Colombia

BACKGROUND FOR: Jani Silva, threatened with death for protecting the Amazon

Born in the heart of the Colombian Amazon, Jani Silva has dedicated her life to defending the trees and land that are everyone’s lifeblood. From the age of 16, she’s been standing with the campesino farmers of Putumayo, a region nestled in the south of the country and brimming with unique biodiversity. Jani co-founded the Association for the Integral and Sustainable Development of the Amazonian Pearl (ADISPA) in 2008. Through it, she protects the environment and rights of those living in the Amazonian Pearl, a campesino reserve in Putumayo.

Jani’s work placed her at odds with the Ecopetrol oil company, which got a license to operate in areas overlapping with the reserve. In 2009 the license was transferred to the Amerisur oil company. Since then, at least two oil spills have poisoned the water sources that local communities depend on. Defending a healthy environment is dangerous work in Colombia and increasingly so for women and their communities in isolated areas. Armed men followed Jani and threatened her with death. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, state protection has been reduced, while assassinations skyrocketed.

Still, Jani remains undaunted. “Because I defend my territory, people have put a gun to my head to kill me,” she says. “But we cannot run away or let ourselves be won over by fear.”

Demand protection for Jani now. Tell him to protect Jani and all ADISPA members so that they can safely defend the natural resources we all depend on.


Sample Letters and addresses to use

You may use all or part of the sample letter, insert your own sentences after reading the overview above, or copy and paste the letter into an email message. Handwritten letters can be very powerful, but other methods of communication are also effective.

Sample Letter

Ambassador Francisco Santos
Embassy of the Republic of Colombia
1724 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036 Today’s date

Dear Ambassador,

Jani Silva has been standing alongside the campesino farmers in the Putumayo region for decades. She has dedicated her life to defending the environment and natural resources.

However, Jani’s work has put her in danger. She has been followed, intimidated by unknown people with guns and threatened with death. As protectors of resources that the world depends on for its survival, Jani and the campesino farmers she stands with must be defended.

I call on you to immediately protect Jani and all members of ADISPA, an organization she helped found to preserve the Amazon Pearl Reserve Zone. In doing so, you will be safeguarding not just them, but a whole ecosystem powering the planet.

I, and those who share my concern, will be watching this case closely. Yours sincerely, Your first and last name

(it is most effective to have a return address here, but if you are uncomfortable with that, at least put your city, USA).

This letter in Word format here or see below to download it for copying, editing or printing

WRITE TO THE AMBASSADOR OF COLOMBIA

Ambassador Francisco Santos Embassy of the Republic of Colombia 1724 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20036
Email: emwas@colombiaemb.org Twitter: @ColombiaEmbUSA @PachoSantos
(Salutation: Dear Ambassador)

SHOW JANI YOU’RE WITH HER

Tell her and fellow ADISPA members how much you admire their courage. Include one of these lines, and draw or include a picture that represents the one you’ve chosen.

Nature is _____ to me. Thanks for taking care of it.

Water means ____ to me. Thanks for fighting for it.

Oficina Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz Carrera 37ª #25B – 42 Bogotá, Colombia. (postage is $1.20 or a forever international stamp)

Letter writing Tips download below

Reporting your messages

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