COVID-19 Ceasefire Now: Letter to Armed Actors from Over 100 Organizations

From the open letter at the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace website.

Over 100 ethnic and rural organizations are calling for a two-week ceasefire in Colombia’s most conflict-ridden areas. They are asking for a cessation of hostilities to be added to measures taken by the Colombian government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

With support from the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace, the signatories sent separate letters to the national government, the ELN, the FARC dissident groups, and the “Gulf Clan” neo-paramilitary group. The communities are asking all to call an immediate halt to offensive actions until April 1, with a possible extension to May 30.

The signatories are overwhelmingly from the conflict-hit departments of Cauca, Chocó, Meta, Putumayo, and Valle del Cauca. Many communities have self-protection measures in place, like the Indigenous Guard, to peacefully work to defend their territories. Colombia must listen to vulnerable communities and meet their demands at this time.

Here is the English text of the letter that went to Colombian President Iván Duque. The letters to the illegal armed groups are closely similar.

Cessation of armed operations by COVID-19 to President Iván Duque Márquez

Our communities live in territories where violence persists in various forms.

We call upon you, combatants of all forces, to protect your own lives and the lives of we, the civilians, in our territories.

We call on you as the main commander of the Armed Forces and National Police to protect the lives of the official combatants and the lives of civilians in our territories with a cessation of hostilities. We make this call on all armed groups operating in our regions based on the WHO declaration of the pandemic called COVID–19, which is already causing irreparable loss of human life.

In particular, we propose:

  1. Inform all personnel of the COVID–19 pandemic and the consequences for their lives and those of those who are in contact with them.
  2. Train them in preventive mechanisms.
  3. Only act in case of attacks and non-compliance by opponents of this proposal, which is implicit in the Global Humanitarian Agreement by the Pandemic.
    This request is also made explicitly to the Armed Forces and Police, security agencies, and eradicators. we have reports of the virus infection in armed forces personnel of the United States.
  4. Remove your personnel from our environments or communities and place them at distances that prevent the virus from spreading.
  5. Refrain from convening any kind of mandatory meeting.

Our communities in some regions are experiencing droughts, other regions are affected by heavy rains. Their lives and our lives are precious. The armed strategies, for reasons of humanity—of all humanity—must stop for at least two weeks, until 1 April, starting tomorrow with a possible extension until at least 30 May.

The pandemic has very severe social, environmental and economic effects that are calling us to take the path of a different society. Today no one is exempt from dying from this virus, not even the most powerful in weapons and wealth.

Let’s take advantage of COVID–19 to think about the life of each one of you, in the life of each of us, in the life of the country. Assume the reflection among your crews, fronts, brigades, battalions, commanders. Nothing remains of our arrogance, nor of our vain pride. It is the time of solidarity, and from it peace in a new democracy.

We invite you to listen to our request for a partial cessation of hostilities.

Life is teaching us. It is a time for everyone. The isolation experienced by the citizenry in the country must lead us, perhaps, to reflect on the confinement and lack of food for years that we have lived in the regions.

We need a social, environmental and legal state that consolidates a transversal and integral peace. With this crisis, the importance of an inclusive country without corruption, in cooperation with all of humanity, in which you can contribute, will be recognized.

Let’s start now!

Signatory organizations:

  • Comunidades de Autodeterminación, Vida, Dignidad, CAVIDA, Territorio Colectivo de Cacarica, (Chocó).
  • Familias víctimas de Campamento, (Antioquia)
  • Asociación de Mujeres Desplazadas de Ríosucio, CLAMORES, (Chocó).
  • Cabildo Mayor Embera de Resguardo Urada Jiguamiando, CAMERUJ, (Chocó).
  • Comunidad Wounaan del Resguardo del Río Pichimá Quebrada desplazada en Docordó, Litoral San Juan, (Chocó).
  • Resguardo indígena Wounaan de Juin Phu Buur, Cacarica, (Chocó).
  • Resguardo Humanitario Ambiental SO BIA DRUA, Jiguamiandó, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad La Yulina, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad El Retorno, Territorio Colectivo de Pedeguita y Mancilla, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad La Esperanza, Familia Polo, Territorio Colectivo de Pedeguita y Mancilla, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Mary Hernández, Territorio Colectivo de Pedeguita y Mancilla, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Mi Tierra, Territorio Colectivo de Pedeguita y Mancilla, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Andalucía, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Caracolí, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad La Yulina, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Colectiva El Hobo, Territorio Colectivo de Jiguamiandó, (Choco).
  • Zona de Biodiversidad Colectiva La Madre Unión, Territorio Colectivo de La Larga Tumaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Andalucía, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Camelias, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Caño Manso, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Caracolí, Territorio Colectivo de Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Costa Azul, Territorio Colectivo del Curbaradó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Nueva Esperanza, Territorio Colectivo de Jiguamiandó, (Chocó).
  • Zona Humanitaria Pueblo Nuevo, Territorio Colectivo de Jiguamiandó, (Chocó).
  • Asociación Campesina de Caldono’ Asocal’, Caldono, (Cauca).
  • Asociación Campesina de productores la Pedregosa Asocamp, Cajibío, (Cauca).
  • Asociación de Víctimas de Inzá, “Sembradores de Paz”, (Cauca).
  • Asociación familiares de víctimas de Caldono, ASFAVICAL, (Cauca).
  • Familias afectadas por proyectos mineros en Galindez, Patía, (Cauca).
  • Familiares víctimas Desaparición y desplazamiento forzado de Argelia, (Cauca).
  • Red defensa del Agua la vida y el Territorio, (Cauca).
  • Asociación Campesina de Monserrate, (Huila).
  • Familiares de víctimas Ejecución extrajudicial de la Plata, (Huila).
  • Grupo de Familiares de Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales, (Huila).
  • Grupo de víctimas del sur del Huila.
  • Comunidad Civil de Vida y Paz, CIVIPAZ, El Castillo, (Meta).
  • Resguardo Naexal Lajt del pueblo Jiw, Mapiripán, (Meta).
  • Resguardo Caño Ovejas pueblo Sikuani, Mapiripán, (Meta).
  • Corporación de mujeres campesinas de Nariño, Comucan.
  • Familias Consejos Comunitarios Tumaco, Nariño.
  • ADISPA como organización representativa de las 24 Comunidades de la Zona de Reserva Campesina Perla Amazónica, (Putumayo):
  • Comunidad de Agualongo.
  • Comunidad de Bajo Cuembí.
  • Comunidad de Bajo Lorenzo.
  • Comunidad de Bajo Mansoyá.
  • Comunidad de Baldío
  • Comunidad de Belén.
  • Comunidad de Bocana de Cuembí.
  • Comunidad de Buen Samaritano.
  • Comunidad de Camios.
  • Comunidad de Angosturas.
  • Comunidad de Chufiyá.
  • Comunidad de Comandante.
  • Comunidad de Frontera.
  • Comunidad de Guadalupe.
  • Comunidad de Juvenil.
  • Comunidad de La Alea.
  • Comunidad de La Española.
  • Comunidad de La Piña.
  • Comunidad de La Rosa.
  • Comunidad de Puerto Playa.
  • Comunidad de San Salvador.
  • Comunidad de Sevilla.
  • Comunidad de Toaya.
  • Comunidad de Zamora.
  • Asociación Consejo Regional Pueblo Nasa Kwesx Kxsaw, (Putumayo) conformado por:
  • Cabildo Alto Sinaí, Villa Garzón.
  • Cabildo Alto Suspisacha, Piamonte.
  • Cabildo Cerro de Guadua, Puerto Guzmán.
  • Cabildo Çxhab Wala, Villagarzon.
  • Cabildo Juan Tama, Puerto Guzman.
  • Cabildo Kiwe Nxusxa, Las Delicias.
  • Cabildo Kiwe U’kwe, Puerto Caicedo.
  • Cabildo Kiwe U’se, Nueva Palestina, Valle del Guamuéz.
  • Cabildo Kiwe Zxiçxkwe, Tierra Linda, Valle del Guamuéz.
  • Cabildo Kjwen Tama Luuçxwe’sx, hijos de Juan Tama, Mocoa.
  • Cabildo Ksxa’w Nasa, Alto Danubio, Puerto Asís.
  • Cabildo Kwe’sx Kiwe, Orito.
  • Cabildo Kwe’sx Kiwe. Puerto Asís.
  • Cabildo Kwe’sx Nasa çxayu’çe, Alto Coqueto, Puerto Caicedo.
  • Cabildo Kwe’sx Tata Wala, Puerto Caicedo.
  • Cabildo Nasa Kiwe Puerto Leguizamo.
  • Cabildo Nasa Tkuymatewe’sx, Orito.
  • Cabildo Nasa Fxi’w La Libertad, Puerto Asís.
  • Cabildo Pkid Kiwe, Los Guayabales.
  • Cabildo Sat’t Tama, Puerto Asís.
  • Cabildo Thä’ Tadx Kiwe, Loma Redonda, Villa Garzón.
  • Cabildo Yu’ Çxihme, El Libano, Puerto Caicedo.
  • Cabildo Yu’kh Zxiçxkwe, Selva Hermosa, Puerto Caicedo.
  • Cabildo Yu’luuçx, Las Minas, Puerto Asís.
  • Jerusalén, Villa Garzón.
  • Mühm Kiwe, Los Guaduales, Puerto Guzmán.
  • Resguardo Jerusalén San Luis Alto Picudito.
  • Resguardo Jxkase Kiwe, El Descanso, Puerto Guzmán.
  • Resguardo La Florida, Mocoa.
  • Resguardo Nasa Çxhab, Puerto Asís.
  • Resguardo Kiwnas Çxhab, Alto Lorenzo, Puerto Asís.
  • Resguardo Nasa Uh Los Gavilanes, Jardines de Sucumbíos, Ipiales
  • Resguardo Sek Kaanxi thä’ Kiwe Alpes Orientales, La Floresta, Alto Coqueto.
  • Resguardo Txitx U’kwe Kiwe, Porvenir La Barrialosa, Puerto Guzmán.
  • Resguardo Yu’ukwe Kiwe, Aguaditas, Puerto Guzmán.
  • San Luis Alto Picudito, Villa Garzón.
  • Santa Rosa de Juanambu, Villa Garzón.
  • Asociación de Familiares de Víctimas de Trujillo (Asfavit), (Valle del Cauca).
  • Asokoinonia de Río Chiquito, Trujillo (Valle del Cauca).
  • Consejo Comunitario de Cabeceras, Bajo San Juan, (Valle del Cauca).
  • Espacio Humanitario Puente Nayero, Buenaventura, (Valle del Cauca).
  • Resguardo Humanitario Santa Rosa de Guayacán, Calima, (Valle del Cauca).
  • Resguardo Humanitario y Biodiverso Unión Agua Clara (Valle del Cauca).
  • Víctimas de Despojo Tres Esquinas.

With support of:

  • Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz.
  • Corporación Claretiana Norman Pérez.

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Civil Society Peace Movement, Indigenous Communities, Public Health

March 20, 2020

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