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Carlos Salinas

United States  
Healing Bridges
Joined June 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Land & Natural Resources, Policy Advocacy & Governance, Traditional / Customary Justice
I am the Executive Director of Healing Bridges, which works with the Traditional Authorities (shamans) of the Kofan (A'i) indigenous people in the Colombian Amazon to defend their land, culture, and autonomy. Healing Bridges translates their needs into actionable petitions to the Colombian Government, and then engages outside actors like the U.S. Government or the UN so that the petitions are respected. Healing Bridges has a petition pending before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and working with our partners, the Corporación Visión Renacer, we have won two constitutional recourses (tutelas) in the courts, one at the level of the Colombian Constitutional Court.

I have an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University. I was on staff for ten years with Amnesty International USA, as advocate for Latin America and the Caribbean before the U.S. Government. My last year in Amnesty was as Acting Director of Government Relations. I have testified before Congress many times and was involved in the passing and subsequent defense of the Leahy Law.

Although my first visit to the Colombian Amazon's Putumayo Department was in 1986, to stay with a traditional authority of the Siona people, the late Francisco Piaguaje, I first met a Kofan in 1998, when I was part of an Amnesty International mission to Colombia. I first visited the Kofan reservation Santa Rosa del Guamuéz in February 2004. Since then, I have been to Santa Rosa some fifty-nine times, gathering with the Kofan Traditional Authorities and others to jointly develop strategies through discussion and the ritual ceremony of their traditional medicine, Yagé.

I am interested in joining the Namati network to see where there may be possibilities for collaboration, especially for legal support and the preparation of other formal material.

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