Urgent Petition: Academics Demand End to Violence in Colombia

US Embassy in Colombia (Human Rights Attache)

This week marks the one month anniversary of general strike and violent repression in Colombia. On this day, we are calling on all academics to sign on to this petition denouncing the continued support of the Colombian military and police and stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia as they demand their right to a dignified life. The petition will be gathered and delivered to the Human Rights Attache in the U.S. Embassy. Deadline to sign on to the petition is June 5.

To: US Embassy in Colombia (Human Rights Attache)
From: Chelsey Dyer

We the undersigned denounce the United States’ continued financial support of the Colombian military and police and stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia as they demand their right to a dignified life. We call on academics throughout the United States and around the world to support and echo the demands of protestors, and to call for the immediate end of U.S. military and police aid to Colombia.

On April 28th, a sweeping coalition of organizations and individuals began a national strike in Colombia propelled by a tax reform proposal. Since then, protesters from Bogota to Cali have been flooding the streets contesting the repressive politics of the Duque administration and the continued assassination of human rights defenders. These protests have been met with indiscriminate violence by the police and military, particularly the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad of the Colombian National Police (ESMAD). The United States has a long history funding, training, and deepening the militarization of these forces. Despite this violence, protesters have remained steadfast in their demands and have achieved several accomplishments including the retraction of the tax reform proposal.

As academics we have long documented and emphasized the inability for state violence to solve social ills. Colombian protesters are advocating for deep social reforms that will address the underlying causes of social unrest -economic disenfranchisement, political silencing, and ongoing physical precarity. We urge the United States and global community to support these peace-building initiatives.

Up to May 21st, National Human Rights organizations reported at least 43 killed, 2905 reports of police brutality, more than 1264 arbitrary detentions and 21 victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by the police, ESMAD and the army. However, striking reports of violence continue to emerge. Youth are being disappeared, their bodies later found washed onto the shore. Streets are being flooded with militarized troops dressed in tactical wear as if they are going to war. Live ammo has been used against peaceful protesters and reports have surfaced that a large grocery store chain is being used as a torture center.

We have seen these patterns of violence throughout the US’s history of interference in Latin America. From the economic colonialism of “dollar diplomacy” in the early 1900s, the dirty war of Operation Condor, to today’s ongoing emphasis on neoliberal expansion, we continue to see the connections between US imperialism, the imposition of empire and the violent repression of alternative voices.

As police violence in the US takes center stage, we must also vociferously demand an end to the exportation of these tactics and the continued militarization of police abroad. Not only do these policies fail to address social ills, but they deepen this insecurity of those already colonially marginalized, Afro Colombians, Indigenous peoples and small farmers.

We echo the demands of protesters and call for an

An immediate end of arms sales, directly or indirectly, from the US.

An end to the militarized response to the protests and the initiation of peaceful dialogue

A full investigation into military of police crimes as well as US support and complicity in these crimes

The release of all Colombian political prisoners

We will not remain silent researchers of US imperialism and empire, but will work to highlight the voices of those opposing its impacts and end the violence of centuries of colonial expansion.