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 right this moment we proceed to undergo,” reads the opening paragraph of the letter addressed to US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Persecutions, tortures, murders, compelled disappearances, displacement, the violent dispossession of land, sexual violence, stigmatization and silencing is what we’ve got 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 a long time 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. Lots of of human rights activists have been killed because the 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 concern 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.
On the primary day of the brand new administration, Biden signed a sequence of govt orders aimed toward undoing among 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 can pay extra consideration to human rights points not solely within the US, but in addition in Latin American international locations.
“There’s hope that the Biden administration will prioritise peace, safety of social leaders and rights of Afro-Colombians in US overseas coverage in the 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 Threat Evaluation, mentioned the Biden administration is prone to be extra targeted on the peace settlement and the state of affairs with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities than the earlier authorities.
“[This is] partly additionally due to the management in Congress. Gregory Meeks, from the International 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 comparable to crop substitution in its relations with Bogota.
“Against this, through the Trump years, the problem had rather more of a give attention to numbers and lowering Colombia’s numbers was the be all and finish all the relationship. I feel we’re in for a way more complete strategy to the drug situation,” he mentioned.