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Friday, November 03, 2006

No Guarantees for the Victims in Colombia

There Are No Guarantees for the Victims

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN translator )

The National Movement of Victims of State Crimes denounces an extermination list of 26 persons, among whom are to be found leaders of the Movement and social activists of the department of Sucre. In addition, in the list are found old allies of the paramilitary groups who might have compromising information about Senator Álvaro García; Salvador Arana, ex-governor of Sucre and ex-ambassador to Chile, as well as a candidate for governor of Sucre; Member of the House of Representatives Eric Morris Tabeada; Guillermo Merlano, the current Prosecutor of Sucre; Muriel Benito Rebollo, ex-representative; her brother Edgar Benito Rebollo, current deputy and candidate for mayor of San Onofre in the upcoming elections; Jorge Blanco, mayor of San Onofre; and Guillerom Gómez, president of the San Onofre City Council. This list was developed by politicians who have been committed to the paramilitary since it originated in this region and who are currently to be found in control of paramilitary groups that continue to operate in the municipality of San Onofre, Sucre, within the framework of the re-arming that has also been publicly denounced in recent days.

Some of the persons who appear in the list, and whose lives are in imminent risk are: Arnold Gómez, Carmelo Agamez, Juan David Díaz, Adolfo Berbel, Jackeline Moguea, Roberto Serpa y Amauri Vidual, all of them defenders of Human Rights and members of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes, Bolívar Chapter, Sucre, in Montes de María and San Onofre. According to denunciations made by the community, this list is also to be found in the centers of the DAS [the national security structure] and in the hand of the president of the City Council of San Onofre, Guillermo Gómez.

This situation occurs at the same time that Law 975/05, called the law of "justice and peace", is beginning to be applied, and that the national government is developing a peace negotiation process in which Salvatore Mancuso and Jorge 40, who are directly connected to the grave incidents that occurred in the municipality of San Onofre in the years 1999 to 2005, are participating. These incidents left more than 3000 victims of human rights violations, according to the community. During this period armed men made themselves present in this territory, initially under the name of the Cooperativas de Seguridad Conviver [Cooperatives of Collective Security] and later as the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia [United Self-defense Forces of Colombia] under the command of Rodrigo Antonio Mercado Peludo, alias Cadena. During this period, thousands of persons were displaced, tortured, murdered, disappeared and buried in common graves b y this group, which operated with absolute liberty in the municipality, since they could count on the acquiescence of the civil, administrative and police authorities.

Through processes of resistance, the communities demanded intervention by different institutions of the Colombian state, and managed to get the paramilitary powers to retire from San Onofre by the end of 2005. However, impunity still covers the thousands of crimes that occurred, and the communities, who currently are developing a process of reconstruction of the social fabric, are demanding truth, justice, reparation and a pledge that these crimes will not be repeated.

For several weeks the communities have been denouncing a process of rearming the paramilitary groups of the region that is currently being expressed in the threat that is being raised against their leaders.


The communities affirms that many of the persons who have been disappeared were murdered and buried in the hacienda "El Palmar," the farm "Las Melenas," and the farm "Las Palmas." However, only 76 skeletal remains have been discovered, and despite the denunciations no new searches have been undertaken by the authorities.

On August 4 of this year the national and international community was made aware of  a meeting that was carried out on June 18 between the paramilitary [leader] Diego Vecino, Senator Álvaro García, Nelson Stand Berrio and Edgar Benito Rebollo (members of the Departmental Assembly of Sucre), and the mayor of San Onofre, Jorge Blanco. At that meeting, support for Edgar Benito Rebollo to run for mayor of San Onofre in the upcoming elections was defied. Afterwards, threats and intimidation against the civilian population of that municipality, and specifically against social leaders and rights defenders, began.

Similarly, there was a denunciation of the presence of demobilized persons who dedicate themselves to lending money under the modality of "daily pay," and who work for the wife of the recognized paramilitary [leader] Rodrigo Anotonio Mercado Peludo, alias Cadena, Meris del Carmen Ayala Berthel, alias "La Motosierra" ["The Chainsaw"] These persons intimidate the civilian population of the municipality of San Onofre, since four of these demobilized [persons] have been denounced for making threats. They were later arrested by the army; weapons with silencers and blacklists of inhabitants of San Onofre were found on them.

In the same way, there were denunciations of the actions of Guillermo Gómez, the current president of the Municipal Council of San Onofre, who today has in his possession the extermination list that we are denouncing, and who is one of the men of confidence of the man called "Cadena."

Also, there was a denunciation of the murder of Mr. Hugo Baleta, who was in a neighbor¹s house. After committing the crime, the murderers left on foot, firing shots into the air. This situation shows the complicity of the public security forces and the paramilitaries, since the place where these things happened is hardly two blocks from the police station of San Onofre and never the less the police only showed up 45 minutes after the attack.

What we Want

In the face of the threats against the lives of the social leaders of the department of Sucre, and especially against those of the municipality of San Onofre, we demand of the Colombian state that they stop any action against these people, guaranteeing their lives and personal integrity.

In the same way, we ask the State control apparatuses and the regional national and international community that the system of Early Alerts be activated, and that penal and disciplinary investigations be initiated immediately by the national State Attorney and General Prosecutor, since these acts constitute an imminent risk for the integrity and the security of the leaders of the social movement of Sucre and especially of the municipality of San Onofre.

We ask all national and international human rights organizations, alternative communications media, social and people¹s organizations, indigenous organizations, union and student organizations to put out this information and to extend your solidarity through your statements about the serious facts mentioned above, and to remain attentive in the face of this delicate situation, since there is a basis to the fear for the personal integrity and the lives of the members of these communities.

National Movement of Victims of State Crimes

Bogotá, D.C., October 31, 2006.



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