While the Colombian Government has launched a public relations campaign, "Discover Colombia Through Its Heart," complete with enormous heart sculptures placed in downtown D.C., a group of activists has responded with its own "counter-tourism" campaign. Offering "exploitation opportunities and luxuriously abusive vacation packages," the campaign's site describes how "as a visitor to Colombia, you will be overwhelmed by legendary Colombian hospitality. You may even be fortunate enough to receive the same 'red carpet treatment' given to some Colombian citizens by the army -- literally rolled up in a red carpet and shipped across the country! These no-cost excursions start with kidnapping, continue with being trucked hundreds of miles to a more violent frontier region and end with extrajudicial execution and a press conference announcing 'positive' kills of guerrilla fighters." The website and various direct actions are part of a larger counter-campaign, No More Broken Hearts.
Also launched this week is an international campaign to defend the right to defend human rights in Colombia. Coinciding with the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, the campaign launched yesterday at an event in downtown Bogotá. "In Colombia, being a human rights defender is a dangerous, often deadly job," says the campaign website. "And things are getting worse."
Lastly, we are asking folks in the U.S. to urge their representatives to sign a letter to President Obama. The letter expresses concern about the plan for 7 U.S. military installations in Colombia. Please take action!