Marino Cordoba was a leader in his town in Colombia the first time armed paramilitary fighters came gunning for him in 1996. This month he will be on Capitol Hill lobbying for labor rights, Ann Belser writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Mr. Cordoba wants the United States to enforce a side agreement to the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact that calls for labor rights for Colombian workers. Currently labor organizers are targets for paramilitary groups operating in the country….Mr. Cordoba had been fighting for a law that recognized land rights for Afro-Colombians, which was enacted by the Colombian government. The title giving the land rights of the town, Rio Sucio, to his people was granted Dec. 13, 1996. A week later, there was a paramilitary incursion that displaced 20,000 people.
“One of the people they were looking to kill was me,” he said. He got a warning from others that the fighters were looking for him and fled the town. But he kept organizing on behalf of the Afro-Colombians.
Now a U.S. citizen, Mr. Cordoba is also the founder of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians…..He has spent the summer as a Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit foundation in Washington “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world.”
The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy
cordially invites you to a presentation entitled
“From Internal Displacement to Inclusive Democracy:
The Afro-Colombian Experience”
Marino Córdoba Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
with comments by
Zakiya Carr Johnson
Director, Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit
U.S. Department of State
President, National Endowment for Democracy
In his presentation, Marino Córdoba will share his experiences as an Afro-Colombian community leader who was displaced multiple times and who has led numerous campaigns over the past decade advocating for the civil and collective land rights of Colombia’s Afro-descendant peoples. He will also share his ideas on how best to integrate Afro-Colombians and deepen their participation in Colombia’s post-conflict democracy. In sharing his story, Mr. Córdoba hopes to foster a broader understanding of the challenges faced by displaced Afro-Colombians and how to overcome them, suggesting lessons for other Afro-descendant communities in the region. His presentation will be followed by comments from Zakiya Carr-Johnson.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 3:00–4:30 p.m. 1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004 Telephone: 202-378-9675
RSVP (acceptances only) with name and affiliation by Thursday, September 18 at https://integratingafrodescendantsincolombia.eventbrite.com.