The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) joins statements concerning the upcoming presidential elections in Colombia. We implore the current government and its functionaries to abide by the will of the people and ensure the safety of members of El Pacto Histórico regardless of the election outcome. We also reaffirm our solidarity with progressive organizations and individuals doing accompaniment and electoral observation work in Colombia. This historic election will take place on May 29, 2022 and is part of a highly contested race in which el Pacto Histórico presidential candidate Senator Gustavo Petro, and his vice-presidential running mate, Afro-Colombian Goldman Prize winner Francia Márquez Mina, have emerged as the front-runner in the polls.
Cali, Colombia - AfroResistance and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance have launched an international electoral expert mission to monitor human rights processes during the upcoming Colombian presidential election. The delegation consists of human rights experts, racial and gender justice activists, grassroots organizers, cultural workers, attorneys, and journalists, gathered to assess and monitor the safety, fairness and human rights protection in the upcoming Colombia primary elections taking place Sunday, May 29th, 2022. AfroResistance, an advocacy and solidarity building organization focused on the human rights of Black Women and Girls throughout the Americas and Grassroots Global Justice, **a multi-racial, multi-sectoral alliance building a grassroots movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world, has assembled a team of experts that have all been accredited by the Colombian electoral authorities.
While enroute to observe the presidential elections in Colombia, Teri Mattson was denied entry by Colombian authorities and had her passport seized. After arriving at 6:55 am on May 22, she was forced to spend the day and the night at the Bogotá Airport before being deported the following morning and flown out of the country. Although Mattson resides in Mexico and first flown there, her tribulations did not end there. She was then held in Mexico without passport or phone while immigration waited for the first available flight to the US, because she is a US citizen. Only when Mattson exited the plane in the US were her phone and passport returned to her. Colombian authorities falsely claimed that Mattson “represents a risk to the security of the State.”
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) denounces the detention and deportation of COHA Board Member and CODEPINK Latin America organizer and media host Teri Mattson, who traveled to Bogota to serve as an accredited international observer for the historic May 29th election in Colombia. She had been invited by Colombia’s Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH). Ms. Mattson, having arrived in Bogota on May 22, was refused entry by Colombian authorities, forced to stay in the airport overnight and deported on May 23 on the absurd grounds that she “represents a risk to the security of the State.” Ms. Mattson is a person of impeccable integrity and has served on a number of electoral missions to Latin America.
With just two weeks until the election, Colombia’s leading presidential slate is making an international appeal after receiving death threats on the campaign trail. The Pacto Historico ticket penned a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in which they ask for guarantees, after receiving death threats and intimidating which have been dismissed by Colombian officials. On May 2, Gustavo Petro suspended scheduled visits to the coffee going region for security reasons, citing information he received on a possible assassination attempt from the criminal organization ‘La Cordillera’. The letter also states that his VP pick received three death threats in early April.
Staging a vice-presidential candidates debate in the runup to Colombia’s May 29 national elections was entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, the location of the event in Washington and its promotion by US-state functionaries requires some explanation. Because of its venue and sponsors, the affair had elements of an audition or a vetting process overseen by the US government. Along with the Washington consensus crowd, members of the Colombian diaspora attended the May 13th event, especially supporters of popular vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez. Afro-descendent environmentalist Márquez is running with presidential candidate Gustavo Petro. Their frontrunning ticket could be the first administration on the left in Colombian history.
The vice presidential candidate for the leading ticket in Colombia’s May elections has accused the US government of meddling in her country’s internal politics to hurt the left wing. Francia Márquez is an activist from the grassroots social movements of the Afro-Colombian community. She is the vice presidential candidate for the left-wing Pacto Histórico (“Historic Pact”) coalition, whose presidential candidate Gustavo Petro is leading by double digits in major polls in the weeks before the May 29 vote. Márquez criticized the US ambassador to Colombia for publicly claiming that Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba are trying to sabotage her country’s election. “Although [the US ambassador] did not mention the Pacto Histórico, although he did not mention Gustavo Petro, it is obvious that he was referring to our candidacy and our political campaign,” Márquez said.
The Colombian Inspector General’s Office, on May 10, suspended the mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, from his position for his alleged political participation in the upcoming presidential elections. The decision provoked a widespread political uproar. Several progressive leaders condemned the decision and accused the Inspector General of siding with the ruling right-wing party and breaking the American Convention on Human Rights that states that an administrative entity cannot suspend an official elected by citizens’ votes. The Inspector General’s Office suspended Quintero for a video that he published on Twitter on May 10, in which he pushes the gear lever of a car towards first and says “the change in first.”
The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, denounced this Saturday in the framework of the V Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), his Colombian counterpart Iván Duque of orchestrating a plan to assassinate police and military in the Caribbean country. "Iván Duque is leaving and is desperate to harm Venezuela, he has activated plans with criminal gangs by states and infiltrating through the border, mafia groups that come to attack police and military, the Venezuelan public force", warned the president. At the same time, the Venezuelan head of state asserted that the intelligence is gathering information and is alert for any attack, "we are behind these plans with strategic, police and popular intelligence", he added.
Feminist Movements in Latin America have recently made incredible strides in women’s rights after generations of struggle against a society founded in machismo. When supporting and celebrating progress in Women’s Liberation in Latin America, mainstream media often tends to focus on countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Mexico and the rise of the #NiUnaMenos, (not one more) anti-femicide movement. Although the feminist movements in these countries have been successful in achieving some essential rights for women, with the exception of Mexico, these predominantly white countries are also intentionally centering cis straight white women in the feminist movement, rarely if ever speaking on issues that specifically target Black women while also marginalizing Queer, Gender Non-Conforming, Black and Indigenous Women.
Francia Márquez Mina, a 40-year-old Black female activist from the predominantly Black and forgotten region of the Colombian Pacific coast, is shifting the terms of political debate in the second 'Blackest' nation in South America. Francia, the first Black woman to run for the Colombian presidency, is leading a collective effort by women, LGBTQ+ communities, Black youth, peasants, and the poor in general to transform Colombia's insidious patterns of violence and socio-racial inequalities. According to Infobae , as many as 54.2% of Colombia’s population face food insecurity, 42% are under the poverty line, and 10.8% of children are under chronic malnutrition. The country has one of the largest internally-displaced populations and the longest armed conflict in the hemisphere.
The Latin American and Caribbean electoral calendar for 2022 promises to be no less hectic than that of the previous year. Among the upcoming elections and referendums that are slated for this year—Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Peru, perhaps Haiti—two contests that are expected to attract the most attention, due to the specific geopolitical weight of these respective countries, are the general elections in Brazil, which are supposed to take place in October, and the Colombian parliamentary and presidential elections, slated for the first half of 2022. After 20 years of governments that have supported the Uribism movement—named after Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who was president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010—and with the eternal backdrop of the armed conflict, Colombia is not only playing for change but also for the future of an unfinished peace process.
The Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), on December 22, warned of an alarming increase in massive and multiple forced displacement events in Colombia during 2021. The CODHES reported that between January and November, 2021, 82,846 people were forcibly displaced from their homes and territories, a figure that represents an increase of 169.3% as compared to the same period in 2020. The CODHES further reported that a total number of 167 displacement events were recorded in these eleven months, which represents an increase of 65.3% in relation to the same period in 2020. CODHES also reported that this year’s increase in displacement incidents had been marked by an increase in displacement of Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities.