Since April 28, Colombian security forces have murdered at least 37 protestors. These cops receive U.S. funding. Tell the State Department to invoke the Leahy Law - no more U.S. tax dollars to Colombia’s human rights violators!
“They’re killing us.” That’s the message being sent by Colombians as they ask for solidarity and help in stopping the atrocities of the past week. The videos have been gut wrenching. Police criminalizing peaceful protests, terrorizing entire communities, murdering civilians at point blank range. These police are funded by U.S. taxpayers.
Since 2000, the U.S. has provided over $10 billion to Colombia through a security assistance program called Plan Colombia. This money - our taxes - has not only funded the Colombian military, which has a dreadful history of atrocities, it has also funded the ESMAD, Colombia’s anti-riot police, which is responsible for most of the 37 deaths caused in the past week.
The Leahy Law prohibits the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces “if the Secretary of State has credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” The ESMAD has been implicated in such violations since at least 2005, and the past week in Colombia has given us more than enough evidence to be able to hold the ESMAD accountable.
The one exception to the Leahy Law is if the “government of such country [Colombia] is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.” Statements from President Iván Duque and former president Álvaro Uribe, widely considered to be the power behind the presidency, make it clear that the Colombian government fully supports the actions of the ESMAD.
As heartbreaking as the events in Colombia have been over the past week, we also understand that what’s happening now in the cities is a reflection of what’s been happening in rural Colombia for decades. In 2021 alone, there have already been 35 massacres - not counting those that occurred last week. Another 57 social leaders and 22 signers of the peace accords between the Colombian government and FARC have been murdered or disappeared this year. Stopping funding for the ESMAD is only one step in helping Colombians achieve peace and justice.
To learn more about what’s behind the protests in Colombia, check out this special episode of WTF is going on in Latin America and the Caribbean in which CODEPINK’s Teri Mattson interviews Colombian doctor and journalist Victor de Currea-Lugo.
In radical solidarity,
Leonardo, Teri, Michelle and Medea
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