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Buenaventura is Colombia’s main commercial port. Located on the South Pacific Coast, this port moves at least 70% of Colombia’s trade, yet over 66% of the city’s population lives in poverty. It’s population consists mainly of Afro Colombians, with a small presence of indigenous communities living in the rural areas.

Buenaventura has historically been a target of armed control by different illegal armed groups. Year after year these groups change their names, their commanders and even their ways of operating, all with the same objective: territorial control of the different routes of narco-traffic, gun traffic and the expansion of the port infrastructure.

The Colombian government’s military presence is only to ensure the entry and exit of trade. Despite the proximity of the neighbourhoods (where this illegal armed groups exert control) to the port complex, the Colombian police simply look away and ignore what is happening in these localities.

With different peaks of the conflict in the urban area since 2014, violence in the city neighbourhood has increased in December 2020. Illegal groups fight for control of the territory and narco traffic routes, leaving the civilian population in the midst of armed clashes, forcing the displacement of hundreds of people who flee and abandon their homes to protect their lives. In the first 35 days of 2021, there has been at least one armed confrontation every day in the city. Last week, an armed confrontation between two illegal groups in the neighbourhood called “Juan XXII” forced the displacement of at least 30 families.

While the rest of the world is thinking only of the COVID pandemic, people in Buenaventura are fleeing to protect their lives from a terrible and permanent pandemic: the armed violence.

This call is for the Colombian government to listen to the pleas of this sovereign people. The government presence cannot only be military, Buenaventura needs civilian government to tackle the disparities, the inequalities that have made Colombia’s main port one of its poorest cities.

From the UK we send our support to the all people of Buenaventura.

El pueblo no se rinde carajo!

Further Information:

The Colombian Ombudsman has issued two “Alertas tempranas” (Early warnings) in 2021, to warn the government about the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Buenaventura.

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