Washington protest says: Don’t support Colombia repression with tourism

SLL photo: Sharon Black

On Sept. 27, activists demonstrated outside the Colombian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The picket line denounced the violent regime of President Iván Duque, supported by the U.S., and decades of reactionary policies by previous Colombian governments. In particular, the demonstrators addressed Colombia’s violence against Indigenous people, Afro-Colombians and progressive political activists. 

Sept. 27 is designated as “World Tourism Day.” Since the signing of the Havana Peace Accord in 2016 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), Bogotá has promoted itself as a hot new tourist destination. But in fact, the government has not held up its end of the peace agreement, and murders of activists, community leaders and former guerrillas have continued unabated.

In the U.S., the Coalition for Peace in Colombia joined the international call to hold actions called the People’s Travel Advisory to warn travelers that “Colombia is not a tourist destination, but a place of genocide and repression.” Actions were held in at least a dozen other cities in the Western Hemisphere, including Lima, Mexico City, San Francisco and Toronto. 

Not only has the Colombian government of the wealthy terrorized its populace with right-wing violence, but it has also served as a forward operating base for U.S. imperialism against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Since the attempted coup in Venezuela earlier this year, Colombia has consistently escalated its aggression against the democratically elected government of President Nicolás Maduro, to the point of threatening military action. 

The activists who gathered in Washington delivered a letter inside the embassy. It demanded the end of repression against oppressed people inside Colombia and for the Duque government to cease its cooperation with the U.S. military campaign to undermine Venezuela. Furthermore, the letter declared that Colombia was not safe for working-class travelers. 

In recent decades, the Colombian government has enacted large-scale political violence against oppressed people and activists — yet it is Venezuela that faces sanctions and other economic warfare. The activists in Washington joined with people around the world to denounce the reactionary Colombian government and will continue to call for a People’s Travel Advisory until the violence and repression stops!