“This is the work involved. Work is creative then. It is what makes for reliance, relying upon the relation of land and people.” Simon Ortiz
Dear All – This will just be a brief note because the action below is long-ish. Last Monday a group of indigenous held a nonviolent protest to mark the beginning of a workers strike – the Colombian government has responded with a disproportionate level of violence. The email details some good action steps to take.
This alert is also a good follow up to last week’s email on the possibility of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement being voted on in Congress – this could be an important example to bring up with your Senators and State Representatives in light of Colombia’s commitment to respecting the human rights of their own people.
I hope this finds everyone enjoying our beautiful descent into Fall…Much Peace Liz
Repression of Colombian indigenous protest.
Take Action Now–Indigenous Protesters and Striking Workers are Under Attack by the Colombian Government
Reports indicate 19 indigenous people killed in the past two weeks while striking sugarcane workers face repression. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe declares a “State of Internal Commotion” to deal with protests and strikes.
Indigenous communities in northern Cauca and the sugarcane workers on strike in the neighboring province of Valle de Cauca are asking for an honest dialogue with the Colombian government to address the serious social problems they face. Rather than listening to the concerns of these marginalized communities, the Colombian government-backed by U.S. military funding-responds with repressive force.
Please act now to stand with these activists!
Contact William Brownfield, the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, asking him to demand that the Colombian government respect human rights. Click here to send Ambassador Brownfield an email message.
Speak up at a campaign forum. With elections around the corner, you can help inform candidates and voters about the FTA and human rights in Colombia speaking up at a campaign forum. Learn how here.
Since October 12th, indigenous and other social organizations in southwestern Colombia, have been protesting the militarization of their lands, the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the failure of the government of President Alvaro Uribe to comply with agreements relating to indigenous land, education, and healthcare. See their demands here (link is in Spanish). Over 12,000 indigenous activists and other social justice activists are congregated on the Territory of Peace and Coexistence in La Maria Piendamo, in Cauca, resisting the hostile and massive presence of state security forces who have been ordered to remove them. On Monday, the communities participating in the indigenous protest blocked a portion of the Pan American Highway in Cauca, in an act of civil disobedience meant to force the government to meet with them to discuss their demands.
Rather than respond to their calls for negotiation, over the last four days violence has broken out between elite police units and the assembled communities, with at least two people killed and over 50 indigenous activists severely wounded mostly by bullets, one possibly fatally, in the ensuing clashes. These unfolding developments come just days after two other Nasa Indians– Nicolas Valencia Lemus and Celestino Rivera — were assassinated by unidentified gunmen over the weekend, just a few hours before the start of the mobilization. The National Organization of Colombia’s Indigenous (ONIC) report that in the past two weeks at least 19 indigenous leaders have been killed across the country. This only adds to the alarming human rights situation in indigenous communities in Colombia. ONIC reports that between 2002 and 2006, 1,226 indigenous people have been killed, 300 have been disappeared and 1,660 have been jailed.
STATE OF INTERNAL COMMOTION
Last week, President Uribe declared a “state of internal commotion”, alarming many activists and human rights defenders. As stipulated in the 1991 Constitution, the “state of internal commotion” allows the president to govern without the oversight of the legislature, giving the President unprecedented powers, particularly in the area of security and “public order.” Many constitutional scholars have criticized the measure as unnecessary, if not undemocratic. President Uribe justified this frighteningly authoritarian approach to domestic affairs, pointing a 42-day judicial workers strike that has clogged the judicial system. Now that the government and the judicial workers union, ASONAL, reached a tentative deal on a new contract that ended the strike today, the big question is whether or not the President will reverse the measure.
FSPA JPICC Coordinator
8th Day Center of Justice
205 W. Monroe
Chicago, IL 60606