“Money for the victims, money for the displaced. No more money for murder and waste!” Chanted the crowd gathered outside the White House on Monday, June 29th. Inside, Colombian President Uribe was trying to get the same approval from President Obama that he received from the Bush Administration, and activists from around the city came to make sure that he would not get it. Attracting media attention and stopping traffic, they exposed the human rights abuses committed by the Colombian military and demanded that the U.S. change its policies to support victims of the ongoing violence.
Amidst blaring horns from frustrated drivers, a group of activists staged a “Plan Colombia Crime Scene,” as a way to represent the victims of Plan Colombia’s violence, including “teachers, Afro-Colombians, union leaders, and indigenous.” Ten people laid on the hot pavement to block the intersection, connected by chain and plastic piping, while others held up black cardboard figures of the people they represented.
Around them circled activists, faith-based and non-governmental groups, police, media, and tourists eager to learn more. The protesters chanted loudly while holding signs with messages like, “Obama, keep your promise” and “No Military Aid, no FTA”.
We hope that this energy and momentum for change in Colombia continues, and that the voices shouting in the streets on Monday will continue to ring in the ears of the U.S and Colombian governments as they leave Plan Colombia behind.