June 19 | report
May 20 | joint statement
Human Rights Groups Call for Respect for Havana Peace Accords, Moratorium on Forced Eradication Program in Colombia
April 24 marked the 30th day of Colombia’s nationwide quarantine declared by the national government, enforcing strict “stay at home” orders for non-essential workers which greatly limited the movement across city and departmental lines for international observers verifying the implementation of Colombia’s historic 2016 peace agreement. As the Colombian government ceased the moment of crisis to begin ramping up the militarization of public spaces, particularly in the countryside, U.S organizations and activists voiced their concerns over a move towards authoritarianism under the excuse of combating the COVID-19 pandemic while failing to deliver any substantial relief to the most vulnerable Colombians or guarantees to at-risk communities and human rights defenders. According to Colombian think tank Indepaz at least 71 social leaders have been murdered in 2020 with at least 20 more since the quarantine began in March.
On March 19th, Marco Rivadeneira, an emblematic leader who promoted the substitution of illicit crops in the department of Putumayo and was looking for alternatives for those who had remained outside of crop substitution programs was assassinated. According to the National Coordination of Coca, Marijuana and Poppy Farmers (COCCAM), the murder of Marco Rivadeneira raises the number of members of COCCAM killed for leading illicit crop substitution processes in Colombia to 60. Three days after Marco’s assassination, members of the Colombian security forces arrived to begin spraying coca crops with glyphosate.
On March 26th, members of the U.S-backed Colombian armed forces began forcibly eradicating coca crops in the community of Santa Teresa, Norte de Santander. Members of the community resisted these forced eradication efforts as they were in clear violation of the collective substitution agreement signed by the community in September of 2017. Hours later, the body of t22-year-old social leader, Alejandro Carvajal, laid lifeless on the ground after being extrajudicially murdered by a member of the Colombian armed forces’ special Vulcano Task Force, according to local human rights organizations.
On Wednesday, April 22, in an Indigenous community in rural Tumaco, Nariño in southwest Colombia, public security forces killed 35-year-old Ángel Artemio Nastacuas Villarealone, a member of the Awa Indigenous community, and injured three others who were peacefully protesting a police operation to manually eradicate coca plants. Members of the police eradication team fired into a group of Awa Indigenous people, who were attempting to talk to them about why Indigenous authorities hadn’t been consulted about the planned eradication, as required by law.
The Colombian government, under intense pressure from Washington, has increased its forced eradication operations, violating their own social distancing orders increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 in communities with little to no access to healthcare. Since the nationwide quarantine began, the Colombian armed forces have carried out forced eradication operations in at least seven different departments, leading to serious human rights violations that have not been fully investigated.
The intensification of Colombia’s forced eradication program comes less than three years after the massacre of 7 campesinos after members of Colombia’s National Anti-Narcotics police fired indiscriminately into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Tandil, Tumaco. So long as the Colombian government continues to ignore the collective agreements signed with small-scale coca farmers and fails to address the root causes of poverty and violence in the Colombian country-side, another Tandil massacre is only a matter of time.
Due to the clear links between militarized anti-narcotics policies and serious human rights violations, we call on the U.S and Colombian governments to:
Investigate the facts and punish those responsible for the murders of Ángel Artemio Nastacuas Villarealone and Alejandro Carvajal, as well as the threats and use of force by the Colombian armed forces against small-scale coca farmers in Nariño, Catatumbo, Caquetá and Putumayo.
Comply with mandatory preventive isolation measures ordered by the Presidency and suspend the forced eradication operations, in order to avoid COVID-19 infections, this with the objective of guaranteeing the population's right to health and food security of the Indigenous, Afro-descendant and Campesino communities, considered populations at high risk.
Place a moratorium on funding for forced eradication operations, respecting the voluntary substitution agreements signed with rural communities.
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective/Colectivo Accion Permanente por la Paz
Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
Movimiento Mujeres por la Vida de Cajibio - Cauca - Colombia
Movimiento de Mujeres (Central New York)
Mesa de concertacion de trabajadores de Santa Catalina
InterReligious Task Force On Central America and Colombia (IRTF)
International Action for Peace (IAP)
Latin America Solidarity Committee of Corvallis
FOR Peace Presence
Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO)
Federación de Pequeños Mineros del Chocó (FEDEMICHOCÓ)
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
Coordinación Nacional de Pueblos y Organizaciones Afrocolombianas (CONAFRO)
Coordinacion Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas (CONPI)
Coordinación Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana (COCCAM)
Coordinación Étnica Nacional de Paz (CENPAZ)
Comunidades Construyendo Paz en Colombia (CONPAZ Colombia)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Colombia Grassroots Support
Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR)
Christian Peacemakers Teams
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Asociación renacer Siglo XXI de Buenos Aires
Alliance for Global Justice
Patricia Rodriguez, Ithaca College NY
Shannon Gleeson, Associate Professor, Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Enrique Gonzalez-Conty, Ithaca College, NY
Dr. Beth Harris, Ithaca College
Alicia Lira, Presidenta de la Agrupación de Familiares de Ejecutados Políticos (AFEP- Chile)
Edwin Mosquera, Defensor de DDHH, Coordinador Proyecto De la Guerra a la Paz, Iglesia Luterana de Colombia, IELCO