While much of the media aim their barbs at Venezuela and its spiral downwards to a near-failed state, its neighbour, Colombia, appears immune from US and world criticism.
While the focus is upon the Venezuelan refugee problem not too much is said about the Colombian one. According to different sources Internal Dispaced Persons constitute between 3.2 million people (Colombian government estimate) to 4.9 million people (Human Rights estimate), up to 6 million (UNHCR estimate). The IDPs often live deplorable conditions, in constant fear of arbitrary killings with no long-term solution in sight. This creates a precarious humanitarian situation and is labeled one of the world’s forgotten crises by the Norwegian branch of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Hundreds of thousands of Colombians have sought refuge is neighbouring countries, in Ecuador (an estimated 250,000), Venezuela (an estimated 250,000), and Panama (an estimated 100,000 – 200,000).
The supposed end of the civil war between Farc and other insurgents against the government and drug cartels has failed to achieve peace.
“It’s terror that we live in,” one community leader said. “People are just looking for somewhere safe.”
Political violence is systematic. The International Trade Union Confederation’s latest report shows the shocking extent of violence against trade unionists in Colombia. Thirty-four trade unionists were murdered in 2018 – almost two-thirds of worldwide cases. This is more than double the previous year’s tally of 15 murders, which even then made Colombia the most dangerous country for labour organising. 10 members of the Fensuagro agricultural union killed this year, and 30 since late 2016. Thirteen teachers were also killed in 2018 amid nationwide strike action over conditions and pay.
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