Everyone deserves a place to call home. Yet, every week in Colombia last year, over 2,250 people were violently pushed off their lands and left homeless. This is a result of a nearly fifty-year long conflict in Colombia between guerrillas, paramilitary groups, and the Colombian state as they fight to control territory and resources. With over 5.2 million people robbed of their homes, Colombia has the largest internally displaced population in the world, but this massive humanitarian crisis is often ignored in U.S. news.
A lot of people don’t know that since 2000, the U.S. government has spent over $8 billion from taxpayers on strategies that have only worsened the displacement crisis and fueled violence. In an effort to win the “war on drugs,” the United States has invested in programs to spray toxic chemicals on the crops of poor, small-scale Colombian farmers and provided equipment and training to the Colombian military. During that time, 3.3 million more people have been displaced, an estimated 30,000 civilians have been killed in the war, and Colombia has continued to be the world's leading cocaine producer.
It’s time for us to try something new. Instead of giving priority to corporate and military interests, our government should create policies that support land rights activists, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, human rights defenders, and small-scale farmers who face threats and attacks every day just because they ask for the basic right to live on their lands in peace.
This spring, thousands of people across the United States will take action to raise awareness about the U.S. role in Colombia’s displacement crisis and advocate for change. Please join us by signing our petition to Congress asking them to create U.S. policies that will support victims of violence and those working for peace in Colombia.