Month: June 2017

PCN: Statement on Stigmatization and Persecution by the State


Nurturing Life and Territories as Black People is Not a Crime
Our lives, Our Territories, and Our Rights Cannot be the Price of Peace

We struggle for the dignity of black people. We are the inheritors of those that survived the dehumanizing policies that were implemented in the name of progress. We are the granddaughters and grandsons of those that organized in order to nurture life and wanted to enjoy it with dignity and health.

High-level government officials and armed actors often accuse us of opposing development because they value the exploitation of the earth more than our lives. We are what they want to hide and eliminate because we resist. We defend water, the territories, biodiversity, and life from the predation caused by large-scale mining, energy, and infrastructure projects such as roads and ports. We are critical and we oppose the model. We are the ones that have to deal with the mess caused by the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the model. Even though they do not want us alive, we continue to struggle for life and happiness, for the hope and freedom of our people.

We came today to face Colombian society as leaders from the Black Communities’ Process. We come from different parts of the country, and we are here in front of the Attorney General’s Office without fear. We are here because we want to say that we will continue participating in marches, assemblies, protests, and campaigns wherever we are. We are building institutions that promote the good life (buen vivir), institutions that are free of racism, discrimination, and inequality.

They are trying to promote the idea that we are entering a moment of democratization, participation, and implementation to the outside world. But we keep the following people alive and strong in our hearts: Demetrio López, Miller Angulo, Ana Fabricia Cordoba, Genaro García, and Bernardo Cuero, who was murdered last week in front of his home. 57 people have been murdered because they struggled for justice and dignity for all of us.

Countless others like Felix Manuel Banguero have had their names smeared by State-led criminalization campaigns that promote policies of fear and hate. Similarly, countless black women like Francia Marquez, Danelly Estupiñan, and Sara Quiñonez have given everything for our descendants (renancientes).

We are here. We are showing our faces before a form of justice that is limping, and we are here to offer our support so that justice can become a reality in our lives and in our territories. We are here showing our faces because we don’t owe anyone anything. The State should encourage dialogue and promote effective participation in response to social protest. It should definitively abandon its practices of stigmatization, militarization, and police brutality, as well as its denial of the systematic murder and criminalization of social movement leaders.

Being a social movement leader is not a crime. Territory is life, and life is never sold—it is loved and defended. We don’t carry weapons—we have dignity. The people will never give up!

Statement on Stigmatization and Persecution by the State
June 12, 2017
Black Communities’ Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, PCN)

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AFRODES Leader Bernardo Cuero Murdered

The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Bernardo Cuero Bravo. His murder is an attack on all of us struggling for peace and racial justice in Colombia and beyond.

Mr. Cuero was murdered on June, 7 2017 in front of his home in Malambo, Atlantico.  He was a leader at the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) and the Legal Representative of the Association of People Displaced for Living of Malambo (ADEVIM). Mr. Cuero was a former recipient of a protection scheme provided by the National Protection Unit (UNP). Despite repeated calls for more protection from the Colombian government and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, the UNP rescinded its protection scheme for Mr. Bravo, which included a bulletproof vest and a cell phone.

In recent weeks, other leaders from AFRODES have received death threats in Cali, Cartagena, Bogota, and Soacha. These threats are directly related to the organization’s work in defense of Afro-Colombian rights. As evidenced in the murder of Mr. Cuero, black activists are increasingly targeted for defending their rights to the territory and demanding that the government fulfill its constitutional obligations to the black community.

We demand that the Colombian government immediately investigate the perpetrators of Mr. Cuero´s murder and the threats against AFRODES. Furthermore, the government must take deliberate steps to provide comprehensive protection for black activists throughout Colombia and specifically our dear colleagues at AFRODES. The United States government should urge the UNP to provide a report regarding why they did not provide him with adequate measures. The U.S. ambassador should also publicly condemn this murder and guarantee that the remainder of the AFRODES leadership receive protection immediately.

Letter from Vicenta Moreno of the Permanent Assembly of Black Women in Cali

(En Español)

I am deeply thankful for the hugs, expressions of affection, and accompaniment during this moment of immense pain caused by the loss of my brother due to the structural violence that affects our territories every day.

Early this morning, Saturday, June 4, my brother Gregorio Urbano Moreno Hurtado was murdered. He was a sensitive 38 year old man who tried to stop the murder of a youth who was being followed by an armed man. The young man tried to take refuge at a party that my brother was attending.

When Gregorio pushed the armed man who entered the house, the man shot him in the heart and killed him.

Now we are here together among family and friends confronting this very deep pain.

As a family, we have worked with the community from the moment we arrived in this territory. However, we were unable to escape the reach of the acts of violent death that surround the territory.

Although this case is directly associated with issues related to neighborhood violence and it is not related to my presence in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, I consider it another way of sentencing the black population of Colombia to death. It is a situation that is not far from what the people of Buenaventura are living through.

Therefore, even though I am currently in the District of Aguablanca, I continue to be in the Permanent Assembly for the abuses that Buenaventura is being submitted to.

With affection,

Vicenta Moreno

I AM FOR BUENAVENTURA!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP!
FOR BLACK PEOPLE!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP!

Civic Strike Committee for a Life with Dignity and Peace in the Territory 

(En Español)

Civic Strike Committee for a Life with Dignity and Peace in the Territory 

Press Release #21
Buenaventura, June 4, 2017

OUR RESISTANCE CONTINUES TO BE STRATEGIC
(DAY 20 OF THE STRIKE)

The Civic Strike Committee for a Life with Dignity and Peace in the Territory addresses the public and reiterates its initial principled demand for respect for peaceful protest.

On the 20th day of the civic strike, we once again express our profound admiration for the brave people of Buenaventura who have clearly understood the decisive role that we are playing in history.

From diverse backgrounds and each one according to their means, there have been concrete and symbolic actions, and – as such – we are one. We are a dignified people that have stood up and forced Colombia and the world to look at us.

All of this strength has contributed to the fact that today we are close to reaching an agreement with the government, who only after all of this time has begun to understand the determination of our decision and the powerful strength of our reasons.

In this context, we could speak with the government’s commission, which was directed by Minister of Interior Guillermo Rivera and Minister of Environment Luis Gilberto Murillo, about concrete answers, such as the decision to create a fund for the Autonomous Heritage of Buenaventura that will respond to the problems identified by the Civic Strike.

One effective component of this process at this moment has been the diverse institutions that have acted as guarantors. We would like to especially highlight the presence of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Todd Howland. His proven international prestige gives us confidence and facilitates the progress of these dialogues.

It is, therefore, a question of continuing down this path. Meanwhile, the resistance and the commitment of our people in the streets, with their cultural and educational activities, continues to be profoundly important, along with the efforts of businesses and sectors of the economy that have taken on a large cost and effort to maintain the strike.

We would also like to inform you that we have reported all of the acts related to the presence of the ESMAD to the negotiating table, with all clarity. Accordingly, a commission made up of human rights defenders from the UN, government officials, and members of the Civic Strike Committee informed the negotiating table about this issue before the government’s commission, and in the presence of Minister of Interior Guillermo Rivera.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – CIVIC STRIKE

Calle 7 No 62-07 Barrio Independencia 1a etapa. CELL: +57-3155189830 – +57-3117173594. parocivicobuenaventura@gmail.com; Facebook: Comité paro cívico Buenaventura.

 

Statement by the Permanent Assembly of Black Women in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali

(En Español)

June 3, 2017
Cali, Colombia

WE BLACK WOMEN SAY: WE ARE HERE WITH YOU, THE DIGNIFIED PEOPLES OF BUENAVENTURA

We are enormously proud of the resistance and bravery of the peoples of Buenaventura. We are proud of their peaceful action, their strong collective actions, and their willingness to overcome the provocations and violence on their bodies by the State and specifically the ESMAD anti-riot police. We – the Black Women of Northern Cauca and Cali – are declaring a permanent assembly with this action because we are one people (#SomosUnSoloPueblo).

Beginning on the afternoon of Friday, June 2, 2017, we occupied the offices of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali with the accompaniment of black youth that self-identify as the Maroon Guard (Guardia Cimarrona).

We came here because we feel the injustice, racism and disdain for black people by the Colombian State, which has manifested clearly during these last 19 days in the city of Buenaventura.

Throughout the civic strike in Buenaventura, we saw how the entities – whose constitutional obligation is to defend and respect the rights of Colombian citizens – have not fulfilled this mandate. The actions that they say they have carried out have not concluded in effective results because the police continue to use violence against a people who are protesting peacefully. The absence of statements and alerts about the humanitarian crisis in Buenaventura should be understood as complicit silence.

Therefore:

  1. Given the critical nature of the situation, we demand that the National Human Rights Ombudsman, Dr. Carlos Negret, go to Buenaventura and remain there until the aggressions against the population cease.
  2. We demand the immediate demilitarization of the territory of Buenaventura.
  3. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman send the Civic Strike Committee and national government an effective plan for accompaniment that corresponds with the situation in Buenaventura and identify a plan for action after the end of the strike.
  4. We demand a public statement by the national government guaranteeing a protection for the citizens of Buenaventura in the context of the civic strike that solicits an immediate end to excessive use of force against the community that feels attacked as if it were an armed actor.
  5. We demand the immediate demilitarization of the territory of Buenaventura.
  6. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman issue a detailed report on the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against the people of Buenaventura during the 19 days of the civic strike, which shows the state of the investigations into these acts and demonstrates what the reparations should be for the people whose physical integrity was affected by the aggressions.
  7. We solicit a report on the number of people sentenced or incarcerated in the context of the strike, the state of their cases, and the advances in securing their legal assistance. The report should specify what kind of assistance they received.
  8. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman act in good faith as a guarantor of the constitutional rights of the people of Buenaventura with the hope that your dialogue with the national government will expose the grave violations of human, ethnic, and collective rights. We hope that the national government will reevaluate the illegality of its response to a peaceful mobilization as if it was a war thereby violating the right to peaceful social protest and other related rights.
  9. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman take the public actions necessary to secure the rights of the black people of Buenaventura.
  10. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman conduct a press conference with national and local media that covers the humanitarian crisis that affects Buenaventura by providing truthful information about it.

WE ARE FOR BUENAVENTURA!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP, NO!
FOR BUENAVENTURA!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP, NO!

Permanent Assembly of Black Women in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali