In just a few hours, I’ll be flying from Bogota to Los Angeles to arrange the final details for Nidia Castellanos’ Northwest speaking tour: “Women Resisting War in Colombia” (see schedule at end of message).
Nidia is a single mother of three children who is risking her life to defend human rights here in Colombia. She is the secretary general of the Arauca Peasant Association (ACA), which promotes organic agriculture and defends the rights of its members and their families. ACA has been severely repressed by the Colombian government and has also been attacked by the guerrillas.
Luz Perly Cordoba, the founding president of ACA, was imprisoned for “rebellion” in 2004 and now lives in exile. Jose Caicedo, the following president, went into hiding after an arrest order was issued against him for rebellion in 2007. Carlos Cabrera, a previous secretary general, was killed by the guerrillas in November 2008.
“Defending the rights of small farmers and their families in our state of Arauca means facing a lot of risk,” said Nidia. “I’m willing to suffer those consequences because I want a better future for my children – Melisa, Camila and Brandon.”
“We hope that the Obama administration will represent a change in U.S. policy towards our country,” continued Nidia. “Colombia doesn’t need any more guns and bombs - there are already enough to kill all of us. We’re also aware of the serious economic problems in the U.S. Instead of spending your tax dollars on more weapons, that money could be used to create jobs and support health care and education – in Arauca, as well as Montana.”
The U.S. government is providing Colombia with more than $1 million per day in military aid. Some of that aid is used to protect Occidental Petroleum’s oilfield and pipeline in Arauca – which produce and transport 100,000 barrels per day. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly documented the human rights abuses committed by the Colombian military.
We hope you’re able to join us for one of the presentations. Please also help us spread the word about Nidia’s speaking tour.
In love and solidarity,
Monday, April 6 – Helena, Montana
7 P.M. – Wiegand Amphitheater, Simperman Hall 101-202, Carroll College
Tuesday, April 7 – Billings
7 P.M. – St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 180 24th St. West
Wednesday, April 8 – Red Lodge
7 P.M. – Regis Cafe, 206 16th St.
Thursday, April 9 – Bozeman
7 P.M. - Strand Union Building 235, Montana State University
Monday, April 13 – Hamilton
7 P.M. - Hamilton Library, 306 State Street
Tuesday, April 14 – Arlee
6:30 P.M. – The Hangin’ Art Gallery, 11 Hwy. 93
Wednesday, April 15 – Kalispell
7 P.M. – Blake Hall Board Room 140, Flathead Valley Community College
Thursday, April 16 – Missoula
7 P.M. – North Underground Lecture Hall
Monday, April 20 – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington
Noon – Todd Hall, Molstead Library, North Idaho College
7 P.M. – Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Center, Gonzaga University
Tuesday, April 21 – Ellensburg
7 P.M. – Room TBA, Central Washington University
Wednesday, April 22 – Bellingham
Noon – World Issues Forum, Fairhaven College Auditorium
7 P.M. – Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, 13 Prospect St.
Thursday, April 23 – Twisp
7 P.M. – Confluence Gallery
Monday, April 27 – Portland, Oregon
7 P.M. – Portland Mennonite Church, 1312 SE 35th Ave.
Tuesday, April 28 – Corvallis
Time and room TBA, Oregon State University
Wednesday, April 29 – Eugene
Time and location TBA