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Sunday, February 28, 2021

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

Bogota, Colombia – Greater 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 residing in distant areas round Colombia have lived for over 40 years within the midst of an armed battle … and immediately we proceed to endure,” reads the opening paragraph of the letter addressed to US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Persecutions, tortures, murders, pressured disappearances, displacement, the violent dispossession of land, sexual violence, stigmatization and silencing is what we have now to undergo in our territories or we’ll be killed,” it mentioned.

In 2016, the Colombian authorities signed a controversial peace settlement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending 5 many years of battle.

However the nation has continued to grapple with violence.

The reintegration of demobilised combatants has not been absolutely applied 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 treasured lands for illicit economies, like gold mining or drug trafficking. A whole bunch of human rights activists have been killed for the reason that peace deal, in addition to hundreds of ex-combatants who signed as much as the settlement.

Among the many worst affected are these in rural communities, a lot of whom proceed to dwell in worry 4 years after the signing of the settlement.

The letter the communities compiled by way of varied organisations requested the US administration for assist in guaranteeing the success of what was agreed with the FARC, a restart to peace talks with present insurgent group the ELN (Nationwide Liberation Military), extra public insurance policies constructed alongside the individuals 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 individuals 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 sequence of govt orders aimed toward undoing a few of the most controversial Trump administration insurance policies, addressing immigration reforms and halting development 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 pays extra consideration to human rights points not solely within the US, but additionally in Latin American international locations.

“There may be hope that the Biden administration will prioritise peace, safety of social leaders and rights of Afro-Colombians in US international coverage in direction of Colombia,” mentioned Gimena Sanchez, Andes director on the Washington Workplace on Latin America (WOLA).

“Leaders and communities throughout Colombia are writing to Biden urging his administration to knock sense into Duque that these affected by violence and battle need peace, dismantlement of unlawful armed teams, engagement with the ELN, efficient safety, respect for ethnic rights and a cease to the anti-peace efforts his administration has taken,” she mentioned.

Sergio Guzman, political analyst and director of Colombia Danger Evaluation, mentioned 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 additionally due to the management in Congress. Gregory Meeks, from the Overseas Affairs Committee has been pushing for Afro-Colombian rights for a really very long time,” Guzman mentioned.

The cultivation of coca, the uncooked ingredient for cocaine, stays prevalent in lots of rural areas and Guzman mentioned he expects to new US administration to prioritise selling insurance policies similar to crop substitution in its relations with Bogota.

“Against this, in the course of the Trump years, the difficulty had far more of a give attention to numbers and lowering Colombia’s numbers was the be all and finish the entire relationship. I believe we’re in for a way more complete strategy to the drug subject,” he mentioned.

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