Battleground Buenaventura

13 July 2007 - 5:13pm
News

The geopolitically important port of Buenaventura ought to be a source of prosperity for the surrounding region. But instead, Bueanventura's residents, 98% of whom are afro-Colombian, are far worse off than the rest of the Colombian population.

To make matters worse, conflict between different paramilitary and guerrilla groups is rife. While established paramilitaries are winding down the violence, new groups are now operating in and around the region. Buenaventura has long been a battleground for groups who want to control its port for commercial or military purposes, and local police and military authorities have been complicit in the violence plaguing the region. In the past three years over 1500 people have been assassinated, and the death rate is higher than in the rest of the country. The impoverished majority are victims of constant racism and cultural exclusion. Any hope that education might liberate them from poverty is slim as illiteracy is double the national average.

The people of Buenaventura are vulnerable to human rights abuses from several quarters. The government authorities have arrested fishermen wrongly accused of collaborating with illegal guerrilla groups, even forcing the fishermen's wives to confirm these false accusations. A special force has been created to carry out discriminatory and violent actions against the local population and the police have forcibly stopped community gatherings. Meanwhile assassinations from paramilitary and guerrilla groups are on the rise. Both groups abuse the rights of residents in many ways, from forcing the cultivation of illegal crops to limiting movement or demanding illegal tax payments.

In light of this situation we demand that the national government:

 

  • Guarantee the life and the security of afro-Colombian communities on their land. Any arrangements must be made in coordination with community organisations that are best equipped to understand the needs of their members.
  •  

  • Implement the law that guarantees afro-Colombians the rights to their land in rural and urban areas.
  •  

  • Protect the safety of the afro-Colombian communities, especially of women and children.
  •  

  • Negotiate a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict.

 

We ask that the international community:

 

  • Apply pressure on the Colombian State to respect human rights.
  •  

     

  • Abstain from developing infrastructural contracts with Colombia when they have a negative effect on the environment and communities.
  •  

  • Establish a mission to monitor the development of the armed conflict and its effects on the people of Buenaventura.

 

We believe that these demands will contribute toward the rebuilding of the social fabric of Buenaventura. Only a conjoined action between national and international organisations to defend life and social justice will produce a serious transformation for the lives of those living in the threatened communities of those regions.

]]>

Latest news

BDS is a legitimate means of protest against human rights abuse, says War on Want

14 December 2017 - 12:15pm

Campaigning for BDS is a legitimate means of protest, a fact that has been affirmed time and time again by bodies such as the European Union. It’s effectiveness is one of the main reasons why there is an organised campaign led by the Israeli government to shut it down. Students have every right to use their democratic rights to organise and exercise freedom of expression, and should be applauded for calling out violations of international law and human rights abuse.

Read more

Was it too much to expect the WTO to deliver for women?

14 December 2017 - 12:00pm

Argentina, host for this week’s World Trade Organisation, welcomed hundreds of government representatives to Buenos Aires to negotiate the rules of the global trade in goods, services and ecommerce. Lagging far behind other international fora, the WTO made attempts to draw attention to the impact of trade on gender equality, and correspondingly the impact women’s economic productivity can have on trade.

Read more

Join the conversation

Was it too much to hope the #WTO would deliver for #women? We ask: https://t.co/kXHmd0SUrH https://t.co/RO070EtRVb 3 hours 26 min ago
At the end of a week of failed #WTO negotiations, read our take on how their policies have failed #women globally:… https://t.co/FxAh1m69y9 1 day 2 hours ago
Inspiration to take action next year. 12 stories of real #resistance in 2017, from #metoo to Brazil’s biggest… https://t.co/oTvV4DgA7p 1 day 4 hours ago