|Community leader Don Petro|
photo by Charlotte Kesl
Will you send a message to the Colombian government today to ask for their protection?
After being violently displaced in the late 1990s, the Afro-Colombian and mestizo communities in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó created "Humanitarian Zones," or areas where the peaceful civilians who declared themselves neutral in the conflict could be clearly differentiated from combatants and protect themselves and their families from the violence. Since then they have been working for a peaceful return to their lands, but continue to face often violent challenges from paramilitaries, cattle ranchers and oil palm companies that want control of these territories. Click here to watch a short video about their history and struggle.
National and international courts have ordered the Colombian government to give back the land to these communities and protect them from violence. While almost none of the land has been returned to the communities, the Colombian Army had been providing some important protection around the outside of the humanitarian zones.
But last week the Army retreated from several of their established and agreed upon protection posts. Around the time that the Army pulled back, a group of 20 paramilitaries armed with assault weapons was reported to be near the humanitarian zone of Andalucia-Caño Claro. Within days, paramilitaries armed with machetes tried to stab a community member, who narrowly escaped by running off into a field. And now the communities fear that an attack is imminent.
Click here to ask Colombian government to protect them now!