On the eve of 2021, we are reflecting on all that has happened over the course of this tumultuous year. The COVID-19 quarantine has led to a new wave of violence in Colombia. According to Indepaz, there were 90 massacres in 2020, the highest rate in 15 years, as well as 309 human rights defenders killed.
In the face of this and the challenge of the “new normal,” our team has worked hard to provide virtual accompaniment however we can: connecting with community leaders, supporting their self-protection strategies, and drawing attention to the human rights abuses that are occurring across the country.
Some of our accomplishments in 2020:
-Co-authoring a report for the Colombian Truth Commission titled, “From the Beginning to the End: The United States in the Colombian Armed Conflict.”
-A Webinar series featuring community leaders from across Colombia about the impact of COVID-19 on human rights.
-Virtual workshops on human rights mechanisms and new self-protection strategies in the midst of the pandemic for leaders from 16 Colombian communities
Our partners have also seen trials and tribulations, but continue to build peace and defend human rights:
-The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó celebrated its 23rd birthday this year. We were saddened to hear of the death of one of their long-time leaders, Renato Areiza, last month. They continue to face the threat of paramilitaries and violence, and are also organizing a legal battle against a ruling that bars them from mentioning the military in their public communiques.
–La Esperanza was able to recuperate their legal representation and have elected a provisional Board of Directors, a huge step forward in regaining the rights over their ancestral lands.
-The Mapiripán Association in Defense of the Environment have focused on protecting and strengthening their crops, from cacao to pineapple. They also continue to organize a response to bring home the 6 small-scale farmers who were detained in May under false allegations.
-In San Jose de León they are working on plans to protect the forests in the area while also cultivating native crops.
-In Blanquita Murrí they have suffered from threats against several signers of the peace agreement and social leaders, but they continue to work on community building processes and to demand compliance with basic rights.
This work would not have been possible without the support of generous people like you. If you are willing and able, please make a donation or become an sustaining monthly donor.