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Colombian Communities Under Attack

Nimia Vargas, noted Colombian leader to speak on the plight of Afro- Colombians in the midst of the escalating conflict, Saturday April 13, in Portland
Portland, OR - Nimia Vargas, an Afro-Colombian human rights defender, will speak on Saturday, April 13, from 5 pm to 7 pm, Ainsworth United Church of Christ, 2941 NE Ainsworth & 30th St., to give a first hand account of her life and personal struggle in a country torn by war, and the devastating consequences for the Afro-Colombian community there. While in Portland, she is particularly interested in sharing her story with the African American, Latino, and Native American communities.

Vargas, co-founder of the Colombian Network of Rural Women and the Network of Choco Women, has worked for several years to support families displaced from Choco, and played an important leadership role in the community?s development. As an active participant in and leader of the Colombian women?s movement, she specializes in issues of gender equality and community empowerment through social development. She plans to give testimony of the massacre of rural communities and the persecution of civilians caught in the crossfire of the current war between paramilitary units and the Colombia military, and the guerrilla forces.

According to national Colombia human rights and environmental groups, U.S. military aid is fueling the conflict and promoting the fumigation of food crops, which is causing destruction of arable lands. Furthermore, the U.S. anti-drug and anti-terrorism rationale is provoking unchecked violations of human and civil rights.

The public event is being co-sponsored by the Peace in Colombia Action Group (PICAG), the American Friends Service Committee, and the Justice and Peace Action Network of the United Church of Christ, and is part of a series of lectures of a national speakers' tour organized by the Colombia Human Rights Network and the US Office on Colombia, Washington D.C. Prior to Portland, she will speak in Philadelphia, Iowa City, and Albuquerque. Interpreting for Nimia will be Dr. Veronica Dujon, PSU professor of sociology, and Martin Gonzalez of AFSC?s community economic development program. The evening will also feature music and refreshments.

In addition to the Portland event, she will speak at Oregon State University, Corvallis, on Monday April 15, at noon at the Women Center, participate in the Tax Day demonstration in Portland that afternoon, then will travel on April 16 to Seattle, returning to Washington D.C. for the National Mobilization on Colombia, April 19 - 22, 2002. Additional information on the event may be accessed:  http://www.colombiamobilization.org or www.lawg.org

For further information, contact Andrea Cano, UCC Justice and Peace Action Network, 503 731 8874, or Kim Alphandary, Peace in Colombia Action Group, 503 554 9404.

homepage: homepage: http://www.colombiamobilization.org or www.lawg.org
phone: phone: 503 731 8874