Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA)
Association for Internally Displaced Afro Colombians (AFRODES)
Luis Fernando Arias,
National Indigenous Association of Colombia (ONIC)
International Migration Organization
Director for the Andes, WOLA
Wednesday, July 18, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
1666 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400
Washington D.C., 20009
Presentation will be in Spanish with English translation available
During peace negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), a coalition of leading indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations, known as the Ethnic Commission, travelled to Havana to successfully advocate for the inclusion of special terms in Colombia’s peace accords. The result was the historic inclusion of the Ethnic Chapter in Colombia’s peace agreement, which recognizes the disproportionate impact of the internal armed conflict on Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples and the need to include them in the construction of peace.
However, implementation of the November 2016 accord and the Ethnic Chapter has proven to be even more challenging than the peace negotiations. Progress on many aspects of the peace deal has been frustratingly slow, and the rollout of other reforms meant to uphold the accord terms have excluded the participation of ethnic organizations.
The election of Ivan Duque as Colombia’s new president poses new challenges and questions about the future of the peace accord. The new president has promised changes to the peace accord, which will have an inevitable impact on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
On Wednesday, July 18 please join us for a discussion with the Ethnic Commission’s leading voices Marino Cordoba and Luis Fernando Arias, to discuss the future of the peace process, the Ethnic Chapter, and the challenges ahead under the new government. Additional comments will be provided by Hugo Tovar, member of the International Migration Organization (IOM) “Inclusion for Peace” initiative that seeks to promote the capacity of the government to respond to ethnic minority communities affected by the conflict, and increase the participation of ethnic minority communities in peacebuilding efforts.
Luis Fernando Arias is the current Secretary General of ONIC. First elected to this position in 2007, Arias leads the ONIC’s institutional relationship with national and international organizations, as well as with the Colombian government. During the peace negotiations in Havana, he was the leading indigenous voice during the development of the Ethnic Chapter. Prior to joining ONIC, Arias worked for the rights of indigenous peoples at the Indigenous Kankuamo Organization. He studied law at Cesar University in Colombia. Subsequently, as a trained lawyer, he coordinated the ONIC´s Legal Department from 2004-2007.
Marino Cordoba is the International Coordinator for the Afro-Colombian Peace Council (Consejo Nacional de Paz Afrocolombiano, CONPA) and President of the Association for Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados, AFRODES). He helped organize civil rights groups and Afro-Colombian territorial authorities to advocate for the unified interests of Afro-Colombian communities during the 2012-2016 peace process between the government of Colombia and the FARC. Cordoba’s activism has led to political persecution and at least five assassination attempts. He is a survivor of the military supported paramilitary incursion into Riosucio, Choco that led to the displacement of thousands of Afro-Colombians from that region. As a result he fled to Bogota, where he founded AFRODES in 1999. Today, this organization groups together more than 90,000 internally displaced Afro-descendant persons organized into 96 groups. In 2014, Cordoba was a Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He currently spends his time in both the United States and Colombia serving as the leading voice for Afro-Colombian rights.
Hugo Tovar is the current coordinator for the Peace Inclusion program at the International Migration Organization (IOM) in Colombia. In this role, Tovar manages $60 million in USAID funds for socioeconomic programs that focus on Colombia’s Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. Prior to joining IOM, Tovar was elected as president of the University of the Pacific in Colombia. He has also worked in the District of Columbia’s mayor’s office as the director of youth rehabilitation programs. Tovar has a degree in political science and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of the District of Columbia.
Gimena Sánchez is the Director for the Andes and the leading Colombia human rights advocate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Ms. Sánchez is an expert on peace and illegal armed groups, internally displaced persons, human rights, and ethnic minority rights. Her work has shed light on the situation of Colombia’s more than seven million internally displaced people, and has helped expose links between Colombia’s government and drug-funded paramilitaries.