WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
19 Jul 2007

Afro-Colombian Leader To Visit U.S. Congress

 Press Release


Promoting Human Rights, Democracy, and Social and Economic Justice in Latin America


July 20, 2007

For immediate release


Afro-Colombian Former Congresswoman

to Visit Washington, July 23-25


Who:               Zulia Mena García, first Afro-Colombian Congresswoman

                        Professor Norma Jackson of Benedict College

Where:            Washington Office on Latin America

1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200



Zulia Mena García, a leader of the African diaspora community in Colombia, will be visiting Washington to meet members of Congress to discuss U.S. policy in Colombia. She will discuss how Plan Colombia and the pending trade agreement between Colombia and the United States will affect Afro-Colombian communities. In particular, she will address links between corruption, stolen lands, poverty, and the deaths of children in the Chocó region. She will also discuss the unfolding “para-politics” scandal in Colombia and can discuss her conversation with President George W. Bush during his recent visit to Colombia and the recommendations Afro-Colombian leaders made to him.

The visit is organized by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) USA, the Third World Coalition, and the TransAfrica Forum. Ms. Mena will also be accompanied by Dr. Norma Jackson, Afro-Colombian Professor and Director of International Programs at Benedict College in Charleston, S.C.

Ms. Mena will be available for media interviews July 23-25.  WOLA will be happy to provide simultaneous translation for interviews.

Ms. Mena has been active in the struggle for Afro-Colombian and women’s rights in Colombia for nearly her entire life. She came to the forefront of the Afro-Colombian community through her role in the development of Law 70 regarding Afro-Colombian territorial rights following the ratification of Colombia’s new constitution in 1991.  She was elected to Congress in 1994, serving four years as the first Afro-Colombian congresswoman. 

Trained as a social worker, Ms. Mena has attended conferences in Europe, the United States, and throughout South America to speak about the situation of Afro-Colombians, rights of ethnic minorities, women’s rights, land rights, and citizen participation in democracy. 

Press Availability: July 23-25, times flexible

Contacts:        Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, Senior Associate for Colombia,

(202) 797-2171 ext. 205

Roger Atwood, Communications Director,

(202) 797 2171 ext. 211, cell (202) 316 3857



The Washington Office on Latin America is a non-governmental organization that promotes human rights, democracy, and social and economic justice in U.S. policy towards Latin America.