April 13, 2012

President Obama’s Green Light to FTA is a Red Flag for Afro-Colombians

As President Obama seems to be ready to give a green light to Colombia for the implementation of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement this weekend, under the guise of improvements in labor conditions and human rights, the Black Communities Process in Colombia (PCN) raises the question: what it will take for the Obama administration to understand the severity of Afro-Colombians’ human rights? Read more at, http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PCNonFTA-April12.pdf

March 8, 2012

Afro-Colombian Women and Public Policy

Afro-descedant women from several Community Councils and grassroots organizations issued a statement demanding from the Colombian government and the Colombian High Commissioner for Women's Equality to guaranty the "effective participation of the Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal and Palenke women, through their organizations and Community Councils, as it is stablished by laws and the jurisprudence, in such way that (respect) their right to prior, free and informed consultation and consent". Read the statement in Spanish at, http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/Mujeres-ProunciamietoSobrePoliticaPublica1-2012.pdf

February 27, 2012

The Violation to the Afro-Colombians' Right to Prior, Free and Informed Consultation threats the communities integrity

"It is important that the Colombian government understand that the violation of the Afro-descendant communities rights is a factor that threats their physical and cultural integrity increasing their vulnerability" said the Black Communities Process (PCN) in a letter to the Special Rapportour on the rights of Afro-descedants, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine and José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez the Rapportour for Colombia, Panamá and Peru.

Read the letter in Soanish: http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PCN-CIDH-ConsultaPrevia-TierrasyDsllRural-1-25-2012

February 1, 2012

"The War We Are Living"

In November 2011, PBS aired its five series "Women, War and Peace". One of those series chronicled the war that Afro-descendant women like Clemencia Carabali and Francia Marquez leave in Colombia, a country with more than 46 years of internal armed conflict and 5 million internal displaced people.

“The war we are living” underlines the struggle of African descendants to achieve self-determination in Colombia. Francia and Clemencia two powerful and courageous Afro-descendant women,members of the BlackCommunities' Process (PCN), live to defend their communities, ancestral lands and Afro-descendant peoples’ rights to live in peace, with dignity and rooted in their culture and territories.

See the PBS documentary at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/full-episodes/the-war-we-are-living/

Community Councils and Organizations on Land and Rural Law

In January 25th, 156 Community Councils and organizations issued a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos urging him once again to ensure that his administration comply with an effective implementation of the free, prior and informed consultation and consent of the Land Restitution and Rural Development statutes as applied to Black communities. The free, prior and informed consent is a fundamental right of Afro-descendant, intended to protect the communities and their rights.However, the Colombian government continues showing lack of political will and disregard for the rule of law.

Read the full version of the letter in Spanish at http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/CartaalPresidenteSantos-CPTierrasyRural1-162012.pdf

January 31, 2012

Afro-Colombian Organizations Presented Proposal for Afro-descendant Victims Law

Frustrated by the Colombian government’s lack of political will to reach out to Afro-Colombian victims in a legitimate process of previous consultation, the National Working Group of Afro-Colombian Organizations, known as the Mesa Afrocolombiana, crafted its own proposal for the Decree Law that suppose to provide reparation and land restitution to the Afro-descendant victims of the internal armed conflict.The Mesa presented the proposal to the Colombian government and asked the government to develop a truthful participatory process. On December 2011, President Juan Manuel Santos signed the decree law 4635, without responding to the victims rights and the Community Councils and organizations demands.
The proposal can be found at http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PropuestaDecretoLeyVictims-MesaAfrocolombiana.pdf

November 22, 2011

Afro-Colombian Victims Ignored in Development of Victims’ Law

"Colombia Contradicts Intent of Law by Disregarding Participation of Victims", said the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN).

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed Law 1448, better known as the Victims and Land Restitution Law, on June 10, 2011. The law offers a historic opportunity to provide reparations to more than four million victims of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, and the United States has expressed its support by pledging considerable financial and technical support for its implementation. However, if the law fails to include the perspectives of the victims themselves, Law 1448 will deepen the structural disadvantages and obstacles confronting the very people that it intends to help.

The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) urges you to contact your Member of Congress and express your concerns regarding the exclusion of Afro-Colombian victims in the development of Law 1448. Call your Representative/Senator by phoning the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and express your concerns about the discrimination against Afro-Colombian victims in the construction of the Law 1448 (the Victims and Land Restitution Law).

For more information, please contact Anthony Dest (adest@wola.org) or Charo Mina Rojas (charominarojas@gmail.com).

Read the ACSN complete statement: http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/Statement-AfroColmbianVictimsLaw.pdf

See also: "The Victims Law for Afro-descendants. Flowed Consultation Generates Flowed Results, Said the Victims", at http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PCNVictimsLawStatement.pdf

November 16, 2011

Afro-Colombian Victims Discriminated in the Victims Law

There is not Justice for Afro-Colombia Victims.

Last week, Afro-Colombian organizations and Community Councils wrote to President Juan Manuel Santos demanding respect of the national and international minimum standards of Prior, Free, and Informed Consultation, in the formulation process and prevent greater vulnerability for the Afro-descendant victims of the internal armed conflict.

In June, the President signed a discriminatory Law 1448 that did not consult with Afro-descendant and Indigenous peoples. The Congress gave special competences to President Santos to correct this by creating a truthful process of consultation. The regional meetings organized by the government have been severely criticized for its lack of transparency and due process. Nevertheless, it appear to be that the government moved on to enact a law that will not effectively address the Afro-descendant victims’ right to be properly repair and restituted.

This is a bad precedent for President Juan Manuel Santos who’s rhetoric regarding Afro-descendant communities rights and respect for the rule of law seems to been bought by the US government, who recently ratified a Free Trade Agreement to gratify Santos for its commitment with human rights.

Read the Spanish version of the letter to Presidet Satos, http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/SantosLetter-VictimsLaw.pdf
A statement by the Mesa Afrocolombiana regarding the irregularities of this process ca be fount at http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/MesastatementEngl.pdf

For more information contact, Charo Mina Rojas at (434) 760-0663, charominarojas@gmail.com

October 11, 2011

U.S. Black Trade Union Activists Oppose the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement

October 10, 2011

Today in a letter to the United States Congress, Black members of U.S.-based trade unions called on the Senate and House to reject the free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia. Joining a growing chorus of voices in opposition to the FTA because of Colombia’s abysmal human rights record related to union workers there, the Black trade unionists letter also raises concerns that the agreement would have an detrimental impact on the Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations. As the letter states, “Their exploitation as workers and oppressed peoples takes place in the mines, sugar cane fields and in the plants, while their communities experience underdevelopment, state repression and massive displacement in the millions.”

Free trade agreement legislation with Colombia, Panama and South Korea was formally introduced in Congress on October 3 and is on a fast track, with a vote on all three agreements scheduled for Wednesday, October 12. According to Charo Mina-Rojas, a U.S.-based Colombian human rights activist with the Proceso de Comunidades Negras, “The speed in which the so-called free trade agreement with Colombia is moving through Congress does not allow the American people to have an opportunity to fully understand the human consequences of this agreement on the working people of Colombia. More specifically, this agreement might exacerbate an already critical situation that Afro-Colombians face with displacement, targeted violence from paramilitary forces working with multinational corporations to force people off of their land, and government repression”. Mina-Rojas goes on to say “that is why this letter from Black Activists in the US is so important. The missing element in the discourse on free trade between the U.S. and Colombia has been on how this agreement will impact Afro-Colombians.”

On the issue of jobs for workers in America, the main selling point for proponents of free trade with Colombia, Black trade unionists take the position that the remote possibility that more jobs would be generated in the U.S. from this agreement does not offset the moral responsibility to speak out in support of workers and oppression in the Global South. “We must oppose the Colombian FTA,” the letter concludes, “because it shows little or no regard for the deterioration in the conditions of life faced by the working class in other countries who suffer because U.S. capitalist globalization places profits over human needs and rights.”

To see the full letter, please see http://www.blackleftunity.org/blacklaborinstruggle.htm

For more informacion on FTA, please contact Charo Mina Rojas, PCN International. (1) 434-760-0663, charominarojas@gmail.com

October 7, 2011


Five Community Councils in the Northern Cauca region reported that military bombing and counter-guerrilla operations are causing the confinement of more than seven thousand families.
Read the Communities Council Satement (Spanish) http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/SOSCauca-Oct2011.pdf