The National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) stands firm in its concern for Afro-descendant community leaders, activists and journalists in Colombia who, in the face of murder and threats, continue to defend human rights and justice.

This past march at #NCBS2019, Afro-Colombian leader Carlos Rosero addressed the President’s Plenary at the request of Amilcar Shabazz who introduced him. He spoke of the grave humanitarian crisis that is escalating in Colombia. Since then Rosero from Cauca, the founder of Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN), one of the largest Afro-Colombian organizations in the country, along with Francia Marquez and others, have come under extreme repression and attacks by paramilitary forces. The NCBS calls for an end to violence against people in the indigenous and Afro-Colombian territories.

FULL STATEMENT

As concerned citizens of African descent, we express our deep preoccupation for the present situation of our brothers and sisters in Colombia. We can say without hesitation that there is a humanitarian crisis in Colombia and that Afro-Colombians are suffering extremely from the situation of politically and economically motivated violence, loss of land and deracination from their territories, and structural racism that permeates in the country. Colombia is at the top of political repression, assassination of social activists, and forced displacement in the world.

At this very hour, several Black community activists, intellectuals, and political leaders are under death threat. We highlight Francia Marquez and Carlos Rosero, key leaders of the Black Communities Process, one of the principal grassroots organizations of Afrodescendants in Colombia. Francia Marquez, a former candidate for national office who won the Goldman Award in 2017, deemed a sort of Noble Prize for Environmental Affairs, is under death threat and suffered an attempt against her life by paramilitary forces in a community meeting where she was with Carlos Rosero and several other black activists. Carlos Rosero, an historical figure in the Black movement in the Americas, is now constantly in danger of attacks against his life. This is not simply a problem with the leadership, whole communities are in danger, especially rural communities that are particularly vulnerable to the everyday violence executed by paramilitaries who want black people out of their communities in order to get their land for growing coca and/or for large-scale mining which is the case of the community named La Toma, the homeland of Francia Marquez. Afro-Colombian people are also experiencing an humanitarian crisis in cities such as Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast, the place of origin of Carlos Rosero, where there was a mass civic strike two years ago demanding peace, basic social services and democratic rule.

Even though Colombia has some of the best laws concerning rights for Black people, these legislative policies are not fully implemented and are now in jeopardy. The Law 70 of 1993, widely regarded as the best example of collective rights for people of African descent in the Americas, according to which Black community councils are recognized as official entities expressing popular will, was never fully implemented and is now in danger because of the paramilitary and state violence against the communities.

Another aspect of the humanitarian crisis is the Colombian government’s lack of compliance with the peace agreement between the guerrilla struggle (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-FARC) and the Colombian state. The administration of Ivan Duque has deeply exacerbated the already existing tendency to undermine the achievement of peace under the terms of the accord. For rural and urban Black communities, and for leaders and activists of the Afro-Colombian social movement, peace never came, and they are living in a critical moment of everyday violence, death threats, and murder.

The humanitarian crisis in Colombia cries out to us as Afro-American leaders and to the sensibilities of all people who love peace and justice in the world. We the undersigned raise our voices in concern for and protest of the humanitarian crisis that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in Colombia. We demand immediate actions of protection for Afro-Colombian communities and their leaders on the part of the Colombian state and the international community and We reaffirm our solidarity with Afro-Colombian people in their crucial search for peace and justice.

Endorsed by the NCBS Board of Directors on August 24, 2019

About the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS)
The National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) is the leading organization of Black Studies professionals in the world and is made up of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of the African world. With members who reside both inside and outside the United States, NCBS is the one body that brings together experts who endeavor to build the discipline of Africana/Black Studies across the globe. The NCBS’s mission is to foster intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on people of African descent worldwide, promote the interests of its diverse membership, and encourage civic engagement through network building and scholarly activism. If you wish to interview an NCBS Executive Committee member, please contact the NCBS national office at programcoordinator@ncbsonline.org or (513) 556-0785.

NCBS International Committee
The NCBS’ International Committee invites members to work to build international linkages by creating and maintaining a worldwide forum for the advancement of knowledge of history, culture, welfare, and life possibilities of people of African descent. NCBS provides researchers, community leaders and scholars (within and outside the discipline) the means to share information, network, and create strategies for the development of Africana Studies as a global project. Email us at international@ncbsonline.org

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