Association for the Sovereignty of Colombia


     Millions of Colombians have decided to travel to other countries in what constitutes a great emigration with no apparent end in sight. The principal cause of this phenomenon lies in the serious deterioration suffered by key sectors of the nation’s economy during the past fifteen years due to the adoption and implementation by successive governments of neoliberal policies imposed by the United States. Those who have emigrated are part of a large number of compatriots facing an economic situation with no viable production possibilities or work opportunities, which caused them to drop into ever worsening material and social conditions. At the same time the cross-fires of violence that have permeated the country, which often exhibit terrorist profiles, made Colombians' living conditions even more exasperating. Without doubt an appreciable number of Colombians have abandoned their nation as a consequence of situations in which their personal safety or that of their families have been affected by upsurges of violence and acts of political intolerance, yet the great majority emigrate as victims of the economic crisis.


     Once settled abroad, the majority of emigrants take pains to maintain their roots with Colombia. Along with its legal character, the carrying of Colombian passports as well as a double nationality constitute a clear demonstration of that attitude. Moreover, not only do they maintain their social and familiar bonds and feel proud of their culture, but at no time are they indifferent to the profound economic, political and social crises that the nation is currently experiencing. At the same time, many individuals from other countries and various international and local organizations watch with preoccupation the constant worsening of conditions in Colombia. Those individuals and organizations will certainly be interested in participating in a process that contributes to identifying a worthwhile direction for the progress of the country, and uniting and directing energies towards that goal.


     Beginning in 1990, when the implementation of neo-liberal model was initiated, the balance of trade, which had been stable for decades, turned into a deficit which, at present, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America of the United Nations, amounts to a loss of more than 30 billion dollars. Likewise, the national savings rate dropped by 50% and the foreign debt skyrocketed, reaching 39 billion dollars in 2001, a sum greater than 50% of the Gross Domestic Product. Upon implementing the aforementioned policy—promoted by the International Monetary Fund—the agriculture and cattle industrial imports increased by 900% with the consequent bankruptcy of impacted economic sectors.


    Coffee, the renowned pride of the Colombian exports, reduced its production by 6 million sacks and today the hardworking coffee growers, publicized under the exquisite symbol of Juan Valdez, cultivate 200,000 hectares less than 10 years ago. In the same fashion, industrial and agro-livestock production, commerce, health, education and residential public services have suffered the impacts of privatizations and the concessions to the demands of foreign capital, which together with unemployment, poverty and the wavering economy have reached unbelievable levels. As if that was not enough, now the government of Alvaro Uribe is ready to sign a free trade agreement with the United States which would lead to a deepening of the liberalization and consequently the worsening of the crisis. To boot, president Uribe appears determined to exacerbate the situation with his avowed intentions to undemocratically prolong his term of office for another four years.


     It comes as no surprise then that over the last fifteen years thousands of Colombians of various backgrounds such as teachers, athletes, pilots, doctors, business people, artists, scientists, cattle ranchers and peasants, skilled and unskilled workers, industrialists and entrepreneurs have abandoned their country en masse to settle in the United States, Spain and other countries. The situation in which they find themselves cannot be any more difficult: they not only need to legalize their residence, but must also compete for employment with native workers who possess obvious advantages as well as with immigrants from other nations. Soon they confront the arduous and unavoidable task of gaining employment, hopefully at a level that matches their skills and experience, lest they see themselves forced to labor in the hardest and poorest paid jobs.


     Apart from the "cultural shock", psychological consequences cost a high price in terms of loss of prestige, separation from families and friends, and isolation and depression, the immigrant must traverse a tortuous process of employment and personal adaptation, something which occurs generally without the attention and protection of the Embassies and consulates of the Colombian government. Along with a small nucleus of resourceful Colombians who have gained a professional standing in the world of business and in the fields of science or the arts, there exist many thousands who do not even possess legal residency status. A good number of them live in economic situations in many respects similar to conditions that motivated them to leave Colombia in the first place.


     Colombia receives three billion dollars annually in the form of remittances from abroad. Paradoxically, this immense effort at solving or improving the economic situation of families through regular money orders constitutes the very foreign exchange that permits the government to service a good portion of the external debt and to pay for the importation of goods that is progressively ruining national production. This means that those who impose the neoliberal economic policies, which ruin the nation, are at the same time the causes of the impoverishment of the people and the high rate of emigration. It is a sad situation for a nation, which under different circumstances could develop its agricultural and industrial production, and forge an efficient network of public services which in turn would permit the creation of a solid internal market. But its leaders are forcing the nation to live by the generous monetary support of the brothers and sisters abroad, which is then utilized to recycle the crisis.


This situation has led a group of Colombians and friends of Colombia abroad to propose the creation of an Association for the Sovereignty of Colombia that would work towards the following goals:


The progress of Colombia. This objective here is to contribute the analysis of the national situation and the development of political and economic proposals leading towards the resolution of the existing crisis. The proposals should have as their main concern the protection of the nation’s sovereignty; the development of democracy; the strengthening of the internal market based on the defense of national production; and the strengthening of economic and political links with all nations on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocal benefits. The above presupposes the rejection of the policies of neoliberalism and subordination which are at the root of the crisis.

The Welfare of Colombian Emigrants and the promotion of the Good Name of Colombia Abroad. In particular, efforts will be made to promote the prompt resolution of legal status for those Colombians living abroad, better their social and economic conditions and the preservation of their cultural roots. In addition, the association will generate a vision of the Colombian nation that incorporates in a truthful manner as much its history and culture as well as the varying aspects of current conditions.


The Defense of Democracy. We will advocate the respect of democratic liberties and rights of the people against any kind of authoritarianism, respect on the part of government for constitutional and legal norms which currently regulate the administration over which they preside, and the observance of civilized procedures in the political struggles. The latter includes the condemnation of terrorism, kidnappings, extortion and all acts of violence and arbitrariness which impede or make difficult democratic activities and expressions by citizens, political parties and social organizations. Additionally, the association will stand for negotiated political solutions to armed conflicts and support workers struggles aimed at their betterment and in support of national sovereignty.

In addition, the Association for the Sovereignty of Colombia will operate upon the following criteria:


a) Relations with governments. The association will function in an autonomous manner, rigorously taking a position of independence in relation to the Colombian government and in relation to the governments of the countries in which immigrants are residing.


b) Membership. All Colombians residing abroad, as well as the nationals of other countries interested in the economic, political and social development of Colombia, and who accept the criteria and objectives here described, are encouraged to become members of this association and participate democratically in its organization and activities.


c) Organization. We, the signatories of this Declaration below, constitute an interim body which will provisionally coordinate efforts leading the development of the Association, including the a greater and more finely crafted statement of objectives and its operating procedures. We wish to do so in consultation with the opinions of all those who during a six month period adhere to this Declaration and who therefore become members of this newly formed Association.

Provisional Board of Directors:

Bernardo Useche, president



Raúl Fernandez

University of California, Irvine


Gilbert González

University of California, Irvine


Juan Carlos Villar

MacMasters University, Hamilton, Canada


Felipe Arango


Carlos Fernando Salamanca

Nueva York


Cynthia Mellon

Newark, Nueva Jersey


Luis Fernández-Castro



Liliana Narvaéz-Cassab



Note: Those wishing to add their names to this statement please do so by contacting the following electronic address: associacioncolombia@yahoo.com