From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
During years of peace negotiations between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, grassroots groups pushed for issues of racial and economic justice to be heard. With Colombia entering a new stage, the struggle continues.
Some disarming guerrillas are allying with cocaine cartels. Others are being targeted by Rightist paramilitaries. Black and Indigenous communities are under new—or intensifying—threat.
In the main port city, Buenaventura, weeks of demonstrations began May 15 demanding the government recognize a state of emergency. Over 60% of the mostly Black populace are unemployed, and 40% refugees—caught between drug trade violence and corporate exploitation.
Protests and strikes also continued in the mainly Afro-Colombian Department of Choco, where poverty, infant mortality and violence are rife. The demand is for basic rights to public services, healthcare, and education for the descendants of those who mined the gold that built the modern world.