U.S./Colombia Coordinating Office Up and Running

As announced in the last issue of the Colombia Update, the U.S./Colombia Coordinating Office opened its doors in Washington, D.C., in October 1998. The Office is serving primarily as a link between a network of human rights organizations in Colombia, the Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, and both a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of human rights, religious, humanitarian, and policy groups, and an ever-widening network of people in the United States, both in and beyond the Colombia Human Rights Network.

The Office is working with both a short-term and a long-term perspective, as it seeks to convey the experience and concerns of people in Colombia. In the short-term, it has responded to emergency situations to help human rights defenders and others in danger, encouraging the U.S. government to support and the Colombian government to adopt and implement protection measures. In the first six months of 1999, this included helping to coordinate responses to the following situations, all done in coalition with the Colombia Sub-group of the Latin America Working Group and others interested in Colombia:

In addition, the Office participated in the March tour of the Colombia Human Rights Network, especially the Washington leg, helping to coordinate appointments with media, university audiences, and policy makers

Long-term: The Office has begun to engage in grass-roots mobilizing to get out information from human rights groups in Colombia, thru the Coordinación; and on what's happening in Washington both to other activists in the U.S. and to Colombian human rights advocates. According to Office Director Alison Giffen: "though things in Colombia have gotten increasingly worse, I've been encouraged by the large number of people throughout the U.S. who've become interested in doing something to change the situation there, and very encouraged by the potential for greater grass-roots support to change U.S. policy and to protect those under threat in Colombia." If you are interested in becoming involved in this growing grass-roots network, as an individual or group, contact the Office:

U.S./Colombia Coordinating Office
1630 Connecticut Ave. #200
Washington, D.C. 20009
(tel.) (202) 232-8090
(fax) (202) 232-8092



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