Afro-Colombian leaders from throughout the country, as well as international observers, are meeting in Quibdo, Colombia, for the first Autonomous Congress of Black, Afro-Colombian, Palenquero, and Raizal Peoples. The Congress, which comes 20 years after the landmark ‘Law 70’ law guaranteeing the collective land and other rights of Afro-Colombians, will serve to chart next steps in the ongoing struggle for basic rights.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) applauds this historic event and stands with its Afro-Colombian partners from national, regional, displaced and religious organizations and community councils in fighting for an end to continued racial discrimination, forced displacement, and violence against afrodescendant communities. Our hope is that at this conference Afro-Colombian leaders will devise efforts that strengthen the communities’ right to prior consultation on development projects, protect the rights of Afro-Colombian women, and guarantees effective implementation of Law 70 of the black communities, as well as, Constitutional Court Order 005 on Afro-Colombian displacement.
We echo the statement made by eight members of the United States Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in calling on the Colombian government to implement a human rights agenda that adequately responds to the challenges faced by Afro-Colombian people.
Although it is encouraging that the government remains engaged in peace talks to end the internal conflict, continued violence disproportionately affects Afro-Colombians. If a lasting peace is to be achieved in Colombia, the government must work to protect the rights and safety of Afro-Colombian communities.