Colombia has not appropriately responded to the high levels of violence in Buenaventura. Today, we support the urgent call from victims’ organizations to end violence in Colombia’s second-largest port. The march, “The Interment of Violence in Buenaventura: So That We Can Live with Dignity,” brings together victims, social movements, and religious movements in order to draw attention to the pervasive effects of violence on everyday life in the city.
The statistics do not tell the whole story—much of the violence goes unreported because victims fear reprisals against themselves or their communities. Buenaventura continues to be one of Colombia’s epicenters of forced displacement caused by armed actors and economic interests. In 2013, there was a 42% increase in reported murders, and forced disappearances terrorize the city’s neighborhoods. Extortion and intimidation by armed groups preclude freedom of movement and expression throughout the city. Women have been methodically silenced by the ongoing femicide that is manifest in the levels of gender-based violence. Meanwhile, approximately 50% of Colombia’s foreign trade moves through the city’s port, as 80% of the city’s residents are living in conditions of poverty.
This unrequited violence in Buenaventura is racialized—over 85% of Buenaventura’s population is Afro-descendant. The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN), therefore, calls on the Colombian government, the international community, Colombian society, and allies to support the marchers’ calls for an end to violence and respect for the people living there.