In Colombia, Civil Society Fights for Peace
By: Jaskiran Kaur Chohan and Verónica Ramírez Montenegro
In the early morning of April 2, 2019, Colombian police violently attacked Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant protestors near the Pan-American Highway in Cauca—mere hours before they were set to meet with the Minister of the Interior for negotiations. According to a press release from the Consejo Regional Indígena Regional de Cauca (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC), at least one protestor was shot dead and several more were gravely injured. The protestors, participants of the Minga Nacional (national minga- a Quechua word meaning “collective work”), had been blockading the highway for over three weeks, demanding that President Iván Duque meet with the council to discuss their concerns.
The demands of the Minga Nacional include implementation of the peace accords between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) guerrilla group. The movement is especially concerned with the ethnic chapter, a part of the accords that refers to how the agreements should be implemented in Indigenous and Afro-majority territories, and reject the government’s decision to block the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the judicial mechanism in the peace accords that addresses justice for victims of violence, mass atrocities, and human rights violations. They are also calling on the government to fulfil previous agreements these groups have reached with the government.
In 2016, the Afro-Latino Festival NYC presented a panel entitled “Afro-Colombian Participation in the Peace Process” at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. The panel addressed some concerns during the negotiations themselves which concluded in Habana, Cuba. You can see the panel here: https://livestream.com/schomburgcenter/events/5770992/videos/129125858