The solidarity caravan, Caravana Humanitaria, is a tradition in which organizations mobilize to shed light on the hardship, crisis and violence dominating in particularly vulnerable areas of the country - areas that in practice are stateless and are tyrannized by various armed groups. The aim of the caravan is to attract attention to the problems local communities face, and to demand that the authorities take responsibility for the safety of their inhabitants.
This solidarity caravan, Caravana Humanitaria al Micay, started on Friday October 30th in the town of Popayán in the Cauca area, and will be on the road for a week. Three of Norwegian People's Aid's partner organizations, Coordinadora Nacional Agrario (CNA), Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN) and Congreso de los Pueblos have local member organizations in these areas, and together with other human rights organizations and solidarity groups they arrange the solidarity caravan. They have reported that they expect over 500 people to join the caravan.
Cauca is one of the most dangerous areas in Colombia, and is characterized by the heavy presence of various armed groups. Coca plantations and illegal mining also contribute to the violence that dominates the area.
Just four days before the solidarity caravan began, Carlos Navia, local leader and member of the Coordinadora Nacional Agrario (CNA) and Congreso de los Pueblos, was found dead near his home in Argelia, Cauca. The killing is one of many recent attacks on social leaders in the region. On October 29, Feliciano Valencia, senator for the MAIS party and one of the most prominent indigenous leaders in Colombia, was attacked in northern Cauca, but fortunately survived the attack. According to Indepaz (Institute for Development and Peace Studies), 246 social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed in Colombia so far this year.
Both Carlos Navia and Feliciano Valencia were to follow the solidarity caravan.
Norwegian People's Aid, together with The Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin America, have alerted the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Embassy in Colombia on these specific incidents and the situation in general.
Want to know more about the situation in Colombia? On November 20, together with several other organizations, NPA are organizing the conference Together for Peace in Colombia - Juntos por la Paz en Colombia - and it will all be streamed live. Follow the event!