United Church of Christ Bethesda, MD Marcial Marmolejo Zea Regional Coordinator for the Eje Cafetero, Northern Valle and Antioquia Evangelical Missionary Union Church Colombia
Rev. Pamela Shepherd Minister First Congregational United Church of Christ Ashland, OR Rev. John Clark Pegg United Church of Christ Pastor, retired Chair, Witness for Peace Board of Directors Duluth, MN Peter Stucky Pastor Teusaquillo Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Brenda Kame’enui First Congregational United Church of Christ Eugene, OR Rev. James E. Flynn Associate Pastor (ret) St. Mary’s Church Park City, UT Patricia Gallo Pastor Calarca Evangelical Missionary Union Church Quindío, Colombia
Rev. Caroline Zaworski First Congregational United Church of Christ Corvallis, OR Rev. Mansfield M. Kaseman Executive Director Community Ministries of Rockville Rockville, MD Rev. Eduardo Barajas Carrillo Pastor Emmanuel Evangelical Presbyterian Church Santander, Colombia
Ann Legg Mission Outreach Committee Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church Crystal Lake, IL Rick Johnson Deacon Mission Outreach Ministry Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church Crystal Lake, IL María Elena Racines C. Pastor San Juan Evangelical Lutheran Church Santander, Colombia
Lois M. Congdon Ecumenical Concerns Chair Manatee County Church Women United Bradenton, FL Carmelita Dunn Sister of Charity of Nazareth Louisville, KY Mary Luz Merchán Cáceres Pastor Emmanuel Presbyterian Church Santander, Colombia
Carol Wilson Missions and Social Concerns Team Leader Cheshire United Methodist Church Cheshire, CT The Rev. Dr. Sharon H. Ringe Professor of New Testament Wesley Theological Seminary* Washington, DC Rev. Omar Alberto Girón Jiménez Pastor Baptist Christian Church Santander, Colombia
J. Gregory Johnson Board Member Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ Beaverton, OR Rev. Beth A. O’Malley Pastor Columbia United Christian Church Columbia, MD Luis Alberto Rubiano Evangelist Christ the King and Lord Mission Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Paul B. Robinson (retired) United Church of Christ Medford, OR Rev. James A. Todhunter Christ Congregational Church, United Church of Christ Silver Spring, MD César García Pastor Torre Fuerte Church Mennonite Brethren Bogota, Colombia
Scot McGavin First Congregational United Church of Christ Boise, Idaho Rev. A. Rebecca West Associate Pastor Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ Washington, DC David Ricardo Garcia Gomez Pastor Missionary and Alliance Church of Colombia Bogotá, Colombia
David Hiebert Scottdale Mennonite Church Scottdale, PA Rev. John Cooper-Martin Rockville United Church Rockville, MD Pedro Miguel Garcia Torres Professor Emeritus Universidad del Atlantico, Colombia
Mary Smith Coordinator Church Women United of Chemung County (NY) Elmira, NY Rev. Allison C. G. Smith Pastor Bethesda United Church of Christ Bethesda, MD Esther González Calvo Pastor Peniel Foursquare Church Bolívar, Colombia
Bea Haledjian Church Women United Trinity United Methodist Church Bradenton, FL Rev. James Colvin Pastor United Church of Christ Congregational Plainfield, NJ José William Valencia Pastor Girardot Mennonite Church Cundinamarca, Colombia
Rev. Lynne Smouse López Pastor Ainsworth United Church of Christ Portland, OR Rev. Paul Bryant-Smith Pastor First Congregational Church River Edge, NJ Cecilia Obrepon Pastor Madrid Mennonite Church Cundinamarca, Colombia
Bryce Miller Pastor Shalom Mennonite Fellowship Tucson, AZ Parrish Jones Minister Presbyterian Church USA Lucila Pabon Treasurer Teusaquillo Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Sally Schreiner Youngquist Pastor Living Water Community Church (Mennonite Church USA) Chicago, IL Donna Mast Co-Pastor Scottdale Mennonite Church Scottdale, PA Edith Arenas Pastor Jehová Sama Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Mamie Broadhurst Associate Pastor First United Church of Oak Park Oak Park, IL Rev. Charles L. Wildman Senior Pastor (Ret.) Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ Arlington, VA Edgar Pérez Secretary Afro-Colombian Ministries Team Bogotá, Colombia
Michael B. Bogard Associate Pastor Eden Mennonite Church Moundridge, KS Alice H. Foltz Council Secretary Wellspring United Church of Christ Centreville, VA Sister Ayda Orobio Local Superior Mother Laura Missionary Valle, Colombia
Teresa Aeschliman Peace Advocate Asheville Mennonite Church Asheville, NC Rev. Dr. Debra L. Duke Pastor Paramus Congregational United Church of Christ Paramus, NJ Ana Débora Garcés Health Ministries Coordinator Juan Bonal Colombia
J. Roy Hunsberger Elder Asheville Mennonite Church Asheville, NC Just Peace Committee Peace United Church of Christ Duluth, MN Michele Tordi Missionary Combonianos Colombia
Steve Goering Pastor Columbus Mennonite Church Columbus, OH Rev. Verne Arens Pastor Little River United Church of Christ Annandale, VA Francisco Fabres Belen Mission Colombia
Rod Stafford Pastor Portland Mennonite Church Portland, OR Rev. Holly MillerShank Minister Grace United Church of Christ Lebanon, PA Sister Lilia Suarez Compañía de María Colombia
Dr. Brenda Martin Hurst Pastor Frazer Mennonite Church Frazer, PA Rev Catherine Oatman Pastor United Evangelical, United Church of Christ Baltimore, MD Sister Amparo Tarazona Teresiana Colombia
Dan Malloy-Good Minister of Peace, Justice, and Evangelism Frazer Mennonite Church Frazer, PA Robert Hardies Senior Minister All Souls Church, Unitarian Washington, DC Dominican Sisters of the Presentation Bucaramanga Province Colombia
J. Mark Frederick Pastor Perkasie Mennonite Church Perkasie, PA Reverend W.J. Mark Knutson Pastor Augustana Lutheran Church Portland, OR Gina Zabala Secretary of the Caribbean Coast Presbytery Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Anna Margaret Engle Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care Lindale Mennonite Church Harrisonburg, VA Rev. Spencer Bradford Pastor Durham Mennonite Church Durham, NC Jesús Vargas Treasurer of the Caribbean Coast Presbytery Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Margaret Foth Congregational Peace Advocate Park View Mennonite Church Harrisonburg, VA Rev. Susan G. Latourette Associate Pastor First Church of Christ, Congregational UCC Middletown, CT Procura Claretiana De Misiones Chocó, Colombia
Shirley Yoder Brubaker Pastor Community Mennonite Church Harrisonburg, VA Martha Deputy Treasurer Victory Harvest Mission Church Bowling Green, KY Our Lady of Carmen de Riosucio Parish Chocó, Colombia
Barbara B. Flinn President Church Women United of Saint Lucie County Port Saint Lucie, FL Catiana McKay Pastor United Church of Rogers Park Chicago, IL Mama-U Cultural Center Chocó, Colombia
Naury Sanchez-Citron Pentecostal Church of Puerto Rico McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Randall Spaulding Pastor The Covenant Mennonite Fellowship Sarasota, FL Seglares Claretianas Chocó, Colombia
Kendra Grams Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Barbara Krehbiel Gehring Co-pastor Manhattan Mennonite Church Manhattan, KS Tagachi Y Bete Missonary Teams Chocó, Colombia
Laetitia S. Wells Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Robert Yates Pastor Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church Harper, KS Josué Gutiérrez P. Governing Elder San Bernabé Presbyterian Church Bogotá, Colombia
Ketharine Miller Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Louise Ranck Chairperson of Justice and Spirituality Committee Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster Lancaster, PA Julio Alberto Suarez Pastor Elim Christian Community Church Tolima, Colombia
Kristin Black Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Peter Degree Pastor Northford Congregational Church, UCC Northford, CT Nelson Larrota Pastor Vision to the Nations Church Tolima, Colombia
Danna E. Gobal University Church Chicago, IL Rev Paige Besse-Rankin Pastor Woodmont United Church of Christ Milford, CT Elias Cañon Pastor Antioquia Christian Church Tolima, Colombia
Robert Saler Professor Lutheran School of Theology Chicago, IL Rev. Wendy Mathewson Campus Minister DePaul University Chicago, IL Alvaro Ardila Pastor Family of God Arch Church Tolima, Colombia
Allison Halles McCormick Theological Seminary Staff Chicago, IL Andrea Leonard Former Young Adult Volunteer in Mission Presbyterian Church USA Atlanta, GA Aureliano Sanchez Pastor Evangelical Crusade Church Tolima, Colombia
Christopher R. Bentlin McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Edward R. DeLair, Jr. Miami Valley Presbytery Staff Presbyterian Church USA Zanesfield, OH Carlos Alberto Fierro Pastor Doors of Zion Church Tolima, Colombia
Laura Ilardo Justice and Witness Ministry, Board Member United Church of Christ Phoenix, AZ Rev. Jean M. McCusker Pastor United Church of Christ East Windsor, CT Cesar Augusto Giraldo Pastor Doors of Zion Church Tolima, Colombia
The Rev. Dr. Don Beisswenger Professor Emeritus Vanderbilt Divinity School Nashville, TN John Stoltzfus Associate Pastor Lombard Mennonite Church Lombard, IL Alfonso Chacon Pastor Rebirth Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Sally Houck Pastor Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church Stillwater, OK Rev. Jonathan Scanlon Resident Pastor Central Presbyterian Church Atlanta, GA Idali Rivera Pastor Christian Alliance Church Tolima, Colombia
Bill Coop Co-chair, Bi-National Service Presbyterian Church USA Brunswick, ME Rev. Toni Smith Retired Clergy United Church of Chester Chester, CT Luis H. Garcia Pastor Living Evangelism Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Jan Orr-Harter National Committee Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Aledo, TX Rev. Mr.Fred D. Milligan, Jr. Stewardship Specialist Lutheran Southern Seminary Columbia, SC Fernando Castillo Pastor Pan-American Prado Church of Tolima Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Cathryn Surgenor Accompanier in Colombia Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Joan A. Crook Publicity Chair Church Women United Asheville, NC Wuillian Ramirez Pastor Prado Christian Brotherhood Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle Pastor Congregational Church of Union Union, CT The Rev. Dr. Richard H. Craft Interim Pastor Family of Christ Presbyterian Church Greeley, CO Fredy Meza Pastor Christ Center Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Leah Hrachovec Associate Pastor First Presbyterian Church Stillwater, OK Fernando Gomez Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Nibardo Galindo Pastor Presbyterian Church of Natagaima Tolima, Colombia
Dr. B. Gordon Edwards Pastor First Presbyterian Church Stillwater, OK Danielle E. Wegman Public Policy Coordinator Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) Ana B Herrera Presbyterian Church of Natagaima Tolima, Colombia
The Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch Pastor Northside Presbyterian Church Ann Arbor, MI Pintor Sitanggang Student Lutheran School of Theology Chicago, IL Eison Angulo Pastor Purification Presbyterian Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Karen Jodice Pastor Broadview Community Church, UCC Hartford, CT Yu Young Kum Presbyterian Church McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Lucero Gonzalez Pastor New Life in Christ Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. Edward Rawls Senior Pastor First Congregational Church Stratford, CT Seo Yang Lee McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Viviana Machuca Pastor Veraguas Brethren in Christ Church Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton Associate Minister of Parish Life and Outreach First Church of Christ, UCC Simsbury, CT Barbara Clawson Lay Leader New Creation Community Presbyterian Church Greensboro, NC Father Tarcisio Gaitán Santa Gema Parrish Medellín, Colombia
Rev. Mary E. Breden Pastor Andrews Presbyterian Church Andrew, TX Betty Kersting Lay Leader First Presbyterian Church Santa Fe, NM Marleny Calle Muñoz Lay Leader Ibague Mennonite Church Tolima, Colombia
The Rev. Dr. Phineas Washer Madison Square Presbyterian Church San Antonio, TX Arch B. Taylor, Jr. Member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery (honorably retired) Presbyterian Church USA Clarksville, IN Rev. Luis Fernando Sanmiguel Cardona Pastor Community of Hope Presbyterian Church Bogotá, Colombia
Tiffany Triplett Henkel Associate Pastor & Executive Director Metro Baptist Church & Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries New York, NY Dr. Leonard B. Bjorkman Moderator Emeritus Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Owego, NY Evelio Garcia Pedraza Pastor Love and Life of the Nations Missionary Union Church Quindio, Colombia
Rev. Edward P. Wegele Pastor First Presbyterian Church Seminole, TX Rev. Robert C. Lane Retired Clergy First Church in Windsor, CT, U.C.C. Windsor, CT Walter Ceballos Pastor Armenia Mennonite Church Quindio, Colombia
Orlando Redekopp Pastor Chicago First Church of the Brethren Chicago, IL Barbara Medina Accompanier in Colombia Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Vidal Jimenez Pastoral Coordinator Cachipay Mennonite Church Cundinamarca, Colombia
Rev. Matthew C. Miles Pastor First Presbyterian Church Fort Davis, TX Kenneth Trauger Retired Clergy United Church of Christ/Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness Lancaster, PA Martha L. Gómez Pastoral Coordinator Pereira Mennonite Church Risaralda, Colombia
Kate De Braose Elder Westminster Presbyterian Church Roswell, NM Dr. Loise George Lay Leader United Methodist Church Asheville, NC José Antonio Vaca Pastoral Coordinator Ibagué – Calle 39 Mennonite Church Tolima, Colombia
Rev. John F. Moriarty Pastor First Presbyterian Church USA East Brady, PA Don Hamsher Pastor Kaufman Mennonite Church Davidsville, PA Amanda Valencia Pastoral Coordinator Ibagué – Modelia Mennonite Church Tolima, Colombia
Gail McDougle Pastor First Congregational Church, UCC Salem, OR Ron Adams Pastor East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church Lancaster, PA Jaime Guevara Pastor La Mesa Mennonite Church Cundinamarca, Colombia
Le Anne Clausen Director Center for Faith and Peacemaking Chicago, IL Emma Frederick Pastor Perkasie Mennonite Church Perkasie, PA Roberto Caicedo Pastor Ciudad Berna Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Reverend Gary Martin Lead Pastor College Mennonite Church Goshen, IN Lorie Hershey Pastor West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship Philadelphia, PA Henry Córdoba Pastoral Agent La Victoria Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Richard Gehring Co-pastor Manhattan Mennonite Church Manhattan, KS Barbara Moyer Lehman Associate Pastor Park View Mennonite Church Harrisonburg, VA Patricia Rosero Pastoral Coordinator Santa Marta Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Pam Dintaman Pastor Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster Lancaster, PA Ross Erb Associate Pastor for Children, Youth and Families Park View Mennonite Church Harrisonburg, VA Caleb Aranguren Pastoral Coordinator Villas de Granada Mennonite Church Bogotá, Colombia
Kori Phillips Lay Leadership Westminster Presbyterian Church Dayton, OH Aldine Musser Co-pastor Stephens City Mennonite Church Stephens City, VA Manuel García Pastor El Campito Mennonite Church Atlantico, Colombia
Ruth Stoltzfus Colombia Task Force, co-chairperson First Mennonite Church Urbana, IL Rev. Dr. Daniel Rodríguez Professor Emeritus McCormick Theological Seminary Chicago, IL Javier García Pastor North Mennonite Church Atlantico, Colombia
Ron Zook Pastor New Holland Mennonite Church New Holland, PA Mary Natger Episcopalian Church Chicago, IL Manuel Caicedo Pastor Sahagún Mennonite Church Córdoba, Colombia
Edith Beach Belleville Unit Church Women United Belleville, IL Sarah Henken Accompaniment Program Coordinator Presbyterian Church USA Chicago, IL Guillermo Vargas Director La Mesa Mennonite School Cundinamarca, Colombia
Rev. Charles Ross Pastor Emeritus Parkrose Community United Church of Christ Portland, OR Jane Tume Presbyterian Church USA McCormick Theological Seminary Student Chicago, IL Elizabeth Manco Pastor Guacarí Evangelical Missionary Union Church Valle, Colombia
Rev. Alan Claassen Pastor First Congregational Church of Murphys, United Church of Christ Murphys, CA Robert Worley Professor McCormick Theological Seminary Chicago, IL Geffer Mallorga Pastor Guacarí Evangelical Missionary Union Church Valle, Colombia
The Rev. Cecil Charles Prescod, OCC Jillian Scott Lesvi Vargas
Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministries Ainsworth United Church of Christ Portland, OR El Salvador Mission Project Co-Director First Congregational Church Eugene, OR Deacon Atria of the Great King Church Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Forster Freeman, D.Min. Honorably Retired Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ Portland, OR Liz Paulson Director, Christian Nurture Riverside Community Church Hood River, OR Jhon Byron Ramirez Worship Director Renovation and Life Church Risaralda, Colombia
Rev. C. Bunny Oliver Pastor Beavercreek United Church of Christ Beavercreek, OR Rev. Vicky Stifter Pastor Riverside Community Church, United Church of Christ Hood River, OR Beatriz Gómez H Pastor and Women’s Coordinator for District C Evangelical Missionary Union Church Colombia
James B. Ruyle Volunteer Minister Hillsdale United Church of Christ Portland, OR Rev. Tom Latimer Pastor Biltmore United Methodist Church Asheville, NC Roger Sieber Missionary Brethren in Christ Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Roberta Williams Pastor Vernon United Methodist Church Vernon, CT Fr. Jeff Nicolas Pastor Epiphany Catholic Church Louisville, KY Santiago Espitia Pastor Brethren in Christ Church Bogotá, Colombia
Rev. Melanie A. Oommen Associate Minister First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ Eugene, OR Erin Flory Organizer for the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia Shalom Mennonite Fellowship Tucson, AZ Carlos Alvarez Minister Brethren in Christ Church Bogotá, Colombia
Donna Edlin First Congregational Church Eugene, OR Rev. John Vest Associate Pastor Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago, IL Rev. Vilma Yánez Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Rev. Andrew Schwiebert Pastor First Congregational Church of Oakland Oakland, CA Anita Yoder Kehr Pastor Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship Goshen, IN Rev. Gustavo Gulfo

Presbyterian Church of Colombia

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Phillips Rector St. Augustine’s Church Kingston, RI Sylvia Shirk Charles Pastor Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship New York, NY Rev. Milciades Púa

Presbyterian Church of Colombia

Chester Topple Minister Westminster Presbyterian Church Santa Fe, NM Roger Miller Elder Asheville Mennonite Church Asheville, NC Marian Seagren Hall American Association of University Women–Wisconsin President-Elect Wausau, WI
Marty Gool Reverend Chatham-Bethlehem United Presbyterian Church Chicago, IL Justin Kurtz Elder Asheville Mennonite Church Asheville, NC Pat Conover Steward Seekers Church Washington, DC
Dr. Frederick Struckmeyer Peace Advocate Grove United Methodist Church West Chester, PA Rev. Susan Ortman Goering Pastor Columbus Mennonite Church Columbus, OH Michelle Tooley Eli Lilly Professor of Religion Berea College Berea, KY
Catherine M. Stanford Lay Leader, Coordinator of Public Theology Christ United Methodist Church Piscataway, NJ Tom F. Driver The Paul J. Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus Union Theological Seminary New York, NY Sister Chris Dobrowolski IHM Pax Christi Louisville Louisville, KY
Rev. Jane H. Peifer Rev. Rebecca Messman Rev. Stephen Smith-Cobbs
Pastor Blossom Hill Mennonite Church Lancaster, PA Associate Pastor Trinity Presbyterian Church Herndon, VA Pastor Trinity Presbyterian Herndon, VA
John E. Harris Designated Pastor North Presbyterian Church of Flushing Flushing, NY The Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs Minister Unity Church-Unitarian Saint Paul, MN Rev. Carolyn Roberts Pastor United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley Germantown, MD
The Rev. Walter L. Owensby Clergy – retired Presbyterian Church USA Rev. Steven Ostendorf-Snell Pastor Grace United Church of Christ Taneytown, MD The Rev. Janne Eller-Isaacs Minister Unity Church-Unitarian Saint Paul, MN
Rev. Dr. Fred M. Buker Board of Directors Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ Williamtown, NJ Rev. Mark Greiner Pastor Takoma Park Presbyterian Church Takoma Park, MD Louise Green Minister of Social Justice All Souls Church, Unitarian Washington, DC
Malissa Haslam

Colombia Accompanier First Presbyterian Church Santa Fe, NM

The Rev. Denise Giacomozzi May Minister Director United College Ministries in Northern Virginia* Jane Hanna Chair of the Mission & Social Concerns Committee First Presbyterian Church Santa Fe, NM
Rev. Juliet Sanson Bongfeldt Pastor Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd Kingston, RI Dr. Rick Axtell Professor of Religion and College Chaplain Centre College* Danville, KY Rev. Megan M. Ramer Pastor Chicago Community Mennonite Church Chicago, IL
Rev. Ginna Minasian Dalton Pastor for Christian Education, Youth, and Evangelism Little River United Church of Christ Annandale, VA Elizabeth N. Oettinger Senior Minister First Congregational United Church of Christ Corvallis, OR Mary Ann Lambert Peace & Justice Committee St. William Church Louisville, KY

* For identification purposes only.

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From May 16 – June 6, 2017, 89 civil societies in the port city of Buenaventura called for an indefinite general strike, demanding the Colombian government provide basic infrastructure (such as sanitation, housing and clean water), public services (such as education and health care), and creation of dignified jobs. Over 80% of the residents in the largely Afro-Colombian population live in economic poverty without these public goods and services, in spite of the fact that Buenaventura is Colombia’s most important international port that generates billions of dollars of revenue. However, neoliberal privatization of the port slashed wages and put profits largely into the hands of private owners, and expansion of the port destroyed the coastal mangroves that were spawning sites for fish, ruining fishing as an occupation. The strike addressed years of government abandonment, lack of investment, and structural racism.


The strike was extremely well organized, disciplined and peaceful, and they used blockades to shut down truck traffic to the port until the government would negotiate in good faith with them.  In contrast, instead of negotiating in the beginning, the government sent in the Anti-Riot Unit of the National Police (ESMAD), which on May 19th used gas, helicopters, stun bombs, tanks, and firearms against a peaceful blockade that included children, pregnant women, youth and elderly people. In subsequent days, ESMAD started firing teargas into residential areas of vulnerable populations who live in wooden houses on stilts, where teargas easily entered and threatened to asphyxiate especially babies and young children.

 

In a press conference on June 1, human rights defender and member of Proceso de Comunidades Negras (Black Communities Process, or PCN), Danelly Estupiñan asserted “we reject the Colombian State’s military response to an issue that could have been resolved by political means, it’s as if social protest were a crime.”

The Afro-Colombian population stuck to their strike, and the government finally had to negotiate with the strike committee, reaching an agreement on June 6.  CRLN Board member Eunice Escobar, who is from Buenaventura, kept CRLN apprised of the situation and reported that the agreement has four important components:

1. The creation of a special autonomous fund with resources that are considered the patrimony of the people in Buenaventura, coming from 50% of business taxes levied on companies profiting from activities related to the port, plus $76 million dollars that the government will raise from credits with international banks, regulated by a law that should be signed in July.

2. An initial investment of COP$1.500 billion to attend to immediate needs in basic infrastructure for water, health and basic sanitation services in rural and urban areas.

3. An integral development plan for the city that includes policies and programs, institutional reform and community participation to make Buenaventura a port for the people and not simply for profit.

4. The proper investigation, prosecution and sentencing of those in the state riot police who used violent tactics to break up a peaceful protest, dropping of charges against protesters who have been criminalized, and ensuring security and protection for the many leaders that guided 22 days of this peaceful, organized and successful strike.

CRLN will keep you posted on how well the Colombian government lives up to its promises. We congratulate the many organizations who insisted that the government fulfill its responsibilities to the people of Buenaventura.

Below is an article on the strike:


https://afrocolombian.org/2017/05/31/peaceful-strikers-are-still-being-a…

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Call on Congress to Reduce Military Aid to Colombia & Support Victims of Violence

As you will recall, last year the Congress made many positive changes in U.S. policy towards Colombia – changes that couldn’t have been made without committed activists like you.

Picking up the phone, demanding your voice be heard. With the foreign aid subcommittees in the House and Senate set to “mark up” their respective bills in mid-July, it’s time to call your representative and senators and urge them to stand by Colombia’s victims of violence.

Call your Representative and Senators today and ask them to support the continued reduction of military aid to Colombia in this year’s foreign aid bill. See below for a list of Illinois Representatives & Senators, foreign policy staffers, and their contact information. Also, if you don’t know who your members of Congress are go to:

http://www.congress.org/

and type in your zip code to find out.


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


voicemail:


“I am a constituent calling to encourage Rep./Senator  ____________ to ensure that this year’s foreign aid bill stands by Colombia’s victims of violence. Last year, the Congress moved U.S. policy in the right direction by reducing military aid. Now, with credible reports linking the Colombian military to extrajudicial killings of civilians, Congress must continue to cut aid to Colombia. Instead of fueling war, the U.S. should be supporting Colombia’s victims of violence – small farmers trying to turn away from coca, refugees and the internally displaced, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities – in addition to the courageous efforts of human rights defenders.

 I urge you to share my concerns on U.S. aid to Colombia directly with the chair of the foreign operations subcommittee before the foreign aid bill goes to mark up.


Can I count on Rep/Senator ________ to communicate these concerns?

Please let me know. My phone number is ___________. Thank you.”

 

When

you

decide to take positive actions on behalf Colombia’s victims of violence, send us an email to let us know what you did.

We’ve already achieved some momentous changes in U.S. policy towards Colombia, but we’ve got to keep building on our successes – we must keep pushing that ball up the hill!

Your calls make a difference!  For more information, contact Danielle Wegman at

dwegman@crln.org

or 773-293-3680.


Illinois


Representatives



Bobby Rush (D-



1

st


)



– John Marshall,

202-225-4372



Jesse Jackson (D-



2

nd


) ­



– Charles Dujon

, 202-225-0773



Dan Lipinski (D-



3

rd)



– Keith Devereaux,

202-225-5701



Luis Gutierrez (D-4

th

)




Greg Staff

, 202-225-8203



Rahm Emanuel (D –



5

th


)



– Luis Jimenez,

202-225-4061



Peter Roskam (R



-6

th


)




Vicky Sanville,

202-225-4561



Danny Davis (D



-7

th


)



– Charles Brown,

202-225-5006



Melissa Bean (D-8

th

)



– J.D. Grom,

202-225-3711



Jan Schakowsky (D-9

th

)



– Nina Besser,

202-225-2111



Mark Kirk (R-10

th

)



– Rich Goldberg,

202-225-4835



Jerry Weller (R-11

th

)



– Alan Tennille,

202-225-3635



Jerry Costello (D-12

th

)



– Dan McCarthy,

202-225-5661



Judy Biggert (R-13

th

)



– Brian Petersen

, 202-225-3515



Bill Foster (D-14

th

)



– Peter Judge,

202-225-2976



Timothy Johnson (R-15

th

)



– Jennifer Mascho,

202-225-2371



Donald Manzullo (R-16

th

)



–  Nien Su,

202-225-5676



Phil Hare (D-17

th

)



– Kemi Jemilohun,





202-225-5905



Ray LaHood (R-18

th

)



– Diane Liesman,

202-225-6201

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Desde el 16 de mayo al 6 de junio del 2017, 89 sociedades civiles en el puerto de la ciudad de Buenaventua llamaron a una huelga, demandando que el gobierno colombiano les provee infraestructura básica (como sanitación, vivienda y agua limpia), servicios públicos (como la educación y servicios médicos) y la creación de trabajos estables. 80% de los residentes son de descendencia afro-colombiana quienes vive en pobreza sin ninguno de estos servicios públicos a pesar que el puerto de Buenaventura es el más importante de Colombia y genera billones de dólares en redito. Sin embargo, la privatización neoliberal del puerto ha causado una baja en los salarios y lo ha puesto en las manos de dueños privados. También la expansión del puerto a destruido manglares costales donde están los sitios de pesca. Esta huelga refleja los años de abandono del gobierno, falta de inversión y el racismo estructural.


La huelga estuvo muy organizada, disciplinada y pacífica. Los manifestantes también utilizaron bloqueos para parar el tráfico de camionetas hacia el puerto hasta que el gobierno negociara de buena fe con ellos. En vez de negociar, el gobierno mando la Unidad Antidisturbios de la Policía Nacional (ESMAD), la cual el 19 de mayo, utilizo gases, helipcopteros, bombas aturdidoras, tanques y armas de fuego contra el bloqueo pacifico que incluía niños, mujeres embarazadas, jóvenes y ancianos. En los siguientes días, ESMAD empezó a disparar gases lacrimógenos hacia las áreas residenciales de la población vulnerable cual viven en casas de madera sobre pilotes. Desafortunadamente, el gas entro fácilmente y asfixió a bebés y niños pequeños.

En una conferencia de prensa el 1 de junio, defensora de derechos humanos y miembro del Proceso de Comunidades Negras, Danelly Estupiñan afirmo, “nosotros rechazamos la respuesta militarizada del estado a un problema que puede ser resuelto por términos políticos, es como si una protesta social fuera un crimen.”


La población afrocolombiana siguió con su huelga y el gobierno finalmente tuvo que negociar con el comite de la huelga llegando a un acuerdo el 6 de junio. El miembro de consejo de CRLN, Eunice Escobar, quien es de Buenaventura, informó a CRLN sobre las negociaciones y reporto que el acuerdo tiene cuatro importantes componentes:

1. La creación de fondos especiales con recursos que son considerados patrimonio de la gente de Buenaventura, los cuales vienen del 50% de impuestos recaudados de compañias que se benefician de actividades relacionadas con el puerto mas $76 milliones de dólares que el gobierno recaudo de los créditos de bancos internacionales serán reguladas por una ley que pasara en julio.

2. una inicial inversión de COP de $1.500 millones de dólares será incorporada para la necesidad inmediata de infraestructura básica de agua limpia, atención médica, servicios de sanitación en áreas rurales y urbanas.

3. Un plan integral para la ciudad que incluye políticas, programas, reformas institucionales y participación comunitaria para hacer de Buenaventura un puerto para la gente y no solo para ganancias monetarias.

4. Una investigación, persecución y sentencia en contra de la policía antidisturbios que utilizo tácticas violentas para romper la protesta pacífica. Cargos criminales contra los participantes de la huelga han sido retirados y han asegurado la seguridad y protección de muchos lideres que guiaron los 22 días de huelga pacifica.

CRLN los mantendrá al tanto de como el gobierno colombiano mantiene sus promesas. Abajo se encuentran unos artículos sobre la huelga:


https://afrocolombian.org/2017/05/31/peaceful-strikers-are-still-being-a…

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I recently returned from a CRLN – Witness for Peace delegation to Colombia.  We spent ten days there, primarily in the City of Cali, but also traveling to Buenaventura, the major port on the Pacific Ocean, and to Trujillo, where a notorious massacre (actually a series of massacres) took place between 1986 and 1994, and to an indigenous farm in the North Cauca region of the country.  We met with Community representatives and labor organizations.  We toured the docks of Buenaventura and talked to the laborers there.  We visited a marginal community living in shacks sitting on poles over swampland.  It was an eye-opening experience.
There are a number of things to know about Colombia which I, and probably some of you, did not know or really appreciate.  For example, I was not aware of the size of the Afro-Colombian population.  Estimates of Afro-Colombians range from 10.5% to 18% to 20-30% of the approximately 44 million people in Colombia.  The Afro-Colombians, despite their numbers, are even more marginalized than the indigenous population.  Afro-Colombians are concentrated in the western and northern coasts of Colombia.  They live in the worst housing and do the hardest physical labor.  They have never really been given a fair share of the Country’s wealth.
The second matter of note is the pervasive impunity which exists in the country.  Murder is common and almost never punished.  The military and the paramilitary forces are responsible for a majority of the killings and forced disappearances, but the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the major guerilla group, also contributes its share.  Enemies are kidnapped, tortured and murdered.  Often the offenses are imaginary — such as attending a rally, signing a petition or even making the wrong comment (or no comment) to the wrong person.  It is hard to overstate the fact of forced disappearances.  Examples:  in Trujillo, a popular priest spoke up for the people; he was kidnapped, and when his body was subsequently recovered, it was without its hands, feet, head and testicles.  It is believed that the members were cut off while the priest was still alive.  In Trujillo also, village authorities who opposed Army murders were themselves kidnapped and taken to the Army’s local center of operations, where their bodies were allegedly cut up with a chainsaw by Army Major Alirio Antonio Urueña, a graduate of the School of the Americas.  Again, people organized a rally on March 6, 2008, against military and paramilitary violence.  Colombian President Uribe denounced the demonstrators as guerilla sympathizers.  A new paramilitary group, the

Aguilas Negras

(Black Eagles), announced threats against the organizers, several of whom were subsequently tortured and murdered.  Jesus Caballero Ariza, an instructor of human rights for his teachers union, disappeared on April 16, 2008.  His body was found in a mass grave two days later, with signs of torture, machete wounds and a shot to the head.  Of all labor union murders, three-quarters of them occur in Colombia.
We also saw the bad effects of Free Trade on Colombia.  In Buenaventura, the port facilities have been privatized.  The laborers work longer and receive less.  For example, sugar arrives on huge semi trucks and is unloaded by Afro-Colombian laborers, who load the sacks weighing about 120 pounds each onto pallets, which are then taken into a nearby warehouse.  It takes 6-8 laborers about an hour to unload the truck, for which they each receive about $1.00.  The are paid only while unloading, meaning that if there is not another truck, they must wait (unpaid) until there is another truck to unload.  We spoke to some of the laborers, and their anger and rage were obvious.   There may well be a civil disorder in Buenaventura during the next month or two.  Incidentally, even for a country noted for violence, Buenaventura was especially dangerous.  Outside our hotel, two men had an argument during the overnight, and one shot the other.  Police then came and clubbed some people and took away four men.  The fate of the four was unknown to us.
Cali itself was a scene of violence while we were there.  On Sunday just before midnight a car bomb went off in front of the Palace of Justice, destroying the front of the building and damaging several nearby structures.  Five people were killed, and another 26 were wounded.  At the time, we were at our hotel, which was a mile  or two away from the blast (but I still heard it).  The government immediately blamed FARC, but it was also reported that the public prosecutors were closing in on a drug conspiracy.  I am not aware that anyone has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Colombia is the largest recipient of U.S. aid, after Israel and Egypt.  Most of the money has gone for military aid to suppress the insurgency, because the Colombian government says, and our government apparently believes, that the insurgents are really narcotraffickers and terrorists.  The real conditions are extreme wealth amidst grinding poverty and government lawlessness against its own citizens.   It seems perverse, but all too typical, that where our government helps another country militarily and economically, the violence and lawlessness in that country increase.
Complicating all of this is the narcotics problem.  Coca production and eradication, and the enormous sums of money to be made by the traffickers, are corrupting influences throughout the country.  The FARC taxes and controls the narcotics traffic, as do the military and paramilitary forces, each within the areas of their influence.  Because the cocaine trade is illegal, it is difficult to determine its precise size, but many people have become very wealthy.  Also, because of the illegality, the acts of the traffickers are also unlawful.  Human rights activists charge that the former paramilitary forces, which have been officially disbanded, have become narcotics protectors and enforcers, albeit in a different guise, such as the Black Eagles noted above.  FARC also is involved in the trade, although apparently in a lesser quantity.
In Africa there is an old proverb that when elephants fight, it is the grass which gets trampled.  Say a prayer or two for the people, the grass of Colombia.  The situation is intractable, and probably will not change unless the United States changes its drug policy and until some sense of justice can come to the people of that poor unfortunate country.

Frank Schneider
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Today a national and international campaign for the protection of Colombia’s human rights defenders will be launched in Bogotá. In Colombia, being a human rights defender is a dangerous, often deadly job and the situation is only getting worse. Those working on issues ranging from displacement to the rights of women, Afro-Colombians, the indigenous and other victims of the armed conflict are threatened, attacked, stigmatized, and put under illegal surveillance on a daily basis. In response to this situation over 200 organizations across the globe, including CRLN, have joined the United States Office on Colombia to help develop an international campaign for the Right to Defend Human Rights.

The Campaign will be launched today by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, in Bogotá. Click “Read More” for more details.

The Campaign has five policy goals it will be urging the Colombian government to enact over the next year. These are:



  1. End impunity for violations against human rights defenders



  2. End the misuse of state intelligence



  3. End systematic stigmatization



  4. End unfounded criminal proceedings



  5. Structurally improve the protection programs for people at risk

To read more about the Campaign, it’s declaration and recommendations please go to

http://www.usofficeoncolombia.com/

.

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General Assembly Council100 Witherspoon St

Louisville KY 40202

Tel 502-569-5315

Fax 502-569-8039

www.pcusa.org

The 218th General Assembly approved Item 11-18:


Report on Human Rights in Colombia

From the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program (PPP) recommend that the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) do the following:

1. Call on the members and congregations of the PC(USA) to study the situation in Colombia, diligently pray for the work of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and advocate with senators, representatives, and the president of the United States to lay down the weapons of violence and support the nonviolent struggle of the churches and civil society of Colombia and those in the U.S. who stand beside Colombians to end the violence by:

  • Withdrawing military support to the government of Colombia.

 

  • Reorienting U.S. policies toward Colombia in such a way as to encourage a more equitable distribution of that country’s immense wealth, and to protect the rights of groups threatened by the interests of large corporations, including indigenous people, Afro-Colombians, labor leaders, human rights workers, and many campesinos.

 

  • Ending the aerial fumigation for coca crops and focusing on programs that provide higher levels of  support for farmers to convert to alternative crops and that reduce demand for drugs in the United States.

 

  • Transferring U.S. support to the growing civil society committed to democracy and nonviolence.

 

  •  Providing aid to strengthen health care, education, and nutrition, especially among the displaced.

 

  •  Increasing aid for resettlement of displaced persons in their homelands.

 

  •  Channeling aid through nongovernmental organizations.

 

  • Supporting the commendable work of the United Nations in Colombia, especially the work of the high commissioner of refugees with internal refuges, displaced women, and threatened indigenous communities.

 

  •  Ratifying and urging Colombia to also ratify, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

 

2.  Direct the World Mission’s ministry area, in consultation with the appropriate entities of the General Assembly Council (GAC) and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA), to continue to monitor the situation in Colombia, and to keep the whole church abreast of these findings; and to offer advice and counsel, as needed, about how this denomination can continue to support the peacekeeping efforts of our partners in Colombia.

3.  Direct the Presbyterian Washington Office (PWO) to continue to educate the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and their representatives in the Congress of the United States of America about the effect of American legislation on the lives of individual Colombian citizens with particular emphasis on Plan Colombia and the Free Trade Agreement.

4.  Direct the Presbyterian United Nations Office (PUNO) to continue to represent the concerns of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to the committees and delegates of the United Nations.

5.  Affirm and further encourage the work of the Accompaniment Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that watches over and shadows vulnerable and threatened Colombia citizens as they seek justice for their most threatened and needy population.

6. Direct the appropriate entities of the General Assembly Council (GAC), in consultation with the Office of the General Assembly (OGA), to continue to monitor and address human rights violations in the United States, and in other nations brought to their attention by the members of this denomination and/or the partner churches.


7. Direct the Stated Clerk to write to the members of Congress of the United States of America, urging them not to ratify the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, which would have grave consequences for workers, indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations, and the environment.

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While there is not currently a specific bill on Colombia currently in Congress, CRLN and our partners continue to educate Members of Congress about the issues facing the country. See below for some good resources that you too can use when talking to your representatives.


Recent Congressional Dear Colleague Letter on Colombia Policy


PC(USA) General Assembly Report on Human Rights in Colombia


United States Office on Colombia


Center for International Policy’s Colombia Program


International Campaign for the Right to Defend Human Rights


US and Colombia Sign Military Base Agreement

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Face the Displaced

Colombia: Our Hemisphere’s Hidden Humanitarian Crisis

With over four million Colombians forcibly displaced from their homes by a debilitating war, Colombia is now the second worst internal displacement crisis in the world.

We would like to invite you, to help CRLN and people across the country do something about it.

On April 16-19, tens of thousands across the U.S. and Colombia will participate in this year’s Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia to call for a much-needed shift in U.S. policies toward the war-torn country.  Please join us.  Find out what you can do to by clicking “Read More.”

As you know,

the U.S. has for too long been part of Colombia’s problem, not the solution.

U.S. policy towards Colombia has been dominated by massive military aid, futile fumigations, and now a proposed NAFTA-style free trade agreement.  In this moment of changing the way things are done in Washington, it’s our chance to call on President Obama to chart a new path with Colombia–one that halts the displacement, supports victims of violence, and opens avenues to peace.

To boost awareness of Colombia’s crisis and amplify the call for policy change, we are joining a dozen other national organizations in launching the fifth annual

Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia.

In March, hundreds of universities, faith communities, and organizations will be assembling thousands of printed faces of Colombia’s displaced people to be later displayed in poignant, eye-catching displays.  While displaced people’s faces make appearances in numerous cities and towns in April, congregations across the country will be praying for peace in Colombia-focused worship services.  The anticipated tens of thousands of participants will have the opportunity to send messages to the Obama Administration asking for policy changes needed to make peace in Colombia possible.

Here’s how you can get involved:


1.

Dedicate a worship service to Colombia in April.

On the weekend of

April 16-19,

hundreds of faith communities in the U.S. and Colombia will incorporate Colombia into the weekly worship service to raise awareness of the spiraling displacement and pray for peace.  Please suggest to your faith community leaders this week that a worship service focuses on Colombia.  We will provide you with a packet of sample sermons, prayers, background info, bulletin inserts, and other materials to help bring this critical Colombia focus.

 


 

2.

Host a “Face the Displaced” party in March.

Throughout the month, student, church, and community groups will be gathering to print and assemble thousands of faces of those currently displaced in Colombia.  Through their portraits and accompanying statements, featured Colombians will tell participants the oft-tragic and oft-inspiring stories of their struggles to cope with displacement.  Please ask your student club, church group, or community organization to consider doing a “Face the Displaced” party in March.  We will provide you with a packet of faces, stories, instructions, factsheets, and other helpful materials.

Host your own event in March

or join CRLN and our Chicago partners for a workshop on

April 16th, 4-6pm at 8th Day Center for Justice.


3.

Display the displaced in a public demonstration in April.

Thousands of faces of Colombia’s displaced, upon being assembled in “Face the Displaced” parties, will be displayed in moving public demonstrations across the country in April.  Please ask your student group, congregation, or community organization to consider setting up a public display.  We will provide faces assembled in your area, in addition to tips on pulling off an effective display/demonstration.  After April, the faces of the displaced will all be sent to Washington, D.C. for one final, massive display and to be presented in person to representatives of the Obama Administration.  Join us at

Federal Plaza

on

April 19th, 11:30am-2pm

to raise awareness here in Chicago!


4.     National Call in Day, April 19th.

Join people all over the country in calling Congress to demand a new direction in US-Colombia foreign policy. We are especially asking our Members of Congress to co-sponsor

HRes 1224

, which protects the rights of Afro-Colombians and Indigenous peoples.

Click

here

for Witness for Peace’s Packet of instructions and resources for Days of Prayer and Action.

I hope you’ll consider standing with millions of displaced Colombians in this growing effort to bring meaningful U.S. policy change.  Please let me know your thoughts.  I am happy to provide the materials mentioned above and answer any questions you may have.  Email me at

earmstrong@crln.org

for more information.

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