Translated By: Rolf Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator
We, Afro, Black, Raizal* and Palenque* women, heirs to the ancestral legacy of ORIKA and of WINNI…. who give life and as sentient beings participate in society have a great responsibility inasmuch as the recognition of our being, our identity, our different world views, our roles in society will create a dynamic in which we are recognized, respected and valued at any and all levels of society.
It is our responsibility and we see it as a collective challenge to start analyzing and discussing the role of Black women, their dreams, their aspirations, their worldview, but above all their rights as human beings and their right to build a better world, a world according to a comprehensive life plan, which our women ancestors had when they built their ‘palenques’ in Colombia (settlements founded by escaped slaves).
To be considered:
1. According to the ILO  (International Labor Organization) Convention 169, (which deals with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples) and the repeated rulings of the Constitutional Colombian Court, people of African descent are entitled to free prior and informed consultation and consent with effective enforcement being the duty of the Colombian State. Free prior and informed consultation serves also as a means to protect and preserve the integrity and autonomy of the Afro-Colombian population.
2. Consultation implies prior negotiations so that relevant and complete information is made available in order to reach consent “with full knowledge” under conditions of free participation and in good faith. The application of consultation and consent with these characteristics and principles is crucial to effectively ensure diversity, equity and a social state in which the law prevails, in which recognition, mutual respect between the parties and a constructive dialogue can be guaranteed. Consultations are not only an instrument of dialogue and articulation but rather a mechanism which could play a decisive role in conflict resolution, including questions of development and of peace and the consolidation of democracy.
3. Mega tourism projects as well as those involving agribusiness, mining and infrastructure threaten our survival as women who belong to a distinct ethnic group in our ancestral lands.
4. To satisfy the need for an autonomous space in which to reach a consensus regarding events that affect human right issues as well as economic, social, cultural and territorial rights of Afro-Colombian woman, Black women, Palenqueras and Raizales a commitment of our associations, community councils, organizations and leaders is needed in order to give visibility to our historical reparation demands to repair damage done by structural racism and by ever increasing human rights violations as well as by violations of international humanitarian law.
5. The promotion of gender equity in terms of National Public Policy once again jeopardizes the fundamental right of our communities to prior free and informed consultation and consent.
6. We note with concern that there is no political will on the part of the Presidential Office for Equity of Women to carry out the orders of the Colombian Constitutional Court, especially Order 005 passed in 2009, which demands that the government take decisive steps to address the grave concerns of Colombians of African descent, who have been victims of internal displacement, human rights and international humanitarian rights violations, in particular Afro-Colombian women, Black women, Palenqueras and Raizales.
7. The participation of Afro-Colombian women, Black women, Palenqueras and Raizales in bringing about gender equality in terms of National Public Policy has been practically non-existent and not been effective as a result of legal rules and regulations concerning the participation of ethnic groups not known to them, which the Colombian Constitutional Court specified through order 005 of 2009, establishing protocols that the Colombian government and its institutions must follow in order to guarantee an effective process of free prior and informed consultation and consent.
8. When the Colombian Presidential Advisory Office on Gender Equality was petitioned regarding free prior and informed consultation and consent, Cristina Plaza Michelsen answered, “The National Public Policy guidelines regarding gender equity address all citizens in general, which means that women of all sectors of society can participate within this given framework. There are no measures specifically directed to the various ethnic communities.” Given that ethnic communities are not part of the general Colombian citizenry, this response has to be seen as a bad faith interpretation of the fundamental right of free prior and informed consultation and consent. It violates the fundamental right to participate within the framework of the so-called ‘constitutional block’ and violates national and international law.
Be it resolved
1. We the undersigned of this press release, organizations and community councils, urge the National Government in general and the Colombian Presidential Office on Gender Equality in particular to develop a genuine strategy which would allow Afro-Colombians, Black Colombians, Palenqueras and Raizales true and effective participation through their respective organizations and community councils in accordance with the law, so that ethnic women have access to free prior and informed consultation and consent in order to reach a consensus on this important mechanism for inclusion of women.
2. We express our unwavering determination to help create a platform for cooperation at the municipal, departmental and national level so as to have a setting for dialogue between equals and to further help define our own proposals in order to settle a historic debt with the Afro-Colombian community, which is still facing racism today and to help define what it means to be a woman today.
3. We declare that our presence, actions and perspectives regarding the articulation of our own proposals to fight the causes and consequences of racism and to fight the twin evils of racism and socio-political violence is legitimate and are based upon a permanent direct dialogue between women, men, Afro-Colombian groups and communities. They are based upon many years of work and therefore we refuse to be excluded and made invisible once again and not be permitted to help shape politics and policies in Colombia.
4. We invite state institutions, government agencies, civil society organizations and international agencies for cooperation to include our voice and our proposals in all decisions that may affect our way of life within the parameters for participation of ethnic groups and those of free prior and informed consultation and consent in accordance with national and international standards.
5. We urge the Attorney General and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia as well as the Colombian Ombudsman to monitor and supervise the changes required to effectively guarantee the fundamental rights of the Afro-Colombian population in this process. The international community in addition to Colombian society could play a major role in regard to the question of visibility and demands made by us.
Signed by the organizations and councils listed below:
1. Consejo Comunitario Bajo Mira y Frontera.
2. Consejo Comunitario Cortina Verde Nelson Mandela
3. Consejo Mayor para el Desarrollo Integral de Comunidades Negras de la Cordillera Occidental de Nariño y Sur del Cauca – COPDICONC
4. Asociación de Mujeres Afrodescendientes y del Caribe Graciela Cha Inés
5. Asociación de Mujeres Trabajadoras de las Playas Marcela Herrera Padilla
6. Proceso de Comunidades Negras – PCN
7. Grupo de mujeres de Yolombó
8. Consejo comunitario Pilamo
9. Consejo comunitario La Playa Renaciente
10. Consejo comunitario La Toma
11. Asociación Ku-mahaná
12. Organización Sinecio Mina
13. Palenke Alto Cauca
14. Consejo Comunitario de Comunidad Negra De Aracataca “JACOBO PEREZ ESCOBAR” – MAGDALENA
15. Consejo Comunitario Corregimiento Hormiguero –VALLE DEL CAUCA
16. Consejo Comunitario de Ladrilleros – VALLE DEL CAUCA
17. Consejo Comunitario Yurumangui-VALLE DEL CAUCA
18. Consejo Comunitario Rio Ovejas Corregimiento La TOMA – CAUCA
19. Consejo Comunitario Nueva Esperanza Del Hoyo Patia – CAUCA
20. Consejo Comunitario De Pilamo – CAUCA
21. Consejo Comunitario Alto Mira y Frontera – NARIÑO
22. Consejo Comunitario Puerto Limon – PUTUMAYO
24. Federacion de Asociaciones Por los Derechos De Las Comunidades Afroputumatense – FECAP
25. Colectivo De Estudiantes Universitarios Afrocolombianos(As) – CEUNA
26. Fundación Palenque Libre – BOLIVAR
27. Organización Étnica De Comunidades Afro “LOS PALENKES”
28. ARCHIPIELAGO MOVEMENT FOR ETNIC NATIVE SELF DETERMINATION – AMEN-SD
- The ILO Convention 169 is part of the so-called ‘constitutional block’ and therefore the constitutional mandate ordering prior consultation should be interpreted with the provisions of this convention taken into account as mandated by article 93 of the Charter, which specifies that constitutional rights must be interpreted in accordance with human rights treaties ratified by the Constitutional Court of Colombia ST-0292011.
- Palenqueras – Colombian ethnic minority speaking a Spanish-based creole.
- Raizales – Colombian ethnic minority speaking an English–based creole.
Author: Proceso de Comunidades Negras en Colombia
Location: None Provided
Date Published: February 15, 2012
Source: Corporación Colectivo de Abogados
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)