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COVID-19: Social Leaders in Colombia Still Need Us!

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Date: Jun 25, 2020

Author: Antonio Saadipour Sellés

Two weeks ago, we wrote to you asking you to join us in organizing members of Congress to sign a dear colleague letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo being circulated by Representatives James McGovern (D-MA-2) and Mark Pocan (D-WI-2). We asked, and you delivered. But we need one final push from you to get more members on this letter.


What is Happening?

The tally of social leaders murdered in Colombia continues rising steadily, with 140 assassinated in 2020 alone, making it the most dangerous country in the world for social leaders. 

The Duque Administration has for years undermined the historic 2016 peace agreement, which put an end to a war that left over 260,000 people dead and more than 8 million displaced. The current pandemic has only amplified the government’s neglect of the peace accords, so the plight of social leaders and the violence threatened against them for their brave work continues to fall on deaf ears.

The dear colleague letter going around Congress calls for protective measures for social leaders, thorough and transparent investigations of their murders, the dismantling of paramilitaries and their drug trafficking networks, holding Colombian Army intelligence members accountable for illegal spying on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians, and vigorously implementing the peace accords. The letter also calls for the United States to abide by the peace accords and work with communities towards peaceful solutions. Instead, the U.S. has decided to send military trainers to advise the Colombian government on counternarcotics—in direct opposition to what was proposed in the peace agreement. Read the full letter here.


Here’s what you do:

We’re approaching our goal of getting many members of Congress to sign on, but we’re not quite there yet. The deadline for signing on is COB Friday, June 26th, although that might be extended into the following week. So send a message or pick up the phone now! (Here is a current list of signers.)

Write!

  • Find out who your representative is here.
  • Visit their website.
  • Go to their “Contact” page.
  • Click on the “Email” option.
  • Fill out the contact information.
  • Paste our sample email into the appropriate box. See sample letter here.

Call!

  • After finding your representative, call their D.C. office.
  • If you don’t get an answer, leave a voicemail.
  • Here’s our sample script:
    • “My name is [First and Last Name] and I am a constituent from [City, State, Zip Code]. I am calling to urge Representative [Last Name] to sign on to the dear colleague letter currently being circulated by Representatives James McGovern and Mark Pocan. Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. Since the signing of the historic peace accords in 2016, over 400 human rights defenders have been killed. Now, with this pandemic, armed groups are taking advantage of the situation to consolidate power and spread violence. The United States must urge the Colombian government to more effectively implement the peace accords, which would entail providing protections for social leaders, bringing their murderers to justice, dismantling paramilitaries’ criminal networks, and holding Colombian Army intelligence officials accountable for their illegal surveillance scandals. By signing on to this letter, you would be helping to build a lasting peace in Colombia. Thank you for considering this.”

After writing or calling, make sure your friends and family have too. Do it because you know the price of peace should not be death.  


Need some more background resources? Check out our COVID-19 pageAnd don’t forget to stay tuned for the next actions!