Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Rural Colombian teams search assist from new US gov’t amid violence

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Bogota, Colombia – More than 100 Colombian human rights associations from distant Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities have written to the brand new US administration to ask for assist with the continued violence and killings they face.
“Our black, indigenous and rural farming communities living in remote areas around Colombia have lived for over 40 years in the midst of an armed conflict … and today we continue to suffer,” reads the opening paragraph of the letter addressed to US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Persecutions, tortures, murders, forced disappearances, displacement, the violent dispossession of land, sexual violence, stigmatization and silencing is what we have to go through in our territories or we’ll be killed,” it stated.
In 2016, the Colombian authorities signed a controversial peace settlement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending 5 a long time of battle.
But the nation has continued to grapple with violence.

The reintegration of demobilised combatants has not been absolutely carried out by the present right-wing authorities of Ivan Duque. New armed teams have emerged within the areas FARC left behind, who violently vie for management of valuable lands for illicit economies, like gold mining or drug trafficking. Hundreds of human rights activists have been killed for the reason that peace deal, in addition to a whole bunch of ex-combatants who signed as much as the settlement.
Among the worst affected are these in rural communities, a lot of whom proceed to reside in fear 4 years after the signing of the settlement.
The letter the communities compiled by numerous organisations requested the US administration for assist in guaranteeing the success of what was agreed with the FARC, a restart to peace talks with current insurgent group the ELN (National Liberation Army), extra public insurance policies constructed alongside the folks from rural areas, land reforms, illicit crop substitution and extra institutional state presence in distant areas.
The letter is because of be delivered to the US congress subsequent week.
A caravan of some 5,000 indigenous folks left the town of Cali for the capital Bogota in October to protest in opposition to massacres and assassinations of social leaders [File: Fernando Vergara/AP Photo]On the primary day of the brand new administration, Biden signed a collection of govt orders aimed toward undoing a number of the most controversial Trump administration insurance policies, addressing immigration reforms and halting building of a wall alongside the US-Mexico border.
Some human rights teams see these steps as a constructive signal and are hopeful that the brand new administration can pay extra consideration to human rights points not solely within the US, but in addition in Latin American nations.
“There is hope that the Biden administration will prioritise peace, protection of social leaders and rights of Afro-Colombians in US foreign policy towards Colombia,” stated Gimena Sanchez, Andes director on the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
“Leaders and communities all around Colombia are writing to Biden urging his administration to knock sense into Duque that those affected by violence and conflict want peace, dismantlement of illegal armed groups, engagement with the ELN, effective protection, respect for ethnic rights and a stop to the anti-peace efforts his administration has taken,” she stated.

Sergio Guzman, political analyst and director of Colombia Risk Analysis, stated the Biden administration is more likely to be extra targeted on the peace settlement and the scenario with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities than the earlier authorities.
“[This is] partly also because of the leadership in Congress. Gregory Meeks, from the Foreign Affairs Committee has been pushing for Afro-Colombian rights for a very long time,” Guzman stated.
The cultivation of coca, the uncooked ingredient for cocaine, stays prevalent in lots of rural areas and Guzman stated he expects to new US administration to prioritise selling insurance policies similar to crop substitution in its relations with Bogota.
“By contrast, during the Trump years, the issue had much more of a focus on numbers and reducing Colombia’s numbers was the be all and end all of the relationship. I think we are in for a much more comprehensive approach to the drug issue,” he stated.

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