Update from Buenaventura, Colombia

On Tuesday June 6, Colombian authorities and community leaders in the Pacific port of Buenaventura reached a deal to lift the 21 day civil strike that emphatically demanded the national government and President Juan Manual Santos, to fulfill their commitments with the peoples of Buenaventura signed in 2014.

Peoples in Buenaventura were tired of seeing the economic interests of transnationals always placed first, while their basic public needs were shoved aside and communities forgotten and submerged in extreme poverty and violence.

Under the deal, President Juan Manual Santos’s government promised to present a bill to Congress to create a 10-year special development plan for Buenaventura, and has pledged to invest US$500 million in Colombia’s most important port city. The government would be investing in the areas of running water 24 hours a day, basic sanitation services, housing and infrastructure, education, employment, the environment, healthcare provision, and access to justice.

This hard-won deal comes after three weeks of civil striking that brought violent repression by ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadrons) against communities in Buenaventura. At least two people have died and countless others have been injured.

We greatly value and commend the peoples of Buenaventura, for their organization and perseverance in defending their human rights, territories, and life of communities in Buenaventura.

We thank all of our supporters who responded to our urgent call to action and wrote letters calling on President Santos to halt the repression faced by citizens of Buenaventura. Our friends at NOMADESC (Association for Research and Social Action) appreciate your solidarity!

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