Walking Alongside Colombia Through Difficult Times
Colombia is living through painful times as its citizens are taking the streets into a National Strike. Colombians stand for an agenda of social justice and peace in the country. According to Global Ministries’ Partners there, Justapaz and the Evangelical Council of Colombia’s Peace and Justice Commission, what started as a rejection of tax reform, evolved into a wide protest for quality in public education, a comprehensive implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords, eliminating flexible labor, guaranteeing basic income, and respecting pensions for the elderly. Indigenous communities, social organizations, activists for peace, and ordinary citizens are also marching in the streets because of suffering violence, forced displacement, and racism within their communities.
Repression from the Colombian Government has been excessively disproportionate to the exercise of citizens’ rights. Non-governmental organizations reported 3,155 cases of violence by the Public Force (which do not include disappearances) between 6:00 AM on April 28 and 11:00 PM on May 24, 2021. Within these cases, it was possible to define the following figures:
- 955 victims of physical violence
- 43 homicides allegedly committed by members of the Public Force
- 1,388 arbitrary arrests against protesters
- 595 violent interventions in the framework of peaceful protests
- 46 victims of eye attacks
- 165 firearm shooting cases
- 22 victims of sexual violence
- 5 victims of gender-based violence
During the last weekend, a team from Justapaz, UniBautista, and delegates from the Justice and Peace Service (SERPAJ), participated in a Human Rights Mission Pilgrimage by visiting points of resistance in Cali, especially in the city of Siloé. A Methodist pastor, who accompanies one of the points, reported that a medical mission in Siloé was attacked with bullets and other devices. There are videos, photos, and physical evidence of that event. Also, as part of our Partners’ gathering of information, there is another report by the International Verification Mission, a conglomerate of international and Colombian Non-Governmental Organizations, regarding missing people (“Desaparecidos”) the National Strike. The statement denounced how people have been arrested by the Police, with no further information on their well-being and whereabouts is not available since their apprehension. A hundred protesters are missing at the time of the report. It is a reminder of the practice of disappearing people during the Chilean and Argentinian dictatorships of the 70s and 80s.
On that same weekend, Ivan Duque, President of Colombia, continued to exacerbate violence with recent announcements to the press. He ordered the deployment of military troops to crush street blockades made by protesters. While Justapaz and the CEDECOL’s Peace and Justice Commission report on how most protests are peaceful and based on citizens’ legitimate demands, President Duque insists that the country faces “low-intensity terrorism” promoted by dissidents from FARC, a former Colombian guerrilla, and other political sectors.
Our Global Ministries partners provide support for citizens involved in affirming their democratic rights and peacefully participating in the National Strike. That support includes legal representation, medical assistance, non-violent participation, and advocacy with law enforcement authorities, among other options.
To learn more and support the work of Justapaz in Colombia, continue here.
To learn more and support the work of CEDECOL’s Peace and Justice Commission, continue here.
To learn more about all Global Ministries partners and projects in Colombia, continue reading here.
Thank you for your solidarity!
¡Gracias por su solidaridad!