Witness for Peace http://witnessforpeace.org Supporting Peace, Justice, and Sustainable Economies in the Americas Wed, 21 Feb 2018 21:59:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 http://witnessforpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/WFPsquare-150x150.jpg Witness for Peace http://witnessforpeace.org 32 32 La Cara de la Impunidad http://witnessforpeace.org/la-cara-de-la-impunidad/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 15:13:45 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4612/ Las fuerzas de seguridad hondureña acosan y asesinan a manifestantes mientras EEUU sigue sin tomar acción.

El 22 de enero, Acción Permanente por la Paz emitió su declaración sobre el ataque contra Martín Fernández y el Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia (MADJ) que tomó lugar por la noche del 20 de enero. Desde ese día, el nivel de violencia ha incrementado aún más, tanto en términos de las generalizadas y sistemáticas violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas después de las elecciones, como también en los ataques enfocados contra el MADJ.

El lunes por la noche, el mismo día que publicamos nuestra declaración, dos personas fueron asesinados en la parte del país donde MADJ desempeña su labor. Ramón Fillalos, quien era el coordinador local del MADJ en el pueblo de Arizona y formó una parte crucial en la demostración comunitaria en el campamento de Jilamito, fue asesinado durante una toma. Geovany Díaz Cárcamo, quien fue asesinado en las calles de Pajuiles anoche, frecuentaba el mismo campamento.  Antes, escribimos de la comunidad de Pajuiles, donde por más de un año hemos tenido el gran honor de acompañar a la comunidad en su oposición de la imposición de un proyecto hidroeléctrico. Estos asesinatos, que sucedieron con un par de horas de diferencia, de líderes de ambos Pajuiles y Jilamito, las dos comunidades de la costa norte más conocidas por ser organizadas por el MADJ, representa “un mensaje claro,” en las palabras de un miembro de la comunidad de Pajuiles, quien habló con el Equipo de APP Honduras el martes.

Los asesinatos de Ramón y Geovany son devastadores de por sí, como son los otros 36 casos que forman parte de la lista macabra de mártires por la democracia hondureña. Pero estos asesinatos eran particularmente crueles, aunque de maneras opuestas el uno del otro. A Ramón, quien tiene casi 60 años de edad y varias décadas de activismo en la región, le dispararon en el brazo, que no hubiera sido una herida fatal. Sin embargo, por falta de atención médica, se desangró hasta morirse. Geovany se iba de una manifestación cuando fue arrastrado de su casa hasta la carretera por las fuerzas de seguridad, identificadas a APP por miembros de la comunidad como oficiales de la Dirección Policial Investigación, quienes reciben financiamiento de Estados Unidos. Estos oficiales dispararon a Geovany 40 veces delante de su madre en llanto. No es suficiente decir que la policía ejecutaron a Geovany—parecía más a un asesinato de la mafia por la forma pública en que se llevó a cabo, como si quisieran que los demás lo vieran. Esta es la propia cara de la impunidad.

A estas alturas, corremos el riesgo de normalizar la brutalidad extrema de los últimos dos meses. Es deprimente lo fácil que es acostumbrarse a las patrullas de la policía militar y a las noticias de asesinatos y desaparecidos. Pero el grado de ubicuidad de todo esto sigue siendo estremecedor. Los manifestantes en contra del fraude no solamente se enfrentan con la represión policial en las calles, con gas lacrimógeno, agresiones, y disparos, sino también son perseguidos hasta en sus propias casas. La simple presencia de varias policías y fuerzas militares con armas en un puente o en la calle es suficiente para intimidar a las personas y disuadirlos de manifestar de forma pacífica. En los lugares donde el pueblo se ha rehusado a someterse a tal intimidación,  las fuerzas de seguridad hondureña están mandando el mensaje que habrán consecuencias brutales, y muchas veces letales, por protestar.

Hasta la fecha, la declaración más fuerte que la Embajada de Estados Unidos emitió en cuanto a la extensiva violencia del estado desde las elecciones de noviembre fue la del 17 de enero, en su comunicación oficial felicitando a Karla Cueva por haber sido nombrada Ministra de Derechos Humanos. Aunque la embajada finalmente reconoció la necesidad urgente de una investigación rápida y exhaustiva de la letanía de crímenes cometidos por las fuerzas de seguridad hondureña en estos últimos meses, el comunicado estaba formulado usando falsas equivalencias morales. Sencillamente, hacer un llamado al estado hondureño a abstenerse de asesinar a sus propios ciudadanos al mismo tiempo que reclaman a los manifestantes por no haber mantenido protestas “pacíficas” es una distorsión inmoral de la realidad aquí.

También cabe considerar el contexto de esta declaración. El Ministerio de Derechos Humanos, a lo cual Cueva fue nombrada a dirigir por el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández, fue creado recientemente como puesto del gabinete del gobierno hondureño. Como hemos escrito muchas veces en el pasado, el 50% de la asistencia financiera que Honduras recibe de EEUU tiene la condición de que Honduras tome “pasos efectivos” hacia el mejoramiento de su record de derechos humanos, sin importar que no haya una mejoría mensurable verdadera. El Departamento de Estado de EEUU certificó que Honduras había alcanzado estas metas en diciembre, literalmente en el mismo momento en que la policía militar acribillaba a participantes de manifestantes pacíficas por las calles. Pero la creación de un ministerio de derechos humanos al nivel del gabinete se puede usar, y efectivamente será usado, como justificación de un “paso efectivo.”

Es más, el doble moral de la impunidad de lo cual hemos escrito antes solo se ha intensificado. Mientras los 38 asesinatos y miles de detenciones arbitrarias, por no decir nada de la tortura y las desapariciones forzadas, no han recibido ni una investigación somera, activistas y manifestantes han sido arrestados, encarcelados y sus juicios han empezado días después de sus presuntos delitos. De nada sirven las declaraciones de la embajada EEUU que no hacen más que pedir que el sistema judicial hondureño persigan los casos— DPI, la Policía Nacional de Honduras y el Ministerio Público, las contrapartes de la embajada EEUU, han demostrado repetidamente su falta de interés por la justicia y su compromiso a la impunidad, en particular para ellos mismos. Lo que se precisa para los casos inmediatos, y tenemos que suponer que la Embajada ya esté consciente de esto, es que el gobierno hondureño permita la entrada de investigadores internacionales e imparciales. El gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández ya negó este acceso a la OEA—y que ha hecho la Embajada al respeto?

Los Estados Unidos reconocieron los resultados de una elección que observadores internacionales de la OEA y de la UE rehusaron certificar. Certificaron los “pasos efectivos” de Honduras hacia la mejora de su record de derechos humanos en medio de una oleada de violencia que probablemente equivalga crímenes contra la humanidad. Respondieron a esta inhumanidad y a las preguntas, que son cada vez más intensas, acerca del papel que desempeñan en todo esto, con sus orgullosas publicaciones en Youtube de los entrenamientos de Joint Task Force Bravo al ejército hondureño sobre el uso de los drones. Han insistido en esta narrativa de colaboración con el gobierno hondureño aun cuando ha llegado a ser innegable que los “colaboradores” en cuestión han construido del golpe de estado una dictadura sangrienta. Con su silencio relativo, sus equivalencias falsas y sus eufemísticas declaraciones públicas (en vez de hablar de una campaña coordinada de graves violaciones de derechos humanos, optan por “heridas en la sociedad que se presentaron por el transcurso del proceso”) han legitimado el fraude y han legitimado la brutalidad. Como ciudadanos estadounidenses, tenemos que exigirles más. Tenemos que exigir respeto legítimo por la democracia y respeto legítimo por los derechos humanos. Tenemos que exigírselo aun cuando no haya una crisis electoral, pero sobre todo tenemos que exigirlo ahora.

La necesidad de solidaridad internacional es más grande ahora que nunca, mientras los crímenes cometidos por el estado hondureño (con financiamiento tanto implícito como explícito del gobierno estadounidense) están llegando a niveles de crímenes contra la humanidad, si ya no alcanzaron tal definición. El caos y estado general de violencia estatal se está utilizando como una cortina de humo para los asesinatos y amenazas enfocadas contra los líderes de los movimientos sociales. Si no somos solidarios con Honduras ahora, no tenemos el derecho de decir que alguna vez lo fuimos.

 

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The Very Face of Impunity http://witnessforpeace.org/the-very-face-of-impunity/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 15:07:21 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4610/ Honduran security forces target and kill protesters while U.S. sits back

On January 22nd, Witness for Peace issued its statement on the attack against Martín Fernández and the Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia (MADJ, or the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice) on the night of January 20th. Since then, the level of violence has escalated further still, both in terms of the widespread and systematic human rights violations committed during in the post-election period, as well as in targeted attacks against MADJ.

On Monday night, the same day we published our statement, two people were killed in the part of the country where MADJ does their work. Ramón Fillalos was the local coordinator for MADJ in the town of Arizona and a key part of the community protest at the encampment in Jilamito. Geovany Díaz Carcamo, who was killed on the street in Pajuiles last night, was a regular at the encampment there. We have written before about the community in Pajuiles, where we have had the great honor of accompanying the community in their opposition to an imposed hydroelectric project for more than a year. The murder of leaders from both Pajuiles and Jilamito, the two most prominent communities organized by MADJ on the north coast, within a few hours represents “a clear message,” as a Pajuiles community member told the WfP Honduras team on Tuesday.

Ramón and Geovany’s deaths are tragic on their own, as are the 36 others they join on this macabre list of martyrs to the cause of Honduran democracy. They were also particularly cruel in their own, almost opposite ways. Ramón, who was about 60 years old and has been an activist in the region for decades, was shot in the arm, which should not have been fatal. But the lack of medical attention he received meant he bled to death. Geovany was leaving a protest when security forces identified to WfP by community members as belonging to the DPI (Dirección Policial Investigación, the rough Honduran equivalent of the FBI), a US-backed security force, dragged him from his home back out to the highway and shot him 40 times in front of his screaming mother. It’s not even enough to say Geovany was executed by the police – it more resembled a mob hit, specifically public, meant to be seen. This is the very face of impunity.

 

At this stage, we almost risk thinking of the abject brutality of the last two months as normal. It’s depressingly easy to get used to the sight of Military Police patrols, and the news about murders and disappearances. But the extent to which this is pervasive stays shocking. Not only are anti-fraud demonstrators facing police repression in the streets with teargas, beatings, and shootings, they are being pursued even into their homes. Simply the presence of several police and military forces with weapons posted up on a bridge or by the road is enough to intimidate people from wanting to peacefully protest. In places where the public has refused to submit to this intimidation, Honduran security forces are sending a message that there will be brutal, often lethal punishment for choosing to protest.

To date, the strongest statement made by the US Embassy on the extensive state violence since the November elections was made on January 17th, during their official statement congratulating Karla Cueva for being named Minister of Human Rights. Although the Embassy finally acknowledged the desperate need for quick and thorough investigation into the litany of crimes committed by Honduran security forces these last couple months, it was still couched in the language of false moral equivalences. Plainly, calling on the Honduran government to refrain from killing its own people in the same breath as reprimanding protesters for not remaining “peaceful” is an immoral distortion of the reality on the ground here.

It is also worth thinking of the context of that statement. The Human Rights Ministry, which Cueva has been tapped by Juan Orlando’s government to head, was created recently as a cabinet-level position in the Honduran government. As we have written many times before, 50% of aid from the US to Honduras is conditioned on Honduras taking “effective steps” toward improving its human rights record, regardless of whether any actual, measurable human rights improvement has been made. The State Department certified that Honduras had met those aims in December, literally at the same time that peaceful protesters were being gunned down in the streets by the Military Police. But the creation of a cabinet-level human rights ministry can and will be used as an “effective step.”

Moreover, the double standard of impunity that we have written about before has only intensified. While the 38 murders and thousands of arbitrary detentions, to say nothing of the forced disappearances and torture, have been met with not even a cursory, public relations investigation, activists and protesters have been arrested, jailed, and their hearings begun within days of their alleged crimes. US Embassy statements that do no more than call on the Honduran justice system to pursue cases ring hollow – the Embassy’s partners in the DPI, Honduran National Police, and Public Ministry have demonstrated repeatedly their lack of interest in justice, and their commitment to impunity, not least for themselves. What is necessary for the immediate cases, and we have to believe the Embassy knows this, is for the Honduran government to allow impartial, international investigators. Juan Orlando Hernández’s government has already denied the OAS this access – where is the Embassy on that?

The United States has recognized the results of an election that international observers in the OAS and European Union refused to certify. It has certified Honduras’s “effective steps” toward improving its human rights records in the midst of a wave of violence that likely amounts to crimes against humanity. It has responded to this inhumanity and increasingly intense questions about its role by proudly posting YouTube videos of Joint Task Force Bravo giving the Honduran military drone training. It has insisted on this narrative of partnership with the Honduran government even when it has become undeniable that the “partners” in question have built from the coup a brutal dictatorship. Its relative silence, its false equivalence, and its euphemistic public declarations (a coordinated campaign of gross human rights violations is instead “wounds in society that appeared during the process”) have legitimized the fraud, and have legitimized the brutality. As U.S. citizens, we have to demand more. We have to demand legitimate respect for democracy, and legitimate respect for human rights. We have to do that even when there’s not an electoral crisis, but we especially have to do it now.

The need for international solidarity is greater than ever, as the crimes the state of Honduras is committing with implicit and explicit US backing are rising to the level of crimes against humanity, if they’re not there already. The chaos and general atmosphere of state violence is being used as a smokescreen for targeted threats against and assassinations of movement leaders. If we are not in solidarity with Honduras now, we have no right to say we ever were.

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Statement on Honduran military and police attack on MADJ/Declaración sobre el ataque del MADJ por el ejército y policía de Honduras http://witnessforpeace.org/statement-on-honduran-military-and-police-attack-on-madj/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 18:18:40 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4592/ Español abajo.

Witness for Peace condemns the threats and violence against Martin Fernández and the Movimiento Amplio that occurred the night of Jan 20. For the past several days, leaders of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) have been the victims of defamation campaigns and death threats. Additionally, the farm outside San Juan Pueblo that is used as a center for MADJ training and meetings, and has also generously hosted multiple Witness for Peace delegations, was recently raided by the military and police.

Last night, he and other members of MADJ were attacked by Honduran military and police forces. They were chased at gunpoint and surrounded, and teargas was thrown into the house where they were staying in San Juan Pueblo. The windows of the truck commonly used by MADJ to move around the country were smashed in. Three men, Teodoro Santos, Ovidio Arita and Edgar Alberto Henriquez, were arrested and detained for undetermined reasons. They are three of the thousands of Hondurans who have been arbitrarily detained since the elections on November 26th of last year. Despite the fact that Martin is supposed to be safeguarded under protections mandated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it is clear that MADJ leaders are being specifically targeted by state forces and are in danger.

Witness for Peace has had a rotating accompaniment team with Martín and MADJ since mid-December, and former WfP board chair John Walsh was present for last night’s events. “Inside a private home, from about ten feet away,” he says, “I saw an armed intruder level his automatic rifle directly at Martín Fernández, General Coordinator of the Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia. The intruder was a uniformed agent of the Honduran state’s security forces; he invaded the home as part of the repression of the ongoing national strike. Fortunately, he did not pull the trigger – this time. International accompaniment is needed to prevent that from ever happening again.”

Martin Fernández with a WFP delegation.

 

Since the November elections, peaceful demonstrations and protests have been met with horrible repression and violence from state forces. At least 35 people have been killed and countless others injured. There have been documented cases of forced disappearance and torture, as well as kidnappings and the use of excessive force both at protests and in people’s neighborhoods. The day before the National Strike was set to begin, the UN called upon Honduras to not use the Military Police (PMOP) or military to police protests.  The PMOP have been implicated in the majority of the human rights abuses that have occurred since November, and it was a PMOP officer that threatened Martín with his weapon and tear-gassed the house.

Still, the United States has legitimized the deeply controversial “election” of President Juan Orlando Hernández and continues to fund, train, and support Honduran police and military forces even while the level of human rights violations committed by the Honduran state have escalated to levels arguably worse than those after the 2009 coup. The Embassy also supports the Public Ministry, the state prosecutors office, which has criminalized protesters while the security forces involved in the murder, disappearance, and torture of citizens continue in impunity. Witness for Peace’s Honduras International Team accompanied Martín and other MADJ members to a meeting at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa in December, at which the increasing threats against Martín were brought to the Embassy’s attention. Embassy officials are completely aware of the level of danger faced by Martín and MADJ, and we urge them to do everything in their power to ensure Martín’s safety and the safety of MADJ members more broadly, as well as to ensure that the state security forces who have been threatening, harassing, and assaulting them are brought to justice.

Acción Permanente por la Paz condena las amenazas y la violencia que ocurrió el 20 de enero contra Martín Fernández y el Movimiento Amplio. Durante varios días, lxs líderes del Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ) han sido víctimas de una campaña de difamación y de amenazas de muerte. Adicionalmente, la finca en las afueras de San Juan Pueblo que se utiliza como una sede para los talleres y la reuniones del MADJ y que también ha alojado de manera generosa a múltiples delegaciones de Acción Permanente por la Paz, fue recientemente saqueada por el ejército y la policía.

Anoche, Martín Fernández y otrxs miembrxs del MADJ fueron atacadxs por las fuerzas militares y policiales hondureñas. Fueron perseguidxs a punto de armas de fuego y rodeados, y se tiraron gas lacrimógeno en la casa donde estaban hospedadxs en San Juan Pueblo. Se rompieron los cristales de las ventanillas del camión que MADJ utiliza para moverse por el país. Tres hombres, Teodoro Santos, Ovidio Arita y Edgar Alberto Henríquez, fueron arrestados y detenidos por razones no determinadas. Ellos representan tres entre miles de hondureñxs que han sido arbitrariamente detenidxs desde las elecciones del 26 de noviembre del año pasado. Aunque Martín supuestamente está protegido por mandatos de La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, es evidente que lxs líderes de MADJ están siendo perseguidxs por las fuerzas armadas del estado y que están bajo peligro.

Acción Permanente Por la Paz tiene un equipo de acompañamiento tornando con Martín y MADJ desde los mediados de diciembre y John Walsh, ex-presidente de la junta directiva de Acción Permanente por la Paz estuvo presente cuando ocurrieron los susodichos sucesos anoche. “Dentro de una residencia privada, de aproximadamente 10 pies de distancia,” dice Walsh, “vi a un intruso armado apuntar su rifle automático directamente a Martín Fernandez, Coordinador General del Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia. El intruso era un agente en uniforme de las fuerzas de seguridad del estado hondureño; él invadió la residencia como parte de la represión del paro nacional que está en proceso. Afortunadamente, no apretó el gatillo—esta vez. Acompañamiento internacional es imprescindible para evitar que esto pase de nuevo.”  

Desde las elecciones de noviembre, la respuesta del estado ante las manifestaciones pacíficas ha sido una de represión y violencia extrema. Por lo menos 35 personas han sido asesinadas y hay incontables heridos. Se ha documentado casos de desapariciones forzadas y de tortura, así como secuestros y el uso de fuerza excesiva tanto en las protestas como en los repartos del pueblo. El día antes del comienzo del paro nacional, la ONU hizo una llamada a Honduras a no utilizar ni la Policía Militar (PMOP) ni el ejército para controlar las protestas. La PMOP está implicada en la mayoría de abusos de derechos humanos que ocurrieron desde noviembre, y un oficial de la PMOP fue él que amenazó a Martín con su arma y tiró gas lacrimógeno en la casa.

Sin embargo, los Estados Unidos legitima la profundamente controversial “elección” del Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández y sigue financiando, entrenando y apoyando la policía y ejército de Honduras, aun cuando el nivel de las violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por el estado hondureño posiblemente sobrepase lo del periodo después del golpe de estado de 2009. La Embajada Estadounidense también apoya al Ministerio Público, la fiscalía que ha criminalizado a lxs manifestantes mientras siguen en impunidad las fuerzas de seguridad involucradas en los asesinatos, las desapariciones y la tortura de lxs ciudadanxs. El Equipo Internacional de Honduras de Acción Permanente por la Paz acompañó a Martín y a otrxs integrantes del MADJ a una reunión con la Embajada Estadounidense en Tegucigalpa en diciembre, en la cual llevaron a la atención de la Embajada las amenazas crecientes contra Martín. L@s funcionarios de la Embajada tienen pleno conocimiento del nivel de peligro al que se enfrenta Martín y el MADJ, y exigimos que hagan todo posible para asegurar la seguridad de Martín y de lxs miembrxs del MADJ, y que también aseguren que se lleven ante la justicia a las fuerzas de seguridad del estado que les han estado amenazando, acosando y agrediendo.

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Colombian Peace Community Attacked: Take Action Now/Comunidad de Paz Colombiana Atacada: Tome Acción Ahora http://witnessforpeace.org/colombian-peace-community-attacked-take-action-now/ Mon, 08 Jan 2018 15:02:34 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4541/

https://www.actionnetwork.org/letters/colombian-peace-community-attacked-take-action-now

Español abajo.

At 10:15 AM on Friday December 29th, four paramilitaries entered the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Colombia and tried to assassinate Germán Graciano Posso, the legal representative of the community. The attack took place in a community store and luckily, other unarmed community members present were able to fight off the armed attackers. Two paramilitaries were detained by the community, handed over to the Interior Ministry and then to the Fiscalía (Attorney/Prosecutor General’s office). Two paramilitaries escaped. However, reports now claim those who were arrested have already been released.

This most recent attack is incredibly alarming. It is emblematic of the ongoing systematic targeting of activists and communities in Colombia who strive to build nonviolent futures. Germán Graciano Posso, whose life was threatened in the attack, has already lost thirteen members of his family during the armed conflict, including his father and two brothers.

Take action today to demand:

  • Immediate, effective protection for Germán Graciano Posso of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, and all social leaders and human rights defenders throughout Colombia.
  • Strong condemnation by the US State Department of the ongoing threats and assassinations of social leaders.
  • Prompt and complete implementation of the peace accord with the FARC–and the forthcoming accord with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, when completed–including meaningful inclusion of Afro-descendant and Indigenous peoples throughout the implementation process.
  • Protection of of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples’ territorial and other collective rights, provided through meaningful inclusion and consultation with Afro-descendant and Indigenous peoples.
  • Publication—as required by law—by the US Government of the worldwide list of foreign security forces that have lost funding under the Leahy Law.

Ataque contra la Comunidad de Paz por parte de los paramilitares en Colombia: Tome acción

Hubo un ataque contra la Comunidad de Paz en Colombia: ¡Tome acción ahora mismo para que Estados Unidos se pronuncie en contra del hecho y tome acción para asegurar que este tipo de atentado no siga pasando!

A las 10:15 por la mañana el viernes, 29 de diciembre, cuatro paramilitares entraron en la Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó e intentaron asesinar a Germán Graciano Posso, el representante legal de la comunidad. El ataque se llevó a cabo en una bodega comunitaria, y afortunadamente, los otros miembros presentes de la comunidad lograron sin armas detener a los agresores armados. La comunidad detuvo a dos paramilitares, entregándolos al Ministerio del Interior y luego a la Fiscalía. Se escaparon otros dos paramilitares. Sin embargo, han salido informes afirmando que los que fueron arrestados ya han sido puestos en libertad por las autoridades.

La Comunidad de Paz fue fundada hace veinte años, en un contexto de violencia, desplazamiento forzado y asesinatos. Es un espacio de resistencia no-violenta liderado por los campesinos, y se ha vuelto un símbolo de la lucha colectiva de la población civil en su esfuerzo para acabar con el conflicto armado colombiano. Unas de las masacres más infames que ha impactado a la Comunidad de Paz sucedió el 21 de febrero 2005, cuando asesinaron y descuartizaron a ocho personas en las veredas de Mulatos y La Resbalosa, incluyendo a tres personas menores de edad y el líder comunitario Luis Eduardo Guerra.

Este último ataque es especialmente inquietante. Es emblemático de un contexto en el cual hay ataques sistemáticos contra los activistas y las comunidades que luchan por construir un futuro no-violento en Colombia. Germán Graciano Posso, el señor que vio su vida amenazada por este ataque, ha perdido a trece miembros de su familia en el curso del conflicto armado, incluyendo su padre y dos hermanos.

Tome acción ahora mismo para condenar este ataque y atentado.

Sucede este atentado sólo unas semanas después de los asesinatos de Mario Castaño y Hernán Bedoya, dos líderes en la defensa del territorio en la región del Bajo Atrato.

Estos ataques y amenazas sistemáticos contra los líderes comunitarios, sumados a la presencia aumentada de los neo-paramilitares, siguen pasando a pesar de la fuerte presencia militar. Por ejemplo, hay una presencia constante en la carretera hacia la Comunidad de Paz de San José y en sus alrededores. Los ataques persistentes por parte de los paramilitares indican la negligencia militar para llevar a cabo sus deberes, y/o indican la colaboración de las fuerzas militares del Estado (las cuales son apoyadas con fondos estadounidenses) con los paramilitares.

En un momento cuando se supone que el gobierno colombiano está implementando el proceso de paz, los defensores de derechos humanos y las comunidades de paz deberían contar con más seguridad y no deberían vivir tantas amenazas y violencia. Como notamos en el año pasado, hubo más de 100 amenazas y asesinatos de los líderes sociales en Colombia sólo en el 2017. Desde que el Estado colombiano, apoyado por Estados Unidos, firmó el Acuerdo de Paz con las FARC, parece que no sólo siguen sucediendo, sino que están aumentando los asesinatos de líderes comunitarios. Según el Padre Javier Giraldo, SJ, uno de los defensores más vocales del proceso de paz, “Los paramilitares están intentando tomar control de los territorios donde han salido los guerrilleros de las FARC en el proceso actual de desmovilización.” En su mayoría, se llevan a cabo los asesinatos en contra de los activistas quienes están luchando por un cambio comunitario, protegiendo a sus territorios, cultivos y vidas. Mientras las vidas de los líderes sociales en Colombia están en peligro constante, la paz como tal también lo está.

Exija más protección para los lideres amenazados

Es imprescindible que hagamos presión política para acabar con esta violencia que ha afectado a los activistas colombianos y las comunidades de paz durante toda la historia del conflicto armado en el país.

Tome acción hoy para exigir:

  • Protección inmediata y efectiva para Germán Graciano Posso de la Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, y para todos los lideres sociales y defensores de derechos humanos en Colombia.
  • Una declaración fuerte por parte del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. en contra de las amenazas y asesinatos continuos de los líderes sociales
  • El cumplimiento rápido y completo del acuerdo de paz con las FARC – y el acuerdo esperado próximamente con la guerrilla del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) – y la inclusión significativa de los pueblos indígenas y afrodescendientes durante el proceso de la implementación del acuerdo.
  • La protección de los derechos territoriales y colectivos de los pueblos indígenas y afrodescendientes, además de un proceso inclusivo de consultar con estos pueblos.
  • Por parte de los Estados Unidos, la publicación de la lista de las fuerzas militares extranjeras en el mundo que han perdido sus fondos bajo la Ley de Leahy, dado que tal publicación es legalmente requerida.

En solidaridad,

El programa de Acción Permanente por la Paz en Colombia

 

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At a Barricade in San Pedro Sula http://witnessforpeace.org/at-a-barricade-in-san-pedro-sula/ Tue, 19 Dec 2017 16:37:17 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4474/ by John Walsh

On December 18th, the day after the election authorities of Honduras declared the incumbent president Juan Orlando Hernández the winner of the November 26 vote – a result few people outside of his party accept – Honduran human rights defenders took me along on a visit to one of the many barricades that sprang up within hours of the announcement.  A key purpose of these visits is to defuse potential state – police or military – violence against  protests.

At the barricade, people quickly told us that shots have been fired at them out of unmarked cars, which is why they discourage vehicles from approaching too closely until the purpose is clear.  “Discourage” means set off loud fireworks; if that doesn’t have the desired effect, “discourage” might mean throw rocks.  But once we were allowed in, people willingly described what this is all about.

The first thing to know is that the barricade is a community project.  The people there live nearby, and food and drink for those on the scene comes from those who are not.  Mostly it’s young people who are present, unafraid, and maybe feeling that in the circumstances they have no future to lose.  Person after person described poverty and the lack of economic opportunities, decent housing, and adequate healthcare (we also visited a public hospital emergency room, which was wall-to-wall patients with an exhausted looking staff and no privacy).

People at the barricade said they’ve always known hunger and want, and the prospect of that getting worse if the regime continues in power is intolerable.  They said that international aid intended to help gets pocketed by corrupt authorities before it ever reaches the people it is supposed to benefit.

“We’re in the struggle so we won’t die over the next four years.”

 

That morning, they told us, a young woman passersby had been shot and wounded by the Military Police, who come to clear away barricades.  We saw a number of these police deployed in the vicinity during the time we were there.  And a man at a barricade in another part of the city was shot dead by police that same afternoon.  One man at the barricade showed us a wound on his belly, and said the Military Police had gotten hold of him, pulled off his shirt, spilled gasoline on him, and set it on fire.

Yet the National Preventive Police, a different entity, were allowed to pass the barricade in small numbers under a truce (we spoke with them to confirm that they did not have orders to attack the protest).  Ambulances were also given passage, after verification that in fact they were transporting a patients.  And a steady flow of pedestrians and motorbike riders crossed through.

People at the barricade wanted us in the U.S. to know that our tax dollars are misspent due to corruption – and they weren’t even talking about the money that goes for military and police “aid.”  What they seek is to have their basic human rights respected and to be able to earn a decent living.  They are sure that under a dictatorial regime that will not happen.

San Pedro Sula reputedly is one of the most violent places in the world.  As long as legitimate grievances are being met with state violence, its people have little hope of being able to live in peace in the future.

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Carta abierta al Congreso de EEUU y el Departamento de Estado de EEUU sobre las elecciones presidenciales en Honduras http://witnessforpeace.org/carta-abierta-al-congreso-de-eeuu-y-el-departamento-de-estado-de-eeuu-sobre-las-elecciones-presidenciales-en-honduras/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 20:37:09 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4471/ Una carta abierta al Congreso de los EEUU y al Departamento de Estado de EEUU:

Como organizaciones de derechos humanos, organizaciones de base, solidaridad y otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil con sede en los EE. UU., nos indigna que el candidato presidencial Juan Orlando Hernández haya sido declarado ganador en las elecciones presidenciales hondureñas, en medio de informes serios de fraude electoral y violaciones a los derechos humanos.

Les instamos a NO reconocer los resultados anunciados por el Tribunal Supremo Electoral en Honduras.

Después de que la publicación inicial de los resultados oficiales de las elecciones presidenciales hondureñas mostrará que el candidato opositor lideraba con aproximadamente 5 puntos porcentuales basado en más de la mitad de las actas contabilizadas, el Tribunal Supremo Electoral (o TSE, controlado por la administración actual) paró la publicación de los resultados de las elecciones presidenciales por más de un día. En comparación, en las elecciones presidenciales del 2013, el ganador fue declarado con una proporción parecida de las actas contabilizadas. Una vez que se reanudó las actualizaciones de los resultados el presidente titular Hernández ganó terreno a un ritmo sorprendente y rebasó rápidamente al candidato de la oposición, de acuerdo con los números del TSE. El largo retraso y el cambio dramático en la tendencia del conteo de votos reportados antes y después de ese retraso plantean serias dudas sobre la integridad de esta elección.

Además, las  delegaciones internacionales de La Voz de los de  Abajo, Code Pink y Witness for Peace presenciaron y escucharon testimonios sobre palizas e intimidación perpetradas por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad, incluidas fuerzas de seguridad financiadas por los Estados Unidos, así como numerosos incidentes de fraude y violencia en los centros de votación. El 1ro de diciembre, un decreto presidencial suspendió los derechos constitucionales e impuso un toque de queda, y ha habido múltiples reportes de las fuerzas de seguridad usando bala viva y violencia contra civiles durante las protestas en contra el fraude en todo el país, resultando en al menos 22 muertes de manifestantes hasta el momento.

El gobierno de los EEUU ha sido un partidario constante y financiero del gobierno hondureño, incluyendo el claro apoyo al golpe de Estado del 2009 que llevó al Partido Nacional–de extrema derecha–a tomar el poder, con Hernández como Presidente del Congreso Nacional en el periodo del 2010 al 2013. Además, los Estados Unidos ha impulsado el catastrófico y fracasado modelo del Plan Colombia en Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador a través del paquete de ayuda conocida como la “Alianza para la Prosperidad en el Triángulo Norte.” Este proyecto de 750 millones de dólares disfrazado de una iniciativa antidrogas, se ha utilizado para crear condiciones “favorables” para los inversores externos, a costa de la militarización, la violencia y la corrupción que han contribuido activamente al tipo de deterioro de la democracia que estamos presenciando en Honduras actualmente. Apenas dos días después de las elecciones hondureñas, el Departamento de Estado de los EEUU certificó que el gobierno hondureño cumple con las condiciones adecuadas de derechos humanos y de anticorrupción, lo cual significa que Honduras recibirá millones de dólares en ayuda estadounidense. Las circunstancias alrededor de las elecciones y más allá demuestran claramente que el gobierno hondureño no cumple en absoluto con esas condiciones.

Si Estados Unidos tiene un compromiso verdadero con la democracia, debe:

  • No reconocer el resultado anunciado de las elecciones debido a los reportes generalizados de la participación del estado en el fraude electoral y en la violencia;
  • Revocar la certificación del Departamento de Estado que declara que gobierno hondureño cumple con las condiciones de derechos humanos y  anticorrupción;
  • Poner fin a la ayuda de seguridad proporcionada por los  Estados Unidos a Honduras, incluyendo la policía y la ayuda militar, y el apoyo a las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras a través del  programa denominado  “Alianza para la Prosperidad en el Triángulo del Norte;
  • Aprobar el proyecto de ley HR 1299, ” Ley Berta Cáceres sobre los  Derechos Humanos en Honduras” y su proyecto de ley complementario en el Senado;
  • Condenar la violenta represión por parte del gobierno hondureño a los manifestantes y su suspensión de los derechos constitucionales, y exigir que el gobierno hondureño deje de usar munición real contra civiles y retire a los militares de las calles;
  • Extender el Estatus de Protección Temporal para los más de 57,000 hondureños actualmente en los Estados Unidos; y
  • Respetar los derechos de los pueblos indígenas (incluidas las comunidades garífunas) y las comunidades campesinas que se organizan para defender y proteger los territorios ancestrales, la tierra, el agua y la Madre Tierra frente a la militarización y la represión del actual régimen hondureño.

En este momento decisivo para el pueblo de Honduras, les instamos a que estén del lado correcto de la democracia y la historia, abordando urgentemente las demandas fundamentales expuestas en esta carta. Gracias por su atención en este momento crítico.

 

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Open Letter to the US Congress and State Department in the Wake of the Honduran presidential elections http://witnessforpeace.org/open-letter-to-the-us-congress-and-state-department-in-the-wake-of-the-honduran-presidential-elections/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 20:09:06 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4466/ Please join Grassroots International, Witness for Peace and other US-based solidarity organizations in signing this important letter regarding the Honduran elections and the related state repression and violence.

Click here to sign your organization onto the letter.

An Open Letter to the US Congress and US State Department:

Join Witness for Peace, Grassroots International and other US-based solidarity organizations by clicking here in signing this important letter regarding the Honduran elections

As [US-based] human rights, grassroots organizing, solidarity, and other civil society organizations, we are outraged that presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner in the Honduran presidential elections, amid serious and pervasive reports of election fraud and human rights violations.

We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, NOT to recognize the results announced by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

After the initial release of official results in the Honduran presidential election showed the opposition candidate leading by approximately 5 percentage points based on more than half the returns, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (or TSE, by its Spanish initials, which is controlled by the current administration) did not resume releasing presidential election results for more than a day. For comparison, in the 2013 presidential election, the winner was declared with a similar proportion of the returns in. Once the updates resumed, the incumbent, President Hernández, gained ground at a surprising rate and, quickly passed the opposition candidate, according to the TSE’s numbers. The long delay, and the dramatic shift in the tendency of the vote count reported before and after that delay, raise serious doubts about the integrity of this election.  

In addition, international delegations from La Voz de los de Abajo, Code Pink, and Witness for Peace witnessed and heard testimony of violent beatings of civilians, the ongoing intimidation through use of security forces, including US-funded security forces, as well as numerous incidents of fraud and violence at polling places. On December 1, a presidential decree suspended Constitutional rights, imposed a curfew, and there have been multiple reports of security forces using live ammunition and violence toward civilians during anti-fraud protests around the country, resulting in at least 22 deaths of protesters at this point.

The US government has been an ongoing supporter and financial backer of the Honduran government, including supporting  the 2009 coup which led to the right-wing National Party taking power, with Hernández as President of the National Congress from 2010-2013. Furthermore, the US has pushed forward the disastrous, failed Plan Colombia model for Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in the form of the “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” aid package. This 750 million-dollar project dressed up as an anti-drug initiative, has been used to create “favorable” conditions for outside investors, at the cost of militarization, violence and corruption that have actively contributed to the kind of deterioration of democracy we are witnessing in Honduras today. Just two days after the Honduran elections the US State Department certified that the Honduran government is meeting human rights and anti-corruption conditions, clearing the way for Honduras to receive millions of dollars in US aid. The circumstances around the election and beyond demonstrate clearly that the Honduran government is not at all meeting those conditions.

If the US has a genuine commitment to democracy, it must:

  • Not recognize the announced election outcome due to widespread reports of state involvement in electoral fraud and violence;
  • Revoke the State Department’s certification that the Honduran government is meeting human rights and anti-corruption conditions;
  • End US security aid to Honduras, including police and military aid, and support for Honduran security forces though the so-called “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” program; Pass HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act and its companion bill in the Senate;
  • Condemn the Honduran government’s violent crackdown of protesters and suspension of Constitutional rights, and demand the the Honduran government immediately cease using live ammunition against civilians and remove the military from the streets;
  • Extend Temporary Protected Status for the more than 57,000 Hondurans currently in the United States; and
  • Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples (including Garífuna communities) and peasant communities organizing to defend and protect ancestral territories, land, water and Mother Earth in the face of militarization and repression by the current Honduran regime.

At this defining moment for the people of Honduras, we urge you to be on the right side of democracy and history, by urgently addressing the fundamental demands outlined in this letter. Thank you for your attention at this critical time.

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Open Letter on Honduran Election Results http://witnessforpeace.org/open-letter-on-honduran-election-results/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:59:11 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4462/ December 18, 2017

An Open Letter to the US Congress and US State Department:

As a US-based human rights, grassroots organizing, solidarity, and civil society organization, we are outraged that presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner in the Honduran presidential elections, amid serious and pervasive reports of election fraud and human rights violations.

We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, NOT to recognize the results announced by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

After the initial release of official results in the Honduran presidential election showed the opposition candidate leading by approximately 5 percentage points based on more than half the returns, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (or TSE, by its Spanish initials, which is controlled by the current administration) did not resume releasing presidential election results for more than a day. For comparison, in the 2013 presidential election, the winner was declared with a similar proportion of the returns in. Once the updates resumed, the incumbent, President Hernández, gained ground at a surprising rate and, quickly passed the opposition candidate, according to the TSE’s numbers. The long delay, and the dramatic shift in the tendency of the vote count reported before and after that delay, raise serious doubts about the integrity of this election.

In addition, international delegations from La Voz de los de Abajo, Code Pink, and Witness for Peace witnessed and heard testimony of violent beatings of civilians, the ongoing intimidation through use of security forces, including US-funded security forces, as well as numerous incidents of fraud and violence at polling places. On December 1, a presidential decree suspended Constitutional rights, imposed a curfew, and there have been multiple reports of security forces using live ammunition and violence toward civilians during anti-fraud protests around the country, resulting in at least 22 deaths of protesters at this point.

The US government has been an ongoing supporter and financial backer of the Honduran government, including  supporting  the 2009 coup which led to the right-wing National Party taking power, with Hernández as President of the National Congress from 2010-2013. Furthermore, the US has pushed forward the disastrous, failed Plan Colombia model for Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in the form of the “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” aid package. This 750 million-dollar project dressed up as an anti-drug initiative, has been used to create “favorable” conditions for outside investors, at the cost of militarization, violence and corruption that have actively contributed to the kind of deterioration of democracy we are witnessing in Honduras today. Just two days after the Honduran elections the US State Department certified that the Honduran government is meeting human rights and anti-corruption conditions, clearing the way for Honduras to receive millions of dollars in US aid. The circumstances around the election and beyond demonstrate clearly that the Honduran government is not at all meeting those conditions.

If the US has a genuine commitment to democracy, it must:

  • Not recognize the announced election outcome due to widespread reports of state involvement in electoral fraud and violence;
  • Immediately suspend diplomatic relations with the Honduran government, including recalling our Charge D’Affaires/acting Ambassador, until human rights are fully restored, the rule of law has been re-established, constitutional guarantees are fulfilled, and democratic processes and institutions are actually respected.
  • Revoke the State Department’s certification that the Honduran government is meeting human rights and anti-corruption conditions.
  • End US security aid to Honduras, including police and military aid, and support for Honduran security forces though the so-called “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” program; Pass HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act and its companion bill in the Senate.
  • Condemn the Honduran government’s violent crackdown of protesters and suspension of Constitutional rights, and demand the the Honduran government immediately cease using live ammunition against civilians and remove the military from the streets;
  • Extend Temporary Protected Status for the more than 57,000 Hondurans currently in the United States; and
  • Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples (including Garífuna communities) and peasant communities organizing to defend and protect ancestral territories, land, water and Mother Earth in the face of militarization and repression by the current Honduran regime.

At this defining moment for the people of Honduras, we urge you to be on the right side of democracy and history, by urgently addressing the fundamental demands outlined in this letter. Thank you for your attention at this critical time.

Signed,

Witness for Peace

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Fighting for Human Rights: Delegation Witnesses the Economic and Political Realities of the Colombian People http://witnessforpeace.org/fighting-for-human-rights-delegation-witnesses-the-economic-and-political-realities-of-the-colombian-people/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:25:04 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4458/ By Kristen Treinen

“Be proud of your son; he never folded.”
– Juan Iván Hurtado Garcia, whose brotherJairo was disappeared by the Colombian government on May 16, 1997

These words continue to haunt us delegates who went to Colombia. Marleny, Jairo Iván Hurtado Garcia’s mother, was one of the first people we met as we embarked on this 10-day learning experience in order to become advocates for the peaceful people of Colombia – the peasant farmers, the Afro-Colombians, the common folks living outside of Popayan, Cali, and Bogotá. For what we learned on this trip is that all of these groups want peace. They simply want to live in a time and a place where no one is mysteriously “missing” or dies for standing up to a powerful and corrupt government.

As delegates, our preparation began before we landed in Colombia and continued the first few days of the delegation in Cali, with reading materials about the political history of Colombia as well as the current situation the people of Colombia face. The delegation began with a visit to the Memory Gallery in Cali. Here, the 10 delegates from Minnesota, New Mexico, California, and Georgia began to formulate an idea of what the political landscape was in Colombia before the FARC-EN laid down their guns and entered into the Havana Peace Accords with the Colombian government. The first few days in Colombia acted as our foundation and gave us the grounding we needed to begin conversations and understand, from all sides of the issues, the plight of the Colombian people. The following day we were able to visit with peasant farmers and local activists dedicated to finding sustainable crops and raising chickens, horses, and cows to produce their own milk. The resilience of the Colombian people is quite amazing when one considers the conditions in which they have been left to survive on their own accord with no aid from the government. In order to help the delegation understand who is involved in the fight to help the people of Colombia, we spent two days visiting with advocacy groups in Popayan including CIMA and Justicia y Paz.

Our delegation ended in Bogotá. It was with great disappointment to myself and the other delegates that the US Government would not agree to a meeting with our group at the Embassy. However, this did open the door to more time with ASOTRECOL to learn about their fight for workers’ rights by General Motors. While in Bogotá, the group worked to draft a letter to the US Ambassador in Colombia and this letter will also be the basis for further communication with our own Senators and Representatives in the United States, in particular in Minnesota, New Mexico, and California. Our advocacy work began the minute we stepped foot in Colombia, and we will continue the fight as we move back to our respective homes. Just as Jairo Ivan Hurtado Garcia said, we hope our International Team and the people we met in Colombia will be proud of us as we will push forward with the message of a peaceful Colombian people who only wish to live with dignity and grace – we will not fold.

 

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U.S. Pressure for Forcible Eradication a Factor in Tragic event in Tumaco, Colombia http://witnessforpeace.org/u-s-pressure-for-forcible-eradication-a-factor-in-tragic-event-in-tumaco-colombia/ Thu, 19 Oct 2017 20:58:58 +0000 http://witnessforpeace.org/?p=4280/

                  Photo Source: El Espectador

The deaths of at least 6 rural farmers in Tumaco, Colombia on Thursday, October 5th showed yet again the high cost in human lives and human rights of the “War on Drugs” and its militarized approach. More than 200 rural farmers, or campesinos, were gathered to impede forcible eradication of the coca plants when the National police shot at the large crowd wounding a reported 20 people and killing at least 6, very possibly more. Due to lack of a distribution infrastructure for other crops and absence of the rule of law, coca is the local population’s only realistic option for making a living. Accounts by the Colombian authorities claim that police and soldiers opened fire after FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) dissidents launched cylinder bombs at the crowd. However, first-hand accounts by the community indicate that the Colombian National Police opened fire indiscriminately into the crowd. The Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, supports the claims made by the security forces, despite evidence and local sources accounts.

The National Police’s actions were brought into question again for shooting at human rights defenders and As part of a verification mission on Sunday, October 8th, a brigade of national and international human rights organizations including Justapaz, Justicia y Paz, the UN, and OAS gathered in Tandil, a place near where the massacre had taken place. According to a denouncement by Justapaz, when members of the delegation approached the area where a possible cadaver laid from the incident, they were shot at by the National Police. Vice President and former National Police head Naranjo has said publically that the police acted improperly, and four police members have been suspended because of their role in the massacre. Also, the local commander apologized for the attack on the verification commission.
Acute confrontation persists as the police continue to forcibly eradicate the coca plant. Paradoxically, voluntary substitution of coca with licit crops is a cornerstone of the internationally acclaimed peace accords between the government of Colombia and the now demobilized guerrilla army of the FARC, which has had a strong presence precisely in Tumaco.

So why is the central government of Colombia willing to order forcible eradication? One significant factor is the pressure the U.S. government is exerting for short-term “results,” defined as acreage of coca eradicated. Voluntary substitution takes time and intentionally planned support in order to succeed. Although, forcible eradication can happen comparatively quickly it has not succeeded. At most it suppresses coca cultivation. Truly changing the panorama requires a longer term approach that provides genuine alternatives to the small growers. This event is proof that the Colombian government is willing to do anything, even violate human rights, to show eradication results to the pressuring U.S. government. We urge the U.S. government to support voluntary substitution in the framework of the Peace Accords and to help fund rural development in coca-growing areas.

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