Election Update; and announcing: CHARLA DE COLOMBIA / TALKING ABOUT COLOMBIA
This year’s elections in Colombia could bring a seismic shift in Colombian politics and rejuvenate a peace process that many had pronounce dead. There is the possibility of a thorough rejection of the far right in the ballot box. People are tired of austerity, poverty, social neglect, and a refusal by the government to honor the 2016 Peace Accord. They are tired of a humanitarian crisis of political violence that has claimed the lives of at 1327 social movement leaders, and 308 signers of the peace agreement, according to Indepaz. The prospect of an election marred by violence and mired in fraud could bring Colombia’s hopes crashing down.
The viability and success of Colombia’s May 29th presidential election could depend on the presence of international electoral observers. The Alliance for Global Justice, National Lawyers Guild, and the People’s Human Rights Observatory are organizing an Election Accompaniment and Observation Team that will be hosted by and accredited through the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (Comite Permanente de Derechos Humanos-CPDH).
If you would like more information, please send an email to [email protected]
If the congressional and primary elections that occurred last March 13 are any indication, there is cause for concern. Despite widespread irregularities, opposition candidates did exceptionally well, and Gustavo Petro, the candidate for the Center-Left Historic Pact (Pacto Histórico) won more votes in his primary than the combined total for the winners of the other top two primaries. But when initial results were released for congressional races, power remained in the hands of the current governing coalition. Unbelievably, in 26% of the polls, the Pacto Historico received zero votes, a statistical impossibility. After a revision, three more seats were awarded to the Center-Left coalition Party. While it looks like the right wing may have to concede defeat in the presidential vote, they are pulling out all stops to make Colombia ungovernable if they cannot hold power.
Had it not been for the testimonies of foreign election observers and the outcry of Colombian voters, those results might have remained unchallenged. If you would like to be part of our election observation team for the May 29 presidential election, send an email to [email protected]
Fortunately for you, dear reader, we have the Alliance for Global Justice to keep us informed about the reality in Colombia, where a groundswell of resistance may be forcing a change that not even the empire and all its puppets can stop. One way you can stay informed for the next six weeks is by watching our new Zoom broadcast, available in both English and Spanish:
Exciting new broadcast!
CHARLA DE COLOMBIA / TALKING ABOUT COLOMBIA
For the next six Fridays, AFGJ will be sponsoring a series of “Happy Hours”, each one an hour long, and featuring different social and political leaders who will help us understand Colombia’s elections and popular movements. These “Happy Hours” will not be your regular webinars where speakers give formal presentations followed by further discussion. Instead, the hosts and guests will share some social time together, conversing, as we learn details about the personal histories and lives of our guests interwoven with tales of struggle and discussions about their dreams and hopes for a New Colombia. Each show will also provide a chance for our guests to share some of the music, poetry, and other cultural expressions of resistance that help them keep their spirits up.
All in all, we expect the Charla de Colombia to be both informational, inspiring, and, yes, fun!
Charla de Colombia / Talking About Colombia schedule:
March 25: Gustavo Gallardo, President of Links of Dignity Foundation (Fundación Lazos de Dignidad). Gustavo is a lawyer who has dedicated his life to winning the freedom of Colombia’s political prisoners, and to working for peace with justice in his war-torn nation. AFGJ has known Gustavo since 2008, and we brought him on tour in 2014. He is one of our closest friends and allies, and we’re really excited that he can kick this series off for us. He will be joined by one of Lazos’ newest members, Jeison Romero, who is helping us organize our Colombia electoral mission.
April 1: Senators Israel Zuñiga, aka Benkos Biohó and Judith Simanca Herrera, aka Victoria Sandino. Benkos and Victoria Sandino were former comandantes of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army), negotiators of the 2016 Peace Accord, and former Senators after the accords were implemented. They are both leaders in the Afrodescendent community and tireless advocates against racism, for labor rights, and for a peace that is characterized by justice.
April 8: Rubiel Vargas and Maria Cardona, from CPDH (Permanent Committee for Human Rights). Rubiel is the President of CPDH, and Maria is its International Relations Coordinator. CPDH is one of the oldest and most respected human rights organizations in Colombia. They will be hosting our electoral mission. Maria is a regular participant in AFGJ’s Colombia working group, as well!
April 15: Darnelly Rodriguez and David Escobar. Darnelly and David have often been mentioned in AFGJ alerts and special activities. Darnelly is the coordinator the Valle de Cauca chapter of REDDHFIC (Franciso Isaias Cifuentes Human Rights Network), a grassroots organization of human rights defenders in the Southwest of Colombia. She is also the coordinator for the Centro Pazífico (the Pacific Human Rights Center) which provides meeting, class, and office space for social movements in Cali, as well as lodging for human rights accompaniment. David is an independent journalist and videographer who was our most important source of information about the repression of the 2021 National Strike in Cali. David and Darnelly distributed supplies provided by AFGJ to street medics during the strike.
April 22: TO BE ANNOUNCED
April 29: TO BE ANNOUNCED