Thursday, January 12, 2023
7pm Eastern and Colombia Time, 6pm Central, 5pm Mountain, and 4pm Pacific
The proposal of Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro for a Total Peace Plan is an exciting development that could bring an end to political violence that has left more than 200,000 persons known dead, another 90,000 “disappeared”, and millions displaced over more than five decades. The plan has been approved by Colombia’s congress and has broad popular support. Nevertheless, political violence has continued to scourge Colombia in the form of murders of social leaders, human rights defenders, and peace accord signers, and massacres against protesters and in the form of so-called “social cleansing”. These acts are committed by a variety of actors, especially paramilitaries, narco-traffickers, and members of the Colombian Armed Forces. People are losing their lives to political violence at a rate of more than one victim per day. The Alliance for Global Justice, along with the People’s Human Rights Observatory, and Centro Pazífico, are presenting the webinar, Colombia’s Total Peace Plan–the View from Ground Zero to learn about the hopes and possibilities for, and the obstacles to, peace in Colombia–and what we as solidarity activists can do to help, given that US policies remain oriented towards militarism, war, and systems of repression, rather than a just end to Colombia’s political violence.
Featuring presentations by:
Camilo Gonzalez Posso, Director of INDEPAZ, the best repository of up-to-date statistics and analysis on political violence in Colombia what we use at AFGJ)
Jhon Anderson Ipia, President of the Memoria Viva Union in the Department of Cauca, and member of the national executive committee
Daniel Rueda, spokesperson for the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica) Party
Moderated by Daniela Gonzalez, International Coordinator for the People’s Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio de los Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos)
No area has been more affected by political violence than the region served by Cali’s Pacific Center for Human Rights, better known as the Centro Pazífico, a project of the Francisco Isaias Cifuentes Human Rights Network (REDDHFIC). That region, including the Departments of Valle de Cauca has been “ground zero” both for threats against social leaders, and in the struggles for peace and land rights. Whether confronting the massive police and paramilitary violence in and around Cali during the 2021 National Strike, the large scale forced displacement of rural, Afro, and Indigenous communities, or the constant stream of assaults and killings of leaders in the north of Cauca and in the city of Buenaventura, the people’s hopes for peace are dampened by the ongoing daily struggle just to survive against such repression.
Partners of the Alliance for Global Justice have been among the most affected. Centro Pazífico Director Darnelly Rodriguez has received multiple threats declaring her a “military object”, including a declaration she received in the last week of 2022 specifying her by name. Even so, the government and, specifically, the UNP (National Protection Unit) have not taken steps to increase her security detail, and the vehicle provided for her safe transport is in bad shape and regularly unavailable and in need of repair. Members of the Memoria Viva Union, a union of security guards formed by ex-guerrillas and signers of the peace accords, have suffered similarly. The UNP has not met its commitments to keep the union maintained with working vehicles and conditions necessary to offer protection to the people they are guarding, or, in turn, for their leaders to be provided with adequate security details. During the past few months, the union has lost two of its members to death squads in the north of Cauca. Similarly, in this same area, there have been a series of threats and murders against leaders of the Fensuagro farmers and farm workers union, and against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders. These include killings that have deeply affected the communities in Miranda and Corinto, where AFGJ has maintained contact for the past 15 years. In the majority Afro-Colombian port of Buenaventura, paramilitaries and narco-traffickers maintain a tight grip on city streets, and the people running the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica) Party community center are being followed, threatened, and assaulted daily. UP leader Yasmani Grueso has received chilling threats and harassment over recent days.
We eagerly applaud the initiative by the Petro administration to achieve a Total Peace in Colombia. The successes in achieving a broad ceasefire among the various parties, and in pursuing steps towards negotiations are very promising. However, enemies of the peace are still strong, organized, and active, and the obstacles to making the dream of peace a reality are profound. Peace in Colombia is inextricably tied to the policies of the US government and transnational corporations, who prioritize privatization over any other consideration. The peace they want is a false peace that opens the way for unrestrained and unmitigated profits, not a just peace; and if they can’t have the false peace of Empire, than a constant level of conflict that leaves communities in terror is preferred—just so long as the profits flow. The US continues to orient its policies in Colombia towards military, police, prison, and other forms of “security” aid, and is more interested in maintaining Colombia as a military colony of the Pentagon than supporting Colombia’s autonomous development.
Please attend the webinar on Colombia’s Total Peace Plan—The View from Ground Zero next Thursday, January 12, 7pm Eastern and learn more about the issues and how you can help support real peace in Colombia and the world.
And… Will you take a moment to send an email for Darnelly
and support the Centro Pazífico?