Bogota Colombia – More than 100 Colombian human rights groups from remote Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities have written to the new US administration asking for help in the face of the continuing violence and killings they face.
“Our black, indigenous and rural farming communities living in remote areas of Colombia have lived for over 40 years in the midst of armed conflict… and today we continue to suffer,” reads the opening paragraph. letter addressed to US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Persecution, torture, murder, enforced disappearance, displacement, violent land dispossession, sexual violence, stigma and silence are what we have to go through in our territories or we will be killed,” he said. -he declares.
In 2016, the Colombian government signed a controversial peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending five decades of conflict.
But the country continued to struggling with violence.
The reintegration of demobilized combatants has not been fully implemented by the current right-wing government of Ivan Duque. New armed groups have emerged in areas left by the FARC, which are fighting fiercely for control of precious land for illicit economies, such as gold mining or drug trafficking. Hundreds of human rights activists have been killed since the peace agreement, along with hundreds of ex-combatants who signed the agreement.
Among those most affected are those in rural communities, many of whom continue to live in fear four years after the agreement was signed.
The letter that communities wrote through various organizations called on the US administration to help them ensure compliance with what had been agreed with the FARC, a resumption of peace talks with the existing rebel group. ELN (National Liberation Army), more public policies built alongside the people of rural areas, land reforms, substitutes for illicit crops and a more institutional presence of the state in remote areas.
The letter is due to be delivered to the US Congress next week.
On the first day of the new administration, Biden signed a series of executive orders aimed at overturning some of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies, addressing immigration reforms, and halting the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Some human rights groups see these steps as a positive sign and hope that the new administration will pay more attention to human rights issues not only in the United States, but also in countries of the United States. Latin America.
“There is hope that the Biden administration will prioritize peace, the protection of social leaders, and the rights of Afro-Colombians in US foreign policy towards Colombia,” said Gimena Sanchez, director of Andes at the Washington office for Latin America (WOLA).
“Leaders and communities across Colombia write to Biden to urge his administration to make Duque understand that those affected by violence and conflict want peace, the dismantling of illegal armed groups, engagement with the ELN , effective protection, respect for ethnic rights and a judgment. to the anti-peace efforts that her administration has deployed, ”she said.
Sergio Guzman, political analyst and director of Colombia Risk Analysis, said the Biden administration would likely be more focused on the peace deal and the situation with Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities than the previous government.
“[This is] partly also because of the leadership in Congress. Gregory Meeks of the Foreign Affairs Committee has been lobbying for the rights of Afro-Colombians for a very long time, ”Guzman said.
The cultivation of coca, the raw ingredient in cocaine, remains widespread in many rural areas and Guzman has said he expects the new US administration to prioritize promoting policies such as substitution. cultures in its relations with Bogota.
“In contrast, during the Trump years the question was much more number-driven and the reduction in numbers from Colombia was the end of the whole relationship. I think we are in a much more comprehensive approach to the drug problem, ”he said.