Members of the church-based Humanitarian aid group Church World Service said they were “struck by the discrimination and exclusion faced by displaced Afro-Columbians” during their visit to Colombia, the CWS said on May 25.
“We have seen the circumstances and heard the testimony of people who have been displaced from certified lands--people, many of whom have virtually no access to public services. And, I don’t know when I’ve seen more blatant racism,” reported Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director of the CWS
The delegation of U.S. church, humanitarian and U.S. policymakers visited the impoverished nation at the invitation of local churches and Afro-Colombian organizations.
The delegates met with representatives of the Ecumenical Network, as well as Afro-Colombian leaders from various parts of the country. In the short weeklong trip, the group was able to learn about issues of fumigation, racism, social development, and internal displacement, and how these key issues affect the Afro-Colombian communities.
In addition to Rev. McCullough and Bishop Hoyt, the delegation includes Rev. Nicholas Genevieve Tweed, Board of Directors of CWS; Dr. Mischa Thompson, Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant for U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks; Neil Jeffery, Executive Director of the U.S. Office on Colombia; Jess Hunter, Senior Associate of USOC; Samuel Lobato, CWS Andean Representative; and Rolanda Hughes, also of CWS.