Stop Human Rights Violations in Colombia and Demand the Application of the Leahy Law

Andrés Valencia
Amidst Colombia's deadliest moment of the pandemic, widespread discontent against a regressive tax bill has catalyzed a weeks-long national protest over rising poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Protestors have been met with unlawful use of lethal or disproportionate force by the police, followed by the deployment of the Colombian army. According to Temblores, a human rights organization, as of May 13, at least 40 people have been murdered and 1773 injured by Colombian security forces.

By financing the Colombian armed forces through military aid packages such as Plan Colombia and the sale of anti-riot equipment to different units of the Colombian National Police, the United States government has been directly implicated in human rights violations. Several U.S. representatives, including Rep. Gregory Meeks, the head of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, have called for the application of the Leahy Law to freeze assistance to Colombian security forces that violate human rights with impunity. This goes beyond the ESMAD riot police and includes the police and military forces which have been part of the general repression of the protests.

This is not just a Colombian problem. The struggle for the abolition of the police and military is a global fight. The United States finances the Colombian military and police, which disproportionately murders Black and Indigenous Colombians - theirs is our struggle too. We stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and working-class Colombians who have been at the lead of a national strike that has mobilized tens of thousands of people since April 28, 2021. The strike has now moved to a full-blown condemnation of state and paramilitary violence, and neoliberal economic policies that have impoverished the majority of Colombians.

With this letter, we are asking you to contact your representatives demanding that they support this initiative to implement the Leahy Law. This is one of the most important things you can do to support protesters in their fight for justice and human rights in Colombia.