On the Rights of Afro-Colombians and the Peace Process (S)
From the Amherst Student. Marino Cordoba and Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli gave a presentation called “Peace and Human Rights for Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples in Colombia” on Friday, Feb. 24 in Fayerweather Hall. Cordoba is an Afro-Colombian advocate for the Association for Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), and Sánchez works for the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), which researches and advocates for human rights in the Americas. The Political Science department sponsored the lecture.
The lecture began with a short documentary called “The Silent Scream,” which showed the persecution of Afro-Colombians from 1996 to the present by the Colombian government. Attacks on Afro-Colombians began in 1996, three years after Law 70 was passed, which recognized Afro-Colombians’ right to occupy and own their “ancestral land” by rivers in the Pacific Basin. Paramilitary and Colombian Army soldiers entered Cordoba’s town when people were sleeping and murdered those who had been involved in passing the law, according to the documentary. They first attacked the town in 1996, and Cordoba has not been able to return home since, instead leading a speaking tour in the U.S. to draw public attention to the attacks.
Congressman Jim McGovern from Massachusetts’ second district, who had previously traveled to Colombia with Sánchez, introduced the two speakers. He condemned the United States’ past policies in Colombia and warned that the current Congress might cause more violence by refusing to support the peace accords between Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government that were signed last November. McGovern encouraged the audience to ask representatives to support the peace accords. Amherst Student.