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[OPIRG-EVENTS] URGENT: Afrocolombian communities under threat!


APRIL 7, 2001


 For centuries, Afrocolombian communities have lived in resource-rich areas
 where they are currently asserting their right to autonomy and the
 collective ownership of land. Many of these communities are original
 settlements of escaped slaves or Maroons - free Black territories known as
 PALENQUES.  One such historic settlement is the Palenque of San Basilio
 located on Colombia's Atlantic Coast. San Basilio is among the oldest of
 Palenques in all of the Americas and where an African language of Bantu
 origin is still spoken.

 Benkos Bioho, a Maroon leader and slave liberator signed a pact with the
 Spanish crown which granted the Palenque of San Basilio, originally a
 territory much more vast than what remains today, the right to

 The communities that inhabit these wealthy and strategic territories are
 being displaced by paramilitary violence. On April 7, 2001, a motorized
 vehicle was used to spread letters in the community of Bonga. The letters
 demanded thtat the inhabitants abandon their lands or suffer the
 consequences.  These threats are part of a paramilitary campaign whose
 intent it is to displace the Palenque community from their lands.

 We urge the Colombian government and international organizations to
 intervene to protect the rights of the Palenqueros as well as establish
 mechanisms to guarantee the security of all Afrocolombian communitites in


 Organizational Committee,
 Association of Displaced Afrocolombian Peoples - AFRODES

 Please direct your letters to:

 President of the Republic of Colombia,
 Dr. Andrés Pastrana Arango, Palacio de Nariño,
 Santafé de Bogotá, fax (571)-2842186  -2893377  2867473.
 e-mail: www.presidencia.gob.co
 e-mail: pastrana@presidencia.gov.com

 Vicepresidency of the Repúblic of Colombia,
 Dr.  Gustavo Bell.
 Fax (571) 4442120
 e-mail: kchalita@presidencia.gov.co

 Attorney General ,
 Dr. Edgardo Maya,
 Carrera 5 No. 15-80
 Santafé de Bogotá,
 Fax (571) 3429723 http: file://sinpro.gov.co/progenal.index.htm

 Fiscal General de la Nación,
 Doctor Alfonso Gómez Méndez,
 Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 Bogotá.
 Telefax (571) 5702000

 National Ombudsman
 Doctor Eduardo Cifuentes calle 55 No. 10-46,
 fax (571) 2820977-(571) 3461225.
 e-mail: jcastro@col1.telecom.com.co

 Minister of the Interior
 Dr. Armando Estrada Villa,
 carrera 8 No. 8-09 Fax. (571) 5602604

 Minister of Defense ,
 Luis Fernando Ramírez Acuña,
 Avenida el dorado con Carrera 52. CAN.
 Fax (571) 2221874.

 High Comissioner for Peace
 Dr. Camilo Gómez. Fax. (571) 5609946

 High Commisionof the United Nations in Colombia
 Fax.  (571) 3134050  3134051.
 e-mail: oacnudh@hchr.org.com

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