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Threats of the Nueva Granada Battallion against the inhabitants
of mining zone
Urgent ActionThreats by the Batallón Nueva Granada (Nueva Granada Battalion) against the inhabitants of the mining zone (Bolívar)
The organizations which have signed below , are writing to ask the international and national communities, with the objective being to denounce the new actions carried out by members of the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion (Batallón Antiaéreo Nuevo Granada), being part of the Quinta Brigada del Ejército Nacional, (Fifth Brigade of the National Army) related to threats, which put the right to life, integrity and liberty of the inhabitants of the mining zone, as well as those of the members and directors of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, Fedeagromisbol.
1. - ON the 19th September of 2006 Alejandro Uribe, president of the Junta de Acción Comunal de Mina Gallo (Council for Community Action for the Gallo Mine) and member of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (Agro-mining Federation of the South of Bolívar), was assassinated by the Ejército Nacional (Nacional Army), which was presented to the media as a guerrilla killed in combat.
2. - Due to this approximately 600 inhabitants of the region went to the local jurisdiction offices in San Luquitas, in the municipality of Santa Rosa, with the objective being to ask the Batallón Nueva Granada for the return of the body of Alejandro Uribe.
3. - On the 21st September, whilst in these area, the people were the object of threats by the personnel of the Batallón Antiaéreo Nueva Granada, amongst which were expressed: this is not the only death there will be, there will be more dead leaders.
4.- These threats are added to earlier ones made by this military unit, in which it was declared that they had a list of the leaders in the region and members of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, who were expected to be found alone on the local roads.
5.- We openly express our rejection of the declarations made by the General José Joaquin Cortés, commander of the Quinta Brigada del Ejército to the media, in which he stated of the extrajudicial execution of Alejandro Uribe that:
GENERAL.... Look, we are developing a very important operation in the south of Bolívar; we are establishing an operations base in San Lucas, which is the highest part of the Serranía de San Lucas, with an end to neutralize all the actions of the terrorist organisation ELN in this area, including those of the FARC. Troops from this operations and recovery base initiated a tactical mission around the sector of the Paraíso Mine, on information , on intelligence received by the local population of the community, in which there has been the presence of a group of ELN bandits in this area, causing problems to the miners and the whole community in the whole region around la Serranía de san Lucas, initiating a tactical mission by the Nueva Granada battalion and artillery and the tactical mission entered into combat. As a result of this combat the subject who had or was carrying an AK47 5.56 calibre machine gun, along with 5 cartridges, 40 5.56 calibre bullets and a hand grenade. As well as this , in his black multi-purpose waistcoat pocket he had 4 IOC which are key to communications between the group, between the bandit groups of the ELN and the FARC.as well as having two diaries with mobile phone numbers, as yet we have not started , with the fiscal, to find out who these numbers belong to, we have the names of members of other pertinent ELN, plus from the names we have in these agendas we have just finished analysing pertain to the group Guillermo Ariza Bernal of the ELN who is a delinquent of these jurisdiction
REPORTER: What do you know of the situation?
GENERAL Well, after this we understand from some people in Barrancabermeja that he was a community leader of the Gallo Mine, who is called llama Alejandro Uribe, but as yet we do not know, the fiscal has not established whether this is his real name or not.
REPORTER: Is the person who died and who you alluded to with all the elements he carried identified as ALEJANDO URIBE?
Believe me, Wilson, I believe absolutely in my troops. I know my troops work transparently, they respect life, they respect human rights and those they kil are those in who are in a hostile position, those who confront the troops, or enter into combat and carry a weapon. Never, never am I going to believe the troops would place an AK47, ammunition and cartridges on a person who is a community leader.
REPORTER: Taking into account that you told us that in effect he was dressed in civilian clothes, you never said we were uniformed but you recognise we said he was wearing a shirt, with trousers, which are civilian clothes. Better said, is it not rare for civilian to carry an AK47.
GENERAL: Yes, he ran away, the troops had detained him, but obviously he was not handcuffed, he carried nothing, he was detained for investigation and in a moment of surprise, when the battle started, when the combat was initiated, this man ran away, he ran away from the troops, this is normal, it is normal that in combat this happens. (Complete interview taken from Wradio <http://www.dhcolombia.info/IMG/2006LaW_SurdeBolivar.mp3> )
GENERAL No it is not rare. When a person carries an AK47 in his hands, this is a hostile position and also he was not alone, but with 5 other people. One of those when the troops were coming, one of these could have been the lookout, could have been a sentinel they captured, and when the combat started the one who had been detained ran away, the others in the group also ran away and I don¹t know, suddenly combat began and suddenly there were more injuries, suddenly there were more deaths in combat, but it is normal in the groups for the terrorists to carry away the dead so as not to give success to the troops.
REPORTER: General, but is it not very rare that the others return?
GENERAL: No, it is no rare. In these combats it is not rare, they normally happen like this, normally. The area is very mountainous.
REPORTER: But did you not tell us that the one that was a lookout was already detained and he ran away?
Additionally, we call serious attention to the comments made by the Commandant of the V Brigada del Ejército Nacional (5th Brigade of the Army), when he refers to the existence of battles, where he says there were 5 guerrillas , accompanied by Alejandro Uribe, the social and community leader who was only person killed during this military operation.
6.- The content of this declaration is worrying in that once more there is the politics of presenting civilians who have been executed extra judicially by the Army, as positive results in the fight against insurgency.
a) Guarantee the right to life, integrity and liberty for the inhabitants of the mining zone, as well as the social leaders of the zone, and members and directors of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar.
For these reasons we direct this to the Colombian authorities who are asked to :
b) That the civil and military authorities make a public declaration, recognising the legality and legitimacy of the work developed by Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, in accordance with the Declaration about the rights and duties of individuals , groups and the institutions that promote and protect human rights and fundamental liberties that are universally recognised.
c) On the part of the President of the Republic, in his position as Commander of the Military Forces, that he imparts directives to the military units deployed in the mining zone, with the objective being to abstain from persecuting the community leaders, miner and members of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar.
Bogotá, 22nd September 2006
Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar
Coordinador Nacional Agrario
Red de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Bishop of Magangue rejects, laments and denounces the killing of
Alejandro Uribe by the Colombian Army
Bogotá, D.C. 25 of September 2006
INTERECLESIASTICAL COMMISSION OF JUSTICE AND PEACE AZ
DIÓCESIS DE MAGANGUÉ
SUR DE BOLÍVAR - COLOMBIA
_All human beings have the right to exist, to physical integrity and the indispensable and sufficient means for a dignified life_ (Pacem in Terris, 11) (Peace on Earth 11)
COMMUNICATION OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Magangué, in the Department of Bolívar - COLOMBIA, Monsignor Jorge Leonardo Gómez Serna, united with a his clerics and the parochial communities reject, lament and denounce the violent death of the young ALEJANDRO URIBE, leader and President of the Council of Community Action for the Gallo Mina (Junta de Acción Comunal de la vereda Mina Gallo) (Municipality of Morales) and member of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar - FEDEAGROMISBOL- ,(Federation of Agro-mining of the South of Bolívar which occurred on the 19th September 2006, at approximately 2pm in the area of Las Culebras, in the jurisdiction of Montecristo, Department of Bolívar, according to the community , carried out by soldiers from the Nueva Granada Battalion under the command of Captain Blanco, following the orders of Benjamín Palomino, Official Captain of Operations of said Battalion.
On the 8th September the leader ALEJANDRO URIBE participated in the Preaudience Assembly for the Permanent Tribunal of the People, which Hill take place on the 11th and 12th November 2006 in the city of Medellín. The Defensoría del Pueblo and Human Rights Organisations take part in this event. Here the theme of the Environment and the multinationals was discussed and the abuses of the Military Forces of Colombia against the civil population, with the proposal of facilitating the entrance to the region of the multinational KEDAHDA S.A. filial de la ANGLO GOLD ASHANTI, were made public.
The death of the aforementioned leader is added to the worrying chain of attacks, blockades, threats and other assassinations that according to inhabitants of the zone are lamentable committed by members of the Nueva Granada Battalion of the Colombian Army.
These actions have resulted in the forced displacement of the whole mining sector that on that day have arrived in the place called La Ye, in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Santa Rosa del Sur, in the Department of Bolívar. This is constantly repeated, and without the authorities investigating, clarifying and making the truth public, because making the miners and agricultural workers lose confidence in the politics of democratic security, and are worried by the extrajudicial executions, torture and cruel and inhumane treatment that are happening since the National Army has been in the zone, which opposes the respect and guarantee of the human rights of the civilian population which is the responsibility of the State.
The Pastors and parochial communities request:
To The National Government:
1. That the actions mentioned , especially the assassination of the community leader Alejandro Uribe, are seriously investigated by the civil justice system, the Public Ministry and the Fiscal, because it is considered a violation of the right to life as sacred and the right to the organisation, autonomy and peaceful living of the communities.
2. To reconsider the politics of irrational exploitation of the natural resources of the region Sur de Bolívar and stop the pressure for massive purchases of the local peoples lands by companies, politicians and foreigners with clear economic interests which are causing the displacements, disorder, disintegration of families and communities and fear in the population.
3. Assume an ethical and political front to the unequal tenancy of the land in the region, develop a pilot Project of agrarian reform and compensate the rights of the displaced population for the loss of the rights to possession and ownership of their lands in the Sur de Bolívar.
4. To create the necessary conditions to retake the political way as a solution to the conflicts on the Sur de Bolívar. The creation of public politics that favour peace and the viability of human rights, as well as also constituting a regional peace team that would facilitate and accelerate consensus amongst government, insurgent groups and civil society, as a path to peace, which will stop the numbers of deaths of the agricultural workers and miners of this region, who maintain hope that in the second term of President Uribe, he has room for peace, as has been manifest repeatedly in common advice
To the Armed Actors:
1. Respect the lives and the integrity of the people and the communities
2. Guarantee that you will comply with the norms of international human rights.
3. Respect the processes of peace and the humanitarian space that the Diocese has constructed and strengthened permanently in the communities.
To the Multinational Companies:
1. Abandon the expropriation of the lands of the workers who are displaced and subject to insecurity, manipulation and uncertainty. workers lands that
2. Act with ethical and social responsibility in the exploitation of the natural resources.
To the International Community:
1. Make an immediate humanitarian visit to the zone
2. Support and accompany the observation of the completion of the International Human Rights and Human Rights in the Sur de Bolívar.
3. Initiate, from this situation, strategies of schemes and repercussions for the people involved in these actions.
Magangué, September 22 de 2006
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
The Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado thanks CSN
DEAR FRIENDS AT COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK:
(Translated by Eunice Gibson )
This simple message of gratitude only hopes to provide strong recognition for all that you have done for us in the last few years. We have now completed almost ten years and you have always been there for us. We have always felt Cecilia¹s solidarity and unconditional effort in our work of resistance. Ever since the beginning of our process she has been there and, in spite of the difficulties and all of the killings, she has helped to gather for us the solidarity of all of you.
If we are still continuing to resist, it is thanks to your support. Today perhaps we are not as strong as we once were, and we have not all survived, because some of us have been exterminated. Nevertheless, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado has become a symbol of resistance for other communities. Not only because of what we are doing, but because we have survived the extermination planned and carried out by the government against us. In our resistance, we have not been alone, nor has it been by our efforts alone, but rather the Colombia Support Network has always accompanied us.
We cannot just thank you for this support, which is very important and will be of great help to the families whose return we are planning for la Esperanza. We thank you for your constant support, for the different delegations that come to our community every year. One example is the fundamental importance of the report that you made about the massacre that took place last year.
For that we thank you from our hearts and with all the affection of our community. We remember you and we know that we can always count of you, since you have always been with us, supporting us and in solidarity with us in all of our difficult moments. We know that with all of our gratitude and appreciation that we have for you, and that you have for us, we will overcome the difficulties that we see in our daily lives. It would be hard to understand the process of civil resistance in this community without also understanding the support given by the Colombia Support Network ever since our community was born. For all of that, once again, our heartfelt thanks.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSE DE APARTADO
Drafted and approved by the assembly of the whole community, August 5, 2006.
PERSISTENT ATTACKS AGAINST PERMANENT COMMITTES OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The following letter was sent by the Executive Director of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia to friends about continuous attacks against the Permanent Committees.
Appreciated Luis Guillermo
Dear Jimena, Laura and Catherine
Thank you so much in advance for your expressions of solidarity, which comfort us in this complicated moment for our organization.
It¹s true that we are facing a very strong assault by the establishment against the CPDH (Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights) in every regional office in the country.
As you know, in the days before the presidential inauguration, the police arbitrarily entered our offices in Bogotá, with the argument that we were a "suspicious organization" and took down information about all the members of our Board of Directors.
Regional offices like that of Atlántico [Department] were practically dismantled, all of their members were threatened. The majority had to leave to be displaced to other regions and some had to leave the country.
It was the same for our regional offices in Norte de Santander, especially in the city of Cúcuta; the majority of our members have had to leave the city, especially after the murder of Dr. Carlos Bernal, Attorney and Executive Secretary in that region on April 2, 2004.
In the regional offices of Valle del Cauca, our colleagues from Florida, Calima el Darién have been displaced and our colleague from our Committee in Buga, Walter Alvarez Ossa, has been disappeared. This was denounced earlier.
On August 24, 2006, Martha Sofía Castaño, who is a public school teacher (and the daughter of the renowned defender of human rights, the President of the Permanent Committee for the defense of Human Rights in Risaralda, Gullermo Castaño Arcila), received threats from unknown parties who awaited her at the door of the school. As is publicly known, Guillermo has been threatened has been threatened several times without any reaction from the government.
Our colleague Victore Oime, ex-mayor of Cartagena de Chaira (Cáqueta), who was the victim of an arbitrary detention and was brought to testify at the recent conference of the FIDH, was detained again with his wife and son this past August 6 in Bogotá, from where he had arrived as a displaced person, again accused of rebellion.
I myself have been threatened by an army officer en Saravena, for having written him a note demanding respect for International Human Rights Law, since they are demanding that the rectors of the schools allow troops to participate in the raising of the national flag in the educational institutions. Because of this, there is a penal charge against me for a supposed complicity with terrorists against patriotic institutions.
In Arauca, the entire Board has been threatened. They are taking precautionary measures because of that. The notorious murder of Gregorio Izquierdo is another pre-announced death. He had received threats, and the government knew about it but did nothing to prevent his death.
Really, our situation in Meta, in Antioquia, in Bucaramanga, Huila and Nariño is difficult because of the sieges, being followed and all kinds of threats against the human rights activists and defenders.
As you know, since its founding in 1979 the Committee has suffered 64 murders of members of its Boards, among tem Héctor Abad Gómez, Jesús María Valle, Josué Giraldo, Carlos Bernal, Jaime Pardo Leal and many others.
As the final blow, the Ministry of the Interior has been drastically reducing the "security elements" that they had assigned to us: some airline tickets and some communications equipment. The CPDH is an organization that is totally unprotected and at the mercy of the murderers.
That¹s why we thank you very much for the accusations about these facts before the European Union, the Colombian embassy, the UN, and other institutions. Here discuss to organize a meeting of the three associated leagues of the FIDH to see how we on agree on lines of action.
Luis Jairo Ramírez H.
Executive Secretary, CPDH
In ColombiaA Public Denunciation
Murdered: Gregorio Izquierdo Meléndez, member of CPDH-Arauca
With indignation and sadness the Permanent Committee fir the defense of Human Rights rejects and denounces the murder or our colleague Gregorio Izquierdo Meléndez, principle member of the Departmental Board of our committee and President of the Union of Public enterprises of Arauca (SINTRAEMSERPA), which occurred on Wednesday the 13th of September, 2006, at approximately 6:30 PM in 17th Street between 37th and 38th Avenues, in Barrio Bulevar de la Ceiba en the capital of Arauca just a few meters from where the teacher German Eduardo Solano Andrade was murdered some days earlier.
Gregorio Izquierdo was a gret leader, a lover of peaceful coexistence who worked tirelessly for peace and social justice. These are gifts for which those who defend dark interests would not forgive him. He personally and the Committee had at the appropriate time denounced the threats of which he was the object.
In this crime the State at the regional and national levels has responsibility for their negligent attitude in not guaranteeing the security of our colleague Gregorio, given that since February of 2004 the Interamerican Commission on Human rights of the OASin the face of accusations, persecution and threats directed at the Board of Directors of the Permanent Committee for Human Rightshad decreed precautionary measures be given us. To date, despite our insistence, these measures have not been made real. Now we have to lament this sad event, which plunges the community of Arauca into mourning, a committee that despite th high level of militarization and cutting of our liberties does not feel secure.
We demand of the government an exhaustive investigation to discover the parties responsible for this. crime so that they not remain in impunity with many others
We express our sincere sentiments of condolence and solidarity in these difficult moments to his wife and children, family members, friends, and the workers of the public enterprises of Arauca and of the SINTRAEMSERPA union, urging them to courageously overcome this hard test. We will follow the example of bravery and dignity, something that was always taught to us by our sacrificed Goyo.
With sad sentiments.
Permanent Committee for the defense of Human Rights, Arauca Regional Office.
TNI Drug Policy Briefing The Sierra de la Macarena National Park
Subject: TNI Drug Policy Briefing 19, September 2006 - The Sierra de la
TNI Drug Policy Briefing 19, September 2006
The Sierra de la Macarena
Drugs and armed conflict in Colombia
By Ricardo Vargas
Also available in PDF:
The recent history of armed conflict and the drug economy in Colombia's
Sierra de la Macarena National Park and surrounding areas can be
summarised by two central government decisions. The first was Operación
Emperador, begun in early 2005 as part of the Patriot Plan (Plan Patriota)
in this area. The second was the onset of the aerial spraying of coca
crops grown in the park and its surrounding buffer zones.
The government opted for forced manual eradication in the first instance,
following domestic opposition to fumigation and, above all, international
pressure spraying over national parks. It saw this policy as a means to
mount a strategic attack on the economic structures of the FARC in this
area. These operations against illicit crops began on 19 January 2006 - in
the course of which 28 casualties were sustained, according to Ministry of
Defence figures: 13 police, 10 members of the Mobile Eradication Groups
(MEG), (1) and 5 soldiers. They culminated on 3 August 2006 following the
deaths of five members of the MEG, killed by a high power land mine
camouflaged amongst the coca bushes. President Uribe then announced the
resumption of aerial spraying of the remaining coca crops in the park.
At the beginning of 2005, a combination of military offensives and aerial
fumigations pushed into various parts of the Bajo Ariari and the edges of
the Güejar river in the southeast of the Meta province, the municipalities
of Puerto Rico (Puerto Toledo sector), Puerto Lleras (Villa la Paz), and
Vistahermosa (Mata de Bambú). Foreseeing the grave consequences these
operations would have for the region's inhabitants, the departmental
government organised a meeting for 28 March 2005, with the (failed)
intention of creating the conditions for forming agreements with the
communities, to arrange alternatives to growing illicit crops. However,
the imbalance of power faced by regional leaders wishing to intervene in
decisions deemed questions of national security became a new matter for
frustration in the region.
The official security offensive was supplemented by the development of
paramilitary groups like the Bloque Centauros, which attempted to blockade
the economic activity of communities in areas listed as under guerrilla
influence. The actions of this group in the lower regions of the Sierra de
la Macarena, occupying strategic seats of municipal government,
contributed to a crisis that particularly affected the civilian
population. The community action councils and guilds of Bajo Ariari
reported cases of selective assassinations, disappearances, threats, and
forced displacements (2) as part of what they considered to be "joint
actions" between the Autodefensa paramilitary groups and the commanders
and soldiers of the Colombian army's Joaquín París Battalion, who were
notable mainly for their inaction. The Paramilitaries aimed to neutralise
support for the FARC, preventing the movement of food, medicines and
consumables. In this way, they achieved changes (in their own favour) to
the structure of taxes on the coca paste trade, and gained dominance in an
area historically under guerrilla influence, dating back to the
colonisation processes of the 1960s onwards.
Throughout 2005, there were military operations against possible support
for the guerrillas, paramilitary actions for strategic positioning in the
areas around the Sierra de la Macarena, aerial fumigations of coca
plantations, with the resultant impact on the local economy, and also
guerrilla incursions against the State and paramilitary offensives. These
factors combined to produce a crisis in the region.
In the context of this developing confrontation, and bearing in mind the
historic strength and dominion of the FARC in this area, 27 December 2005
saw a significant armed action when the guerrillas ambushed a military
unit, killing 29 people. The principal response from the government was a
direct attack on the cultivation of coca and the trade of coca paste in
the area, the main source of guerrilla funding. The FARC, for its part,
maintained its counter offensive capacity, carrying out lethal actions
against the police securing these operations and against members of the
MEG, using anti-personnel mines. (3)
The extension of violent actions in 2006 caused a 63.71 per cent increase
in homicides in Meta province, with 124 in the first three months of 2005
and 203 in the same period of 2006. This figure translated to an increase
in the per capita murder rate from 64.18 per hundred thousand inhabitants
to 105.7, a figure which significantly surpasses the national rate for the
same period (38.75 per hundred thousand for 2005 and 34.92 for 2006). (4)
This is particularly noticeable in some municipalities in the department
that faced a critical security situation, such as Puerto López (367 per
cent increase in homicides), Puerto Rico (244 per cent), Vistahermosa (230
per cent) and Puerto Lleras (133 per cent).
The Balance Sheet
One of the principal conclusions that can be drawn from these events is
that the Colombian government's decisions about this region confirm its
current anti-drug policy to be fundamentally in line with the fight
against sources of funding for the guerrillas. This brings with it many
consequences deserving of analysis, and shows evidence of many notorious
In the first place, it can be seen that management of the topic of illicit
coca cultivation has been subjected to a focus and decision-making process
typical of the operations against the internal armed conflict. Even if it
is true that the illicit cultivation is a key source of finance for
insurgent groups, an excessive focus on security matters introduces
serious problems for the sustainability of the policy. The lack of clarity
between the management of eradication techniques, the counterinsurgent
strategy and anti-drug objectives has generated a murky relationship
between means and ends, loosening the strategic aims. In this context,
this has resulted in an intensification of the technical use of manual
eradication in the area, principally as a response to the FARC attack of
27 December. That is where the difficulties started.
With this decision, the squads of eradicators became the frontline of the
counterinsurgency operation. The first difficulties were observed when
eradication actions were carried out in accordance with military
conventions, forbidding the use of transistor radios and imposing silence
on the day labourers for security reasons. All of this created a crisis
for the recruits, who were psychologically prepared for the task of
pulling up coca plants, but not for a military operation. The large number
of eradicators initially contracted (930) created further problems, making
the situation unwieldy and difficult to manage under the pressure of armed
conflict. As a result, there was a high desertion rate in the MEG in the
initial phase of the operation, and the government found itself obliged to
reduce the group to only 240 workers. This demonstrates the levels of
improvisation with which the initial operation was undertaken. The
government encouraged the continuation of the eradications, with the
president himself accepting the eradicators' demands for housing
subsidies. This deal between the government and the forcible eradicators
stands in stark contrast to the complete lack of dialogue with the
communities inhabiting the area.
Secondly, the errors made in the fight against drugs, viewed from another
perspective, become mistaken decisions about the war. If the aim of the
operation was to prevent the FARC from continuing to use coca in this area
as a means of financing the war, then vital strategic conditions for the
success of this aim were lacking: the region's civilian population was
completely ignored, and treated as an intrinsic part of the armed
organisation. This was one of the most serious design faults in the
strategy. As a result, the population of the area was forcibly displaced
(although the guerrillas also contributed to this process in some areas,
even forcing some inhabitants to leave). In any case, the State did
nothing to win support. It did not even attempt to generate a different
perception of the occupying forces that burst violently into the region.
The design of the counterinsurgent operation should not have been focussed
on the eradication of coca plantations, but on winning acceptance of state
presence in this territory. From this perspective, dealing with the coca
would have been one of the elements of the strategic design, but not the
central aspect. The decisions that affect the goal of reaching legitimate
affirmation of the State are of an entirely different order, such as:
The design of an organisational plan for the territory and the mapping of
the social and cultural characteristics of the area, in order to
understand sub-regional specifics and help optimise the State's approaches
to these localities.
The development of a strategy combining the protection and sustainable
environmental management of zones dedicated to a particular purpose, and
the design of productive projects that require handling in a way that is
adapted to the ecological characteristics of the territory (agro-forestry
systems, land use models for forestry and pasture management, etc.)
In this same context, the preparation of a strategy to win the "hearts and
minds" of the inhabitants of the territory would be required. As has been
observed, due to the errors in the design of Operación Colombia Verde
(Operation Green Colombia) in the area, the government ended up
establishing a dialogue with the forcible eradicators, but never
recognised the existence of settler populations within the park. They did
nothing to enhance mutual development, such as examining the technical
viability of the communities' proposals to deal with the area's problems,
nor did they consider the environmental, economic or socio-political
management of the dynamics of occupation and conflict in the Sierra de la
The critical mass of institutional interest in this territory, from bodies
such as the Universidad Nacional of Colombia and the Von Humboldt
Institute, should have been considered and evaluated. The experience of
forest management programmes in the area, in which the Parks Unit of the
Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development continues
to play a fundamental role, and the development plans currently underway
as a result of international cooperation were not taken into account. (For
example, the Laboratorio de Paz del Meta, supported by the European Union,
under the influence of the UNDP)
The design of a public policy geared towards the strengthening of local
and regional institutions, the extension of democracy, the promotion and
support of communal social organisation, freeing up their autonomy and
improving their decision making capacity in the context of local
institutional life, and, in this way, strengthening their participatory
These elements should have been incorporated into the treatment of illicit
coca cultivation. This would have required processes of prior coordination
and agreement with the communities within the framework of a macro
programme for the region, with the participation of local powers and the
departmental government. None of this was done. Instead the government
opted for a short-sighted operation, with a conspicuously
military-counterinsurgent focus, and for the militarisation of the area in
order to protect the development of actions that, as can already be seen,
do not guarantee in any way the medium or long term sustainability of the
Various state authorities published reports relating to this operation,
measuring its progress in terms of the number of hectares manually
eradicated with a view to winning greater public recognition of the
project, in light of the hostile context of conflict in which the proposed
operations were being put forward.
In this sense, the government presents the issue in terms of a dispute
between manual eradication and aerial spraying (a discussion which
revolves around a central question of the elimination of the source of
insurgent funding, and thereby completely distorts consideration of the
central problem). Today they reiterate the argument that the loss of 28
lives in the course of the operation has "demonstrated" - from the point
of view of the government - that aerial eradication is better suited to
the security conditions in guerrilla controlled areas. This inference
obscures the responsibility of those who took the decisions and leads to
conclusions that confuse the real nature of the problem. In this way, they
dodge the complex plot lines that weave around the issue, and the real
problem remains imprisoned within a controversy whose terms are too
narrowly defined. Suffice to say, they have reduced the problem to a
merely technical one, blurring any strategic questions about politics.
For their part, the guerrillas clearly saw, from the beginning, the hand
that president Uribe was playing, and they proposed to fight it. They
achieved this with relative ease, as the area was one traditionally under
their control. The death toll among police and eradicators bears witness
to the power the insurgents have always had in this area, and the final
balance sheet of the operation presents a grim cost-benefit analysis.
However, even more worryingly, the government persists in reducing the
problems of la Macarena to the guerrilla control of coca, and to a
controversy between two possible techniques for its eradication.
Finally, it is difficult to believe that the economic power of the
guerrillas really hung in the balance in la Macarena. Figures supplied by
the Anti-Narcotics Police about the economic impact of State actions upon
guerrilla funding from this region establish losses to the FARC of 675
million dollars, resulting from the eradication of all the coca
plantations in the area. (5) Such calculations were based on a productive
potential of 6 kilos of cocaine per hectare, which means a loss of 27
tonnes in the estimated 4,500 hectares within the area in question. The
figure in dollars was worked out based on the street value of cocaine at
the time in US cities with high consumption, as if the FARC controlled
these markets. These statistics are presented for the benefit of domestic
public opinion. They do not, in any way, reflect the reality of insurgent
participation in the narcotics market, although they have lead to serious
errors in the design and evaluation of anti-drug strategies.
In reality, the 4,500 hectares of coca plantation in the Sierra de la
Macarena produced 33,750 kilos of coca paste per year, and the guerrillas
made an average of 500 thousand Colombian pesos per kilo on this, based on
their role as intermediaries with the drug trafficking capital. This adds
up to a total loss of 7,670,000 dollars in the event of the complete
destruction of the coca plantations in the area. However, the capacity to
re-establish production is estimated as a period of six months. In other
words, with the FARC in a position to substitute the coca production of
the Macarena for production in more secure areas, the actual estimated
losses would be half of its total annual income from the region, or around
This figure must be viewed in relation to the cost of the operation to the
government, plus US security support (by 15 June 2006, Washington had
supplied 2 million dollars in logistical, aerial and communications
support). (6) Holland also took responsibility for part of the labour
costs of the MEG (which amounted to around 500 thousand dollars by July
2006) (7). Add to this the labour cost of the police (a conservative
estimate of another 500 thousand dollars), and the total cost of the
operation comes to around three million dollars. This presents very
discouraging results. They have invested 3 million dollars to deliver a
3,835,000 dollar economic blow to the guerrillas. The loss of 28 lives
among the police and civilian eradicators must be added to this,
presenting disastrous final results in terms of the strategic scope of the
Other consequences following on from the operation are:
The decisions of the government generated a perception that devalues
manual eradication, as it was mistakenly used in a context of war. This
technique requires a series of regulations in terms of anti-drug policy,
which, if well planned, can at the very least reduce the impact on the
environment and people's health caused by aerial spraying. Its use in the
context of prior coordination and majority agreement with the growers,
based on clear agreements about development alternatives, can contribute
to resolving situations of conflict, as sectors that decide to continue to
maintain themselves through illegal production find themselves acting
against the will of the majority in a given area. It can be a low impact
tool in cases where coca crops are situated in the middle of alternative
development programmes that are seriously affected by aerial fumigation,
as happened to the COSURCA cooperative's organic coffee crops in the Cauca
region in May and June of 2005. This programme, supported by AID and the
UNODC, was sprayed by the Colombian government's own aeroplanes, losing
its organic certification and causing an estimated 2,663,664 dollars in
The intensification of the controversy between manual and aerial
eradication has contributed to obscuring the social, economic, political
and environmental background to the problem of illicit coca production. In
essence, the technique used in the eradications cannot be a substitute for
politics. A serious evaluation of events in la Macarena up to August 2006
must understand the technique used for coca eradication as a tool, and not
the central axis of the strategy.
Making decisions against illicit production as strategic decisions in the
war (in this case, the over-emphasis on the fight against guerrilla
finances) obscures the presence of unarmed civilian populations who suffer
the consequences of the decisions taken by all the armed actors, including
the State security services.
Lastly, but by no means least in this context, decisions against illegal
production, taken as strategies of war, nevertheless affect the function
of local and departmental institutions and regional development plans.
These are then ignored, as is their capacity to intervene and look for
solutions to the problems that are aggravating the dynamic of the war.
State handling of security issues avoids the involvement of these local
Re-establishing fumigation is not going to legitimise or win acceptance of
the State's activities in the territory of the Park. It is not going to
protect the Park from the environmental deterioration generated by the
critical interventions of social and military actors in the war, in a
situation in which many problems can be identified which go beyond the
simple cultivation of coca. However - as has been shown here - it is also
not going to really affect the FARC's "bankroll". What it will do is
create well-fertilised territory for the prolonging of the armed conflict.
Traducido del español por: Kate Wilson
1. Mobile Eradication Groups for Forced Manual Eradication of Illicit
Crops (MEG) (Grupos Móviles de Erradicación Manual Forzosa de Cultivos
2. These reports appear in documents from: the Permanent Committee for the
Defence of Human Rights; the Inter-ecclesiastical Committee for Justice
and Peace and other Human Rights organisations, "Report 19 - Meta
Information Update - Bajo Ariari, Puerto Lleras, Puerto Rico and
Vistahermosa "Forced Disappearances, arbitrary detention, forced
displacements", 18 January 2005, Bogotá. Communities of Puerto Toledo -
Puerto Rico, Villa de la Paz - Puerto Lleras, Mata de Bambú - Vistahermosa
"Letter to the governor of el Meta, Edilberto Castro Rincón", 20 April
2005; Defenders of the People of el Meta "Letter to the director of the
Alternative Development Programme USAID", 23 May 2005; Commission of
negotiators delegated by the community action councils and the guilds of
the river Güéjar region, "Situation of the inhabitants of the Ariari
region", 20 September 2005.
3. See Fundación Seguridad y Democracia, Coyuntura de Seguridad No.12,
(Security and Democracy Foundation, Security Circumstances No. 12) May
4. Ibid. p.83.
5. See National Police report (Anti-Narcotics Directorate (DIRAN),
National Police Association (ANP) News Agency) "Two months of the
'Colombia Verde' (Green Colombia) operation have seen the eradication of a
thousand acres of coca in the Macarena National Park", translated from
www.policia.gov.co, March 2006. The director of the institution stated
that: "Attempting to take the bankroll away from the guerrillas is not an
easy process. The process in la Macarena consists of the eradication of
coca which represents the FARC's most important source of funding."
6. Presidency of the Republic, Social Action, "1.800 hectares have already
been eradicated in La Macarena", 8 June 2006, on www.red.gov.co
7. Calculations based on a daily wage of 27.000 Colombian pesos. See"22
muertos obligaron a fumigar Parque La Macarena" (22 deaths force the
fumigation the Macarena Park) in El Tiempo, 4 August 2006, Bogotá.
8. See Lutheran World Relief, "Eradicating hope in Colombia: fair trade,
organic coffee farms damaged by 'Plan Colombia' herbicide spraying", 2006,
Drugs & Democracy Info <email@example.com>
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Colombia Support Network
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Findings of the People's Court on Gold Multinationals in Colombia
Southern Bolivar Region
August 16, 2006
Public Hearings on Mining
Findings of the People¹s Court on Multinationals and Paramilitary Forces in Colombia
The representatives of diverse organizations, (many based in the southern Bolivar Region and others from elsewhere in Colombia or in the world), invited groups representing, or working in solidarity with farm workers, miners, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and students to convene in Santa Rosa on August 15-16, 2006 to hold hearings related to a lawsuit against the Kedhada Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Anglogold Ashanti multinational corporation. The Company¹s natural resource extraction projects have seriously compromised miners¹ rights in our Region, particularly through its use of ad hoc armed forces to control its workers.
Our findings after these two days of deliberations include the following:
1. When miners in this region have applied to the Bolivar Region¹s Mining Office for permits, or to add on to their existing mining titles, they¹ve found out that the Kedhada Company already established contractual rights to nearly all of the untitled known mines in the Region. This Company has now requested similar priority rights in 336 Colombian municipalities. These same operational strategies were reported in Quinchía and in Risaralda, among many other sites.
2. These strategies have succeeded because of changes made just a few years ago in Colombia¹s Mining Code to benefit multinational mining interests. These changes have harmed our miners who, for decades, have risked or loss their lives to maintain their sole source of income. The changes have also compromised the quality of life of our communities, our regions, our indigenous peoples and our Afro-Colombian population.
3. Under the current Mining Code, impoverished miners are unable to meet the requirements for obtaining legal mining titles. This leaves many miners and their families no alternative but to continue working in the mines and selling the gold on the black market. Many have thus faced extreme poverty due to the vagaries of this secondary market. It was also noted that these new provisions in the Mining Code have inured to the benefit of municipalities and regions that are not even mining gold, given that some of the resulting profit is used to finance paramilitary activities in various non-mining regions in Colombia.
4. Although it has only been proven that the Kedhada Company is now surveying mining sites under the jurisdictions of Buena Seña, San Martín de Loba and La Cruz, all indications are that over the next decade this multinational will have established the requisite infrastructure to survey the southern Bolivar region at will. The Company will by then have gained title to those mines which seem most profitable, without any regard for the presence of farm workers, many of whom have worked on the lands for decades. Our early research indicates that this Company ignores concerns related to proper decontamination. This region¹s great gold wealth could soon help fund further violence, displacements and plundering instead of benefiting our people.
5. Our miner and farm worker community participants have further testified that many government bureaucrats and workers from international agencies have obtained valuable information from them, then gone on to work for the Kedhada Company. They¹ve exploited our good will, betraying our communities¹ trust in their motives. We have also heard testimony which indicates that the region¹s police and armed forces are increasingly prone to defend this multinational corporation¹s interests. Now, more than ever, they work to convince our fellow farm workers that this Company represents progress for the region, and that they should therefore comply with the Company¹s demands. We also learned that many government workers have negotiated substantial kickbacks from this Company in exchange for their direct support or for their deliberate complacency.
6. Before the Kedhada Company was incorporated as a legal entity, its parent company, Anglogold Ashanti, tried to obtain titles, through shady dealings, to an extensive 7000 hectares (over 17,000 acres) in the southern Bolivar region, specifically to lands under the jurisdiction of San Pedro Frío, El Paraíso, Mina Gallo and Montecristo. It has been proven that when their negotiations were faltering, the region was invaded by paramilitary forces who committed many crimes against miners, creating a veritable reign of terror through forced displacements, disappearances,¹ closing off certain areas to food imports, routine threats and even assassinations. This proves how badly a situation can deteriorate when economically powerful entities seek to exploit natural resources in or near communities that won¹t simply cede their rights.
7. Recently, since we began to define and expose this Company¹s modus operandi in our region, there has been a growing paramilitary presence, even after these armed actors¹ were to have been disbanded. We¹ve also noted an increased use of private security forces to defend Kedhada¹s interests. Some of our communities must now live with the intimidation of having government soldiers announce the imminent arrival of paramilitary forces. We¹re told, for example that the paramilitary "Aguilas Negras," or "Black Eagles," will "not look favorably upon" those who oppose the Company¹s presence. This makes it all the more worrisome that a special army battalion has recently been assigned to the mining zone of San Pedro Frío.
8. Given the testimony that has been presented at this public hearing, the People¹s Court participants declare our commitment to defend our fundamental rights, territories and communities against these violations. We call for a unified, widespread resistance movement among the farm workers, miners, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians affected by the Kedhada Company¹s plans and activities in our area.
FEDEAGROMISBOL (Federation of Agriculture workers and Miners in Southern Bolivar)
EUROPEAN NETWORK OF SOLIDARITY WITH COLOMBIA
Extrajudiciary Executions in Southern Bolivar
EXTRAJUDICIARY EXECUTIONS IN SOUTHERN BOLIVAR
(Translated by Deryn Collings, a CSN Trnanslator)
Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion carries out extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances in the Mining Zone in the South of Bolivar, with continuing operations in the Zone (arbitrary detentions, bullying and pilfering)
The Corporación Servicios Profesionales Comunitarios Sembrar ( The Professional Community Seed Service Corporation), a human rights organisation, brings to the attention of national and international communities and the judicial and control organisations the following abuses against the lives and physical integrity of the inhabitants of the South of Bolivar.
1 We have been informed that troops of the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion, under the command of Captain Blanco, have arbitrarily detained and treated the inhabitants of the high part in the Mining Zone in the south of Bolivia, precisely the Gallo Mine, in the municipality of Morales, in an inhumane, cruel and degrading manner and forced the detainees to sign statements stating they were well treated and then displaced them by force.
2. On Thursday 17th August, 2006, soldiers from the Nueva Granada Battalion, arrived on the path of the Central Mine, in the municipality of Morales, and occupied 6 houses belonging to the villagers, where they forced the woman to cook, whilst insulting the occupants.
3. On Friday 18th August, at approximately 12.oo noon, the same troops, arrived at a house located in the path Bolivador, in the municipality of Arenal, where they found a couple and a three year old girl, who lived in a rented house. According to the community a man whose surname was Cosme Pabón, known as Lulo, offered no resistance and handed over a pistol and a communications radio tot the Army.
4. The house was commandeered for military personnel who took personal property of the couple, such as money, food and the identity documents of Señora Bibiana Marín.
5. Then, the soldiers, detained Señora Bibiana Marín, dragged her across the floor, holding her by her blouse, towards the patio of the house. This occurred in front of her three-year old child, whilst threatening to rape her in front of her husband, and then releasing her. One of the soldiers, who took part in this repugnant criminal action, is identified by his distinctive surname, Bolivar.
6. After this, between 12.05 and 12.15 in the afternoon, Señor Cosme who was dressed in a blue shirt and trousers, was detained, tied up, beaten and taken by the troops to the woods. At approximately 1.00pm a round of shots was heard which lasted some minutes. Local people from the area stated that the shots came from only one direction and were not a gunfight.
7. Then the soldiers took three inhabitants of the zone, two women and a man known as El Pica, a miner. One of the women was dressed in camouflage trousers, which are not used by the Public Forces. They were all individually interrogated about their involvement with insurgent groups and then the women were freed, whilst Señor Picas was detained and taken away by the soldiers.
8. Some hours later, the soldiers appeared with the body of the young Cosme Pabón and asked for help from the miners, to tie the hands and feet and hang the body from a pole it could be transported. The soldiers went around various farms, exhibiting the body, telling the locals that he was a guerrilla, intimating and signalling to the locals that they had connections with the dead man. The community observed that the body had on gunshot wound at the base of the skull.
9. Then the Army took a mule belonging to a community member of the Gallo Mine, upon which they put the body and went down the central road, passing through the communities of Viejito Mine and Central Mine, shouting that the locals should greet their friend Lulo, this being in the presence of numerous children that live there.
10. Whilst doing this, alongside the body the soldiers also took Señor Picas who had been detained earlier and with his hands and neck tied, carrying a large military rucksack. According to the witnesses the soldiers insulted and hit him.
11. The whereabouts of Señor Picas, who was deprived of his liberty by Personnel from the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion, is unknown. The whereabouts of the body of Young Cosme Pabón, also known as Lulo, primarily apprehended by personnel from this battalion is also unknown since being shown without life to the community.
12. On Sunday 27th August, 2006, troops from the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion, under the command of Captain Blanco and Sergeant Moncada, accompanied by masked troops, arrived at the Esperanza Mine, in the jurisdiction of the Gallo Mine, in the municipality of Morales and detained three people: ANGELINA GOMEZ, and her child, both being farm workers and Señor DONALDO HERRERA, a miner, who were there taken away by army helicopter.
13. The community advised that two days before, Friday 25th August, members for the National Army had gone to the farm of Señora ANGELINA GOMEZ, and from here took two men to the path Honda Alta in the municipality of Morales, where they were executed, being presumed guerrillas. In consequence of these actions a child received an injury to the leg.
14. The troop obliged the workers of the region to bind the two bodies and they were then taken to the path la Esperanza.
15. On Sunday 27th August, member s of the Nueva Granada Battalion, went back to the farm of Señora Angelina Gomez, at la Esperanza, and asked her family for tools and help in constructing a helicopter pad so that a helicopter could take the two bodies away.
16. The community says that the helicopter brought Colonel Romero of the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion, and took the two bodies and three locals were detained and were forced to declare before the courts that the assassinated men were from guerrilla groups in the region.
17. To date the whereabouts of the three detainees in unknown.
In view of the previous allegations we ask the Colombian Authorities that
a) These allegations are fully investigated by the Justice System, which has no connection to the Military Services, as they correspond to violations of human rights and infractions of International Humans Rights.
b) That the miner known as Picas, as well as Señora Angelina Marin, her child and Señor Donaldo Herrera, should be freed immediately. Information about their whereabouts should be made known.
c) The family of Señor Cosme Pabón should be informed of the whereabouts of his body.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621