bwg

Support the Black Women’s Gathering in Colombia

Support the National & International Gathering of Black Women Caregivers of Life and Ancestral Territories in Colombia:  Thursday, November 17th through Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Through this weekend of presentations, workshops, inter-generational exchanges, cross-cultural dialogue, art, conversation and skill shares, over 160 Black women from across Colombia, Honduras, the U.S. and Brazil will create a collective agenda from, by and for Black Women for the collective care of life and ancestral territories with a local and Afro-diasporic focus.

Help Us Raise $10,000 USD to Make This Important Gathering a Reality.

CLICK HERE to visit our GoFundMe Page. Any amount helps! 

$10 covers breakfasts for one participant for the length of the gathering
$20 covers lodging for one participant for the length of the gathering.
$50 funds travel for a delegation from within Colombia
$100 helps cover press work to disseminate the gathering’s platform
$200-800 helps toward getting an international delegate to the gathering

Background:

On November 17th, 2014, dozens of Black women from southwest Colombia mobilized a 400 mile march from Cauca to Bogotá, called the called the ‘Black Women’s Mobilization for the Care of Life and the Ancestral Territories’ to demand the respect of their territorial rights. When the Colombian Government refused to negotiate in good faith the Black Women’s Mobilization for the Care of Life and Ancestral Territories occupied the Ministry of Interior to force government officials to demanding the removal of armed illegal mining activities that continue to steal the intergenerational source of accessible gold deposits, poisoning rivers, and threaten their lives and long-term displacement of their families from their rural ancestral lands.

Since then, their leadership and vision have played a central role in their communities’ efforts to demand–and win–an Ethnic Chapter in Colombia’s historic Peace Accords. They have mobilized to protect their territories from international mining interests and extractive industries. From autonomous food systems to national and regional protests, they’ve steered the pedagogy and helped define the goals of their communities’ resistance efforts.

Now, two years after that historic march, and within the context of Colombia’s formative, and hopefully post-war moment, Black Colombian women are convening their Black women comrades from all over Colombia, from Honduras, from Brazil, and from the U.S. for the National and International Gathering of Black Women Defenders of Life and Ancestral Territories. This gathering will strengthen Black women’s bonds of sisterhood by collectively constructing an agenda that articulates their efforts to face their many challenges, together from across the diaspora. The Black Women’s Mobilization for the Care of Life and the Ancestral Territories believes that just as Black Women gave birth to humanity, so too will Black Women give birth to humanity’s liberation.

Through presentations, workshops, inter-generational exchanges, and cross-cultural dialogue, The National and International Gathering of Black Women Caregivers of Life and Ancestral Territories will create a collective agenda from, by and for Black Women for the collective care of life and ancestral territories with both local and afro-diasporic focus.

Help make this work happen by donating whatever you’re able. CLICK HERE to visit our GoFundMe Page. Any amount helps! any amount helps!

$10 covers breakfasts for one participant for the length of the gathering
$20 covers lodging for one participant for the length of the gathering.
$50 funds travel for a delegation from within Colombia
$100 helps cover press work to disseminate the gathering’s platform
$200-800 helps toward getting an international delegate to the gathering

Help spread the word!

La ACSN Condena Amenazas de Muerte Racista contra Defensor de la Paz Afrocolombiano

El 3 de Septiembre, en un foro organizado por el Centro Democrático para discutir el plebiscito por la paz en Buenaventura, el líder Afrocolombiano, rapero, y líder social Leonard Martin Rentería Vallecilla ejerció su derecho a la libertad de expresión y dio un apasionado discurso a favor del “Sí” al plebiscito por la paz. El Señor Renteria Vallecilla, un sobreviviente de guerra y violencia, y cuya familia ha sufrido ataques y asesinatos, abogó respetuosamente por una sociedad más inclusiva donde las diferencias de opinión sean respetadas. Sin el conocimiento del señor RenteriaVallecilla, unos defensores del “No” grabaron su presentación en este evento donde el ex-presidente y ahora Senador Álvaro Uribe estaba presente.

Un video del discurso del señor Renteria Vallecilla se hizo viral en redes sociales tales como Facebook y WhatsApp. Inmediatamente lo bombardearon con amenazas de muerte y comentarios racistas por teléfono, por haber expresado su opinión. En Facebook, algunos compartieron su paradero para que otros pudieran encontrarlo y lastimarlo. Las amenazas incluyeron comentarios racistas como “negro HDP” y advertencias de que pronto se enfrontaría a su muerte. A la compañera de trabajo del señor Renteria Vallecilla la siguieron unos hombres en moto que le hicieron señales con la mano de estarle disparando con una pistola.

Es particularmente problemático que varios miembros del partido Centro Democrático, señalaron desde sus cuentas de Twitter y Facebook,  que Leonard estaba siendo apoyado por la guerrilla y por el llamado “castrochavismo.” Alguien más desde un blog señaló que Leonard era parte  o había sido parte de un grupo armado. Estos tipos de señalamientos lo pone en grave riesgo dada la coyuntura muy polarizada y violenta en Colombia.

La Red de Solidaridad con Comunidades Afro-Colombianas (ACSN) condena enérgicamente las amenazas e intimidación que está recibiendo el señor Renteria Vallecilla. Hacemos un llamado a las autoridades Colombianas y Estadounidenses para que le otorguen inmediatamente al señor Renteria Vallecilla, su familia, y miembros de su organización Asociación Cultural Rostros Urbanos, la máxima protección necesaria para garantizar su seguridad. Las autoridades Colombianas deben condenar públicamente estos ataques y tomar acción para investigar y procesar a aquellos responsables por estos actos.

Para más información favor contactar a gsanchez@wola.org

ACSN Condemns Racist Death Threats against Afro-Colombian Peace Advocate

On September 3, in a forum organized by the Democratic Center on the peace plebiscite in Buenaventura, social leader, rapper, and Afro-Colombian leader Leonard Martin Renteria Vallecilla, exercised his right to free speech and gave an impassioned speech in favor of “Yes” to the peace plebiscite. Mr. Renteria Vallecilla, a survivor of war and violence where his family has suffered attacks and murders, advocated respectfully for a more inclusive society where different opinions are respected. Unbeknown to Mr. Renteria Vallecilla, his presentation was filmed by promoters of the “No” vote at this event, where former President, and now Senator, of Colombia Alvaro Uribe was present.

A video of Mr. Renteria Vallecilla’s presentation went viral on social media including on Facebook and WhatsApp. Immediately he was bombarded with death threats and racist comments via telephone for expressing his opinion. On Facebook persons posted his whereabouts so that others could cause him harm. These threats include racist derogatory remarks including “negro SOB” and warnings that he would soon face his death. Mr. Renteria Vallecilla’s colleague was followed by men in motorcycles who made signals of shooting a gun at her. It is particularly problematic that several members of the Central Democratic Party stated from their Twitter and Facebook accounts that Mr. Renteria Vallecilla was being supported by guerrilla and the so-called “castro-chavismo”. Others blogged that Mr. Renteria Vallecilla is part, or has been part, of an armed group. These types of labels put him in great risk, given the highly polarized and violent situation in Colombia.

Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) strongly condemns the threats, intimidation that Mr. Renteria Vallecilla is experiencing. We call on the U.S. and Colombian authorities to immediately provide Mr. Renteria Vallecilla, his family and members of his organization, Asociacion Cultural Rostros Urbanos, with all the protective measures necessary to guarantee their safety. The Colombian authorities must publicly condemn these attacks and take action to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these actions.

For further information, please contact gsanchez@wola.org

ACSN Celebrates Inclusion of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Rights in Final Colombia Peace Accord

August 26, 2016

On August 24, history was made when the parties to Colombia’s brutal more than 50 year internal armed conflict announced that they had reached a final peace accord. We congratulate the parties to the conflict for persevering and ending the conflict. This peace accord also includes an “Ethnic Chapter” that helps pave the way forward for a differentiated approach in implementing the different aspects of the agreement (rural land reform, victims’ rights, resolving the problem of illicit drugs, political participation and implementation/verification of the accord) taking into account Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities’ rights. The Ethnic Chapter sets forth a set of principles and safeguards that the parties agree to follow in order to guarantee ethnic rights.

This is a big win for ethnic rights because right to prior, free and informed consultation will be applied in the implementation of the accord. These groups will have access to the Land Fund and the Territorial Focused Development Plans (PDET) will be designed jointly with ethnic authorities in their areas. The participation of ethnic authorities is guaranteed in the different aspects of the institutions set up to implement the agreement. It establishes a High-Level Special Body for Ethnic Peoples to serve as a mechanism for participation in all processes of implementation and verification of the agreements.

The Ethnic Chapter states that verification mechanism that will include international participation will be created in order to monitor, identify and contribute to effective implementation of ethnic rights in the post-accord era. It recognizes that in addition to the conflict, ethnic groups have suffered due to colonialism, slavery, exclusion and injustices. Further, it stipulates that these communities have specific individual and collective rights that are enshrined in international and national norms that Colombia has committed itself to uphold.

ACSN salutes the women and men of the CE for their efforts and sacrifices taken in order to guaranteeing a better future to forthcoming Afro-Colombian and indigenous generations. The Ethnic Chapter’s contents were produced through a lengthy process led by the Ethnic Commission for Peace and Defense of Territorial Rights (CE), a platform that consists of the Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA), the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and the Mayor Government of the Traditional Indigenous Authorities of Colombia. The CONPA consists of nine Afro-Colombian networks including FISCH, CNOA, AFRODES, PCN, CLAF, ACONC, ANAFRO, Mujeres Kambiri and Afro-Colombian religious entities. This grouping led a multi-year national and international advocacy effort. At the national level, the demands of these groups were reasserted through various non-violent pacific protests including the National Agrarian Strike. The support of the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights is much appreciated.

At the international level, the CE gained support from the Barack Obama Administration, the U.S. Congress including Black Caucus Representatives Hank Johnson and Keith Ellison, U.S. Special Envoy Bernie Aronson, U.S. Ambassador Kevin Whitaker, the ACSN network, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), USW, WOLA, Race & Equality, other civil society actors, the peace process’s guarantor countries, USIP and diplomatic corps in Bogota. We also express our deepest gratitude to all who took action to support the CE in order to make this possible.

ACSN Demands Serious and Immediate Responses from the Colombian Government and the United States on the Crisis Facing the Department of Choco

The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) would like to express its deep concern regarding the current humanitarian crisis in the Department of Choco, due to the violation of human rights by the Colombian State. In 2014, social and ethnic organizations in Choco came together with the Diocese of Apartado, Istmina and Quibdo to express their concerns, which the Ombudsman’s Office recognized after it issued the resolution 064 of 2014 with specific recommendations for each of the national and regional institutions to overcome the crisis. That same year, several member organizations of the Choco Inter-Ethnic Solidarity Forum and the Diocese of Quibdo sat before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where the Ministry of Interior promised to work alongside organizations and the Church to create a human rights plan for the Department of Choco and Buenaventura, yet progress has not been made on this front. This is why since July 20, the people of Choco have been protesting by deciding not to raise the flag of the Republic of Colombia but instead Choco’s flag to protest the state’s historical neglect.

Civic resistance manifested in daily marches began on August 17. Led by the Committee for the Salvation and Dignity of Choco that encompasses all organizations and unions in the department that back the protest, a reported 70,000 people marched in Quibdo yesterday along with protests in all the municipalities of the department. The population is reacting against the historical neglect by the state that has left 65.9 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 37.1 percent under extreme poverty with inadequate living conditions. The lack of security to civilians has generated constant displacement and humanitarian emergencies in the department. Until March 5, 2015 19 children died due to malnutrition and water pollution. Systematic corruption is dealt only with interventions rather than real efforts to end this problem.

The protest includes the different sectors of the department, including the Catholic Church represented by the diocese of Quibdo, who have sympathized with the protest and its mission. The list of demands that the people from Choco request from the Colombian government is as follows:

  1. Ensure road construction in Choco that connects the department with the rest of the country
  2. Investments and concerted action to ensure the fundamental right to health in the department of Choco
  3. Affirmative action to consolidate and ensure the integrity and territorial control of Belen de Bajira by Choco
  4. Investment on education and culture as a basis for human development for ethnic and mestizo groups that live in Choco
  5. Institutional reform for territorial development and administrative autonomy of the Department of Choco
  6. Infrastructure to municipal capitals and major settlements of the Department
  7. Promotion and consolidation of state and private programs for employment and departmental productivity with ethnic focus
  8. Investments to ensure the completion in 2016 of the entire sports infrastructure originally scheduled for 2015 National Games
  9. Mass communication and digital connectivity for social development
  10. Easing of public policies for the implementation of sectoral agendas on ethnic peace, borders, victims, human rights, gender, disability, children, youth, adults, sexual diversity, security, education, health, sports, housing and potable water

At this point it is required to implement the recommendations made by the inter-sectoral commission for the advancement of the Afro-Colombian population in 2009.

The Colombian government’s response has been to stigmatize and make excuses stating that the government has invested in the Department in recent years. The national government shifted the blame to regional leaders rather than to assume responsibility for its citizens. It does not demonstrate a political will to seek real solutions to the serious situation the people of Choco face. Leaders of the Department of Choco welcomed President Santos appointment of the Minister of Environment, Luis Gilberto Murillo and Vice Minister of Culture, Zulia Mena who know firsthand the historic neglect of the state to the Department of Choco and especially its needs. Therefore, the statements made today by the Minister of the Environment to the press where he catalogued the protest as inopportune amaze the people of Choco. The only thing the Choco’s people expect of Afro-Colombian leaders is to at least show solidarity and respect of all manifestations that seek the just demands for basic rights and ability to live in dignity.

As a network that monitors closely the human rights reality, socioeconomic rights and other rights of Afro-Colombians we call on the government of Colombia to find a real solution to the demands of the people of Choco. At the same time we continue to demand that the parties at the negotiating table incorporate an ethnic chapter and recommendations presented by the Ethnic Commission in the final peace agreement. Only if the government shows willingness to solve the problems of ethnic groups that lead to results, and ensures that voices are heard under the right to free and informed prior consultation in the design of policies, programs and projects created for their regions will you begin to see real changes for this population.

In turn, the Government of the United States who has been an ally for communities of African descent should ask Colombia to prioritize and protect the fundamental economic, political and social rights of ethnic communities in the country. It should ensure that agreements between the two countries affecting the Afro-Colombian communities such as human rights conditioning in military aid to Colombia, the Labor Action Plan between the US and Colombia and Plan of Racial Action (CAPREE) are implemented in a way to support the advancement of the rights of same and reduce social inequality and racial discrimination in that country.

For more than 40 years the people of Choco have carried out strikes, which the government responds with agreements that are never implemented.

For more information on this situation please contact Euclides Rengifo Cordoba to rengifo.usa@gmail.com