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Grassroots Action Center

Tell Your U.S. Representative to Stand with Colombian Social Leaders by Co-Signing a Letter to Secretary Pompeo
On March 19, 2020, three armed men assassinated local farmer and human rights defender Marco Rivadeneira. Marco was a community leader who promoted peaceful and voluntary coca substitution efforts in his community. He also represented his region in the national network of human rights defenders, working hard to fully implement measures from the 2016 Peace Accords. 
 
Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. Since 2016, over 440 human rights activists and community figureheads have been assassinated. As state attention turned to containing the spread of the pandemic, the killings have increased; in 2020 alone, over 120 social leaders have been murdered. Marco was one of 23 local leaders killed during the first five weeks of Colombia’s pandemic lockdown.
 
The people responsible for these atrocities are not being identified, apprehended, or held accountable for their actions. Part of the problem is that despite signing the 2016 treaty to end internal conflict, Colombian officials still have yet to fully implement different aspects of the agreement. The government slashed the budgets for the new justice system, units that search for missing persons, failed to hold the intelligence community accountable for unlawful surveillance, and has failed to reintegrate ex-guerilla forces back into society peacefully.
 
The Presbyterians have a long-standing relationship with Colombian social and church leaders. Since 2004 Presbyterians have accompanied local church leaders outspoken about human rights abuses in Colombia to show solidarity and protection for their work. In 2019 the PC(USA) reaffirmed its commitment to finding peaceful solutions, promoting the rights of marginalized communities, and defending and implementing the Peace Accords in Colombia.
 
Contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to sign onto the “Dear Colleague” letter written and circulated by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA-2) and Mark Pocan (D-WI-2). This letter asks Secretary of State Pompeo to urge Colombian President Duque to protect Colombia’s human rights defenders; prosecute those who threaten and murder them; and hold accountable Colombian military intelligence officers who conducted mass surveillance of journalists, human rights defenders, political leaders, and judges.
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