The fact is that, by a number of measures, Colombia has one of the worst human rights situations on earth, but you would never know this from watching the nightly news.
First of all, Colombia has the largest number of people forcibly disappeared in all of the Americas – even more than all of the Southern Cone countries combined during the infamous ‘dirty war’ years – at over 60,000.
In addition, Colombia has one of the largest internally displaced populations on earth at well over 7 million – second only to Syria. And, a disproportionate number of these internally displaced are indigenous and Afro-descendants.
Moreover, Colombia ranks 5th in the world for the number of children internally displaced by conflict, with two million boys and girls internally displaced. Quite shockingly, Colombia ranks 3rd in the world for the number of children murdered, with 715 children murdered just last year. Such statistics have led Save The Children to conclude that Colombia is “one of the worst countries to be a child and adolescent in the world.”
Colombia is also one of the worst countries in the world to be a social leader, such as a human rights defender, union leader, indigenous or Afro-Colombian leader. Thus, even after the signing of a peace deal between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas in 2016, social leaders are being murdered at an alarming rate. Indeed, over 200 social leaders have been killed just since January of 2017. Last year was in fact the worst year on record for human rights defenders in Colombia, with 120 killed in 2017.
Of course, the US has a large responsibility to bear for this awful situation in Colombia, as it has been the intellectual author behind Colombia’s brutal, decades-long war against its own people and has provided billions of dollars of material aid to this war effort. Indeed, since 2000, the US has given Colombia $10 billion in mostly military assistance as part of its counter-insurgency program known as ‘Plan Colombia.’