Widespread protests are taking place throughout Colombia. Serious issues that have long gone ignored underlie these protests, including economic and racial injustice and exclusion, the government’s inadequate and unequal response to the pandemic, the abject failure to fully implement Colombia’s historic peace accords, the government’s controversial plan to reinitiate aerial spraying while failing to provide alternatives to farmers, and the nonstop slaughter of human rights defenders and social leaders.
What’s Going On?
The reaction to the protests has been brutal. Our human rights and Afro-Colombian and indigenous partners in Colombia are calling out for help from the international community. As of May 11:
- 40 people were killed by actions of the security forces since the protests began April 28;
- 313 people were wounded; 28 sustained damage to their eyes;
- 1,003 protesters were detained arbitrarily;
- 12 people were victims of sexual violence.
Colombia’s National Police is on a rampage. Hundreds of videos from ordinary people demonstrate a brutal and indiscriminate use of lethal and non-lethal weapons against citizens in ways that violate both Colombian law and international human rights standards. The U.S. must condemn the Colombian government’s response and suspend security assistance, especially police aid, and sales of weapons and crowd control items NOW.
How You Can Help
Reps. McGovern, Pocan, Schakowsky and Grijalva are circulating a dear colleague letter UNTIL TOMORROW at 3:00pm (EST) to Secretary of State Blinken about the current situation in Colombia surrounding the nation-wide protests and the violent response to demonstrators by the Colombian public security forces. Call or email your representative now and ask them to sign on! Find your representative here. And here’s a sample script for calls/emails:
“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 colleague letter currently being circulated by Representatives McGovern, Pocan, Schakowsky, and Grijalva regarding the nation-wide protests in Colombia. Colombians have a right to peacefully protest against issues that have plagued their country for years, many of them connected to the inadequate implementation of the historic 2016 peace accords. Their concerns have been met with brutal violence. The U.S. must encourage dialogue between the Colombian government, the protest movement, and civil society groups and suspend assistance and freeze the sale of weapons to Colombian security forces in order to curb the violence. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”
You can also call your senators and ask them to make a public statement calling for an end to the police violence, respect for peaceful protest, suspension of security aid until there is accountability, and national dialogue in Colombia.
The U.S. has a moral obligation to ensure it is not aiding and abetting gross violations of human rights—both domestically and abroad.