An Open Letter to Fensuagro, the Marcha Patriótica and All the Colombian People

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En español

Dear Sisters, Brothers, Friends and Comrades,

It is with deep sorrow that we write to express our condolences for the recent assaults against your organizations and against the entire process for peace. We have learned that 72 human and labor rights defenders, peace activists, indigenous leaders and environmentalists were assassinated in 2016 alone. In the four years of its existence, 125 members of the Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March) popular movement for peace have lost their lives. We are dismayed by the campaign of paramilitary violence that has occurred leading up to and following the October 2nd Peace Referendum. We are especially shocked by ‘the operation of extermination, carried out by death squads between November 17 and 20. Five persons were murdered and attempts were made against three others. All of those targeted were members of the Marcha Patriótica, and all but one were affiliated with the National Unitary Federation of Agricultural Workers Unions (Fensuagro), the largest labor organization within the Marcha Patriótica. We are also deeply concerned to learn that two insurgents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP) were killed November 13 in a non-combat situation by Colombian Armed Forces snipers. This is a violation of the ceasefire and a provocation against the peace process.

We denounce the political violence of the extreme right wing in Colombia and we denounce our own United States government’s history of fomenting Colombia’s war and repression. We denounce transnational corporations that reap profits backed in part or in whole by paramilitary activities and the displacement of rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. We denounce the inaction of the Colombian government to prevent these attacks and bring the perpetrators and intellectual authors to justice. We demand that the Colombian state provide adequate protection for Fensuagro and the Marcha Patriótica leaders under threat, and for all targeted social movements. We condemn the Colombian government’s failure to deal decisively with the links between political and business leaders and paramilitary organizations. Those who encourage, fund and/or carry out assaults against unionists and human rights defenders have one aim: to derail the peace accords by the spilling of blood.

As citizens and residents of the United States we bear great shame for the negative role our own government has played. In 1962 the Pentagon’s Yarborough Commission urged the Colombian government to develop “a civil and military structure….to… perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and as necessary execute paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities…. It should be backed by the United States.” And back it we did, spending more than $10 billion in tax dollars to support war and repression through Plan Colombia. Similarly, both US government monies and payouts from corporations like the United Fruit Company, Chiquita Banana, Coca-Cola and Drummond Coal have been directed and redirected to paramilitary death squads and/or their patrons. Even now, as the world hopes for the success of the Colombian peace accords, the US is proposing to increase military aid to Colombia. With the ascendency of Donald Trump to the office of president, our nation will be led by a man who has spoken enthusiastically about expanding the use of torture in military interrogations. This sends a signal to Colombia and all US allies that human rights abuses will be tolerated rather than discouraged. Our actions of solidarity must include changing US policy toward Colombia and Latin America.

Here in the United States, there is a phrase we want to borrow from the Black Lives Matter movement. It is used in response to racist repression at the hands of the police. It is not enough to know that yet another person has been killed without just cause: the movement demands, “Say their names!” Likewise, we must do more than denounce the assaults and killings in Colombia in a general sense. We must recognize that these are real people, real lives lost, leaving real scars of emptiness and loss in the hearts of families, friends, unions and communities.

We must SAY THEIR NAMES:

Assassinated

cecilia-coicue-foto

Cecilia Coicue

September. 7: Cecilia Coicue (Cauca), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

 

 

 

 

 

Jhon Jairo Rodriguez Torres

Jhon Jairo Rodriguez Torres

November 1: Jhon Jairo Rodríguez Torres (Cauca) Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 11: José Velásquez (Cauca) Marcha Patriótica

Joaco and Monica

Joaco and Monica

November 13: Monica (Bolivar), Soldier in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP)

November 13: Joaco (Bolívar), Soldier in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP)

 

November 18: Didier Losada (Meta), Losada Guayabero Rural Ecological Association (ASCAL-G), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

erley_monroy_colombia

Erley Monroy

November 18: Erley Monroy (Caquetá), Losada Guayabero Losada Guayabero Rural Ecological Association (ASCAL-G), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

 

 

 

November 19: Rodrigo Cabrera (Nariño), Losada Guayabero Losada Guayabero Rural Ecological Association (ASCAL-G), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

November 23: Fraidan Cortés (Valle de Cauca), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

November 25: Marcelina Canacue (Huila), Communal Action Council of Versalles

Disappeared

Missing since October 31: Hannier Hurtado (Valle de Cauca), Federation of University Students (FEU), Marcha Patriótica.

Missing since November 19: Andrés Mauricio Sánchez (Bolívar), 16 year old son of Mauricio Sánchez, leader of Aheramigua (Brotherhood of Ecological Farmers and Miners of Gumocó), Marcha Patriótica

 

Attempted assassinations

October 19, Esneider Gonzalez (Cauca), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

Nov. 17: Argemiro Lara (Nariño), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

Nov. 19: Hugo Cuellar (Caquetá), Losada Guayabero Losada Guayabero Rural Ecological Association (ASCAL-G), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

Nov. 19: Danilo Bolaños Díaz (Nariño), Association of Agricultural Workers of Nariño (ASTRACAN), Marcha Patriótica, Fensuagro

Finally, we commit to you our solidarity and want you to know that you are not alone in your dreams of a better country and a better world. Your struggle is ours. We know that if you the people of Colombia can bring to an end these more than five decades of war, your light will shine as an example across the planet. We are confident that despite these losses, the seeds of your labors and your lives will one day bear the fruit of liberation and a just peace. Even now, despite all, that fruit is ripening.

Organizational Endorsements

Alliance for Global Justice

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

Liberty Tree Foundation

Popular Resistance

ANSWER/Act Now to Stop War and End Racism

International Action Center

All African Peoples Revolutionary Party-GC

Workers World

Party of Socialism and Liberation

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Pan Left Video Collective

Misión Victor Julio Garzón

Arizona Communist Party

Salt of the Earth Labor College

Global Climate Convergence

Campaign for Labor Rights (AfGJ)

Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition

Peoples Human Rights Observatory, US Chapter

Nicaragua Network (AfGJ)

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

Women’s Fightback Network

SOA Watch Austin

Arizona Peace Council

Nuclear Resister

Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA)

Tucson Samaritans

Rochester Committee on Latin America

National Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala/Red en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala (NISGUA)

Task Force on the Americas

Popular Resistance of Mississippi

Echoes of Silence

Friends of the ATC (Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo, Nicaragua)

Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Boston

Stand for Democracy

Revolutionary Grounds Café, Tucson, AZ

Utah Anti-War Committee

Tampa Anti-War Committee

Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice

Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs

 

Individual signers (organizational affiliations for identification purposes only)

Medea Benjamin, Founder of Code Pink

Isabel Garcia, Director Derechos Humanos Coalition

Timeka Drew, Director Liberty Tree Foundation

John Bachtell, National Chair of the Communist Party USA

Pamela Brubaker, Professor Emeritus of Religion, California Lutheran Seminary and member of the  American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics

Tom Burke, Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera

Cheri Honkala, Director Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

Daniel Kovalik, Adjunct Professor, International Human Rights, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Mark Burton, Board Member AfGJ, member of National Lawyers Guild

Margaret Flowers, Co-Director Popular Resistance

Kevin Zeese, Co-Director Popular Resistance

Alexander Main, senior associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research

Fred Hirsch, Plumbers Union Local 393, author of Build Unity And Trust Among Workers Worldwide resolution

Alice Loaiza, Marcha Patriótica, US Chapter

Martha Grevatt, Trustee, United Auto Workers Local 869

Jack Cohen-Joppa, Co-editor Nuclear Resister

Felice Cohen-Joppa, Co-editor Nuclear Resister

Bob Brown, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party-GC

Banbose Shango, National Network on Cuba

Mick Kelly, Editor Fight Back! News

Audrey Bomse, Co-Chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee

Stan Smith, Chicago Solidarity with Alba

Dom Tuminaro, National Lawyers Guild, New York, NY

Kay Tillow, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care, Louisville, KY

Linda Ray, SEIU 1021 Delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council

Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance

Cheryl LaBash, AFSCME retiree, Detroit,MI

William Whitney, Peoples World

Joe Iosbaker, Chicago Anti-War Committee

Eve Herschcopf, Jewish Voices for Peace, Bay Area, CA

Elane  Spivak, Alliance for Global Justice
Dale Sorensen, Task Force on the Americas
Margaret Walker, International Wobblies of the World
Prof. Meyer Brownstone, Oxfam Canada-Chair Emeritus
Alfred Marder, US Peace Council

Claude Marks, Freedom Archives

Jim Hard, SEIU Local 1021, Sacramento, CA

Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace
Carol Gay, NJ State Industrial Union Council

Michael Eisenscher, Bay Area Labor Cmte. for Peace & Justice Oakland

Jose Soler, COSODIBO Coordinadora de Solidaridad Diáspora Boricua

Jennie Eisert, Minneapolis Anti-War Committee

Clay G. Colson, Board Director and Water Issues Chair, Citizens for Sanity.Com, Inc.

Karen Platt, Jewish Voice for Peace member

Kamau Benjamin, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party-GC

Lee Robinson, Director Missing Pages of History

Sarah M. Roberts, RN, BSN, No More Deaths Medical Team

Stanley J. Kaster, Misión Victor Julio Garzón, Brooklyn, NY

Martha Rollins, Misión Victor Julio Garzón, Costa Rica

Cody Edgerly,  Alliance for Global Justice Prison Imperialism researcher

Faye Hinze, Founder Marin Interfaith Task Force

Frank Chapman, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

Stefany Cott Tolentino, Lucha Unida para Padres y Estudiantes (LUPE)

Bryan Orozco, Tucson Students for a Democratic Society

Jim Byrne, Tucson Anti-War Committee

José Alemán, Stand for Democracy

Martin, Mowforth, Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA)

Jaz Brisack, Popular Resistance of Mississippi

Chawki Irving, All African People’s Revolutionary Party
Richard Grassl, Carpenters union Pasco, WA
Christopher  Fisher, The Raucous Rooster

Joe Bernick, Tucson Peace Center

Kathy Rentenbach, AfGJ
Stephen Benson, Peninsula Peace & Justice, Blue Hill, ME
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Barbara Larcom, Casa Baltimore/Limay
Arnold Matlin, AfGJ Board and Rochester Committee on Latin America
Vicki Cervantes, Honduras Solidarity Network and AfGJ Board
Bob Peterson, Rethinking Schools
Martha Schmidt, National Lawyers Guild
John Ocampo, AfGJ Board
Alfred Rose, Presbyterian Church USA
Burton Steck, Jewish Voice for Peace, Chicago Chapter
Jon Sternberg, National Lawyers Guild
Sean Rosenstock, Workers Solidarity Alliance West Hills, CA
Eve Hershcopf, Hercules, California

Ricardo Ocampo, Miami, FL

Cindy Shamban, Berkeley, CA

Nancy Nelson, Mendocino, CA

Barbara Larcom, Baltimore, Maryland

Michelle Jahnke Raygada, Tucson, Arizona

Patricia and Daniel Driscoll-Shaw, Huntley, IL

Susan Chandler, For Pierce, FL

Mary Willis, New York, New York

Invar Enghardt, Estocolmo, NE

Louise Gregg, Baltimore, MD

Linda Paul, Tucson, AZ

Eric Vazquez, Pittsburgh, PA

Hermann Engelhardt, Frostburg, MD

walt miller, Tucson, AZ
Ernest Jones, Dallas, TX
Birgit Lenderink, Seattle, WA
Beth Angel, East Hampton, CT
Kelley Scanlon, Syracuse, NY
Enzo Bard, Baldwin, NY
John Webster, Lexington, KY
Claire Mortimer, Brooklin, ME
Jelica Roland, Buzet, OT
Joann Roomes, Coupeville, WA
Tom Alden, Truckee, CA
Barclay  Goldsmith, Tucson, AZ
L. Bagley, Albuquerque, NM
Manuel DePaz, Berkeley, CA
Jack Strausburg, Tucson, AZ
Louis Hellwig, Cedar Falls, IA
Sarah Jacobson, Tucson, AZ
Pamela Marvin, Tucson, AZ
Mary Bunting, Towson, MD
Marge Dakouzlian, Staten Island, NY
William Kirk Snavely, Lawrence, KS
Steven Adger, Tucson, AZ
John Downing, Richmond, VA
Daniel Shertzer, Lancaster, PA
Mary Bunting, Towson, MD
Dorothy Chao, Tucson, AZ
Annette Hartshorne, Fitchburg, WI
Lee Ballenger, Rockingham, NC
Lane  Hart, IV, Frederick, MD
Barbara Lemmon, Green Valley, AZ
Jennifer Kunze, Baltimore, MD
RM Parks, Tucson, AZ

Don Dicken, Ellensburg, WA
Judy Ilan, Berkeley, CA
Troy Troyer, Concord, CA
Lucienne O’Keef, Greenbrae, CA
Rachel Greenwood, Williamsburg, MA
Dawn Regier, Portland, OR
Kirk Bails, Harrison Twp., MI
David R Weiss-Irwin, Medford, MA
Kenneth Hayes, Austin, TX
S Brian Willson, Portland, OR
Kostis Papadantonakis, Baltimore, MD
Douglas Wingeier, Asheville, NC
Andrew Somers, Tucson, AZ
Michael Hanrahan, Seattle, WA
Nancy Murphy, Tucson, AZ
Maureen Sheahan, Southfield, MI
Bobbie Flowers, New York, NY
Rael Nidess, Marshall, TX
Brad Thacker, Lakewood, CO
Andrew Somers, Tucson, AZ
Henry Kahn, Atlanta, GA
Roger Harris, Corte Madera, CA
Rebecca  Payne, Dixon, CA
Rachel Deierling, Tucson, AZ
Alberto Ramon, El Sobrante, CA
Debra Larson, Minneapolis, MN
Jonah Blaustein, Riverdale, MD
Susan Willis, Tucson, AZ
John Peha, Ventura, CA
Mary Ellen V. Redish, Palm Springs, CA
Tom & Kathy Nickodemus, Las Cruces, NM

Joy Soler, Tucson, AZ
Willis, New York, NY
Liisa North, Toronto, ON
Debra Larson, Minneapolis, MN
Diane Beatty, Lumberton, NJ
Howard Druan, Tucson, AZ
Carol Kessler, Ossining, NY
George Weissmann OR
Bill Lankford, Charlottesville, VA
Nathan Sheard, Brooklyn, NY
Sally-Allice Thompson, Albuquerque, NM
Jo Ann McGreevy, North Bergen, NJ
Peter Becker, Portland, NY
Clayton Bagwell, Courtenay, BC
Patricia Herrera, Miami Beach, FL
Ordell Vee, Madelia, MN
Larry Hertz, Tucson, AZ
Fredrikson, Port Townsend, WA
Brenda Davies, Amherst, MA
Ofer Neiman Jerusalem, Israel
Evelyn Haas, Phila., PA J
John Brusen E Perth, OT
Garyand Betty Ball, Boulder, CO
Norman Koerner Koerner, Philadelphia, PA
Kenneth Hayes, Austin, TX
Lynn Shoemaker, Whitewater, WI
Anna Maria Kaalund Ramm Biao, Døllefjelde, OT
Sarah McKee McKee, Amherst, MA
Adrian Maries, Pittsburgh, PA
Vivian Weinstein, Denver, CO
Alan Haggard, San Diego, CA
Joseph Volpe SEIU Ventura, CA
Walter Sherwood, Davis, CA
Henry Gales, Seattle, WA
Mike Matejka, Normal, IL
Jonathan Boyne, Honolulu, HI
Richard Ochs

Kathleen Densmore

Michael S. Sorgen

Mario Galvan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael S. Sorgen