[act-ma] Gustavo Moncayo & Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo tour this Thursday and Friday

Cathy Crumbley colombiavive at mindspring.com
Tue Sep 23 09:40:42 PDT 2008


Forgotten in the Jungle: Victims of Colombia’s War

                                                           

Two courageous Colombians, Gustavo Moncayo and Consuelo González de Perdomo
will be in the Boston area next week - September 25-27, 2008.  During this
visit they will discuss concern for the remaining hostages held by
Colombia’s illegal armed actors, the struggles of the victims’ families, and
how we can all be part of helping to attain a humanitarian accord to secure
the hostages’ release, and a path towards peace in Colombia.  

 

There will be three public presentations:

 

Thursday, September 25 6:00pm  Dudley House Common Room, Harvard Yard,
Harvard 

 

Friday, September 26 1:00pm Cargill Hall, Northeastern University Law School
(look for signs for exact room)   

 

Friday, September 26, 7:00pm Family Institute of Cambridge, 51 Kondazian
Street, Watertown

617-924-2617; info at familyinstitutecamb.org.

Gustavo Moncayo, a high school teacher from the southern province of Nariño,
led a walk of approximately 600 miles through Colombia to promote the
“humanitarian accord” to secure the release of the many persons held by the
FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), including his son Pablo
Emilio. Pablo Emilio is a member of Colombia’s National Police who was taken
prisoner in 1997 by the FARC and remains in captivity today.

Consuelo González de Perdomo was trained as a social psychologist, and has
devoted her entire life to political and social work in the department of
Huila, where she is from, and where she has served in elective office at the
local, regional, and national levels. Most recently she was elected to serve
in the Colombian Congress. As a member of Congress she was kidnapped on
September 10, 2001, by the FARC. For 6 years and 4 months she was part of a
group of hostages who the guerrillas proposed to release in the
“humanitarian accord.” During her captivity she lost her husband, but at the
same time became a grandmother. On January 10, 2008, she was unilaterally
released by the FARC, yet from that day on she has said that she will not be
free until all those who continue to suffer the tragedy of kidnapping have
returned to their homes.

Colombia Vive is the Boston organizer of their tour.  Their Boston visit is
part of a national tour organized by the Colombia Human Rights Committee,
Lutheran World Relief, the Manuel Zapata Olivella Center, Periodico Impacto
Latino, Accion Colombia, Movimiento Por la Paz en Colombia, United
Steelworkers Associate Member Program and Benedict College.  

 

Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy

According to the nongovernmental organization País Libre, from 1996 to 2007
illegal armed groups in Colombia (left-wing guerrillas and right-wing
paramilitaries) kidnapped some 14,233 persons. In addition, thousands have
been forcibly disappeared, mostly by pro-government forces, many killed and
buried in mass graves. According to the Washington Post, “the number of
disappeared has eclipsed the tallies in El Salvador, Chile and other
countries where the practice was widespread. And if estimates by some
investigators turn out to be correct, Colombia will soon count more
disappeared victims than Argentina or Peru.” The Post also notes that the
continued disappearance of tens of thousands of farmers “has been largely
overlooked,” as has the existence of the alarming number of hostages in the
hands of illegal armed groups (August 28, 2008).

 

Other gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law include
politically-motivated individual assassinations, and massacres of civilian
populations. Such assassinations have continued this year, with killings of
trade unionists, for example, up from last year.  Another example:
Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities have been especially targeted,
driving them off of lands to which they have won legal title, which are
taken over for “development” by business interests based on Bogotá and
Medellín.

 

Human Rights Violations and the US Role in Colombia

In the early 1990s, Colombia became the third-leading recipient of U.S.
military aid worldwide, after Israel and Egypt (and, after 9/11, Iraq and
Afghanistan).  Such aid was sharply increased at the end of the Clinton
administration with the introduction of Plan Colombia, originally touted as
an anti-drug program, but since then re-sold as a counter-terrorism
initiative. Yet despite the more than $5 billion spent on aid to Colombia in
the last 9 years, the flow of cocaine from Colombia to the United States has
risen, the total acreage planted in coca leaf has increased, and gross human
rights violations by official forces persist.  

 

Approximately 80% of that aid has been for the military and police forces,
who have been implicated in a continuing string of human rights violations,
both committed directly by the military, such as the February 2005 San José
de Apartadó massacre, and by the paramilitary alliance Autodefensas Unidas
de Colombia, which for years has worked closely with many mid- and
high-level military officers, according to international and Colombian human
rights reports.

 

Until last year, U.S. policy towards Colombia largely reflected a bipartisan
consensus in favor of more of the same, with few in Congress raising a
critical voice. However, that situation has begun to change.  Colombians
need you to become involved to see to it that the human rights and
humanitarian tragedy is accorded higher priority in U.S. policy as a new
administration takes over in Washington.  This includes the need for the
United States to insist that the Colombian government pursue a peaceful end
to the conflict, so that all may return safely to their homes. 

 

 

Colombia Vive is an all-volunteer human rights organization that supports
efforts for peace, human rights, and social justice in Colombia. We defend
and support civilian groups in Colombia that share our perspective.
We condemn all forms of political violence and therefore do not support any
of the armed actors in the Colombian conflict.

Colombia Vive
31 Holden Street
Lowell, MA  01851
978-441-9488
 <mailto:colombiavive at mindspring.com> colombiavive at mindspring.com 
  
  

 

 

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