Human Rights Campaign

“What else we need to do?“ Afro-Colombian Women walk in defense of life and the ancestral Black territories

November 17, 2014

“The love for life is stronger than the fear of death“, chanted the women of Norte del Cauca when they decided to mobilize.

After many demands from Afro-Colombian communities and empty commitments by the Colombian authorities to halt the presence of illegal mining in their ancestral territories and to respect their rights, the women of Norte del Cauca in the black territories of Colombia have taken matters in their own hands. First taking direct action by mobilizing the community to expel two of the illegal excavators along with the miners that encroached on their territory and deciding to take the case of Norte del Cauca and illegal mining straight to the halls of government in Bogota.

“Many of us have raised our children on our own. The pans for mining gold, the hoes, and the shovels are witness to this. The territory has been our partner, and it has been with us during happy and sad moments. Our grandmothers, such as Do–a Paulina Balanta, taught us that ‘the territory is life, and life does not have a priceÕ and that Ôthe territory is dignity and it does not have a price’.“ Say the Afro-descendant women on their statement calling the mobilization. “Today, our lives are in danger, and the possibilities to live as Afro-descendant people are minimal. We have protected our lives in many ways over the years. We ask ourselves: What else can we do? Therefore, we met and decided to walk to Bogota, and we will tell everyone about our situation as we walk”.

So they will be marching for life and the ancestral territories, and they need our support and solidarity.

You can support the Afro-Colombian women from Norte del Cauca, contribute to their walk by donating here

Contact information: - (57) 314-370-8931

Mining exploitation in Black ancestral territories without prior consultation and consent is illegal mining. Say NO! to #MineriaIlegal

#EscucheNuestrosPasos - #MujeresNegrasCaminan

Read ACWHRD complete statement.

Tracy Robinson, the President of the IACHR in dialogue with Afro-Colombian women

October 6, 2014

Violence against Afro-Colombian women continues with impunity, said Tracy Robinson, the President of the Inter American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and Rapporteur for the Rights of Women after her conversations with Afro-descendant women in Cali and Cartagena.

In a follow- up to review the Colombian government‘s commitments during the IACHR thematic hearing in March 2013 to address violence and human rights violations against Afro-descendant women in Colombia, the IACHR Commissioner accepted the Afro-Colombian Women Human Rights Defender Project‘s (ACWHRD) invitation to speak directly with Afro-descendant women from Tumaco, Buenaventura, Northern Cauca region, the Caribbean region and Aguablanca District in Cali.

The IACHR Commissioner concluded that very little has been done by the Colombian government to tackle crimes against Afro-Colombian women and ensuring the protection of their rights. By the contrary, Mrs. Robinson learned directly from conversations with women, that places like Buenaventura, Tumaco and Norte del Cauca, where large scale economic projects, illegal mining and armed groups dominate the day to day lives of ordinary people, continue to be characterized by violence and fear, with special danger for Black women leaders and activists.

ACWHRD Project will continue assisting the IACHR to ensure a close monitoring of the human rights situation of Afro-descendant women in Colombia.

Read here the interview with the Commissioner Robinson published in Spanish by the Colombian newspaper El Pais.

La Presidenta de la CIDH Tracy Robinson conversa con la sociedad civil en Cali

Septiembre 26, 2014

El Kuagro Ri Changaina Ri PCN, en el marco de la campa–a de Afrodescendientes defensoras de derechos humanos, coordino con la Comisi—n Interamericana y Global Righs Partners for Justice, la visita de la Presidenta de la CIDH y Relatora para los asuntos de la mujer Tracy Robinson a Cali.

“La visita de la Comisionada abre una puerta para que se revisen todos los obstaculos que enfrentamos las mujeres para acceder a la justicia y puede ofrecer recomendaciones concretas para combatir el serio problema de la impunidad en los cr’menes contra las mujeres en Colombia” expreso Danelly Estupin‡n, defensora de derechos humanos del Palenque el Congal en Buenaventura, al referirse a la visita que hara la Comisionada este Lunes 29, 2014 para dialogar con organizaciones de mujeres sobre los retos y obstaculos en relaci—n con la participaci—n de las mujeres en los mecanismos estatales de recoleccion de informacion sobre violencia y discriminacion, y el nivel de acceso que tienen para defender y ejercer sus derechos en casos de violencia y discriminacion.

Para el Kuagro es tambien una oportunidad para hacer seguimiento a los compromisos que adquirio el gobierno Colombiano durante la audiencia tem‡tica solicitada por el colectivo de mujeres en Marzo del a–o pasado.

La Comisionada sostendr‡ reuniones con organizaciones de mujeres de Tumaco, Buenaventura, Cali, el Norte del Cauca y el Caribe. Asi mismo estar‡a realizando un evento publico para dialogar con la sociedad civil de Cali en horas de la tarde.

Informacion de contacto: Charo Mina Rojas at or (57) 314-370-8931

On International Workers Day three dead and forty trapped, a tragedy that could have been prevented

Colombian government fails to protect the rights of artisanal Afro-Colombian miners

May 1, 2014

The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign (ACHRD) highlights on International Workers Day another working class tragedy that could have, if the Colombian government would have complied with its responsibility to recognize, protect and fulfill the ancestral communityÕs territorial, cultural and economic rights of Afro-Colombians.

Last night, at 11:00 pm, tons of rocks and mud buried alive dozens of Afro-descendant artisanal miners in a 65 feet-deep hole that killed three and trapped over forty people in an illegal large-scale mining operation called San Antonio, in the village El Arenal, municipality of Santander de Quilichao, located 70 kilometers to the south, from the city of Cali. The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign demand: 1) that the local, regional and national authorities respond adequately not only to the immediate rescue operations but to ensure comprehensive assistance and reparation to the victims and their families; 2) that the Ministry of Mines, Ingeominas and the Ministry of Interior respond immediately to the agreements reached with the communities last year, agreements that could secure dignifying working condition for the Afro-descendant communities in their own artisanal and sustainable mining environments.

For further information please contact Charo Mina Rojas at or (57) 312-290-4002

Armed and Masked Men Prey on Neighborhoods in Buenaventura

At least five people killed, over 2000 displaced and neighborhoods under gun control

The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders project call for the immediate intervention of the authorities to regain control of the neighborhood and ensure the protection of their inhabitants.

ACHRD Project also exhorts the attorney general’s office to immediately initiate an investigation on the circumstances surrounded the assassination of the youth and bring those responsible to justice.

ACHRD Project exhorts the public ministry to provide humanitarian attention with the proper differentiated approach to those forced to displacement and ensure that their properties and possessions are protected as well.

Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Project strongly condemns the negligence and lack of capacity of the authorities to halt this criminal acts that have become common practice in Buenaventura.

This violence must stop!

For further information please contact or (57) 312-290-4002.

President Santos, are you counting women killings?

The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign repudiates this crimes and the brutal assassination of Estella Cortes Vasques a teacher from the city-port of Buenaventura.

Estella Cortes was found suffocated, her head in a plastic bag, a chain around her neck and her throat cut on August 13, 2013, in her house in Òlos PinosÓ neighborhood. Mrs. Cortes was a teacher in the river community of Anchicaya, municipality of Buenaventura. The community recognized her as a loving and dedicated teacher despite the fact that the municipality was not paying her for her work.

Presidente Santos, esta contando las mujeres asesinadas?

La Campa–a de Defensores Afrocolombianos de Derechos Humanos repudia el brutal asesinato de Estella Cortes V‡squez, una maestra de la ciudad-puerto de Buenaventura.

Estella Cortes fue encontrada asfixiada, su cabeza en una bolsa pl‡stica, con una cadena alrededor del cuello y degollada el 13 de Agosto del 2013, en su casa del barrio Los Pinos. La profesora Cortes ense–aba en una de las veredas del r’o Anchicaya, municipio de Buenaventura; la comunidad la recuerda como una profesora amorosa y dedicada, a pesar de que la Alcald’a no le hab’a firmado contrato todav’a y no estaba recibiendo pago.

Environment of war in La Alsacia, Cauca can end in another Bojaya tragedy

In response to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem PillayÕs, visit to Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos insisted that Colombia no longer needed external human rights monitoring. Yet in Afro-Colombia communities across the country hidden from the glare of the media and the concerns of the government, communities still find themselves facing outrageous assaults on their collective dignity and fundamental rights.

This reality is graphically captured by the situation that the communities in the municipalities of Suarez and Buenos Aires, department of Cauca have found themselves in.

El ambiente de guerra en la Alsacia puede ser otra tragedia como Bojaya

The plight of Afro-Colombian Women do not cease

During the first few months of 2013, women human rights defenders and women’s organizations in Colombia have been receiving an increasing number of threats. The recent targeting of Maria Ligia Chaverra, a 70-year-old Afro-Colombian leader of Curvarado, Choco is a glaring example of the widespread targeting of women currently taking place. She was identified by the local media as a supporter of guerrillas--a charge that in context of Colombia leads to being marked for death. Ironically, the media that made the charge is the very same media that has been silent about violence in Buenaventura perpetrated by paramilitary forces. In one violent incident in October 2012, 35 people were killed in one week alone and a list was revealed containing the names of 50 women targeted for death by a group called the Urabe–os.

For Afro-Colombian women, International Women’s Day means continued fear, violence and threats

...The Misfortune of the Women of Buenaventura

Human Rights Situation of Afro-Colombian Women, before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights

Leader Demetrio Lopez Assassinated

Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign strongly condemns the assassination of another community leader in the area of Buenaventura, Colombia. Demetrio Lopez was shot several times on Saturday, March 23 in the town La Caucana, located at 15 kilometers from Buenaventura. Mr. Lopez was the president of the La Caucana Community Council.

The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign exhorts the international human rights community to publicly condemn the assassination of Demetrio Lopez and urge the Colombian authorities to effectively ensure the protection of the Afro-descendant human rights defenders.

The Murder of Demetrio Lopez: Chronicle of Another Death Foretold

By, Anthony Dest

“I fear for my life because the threats were very serious, and according to [a credible source] it appears that they were not playing around with the threats.” That is how Demetrio Lopez Cardenas denounced the death threats against him before the Attorney General’s Office (Fiscal’a) in August of 2012.

Lopez was the president of the Executive Board of the Community Council of La Caucana in Valle del Cauca. The prosecutor assigned to the case immediately asked the Commander of the Police in Buenaventura to carry out a risk assessment and provide protective measures for his family. Neither the risk assessment, nor the protective measures were implemented. Six months later, on February 23, Demetrio Lopez was shot dead in Buenaventura.

La muerte de Francisco Lopez, cronica de una muerte anunciada

AFRODES sign-on petition to protect Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders

The Afro-Colombian Human Rights Defenders Campaign condemns the assassination of the Afro-Colombian leader Miller Angulo, member of the Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians ÐAFRODES. Miller was killed on December 1, 2012 in the city-port of Tumaco in the southern Pacific Coast region. ACHRD Campaign join with AFRODES in calling for a through investigation of this heinous crime and an effective protection of men and women human rights defenders, particularly Afro-descendant human rights defenders against whom politically-based violence and persecution continues escalating.

Take action - Urge the US ambassador to Colombia Michael McKinley to make the protection of Afro-Colombian, indigenous, human rights, labor and IDP leaders a priority issue in his engagement with high level officials within the Colombian government and to intervene to prevent further deaths. Sign AFRODES petition here.

“Free Felix” Campaign

On June 8, 2012, Felix Manuel Banguero, a grasstoots community leader and member of the Black Communities’ Process in Colombia was arrested under accusations of rebellion and collaboration with the guerrilla group FARC. His arrest was part of a massive operation where 27 indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders and members of the local government of the municipality of Guachene in the Northern Cauca were also arrested, including two well known indigenous leaders who have protective measures from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights due to paramilitaries’ death threats. PCN itself has IACHR’ protective measures.

PCN sees Felix arrest as an act of criminalization of the work of community leaders and human rights defenders by the president Juan Manuel Santos’ administration to demobilize and divert human rights defenders and community organizers and leaders from their active defense against his legislative and development “locomotoras”, by turning their human rights work and the social protest into criminal activities and making them the subject of repression. This situation is particularly concerning when the US Department of State issued a lengthy but accommodated report accrediting human rights improvements in Colombia and President Obama exalted Santos “success” in protecting human rights, during his visit to Colombia last April 2012.

PCN has lunch a campaign calling to free Felix and to stop political persecution of Afro-descendant human rights defenders in Colombia. Sign the petition to free Felix.