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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anniversary in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado

( Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN volunteer translator )

February 21 marks the second anniversary of one of the most shocking massacres our country has ever seen: the army murdered Luis Eduardo, Deyner, Bellanira, Alfonso, Sandra, Natalia, Alejandro and Santiago. In a climate of absolute impunity, no-one has ever been punished in connection with either this massacre or any of the 170 other murders committed against this community. To this crime against humanity must be added all the acts of death and terror that have been perpetrated in the zone with a view to destroying us.

In the past two years all we have seen is the advance of the paramilitaries and the radicalization of armed conflict in the zone; demobilization by the government has enabled the paramilitaries to take over the zone completely ­ the lands and political and social control ­ and their activities are blurred with this playacting to the outside world.

All our friends, and men and women colleagues who fell in this massacre continue to accompany us day-by-day. Their teachings endure as an enduring message of life that we will continue to build on. Their absence pains us every day, but at the same time it encourages us not to desist against the adversities, because we know that they continue there. Their teachings have enabled us to regain hope and we are pressing ahead with the return to Mulatos.. We are clear that we will not retreat from a country that has been taken over by paramilitaries. After the massacre we decided that, as always during the past ten years, the only way to make us give up our principles is to put an end to all of us. That is the strongest legacy they have left us: to live for principles that are built day to day in the endeavor to achieve another world.

On February 21 at 8 a.m., we will be celebrating a Eucharist, as a community, at Mulatos where they murdered Luis Eduardo, Bellanira and Deiner. From there we will go on to celebrate a Eucharist at 12:30 p.m. at Resbalosa where they murdered Santiago, Natalia, Sandra, Alejandro and Alfonso. We will take earth from these two spots and share it among the various places that have shown solidarity with the community, which is one way of preserving the efforts to build a new land like the one they have made with their blood. That is what we will share at the encounter and celebration of the tenth anniversary of the 23 de Marzo community.

What is most conspicuous about the past ten years of State barbarity is the impunity enjoyed not just by this massacre, but by all the human rights violations against the community. Worse still are the crude simulations and maneuvers that the public authorities and even the justice system indulge in. That is why we cannot let this year go by without bearing witness to the underhand tricks the State has played. During the week of 12 to 16 February a man presenting himself as Jose López, lawyer, and another two men in civilian clothes went to the prison in Apartadó and there they offered seven people who were arrested in the zone two million pesos to testify that Edilberto Vásquez (the community leader murdered by the army in January 2006) was a guerrillero, and in that way they could put together testimonies against other people.

This demonstrates the degree of corruption and total shamelessness of the State¹s actions against the community. Nonetheless, the thought of our comrades who were massacred on 21 February 2005 and the lives they lived gives us the strength to continue seeking justice. That is why we are grateful for national and international solidarity with the community and all the actions that have been taken in many part of the world to ensure that justice is done.

February 20, 2007

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
e-mail: csn@igc.org

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Monday, February 12, 2007

ONIC's official statement against assault on the U"Wa

Statement Issued by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (Organizacion Nacional de Indigenas de Colombia ONIC)
on January 23, 2007 regarding the
Assault against the Rights of the U¹wa by President Uribe¹s Government
(Translated by Elena Meyer, a CSN volunteer translator)

Our Organization categorically rejects President Alvaro Uribe Velez in his government¹s impingement upon U¹wa ancestral and current lands in order to find and extract oil.  We fully support the U¹wa Peoples¹ stance, set forth in their position paper entitled ³Against the Agreements Reached under the Native Peoples¹ Right to Prior Consultation.² This document was presented to the Colombian government on October 12, 2006 under the aegis of the U¹wa Rights Organization, ASOU¹WA.  It can be found at www.onic.org.co/documento.  

The U¹wa¹s position is summarized in the following excerpt from this document, written to comment on this recently negotiated set of agreements:

³As native people who have inhabited this area for around a thousand years, the United Nations granted us a right to self-determination on June 29, 2006. Similar rights were granted to us under Law 21, which was passed in our country in 1991.  We therefore outright reject the SIRIRI and CATLEYA projects to extract oil or any other natural resources (renewable or nonrenewable) from our sacred lands called KERACHIKARA.²

The U¹wa people and their Organization are not demanding self-governance as part of their right to self-determination; they are simply seeking autonomous rights within the country of Colombia.  Their self-determination cannot exist without opportunities to vote and participate in the decisions made regarding U¹wa lands and resources.  This right to self-determination relates both to U¹wa internal governance, and to the government¹s respect for their right to self-determination, which the U¹wa deserve not only from our government but from all business interests as well.

These U¹wa appeals for self-determination are not meant to be of a separatist nature, so it is unfair and unacceptable to accuse the U¹wa of having separatist aspirations simply to undermine their legitimate basic rights.

The U¹wa people clearly understand that this agreement has environmental, social, economic and cultural ramifications.  Accepting it would allow multinational corporations and the Colombian government to pillage the oil reserves on their lands after years in which the U¹wa have defended their rights to these resources.

The Colombian government cannot continue to mislead its native peoples and other Colombians with its deceptive sloganeering, claiming that ³our general well-being takes precedence over all individual interests,² when we all know that the profits from exploiting our nation¹s natural resources mainly benefit a handful of wealthy Colombians and the executives of various multinational corporations.  This slogan has been used as a smokescreen to usurp the Colombian native peoples¹ rights to the renewable and non-renewable resources on their lands.

This deceptive set of agreements should not supplant our federal and international rights.  The provisions set forth by President Uribe threaten the annihilation of the U¹wa rights, culture and, ultimately, of the U¹wa People.  Therefore, the U¹wa object on historical, constitutional, legal, social, economic, environmental, and cultural grounds to the Colombian Government¹s stance regarding its right to authorize the prospecting for and extraction of oil from U¹wa lands.  The U¹wa People want to permanently enjoin the government from any such impingement on their lands, based on their rights to self determination as set forth in Article VII of the Constitution.  This Article addresses the rights of Colombia¹s Native Peoples and should serve to protect the U¹wa rights to the lands of their people¹s culture, historical memory and natural resources.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia [ONIC] condemns this intervention into U¹wa lands on the part of President Uribe and his government and requests active support and solidarity from other national and international indigenous peoples¹ organizations, as well as from other human rights organizations.  It further demands that the Colombian government cease and desist from transporting oil extraction equipment onto U¹wa lands, given that on January 17, 2007, the government began transporting oil extraction equipment onto these lands, using over 150 heavy trucks to do so.  An incursion of this magnitude could destroy the heart of the U¹wa motherlands at a site known to the Government simply as ³Gibralter Well #3.²

This incursion onto U¹Wa lands confirms President Uribe¹s arbitrary, authoritarian, unconstitutional and illegal intentions vis-à-vis the U¹wa lands.  This violates an agreement reached on February 2, 2006, which states that the government should take into account any objections or comments formally presented by the U¹wa People regarding their land rights.  These objections and comments were formally delivered on October 12, 2006, but the U¹wa have yet to receive a reply.  To date, the Government has ignored the U¹wa¹s right to prior consultation and unilaterally intervened on U¹wa lands.  The U¹wa authorities condemn this flagrant violation of their fundamental and human rights which could result in the genocide of their People.

We ask that Colombia¹s Attorney General¹s and Public Defender¹s Offices form an investigatory team to inspect, document, and eventually bring charges related to these unprecedented acts of aggression because of their irreversible consequences.  We urge the international community and human rights organizations therein to reject the ethnocide of the U¹wa People and to demand that the Colombian Government abide by the international treaties it has signed related to human rights and to the rights of indigenous peoples, while respecting the laws related to the origins of the U¹wa.

We want international political and legal entities to hold the Colombian Government responsible for its serious impingements upon the rights of the U¹wa People, obligating the government to cease this systematic physical and cultural extermination of people who simply want their autonomy.


The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia [ONIC]
January 22, 2007  

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Saturday, February 10, 2007


(Translated by Micheal Ó Tuathail, a volunteer CSN translator)

Patricia Buritica, a member of the National Reconciliation Commission which
is overseeing the implementation of the paramilitary demobilization, sent
this letter after Carmen Cecilia Santana was murdered.

Bogotá, February 8, 2007



Still shaken in my reason and heart by the news of the murder that
occurred yesterday afternoon, 7 February 2007, of Carmen Cecilia
Santana Romaña, in the municipality of Apartadó, Antioquia, I want to
express not only my sadness but also the general repudiation that we
must all feel in view of this wave of crimes against the victims of
violence and conflict in this country.

Carmen Cecilia was 28 years old and leaves as orphans her sons Andrés
and Sebastián (who had already lost their father, Marco Tulio
Hernández, a banana worker killed in 1995) and her daughter, Camila,
all under the legal age.

This past November, Carmen Cecilia visited my office in Bogotá,
seeking legal advice to denounce the murder of the father of her
children and the intimidation and fear that had forced her to leave
the region, finding herself displaced in the city of Villavicencio.
During our chat, she felt secure, having not previously found the
opportunity to denounce or talk about the events with anyone other
than her own family. In my position as Commissioner of the National
Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (Spanish acronym CNRR), I
gave her a sense of confidence. I explained to her the legal tools and
mechanisms that, as an indirect victim, she could use: the protection
available for her and her immediate family, humanitarian aid that
could minimize economic distress, and perhaps most important of all,
her obligation to speak out, so that those responsible pay for the
damage they caused. She asked me for time to think about it, and I
obliged. Toward the end of December she told me that, thinking about
her children, she had decided to speak out and had returned to the
region. The fear had not let go of her, but she was conscious of what
she ought to do. Although she did not want to approach the region's
authorities with the issue, I suggested she do it through the
Colombian Women for Peace Initiative, the organization which I direct
and which is dedicated basically to attending to and advising victims.
Sadly, Carmen Cecilia was not able to speak out.

Given this wave of generalized terror across the country, of
hopelessness and fear, victims are being murdered and revictimized. In
this situation, the conduct of the authorities is innocuous. Force is
insufficient when human life is involved.

I call for the attention of the national government, the Civil Rights
Office, the Attorney General, the departmental and municipal
authorities, the international organizations that work with these
vulnerable populations, and especially the CNRR, so that each and
every victim in this country enjoy special protection, that impending
mechanisms be activated, and that this daily extermination of victims
be averted.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
e-mail: csn@igc.org

Friday, February 09, 2007


(Translated by Thomas Kolar,  a CSN volunteer translator)


Quito, February 6, 2007

Dear Friends
Democratic Pole of Colombia
Dear Brother
Gustavo Petro
Senator of the Democratic Pole
C.c.: Organizations of DDHH, Progressives of Colombia
Presidency of Ecuador, Ministry of RREE, International Leagues of DDHH

The Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, APDH del Ecuador, exposes and announces:

The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe Velez, on February 5, publicly called Colombia¹s legal and democratic opposition, particularly the progressive Democratic Pole party and the valiant senator and friend Gustavo Petro,  ³terrorists in ties² for questioning his ³peace process² with the narco-paramilitaries. This creates conditions that could prevent the President being able to intervene in the paramilitaries¹ favor given that president Uribe¹s brother has long been known for ties with the paramilitaries in Antioquia, as was valiantly denounced by senator Gustavo Petro.
Immediately,  the ex-presidential candidate of the Democratic Pole, Dr. Carlos Gaviria, ex tribune of the Constitutional Court, warned that to publicly state such a label in Colombia is a very serious matter in view of record of the intolerant groups of the extreme right toward Gustavo Petro, and toward the Democratic Pole, and toward the civil sectors that question democratically the so-called ³peace process² with the narco-paramilitaries.
Immediately after the showy and inconsequential declarations of democracy of President Uribe of Colombia, numerous death threats began to arrive against political leaders, social leaders, and defenders of DDHH, journalists, representatives of NGO¹s, and, especially, against the Democratic Pole and its senators, threats brandished with the name ³AUC² that leave no doubt about their defense of  President Uribe and the threat of death to those who oppose him, - against this democratic crack in his absolute power and his peace process that locks in the danger of converting Colombia into the first ³democratic narco-paramilitary state² on the continent.
While that was occurring in Colombia, Uribe has given the order to continue the fumigations on the Ecuador border, especially in the coastal zone of Mataje, adjacent to Esmeraldas, furthering his policy of endangering  peace in the region. At home, the selective murders continue, especially of members of the Democratic Pole, and the threats of death to independent journalists continue, and today the intolerant label of ³terrorists in ties² is brandished by Senor Uribe serving as a backdrop for the threats against Gustavo Petro and the legal and democratic opposition in Colombia.

Do we want to continue the bloody history that began a decade ago against the legal Patriotic Union party whose 3,500 members were killed in order to prevent the birth of a democratic opposition in the country. Aren¹t  the comments of President Uribe justifying the same policy against the Democratic Pole?

From Ecuador we stand in solidarity with the legal and democratic opposition of Colombia, especially with the Democratic Pole and our friend and brother Gustavo Petro, distinguished by his wisdom, courage and intelligence, pluralism and caustic humor at this critical hour in which in his country there is public praise of a peace process which legitimizes impunity.
We demand of President Uribe that he take full responsibility for the physical integrity and life of Gustavo Petro and of the legal and democratic opposition in Colombia.
This same week, in view of these threats and in solidarity with the Democratic Pole and Colombian society and in repudiation of the renewal of the fumigaciones on our frontier, we will proceed, - with large numbers of the socially concerned, from the line of the frontier, to execute a nonviolent and symbolic action of protest at the embassy of Colombia in Quito.

No human is an alien

Alexis Ponce
Vocero APDH del Ecuador

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Black Communities under paramilitary fire

(Translated by Dave Brown , a CSN volunteer translator)


elpasquinderadiobemba@ <mailto:elpasquinderadiobemba@yahoo.es>

Testimony of a survivor

Juan de Dios Garcia is one of many threatened with death that has had to leave Colombia to save his own life.  ³I am a victim, being hunted down by the paramilitaries for more than a year.  On the last September 7th they invaded my house in Buenaventura looking for me., I was able to escape, but they killed 7 members of my family, he says, as his voice breaks remembering the tragic events.  Garcia is a leader of the Black Communities Process, a network of 140 organizations that have their base in the humid jungle region of the Colombian Pacific.  Based on the National Constituent Assembly of 1991, the Afro-Colombian communities that have inhabited the region for more than 300 years achieved the legalization of their lands from which they are now being displaced by paramilitary groups of  the Autodefensas de Colombia (Colombian Selfdefense Organizations) that count 8000 armed men and that are responsible for numerous massacres of the unarmed civilian population.  In the following interview, the Afro-Colombian leader lays out the true objectives of the paramilitaries, their form of operation and the devastating effects the violence is having against black communities of this tormented region.

A.  Since when and how has the violence shown itself in the Colombian Pacific Region?

A. Para-militarism began its activities in Urabá, along the Atlantic coast;  about four years ago it fell upon the Pacific and is ravaging communities that were not prepared for it, because they are communities that have lived in peace in their jungle, in harmony with nature.  We do not have experience, we do not have with a culture of war.  Our people flees in panic when they hear the chatter of the machine guns, as did the indigenous population when they heard  the roar(word?) of Pizarro¹s cannons and from the Spanish conquistadores, these indigenous groups were not prepared for war, the exact same thing is happening  at this moment in the Pacific.

Q. Why has para-militarism raised its head in the Pacific region?

A. The Afro-Colombian families of the Pacific region use the land and are the owners of  all that the land produces but not of the land itself which belongs to all of us,  this is the concept of collective property that we have, but the territorial conquest by the Afro-Colombians has awakened the fury of the great national economic power and of the trans-nationals that find the grand mega-projects that they have designed in the zone threatened, such as the opening of the new inter-oceanic canal that will join the Atlantic with the Pacific through the Atrato-Truandó rivers and which will descend through the Cupica Bay.

This Project is complemented by the creation of great maritime ports which serve to satisfy the necessities of the great international commerce. There are other projects such as the cultivation of the African palm, extensive cattle ranching, all at the cost of the rich mangrove forest from which we derive our subsistence.  The culture of the Afro-Colombian and that of the indigenous people that look at the territory as a habitat for life and not as a source of economic riches is being seen as a ³bother² for these mega ­projects; and therefore they are using a private militia, called paramilitarism, that has assassinated thousands of social leaders and has displaced more than two million people, including over a million from the black community that have been forced to leave the Pacific Region.

Q.  What are the effects of the displacement in the black communities?

A.  A black that leaves the Pacific (region) and is taken to a shelter in Bogota, Cali or Medellín finds himself in the same condition as a caged condor, to whom you can provide all the food you want but which still dies.  This is the black culture.  The blacks that are in refuges in Bogota leave to search for the beach and the forest in order to play and what they find is the highway, they are victims of autos that massacre them.  We think that all acts against the culture should be considered a crime against human rights, because there is no human life without culture.

Q. Does racial discrimination against black communities on the part of the Colombian State exist?

A. The Colombian Pacific has been submitted to exclusión, to marginalization and to denial, they have looked at the pacific in terms of natural resources, the social component that exists there is not considered or taken into account by the Colombian State.  For instance, when the earthquake that devastated the coffee zone and many people died, grand governmental and international resources were invested for reconstruction, but now that there are millions of persons being displaced and killed by the paramilitary phenomenon, the state is insensitive to this situation and keeps looking at the black as an object without value, so that his sacrifice, his holocaust does not count.  This is a form of racism that is being committed against us.

Q. Does a connection exist between the army and the paramilitaries?

A.  When the militia came looking for me, I could observe  how the crimes against my family members were committed using army and police vehicles.   The paramilitaries act with the direct or indirect participation of high level functionaries of the State, in such a manner that, if one is going to make a complaint in the face of these crimes, that puts one even more at risk.

For us there are evident proofs which we have testified to, before the  Colombian government that demonstrate the very harmonious relationships between the paramilitaries and the army, but in spite of this they do nothing.  Throughout the month of last June they came into the Yurumanguí river and  in the township of Veneral they pressured the community to tell them where the guerrillas were; the community said that we see a lot of armed men pass by here, but we don¹t know if they are guerrilla forces, army solders or paramilitaries, what¹s more we don¹t know where they are going.  The army responded that the community is counseled by the guerrilla forces and does not want to tell the truth and that soon the paramilitaries will come and will make you tell the truth by force, and this did not delay in occurring:  on the 29th the paramilitaries entered and massacred the community.  This proves that there is evidence, that there is a relationship, but what is happening, is that the Colombian state does not want to recognize this and always denies it.

Q. What are the justifications the paramilitaries use for the murder of the population?

A.  The first pretext is that they are an auxiliary to the guerrilla forces.  We have been here since 400 years before the arrival of the guerrillas, and so if the guerrilla establishes a presence in our midst, we do not have the strength to force them out; the Colombian government has not  been able to force them out, much less a humble community would be able to force them out,   Also, the paramilitaries have two lists:  one of persons that are auxiliary forces of the guerrilla and another of the persons that have ³dangerous positions², dangerous persons are those that defend the territory and their right over natural resources, that is to say all those who speak out against the avalanche of neo-liberalism and the scourge of globalization.

Q.  So, the paramilitary targets not only the guerrillas but also the social leaders?

A.  Precisely, the conflict has taken on a connotation that is now longer only political but rather has as a first concern, the interest that exists in the territory and its resources.  Therefore the displacement of our communities is not a consequence of the conflict, but rather more that the conflict is being carried out to displace the community, so that the people flee and leave the territory and we, as organizations, are trying to prevent this displacement.  The lands given to the black communities as collective property are inalienable lands, owned in perpetuity and cannot be foreclosed on because of debts.  The paramilitaries want to pressure the people so that the abandon the territory, and so that the lands can be expropriated for disuse, that is to say, by logical extension of the disuse.   If there are no people in the territory, of course the State will extinguish the titles.    We are interested in politically resisting, we do not have an armed wing, because leaving the territory is to abandon our life, our habitat, there is where we can live, we cannot develop a cultural life in another distinct place.

Q.  How do the paramilitary groups operate in the communities?

In the massacre that occurred on April 29th in El Firme, on the Yurumangui river, twelve armed men arrived in the morning, they gathered the community at a meeting with them, the people left their houses to attend the meeting and immediately they forced them to throw themselves on the ground.  Some attempted to escape and two were then killed and those that were on the floor were dismembered with axes.  They did this in front of the entire town, this is why they called the meeting, so that all could see how the people were dismembered and in this manner to implant terror among them.

Imagine a barbaric act such as this, the following day the people left in a stampede which produced the exodus.  Others were cut up by a chain saw, they dismembered them and afterwards played football with the head of the victims.  Since last year massacres have been occurring and the people have alerted the government but nothing is done, the paramilitaries have given themselves the luxury of announcing their massacre with flyers and writings on the walls:  we are going to such a location, we are going to massacre in such and such towns; what they promise, they carry out, without the army doing anything to avoid it, the army dedicates itself to collecting the victims, we think that this type of help we do not need, we need to stop the massacres.

Q.  Now that the people flee in terror, who ends up with the  homes, with the lands and with the assets?

A.  The houses stay un-inhabited for a time but there have been cases in some communities where the population abandons their homes and lands and then, after six or eight months other people, that supposedly are recommended by the paramilitaries, occupy them.  Precisely, in the case of black communities, they flee from the territory and their houses are occupied by non-black groups, this leaves us with the bitter taste that they are committing ethnocide, because it is wiping out the black groups.

Q.  One of the concerns is that, in Colombia, the paramilitaries are acquiring a social base and even some communications media are supporting them.

A.  The block that is operating in the southwest of Colombia is the Calima bock of the United Self-defense (Autodefensas Unidas) of Colombia.  It does not represent a project with a political end, and is composed of mercenaries.  En a region such as the Pacific, where the annual per-capita income dos not come to more than 500 dollars, the paramilitaries have come in offering 400 dollars per month,  and so, some persons with dark skin pigmentation have been bought.  Those that sell themselves are used to command massacres against the contrary ethnic group, that is to say the blacks are used to commit massacres in indigenous territories and the indigenous peoples used to commit massacres in Afro-Colombian territories.  The inter-ethnic harmony that we have historically maintained is being threatened by the paramilitaries.  This has caused us once again to approach the indigenous brothers to make know and to clarify that this is a trap that they are preparing for us and that before dividing ourselves we should unite more to defend ourselves against this enemy.

Q.  In the face of this shocking situation, which you describe to us, what is it that the international community should do?

A.  We have been relating these horrendous crimes to sensitive the governments of Europe, from whom the Colombian Government is asking for money for the implementation of their war plan, which is Plan Colombia, which is a death plan.  The government has taken on the commitment to de-mobilize para-militarism, but on the same dates that the government commits to do this in Brussels, on these same dates the paramilitaries commit massacres.  That is to say they ask for money to achieve peace in Colombia, but there (in Colombia)  they are doing the opposite.  High functionaries of the Colombian State and the Colombian Army are tied to the paramilitary phenomenon, which we consider to be a contradiction and that is what we are making manifest before the governments of European Civil Society.  And, also the United States which is giving money to carry out a plan of war and death with the pretext of combating drug trafficking and subversion.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


CSN 's Note: In the past several days, Senator Gustavo Petro of the Polo Democratico Party, the alternative opposition party whose Presidential candidate finished second in the 2006 elections with 2.6 million votes, has been presenting information uncovered showing the links between the illegal paramilitary forces and Colombian political figures in Antioquia state, and suggesting a debate on this. Among the persons mentioned as collaborating with the paramilitaries is Santiago Uribe Velez, who is a brother of President Alvaro Uribe Velez. The following anonymous message, which has been circulated widely in Colombia since it appeared yesterday, contains clear threats directed at Senator Petro and the Polo Democratico. The Polo uses the color yellow as its identifying color. The reference to yellow in the message is, therefore, a threat against Polo party members. Note the reference to U.S. support of President Uribe¹s policies as a guarantee for the paramilitaries¹ proposed murder campaign.
Please write to your Congressional Representative and Senators to express your serious concern about these threats, and write to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice to tell them you want the U.S. government to make clear to President Uribe that it expects President Uribe to investigate these threats, prosecute those responsible for them, and provide protection for Senator Petro and other leaders and members of the Polo Democratico. Any future U.S. aid to Colombia should be conditioned upon the Uribe government providing these protections and permitting the revelations by Senator Petro and others to go forward.


³Communique to all those servile kneeling persons camouflaged as civilians²
³Colombia free of communists, armed political arm of the Ex-AUC²
³Fronts: Capital, Central, Sur, Caribe,Llanos, Nororiente, Nueva Generacion, Aguilas Negras ( Capital, Central, Caribbean, Plains, Northeast, New Generation, Black Eagles)
³We identify ourselves with the security policy of President Alvaro Uribe Velez; we are with him until the final victory over the communists disguised and camouflaged as civilians who continue to serve the insurgency of the FARC. We are one step away from realizing the greatest dream of our president, which is the consolidation of the communitarian state and the new political-administrative division of Colombia. This is the best agreement which we have been able to achieve since the meetings of Ralito. Up to the present we have carried on a campaign of cleaning out all of the social slag who are said to call themselves defenders of human rights, social leaders, labor union leaders, politicized ex-guerrillas, and clearly headed by an insignificant group of poor quality lawyers who say that they are going to bring the president to judgment for his past, as if  we were not also aware of the dirty past which all of them together have.

We are undertaking from this moment a frontal war to the death against all those who hide behind their cover of façade, NGO¹s, rebel daily newspapers, tiny offices, houses of ³protection² of false democrats. We will go to their houses, buildings, offices, universities, we are going to haul them out publicly before the media so that the country can see the small class of person who awaits them if they change the course of the policy of security.

From this moment on we are going to apply the death penalty to the traitors of the fatherland, those who spend their time seeking asylum because they are scared t death in their country, shameless sons of bitches who turn their backs on their people, who steal the monies which come from other countries to these NGO¹s to serve the community, foundations camouflaged as benefactors who are nothing more than thieves of the future of our country.

Therefore, it is our reason for this new crusade, which we will carry out hand in hand with the national army and the armed forces of Colombia, to cleanse ourselves of what crap is left in the house.

Our immediate military objective is the execution of the disguised communists who hide themselves in the Polo Democratico, NGO¹s which ³protect² kneeling in a servile way the FARC, and those new revolting bolivarian movements which have begun to transcend our sovereignty and betray the democratically elected government in Colombia. NO MORE WITH YOU CAROUSING (parranda) SONS OF BITCHES.

The only dignified way out which they have is LEAVING THE COUNTRY. We will not permit them to continue with their actions of supposed democracy, since we know well that what they are hiding is the last strategy which is left to the FARC for taking powerŠof course with the petrodollars of Chavez and his communist ideology of crap. THEY CANNOT.

The North American people at the head of their present government know very well that you will not be the future of our country. We can count upon the military and technical support which will guarantee us a sweeping victory over the insurgents and their servile supporters (arrodillados).

Everyone should know that behind each one of those who say they are defenders of human rights, social leaders and poor quality lawyers, camouflaged journalists, and every ex-guerrilla who believes he is untouchable, after (de xada) there will be one of our commandos following his actions day and night, and his ties with the FARC, the ELN, and any other little group which may appear.

We will uncover them before the country and the world, showing the falsity which is hidden behind these ³innocent² little faces.

We will judge them in accord with their actions, massacring them in public squares so that the people will recognize the social justice which these traitors to the country deserve.

We will do away with you through your families, your children and your loved ones who will give their lives thanks to your dirty, cowardly acts, which you do not face up to, and for that reason your families will pay dearly for your error.

As far as the poor lawyers such as those of the collective and other NGO¹s and ex-guerrillas of the Polo who say they are going to judge the president, we warn them that these risky actions will cost them blood.

Now they will see what awaits them, these idle sons of bitches.

Tuesday, February 13ŠA yellow one is in sight!!!!!!!!!

Could it be that they will dare to meet and judge the president.

You now have your time up!

Death to the kneeling supporters of the FARC camouflaged as civilians

Death to false leaders, defenders and poor quality persons

Out of Colombia disguised communists

Total war to cleanse Colombia

Colombia Forever Free!!!!! !!!!!!


Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Seventh Anniversary of the Massacre at La Galleta Farm

(Translated by Dan Baird, a CSN volunteer translator)


On 23rd January this year we mark the anniversary of a massacre in the year 2000 in   Finca    La Galleta   which lies within     the municipality of Montebello in the department of      A n t i o q u i a  in the   R e p u b l i c    of    C o l o m b i a.  The perpetrators were members of an armoured group, Juan de Corral, part of the Fourth Brigade  of the Colombian Army, whose headquarters were in Medellin..                       
1. The massacre
2. Why we should remember
3. What we demand from the Colombian state
4. What we ask of the international community
5. Poem: ³Hace siete anos².

 THE MASSACRE                                                               
At 6.30 am on Sunday 7th January 2000 a large body of heavily armed troops entered the territory of Finca La Galleta and seized:    J O S E   E V E L I O   G A L L O   G A L L O  and   U B E R N E Y   G I R A L D O   C A S T R O ,  who with seven co-workers were developing the Production  Project in an area of 244 hectares in Finca la Galleta;    W I L F R E D O   C A N A V E R A L, son of the President  of Community Action in the area;   A D O L F O   P A R R A   L O N D O, teacher in the rural school;    J O H N   J A I R O   M U N O Z   Z A P A T A ,;      J A I R O   H E R N A N D O   S A N C H E Z   G I L, son of one of the co-workers.     

A soldier showed Jairo Hernando a list with the names of the seven co-workers and demanded to know where they could be found.  He replied that, since it was Sunday, they would be in Medellin.  He and John Jairo were then freed and told, ³Don¹t leave the region and remember: you¹ve seen nothing.  We¹re going to kill the other four.² In fact, on leaving the Finca the soldiers killed Senor Parra, the schoolteacher, firing three shots into his head after cruelly torturing him.  They took the other three men with them.

On the following day, Monday 24th January, the body of Wilfredo Canaveral was found 120 kilometres away. On the 25th ,  newspapers and television news carried a press release put out by the Fourth Brigade saying that the bodies of two unidentified ELN guerrillas ­ killed trying to blow up a power station ­ had been put in the mortuary  at  Carmen de Viboral. The bodies, in fact, were those of    J O S E   E V E L I O   G A L L O   G A L L O   and    U B E R N E Y   G I R A L D O   C A S T R O .

When this ruse by the Military was discovered by the colleagues of   G a l l o   G a l l o   y   G i r a l d o   C a s t r o , soldiers with two lorries and a dumper truck  raided the mortuary at one o¹clock in the morning of Wednesday 26th January and stole the bodies in a desperate and vain attempt to get rid of the evidence.

However, in their desperate attempt to destroy the evidence by removing the bodies the Military forgot that from 25th January the office of the Attorney General of Antioquia had records of the postmortem examination and photographs of the bodies of G a l l o   G a l l o   y   G i r a l d o   C a s t r o .   To this very day the bodies have not been found again.

Although 40 soldiers carried out the raid on at Finca La Galleta, only two men of junior rank were eventually imprisoned for it, each of them sentenced to 40 years. None of the others who planned or carried out the raid have been sentenced ­ all have total immunity.

Two months later, on 23rd March, soldiers of the Fourth Brigade, this time from the Pedro Nel Ospina battalion, entered  Finca La Galleta, pretending they had had a clash with guerrillas.  They placed long-range weapons, grenades and dynamite in the houses and then claimed that these belonged to the inhabitants.  Then they seized 40 peasants from the region who worked in the Finca,   among them  J A I R O   H E R N A N D O   S A N C H E Z   and   A N T O N I O   S E R N A,  and made them march in single file while abusing and insulting them.  

After these repeated outrages and threats the peasants, headed by   S a n c h e z   G i l   y   A n t o n i o   S e r n a, went to the legal offices of the Municipio of Santa Barbara and asked for protection.  Some days later, in those offices and in front of representatives of the Municipio, an agreement was made between the Military and the peasants in which the Military guaranteed to respect the peasants of the Finca and provide them with protection.  Among those signing the agreement were    J A I R O   H E R N A N D O   S A N C H E Z   G I L  and    A N T O N I O   S E R N A .

Months later,    J A I R O   H E R N A N D O  was forced to flee. On his later return to the Finca, he was detained by heavily armed uniformed men and today the name    J A I R O   H E R N A N D O   S A N C H E Z   G I L  appears on the list of the more than 7000  people in Colombia who have been ³Arrested and Disappeared².

A N T O N I O   S E R N A    and others who signed that agreement have been victims of targeted assassinations, in some of which as many as four and six and nine peasants have died.  Since 23rd January 2000 almost 40 peasants have been killed, including witnesses and their relatives and others who were present when the agreement was signed. All of these cases are covered by the cloak of impunity.

And because of these events, the rest of us who worked there were forced to leave and to this day we have not returned to the Finca.  Faced with threats, we took refuge in other countries and a few suffered the consequences of being uprooted within our own country.

2. The reason why we have to remember what happened on 23rd January and in the following months is so that our comrades who were murdered and disappeared live always in our minds and are never forgotten and such deeds must never be repeated in our country.

3. Given its direct and clearly established  responsibility for the massacre carried out by its military forces, we demand from the Colombian state that the truth of what happened at Finca La Galleta be revealed, that the names of all those who planned and perpetrated it be made known, that those responsible be punished, and that the bodies of  J O S E   E V E L I O   G A L L O     G A L L O ,   U B E R N E Y   G I R A L D O   C A S T R O   and    J A I R O   H E R N A N D O   S A N C H E Z   G I L  be returned to us for Christian burial.

We demand also that the    S u p e r i o r      T r i b u n a l   of   A n t i o q u i a  speed up the Administrative actions  against the Colombian state in favour of those who were killed or disappeared and in favour of those from the Finca who were forcibly displaced and of their legitimate and natural heirs.

4. Of the international community and in particular of  those countries who were guarantors of the agreements signed on 9 April 1994 between the Republic of Colombia and the CRS, we make the following request: that they press the Colombian authorities to comply with our demands and to answer for the violation of those agreements, now that it is clear that the authorities were directly responsible for the massacre and  for a breach of good faith, and must acknowledge responsibility for them.

5 .    P O E M  :
                                                                                         H A C E   S I E T E   A ‹ O S
                                                                                        ( P o e t :     A l i c i a   S a l i n a s )
                                                                                         H a c e   s i e t e   a no s   q u e   e s t a m o s
                                                                                           s i n t i e n d o   e s t o
                                                                                        q u e   h o y   n o s   i n v a d e .
                                                                                        H a c e   s i e t e   a no s   q u e   a   l a   v i d a   l a
                                                                                        r e v i s a m o s
                                                                                         L a   i n c r e p a m o s
                                                                                         L a   a m a m o s .
                                                                                         H a c e   s i e t e   a n o s   q u e   n o   p i s a n   l a s
                                                                                          b a l d o s a s
                                                                                        D e   e s t a s   c a s a s
                                                                                         e s o s   h o m b r e s   o b l i g a d o s   a   p a r t i r
                                                                                         s i n   e l   c o n s e n t i m i e n t o   d e   a q u e l
                                                                                          p a is  q u e   h a b i t a b a m o s   t o d o s .

                                                                                        H a c e   s i e t e   a n o s   q u e   m u c h o s
                                                                                        n o   l l e g a n   a   s u s   c a s a s
                                                                                        n o   g o l p e a n   l a s   p u e r t a s   d e   s u s
                                                                                         c a s a s
                                                                                         n o   b e s a n   a   s u s   h i j o s .

                                                                                       H i j o s   e   h i j a s   q u e   h a n   v i v i d o   p o r
                                                                                        s i e t e   a n o s
                                                                                      h u e f a n o s   d e   a b r a z o s .
                                                                                       S i n   e m b a r g o   e n   e s t o s   s i e t e   a no s   h a
                                                                                       p a s a d o   t a n t o

                                                                                     H e m o s   p a r i d o
                                                                                     h e m o s   a m a d o   c a d a   s e g u n d o
                                                                                     n o s   h a   d o l i d o   c a d a   m i n u t o .
                                                                                     C a d a   a l m a   q u e   n o   e s t ·
                                                                                     h a   t a p i z a d o   n u e s t r a   m e m o r i a .
                                                                                   Y   a q u Ì   e s t a m o s
                                                                                   d e s p u e s   d e   e s t o s   a n o s
                                                                                   c o n   l o s   o j o s   m o j a d o s
                                                                                   v i e n d o   c r e c e r   a   l o s   n u e s t r o s   y   a   l a s
                                                                                   n u e s t r a s .


For seven years we¹ve felt this way,
The feeling which fills us today.
For seven  years we¹ve been
Going over what¹s happened,
Angry at life, loving life.
For seven years they haven¹t  walked the floors
Of their  houses, those men forced unwillingly
To leave the land where we lived.

For seven years, there have been many
Who don¹t come home, don¹t knock their doors
Don¹t kiss their children.

For seven years
Sons and daughters have lived
Orphaned from the arms of their fathers.
Yet in those seven years
So much has happened.

We¹ve given birth,
We¹ve loved every second,
We¹ve hated every minute.
Every absent soul has filled our memory.
And here we are now:
After all those years,
With tear-filled eyes,
We watch our children grow.

22nd January l   2 0 0 7
Fraternally :
L e o n e l   S a n c h e z   R i v e r a
Companion  and    father     of   J a i r o   H e r n a n d o   S an c h e z   G i l
Arrested and disappeared in   F i nca   L a   G a l l e t a .

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Monday, February 05, 2007

CSN's statement on the murder of Yolanda Izquierdo


   The Colombia Support Network was distressed to learn of the murder on January 31, 2007 of Yolanda Izquierdo in the city of Monteria, capital of Cordoba Department. Ms. Izquierdo was a leader of the Organizacion Popular de Vivienda (OPV) in Cordoba. She worked effectively to obtain housing for numerous displaced families. These families were displaced by paramilitary forces from lands where they had lived and worked. The lands had been provided to them by the Fundacion para la Paz de Cordoba in 1990. Through the years after 1990 paramilitaries forced many peasant families to abandon their lands or sell them for a pittance, taking over the lands for themselves.
   Yolanda Izquierdo had courageously led a peasant movement to return to the lands and reclaim them from the paramilitaries in keeping with the Justice and Peace Law for paramilitary demobilization, which requires the return of lands obtained by force and threats of the paramilitaries to their rightful owners. As a part of her campaign to see that justice was done for the members of the OVP, Yolanda was one of the two leaders of a delegation of victims who attended a hearing at which testimony concerning the activities of the paramilitaries in Cordoba was being given by Salvatore Mancuso, who was for a long time a leader of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the principal illegal paramilitary organization in the region.
   It is clear that Yolanda was murdered because of her effective work to recover lands taken from OPV families by the paramilitaries. She reportedly had recently been seeking to obtain the certificates, maps and deeds which would show that she and at least 700 other persons were forced by the paramilitaries to sell their lands and abandon the area.
   We call upon the Colombian government to investigate this heinous murder, and to bring those responsible to justice. We also call upon the government to protect the OPV and its leaders and acknowledge their right to return to the lands they were forced to surrender. The paramilitary demobilization must not be in name only.
   We also call upon the Colombian government to protect effectively those who witnesses who, like Yolanda, wish to participate in the hearings being held at which paramilitary leaders are testifying as to their illegal actions. We pledge our solidarity to the members and leaders of the OPV who work to reacquire their lands and live on them in peace. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Yolanda and promise to keep alive the memory of her extraordinary work.

Madison, Wisconsin U.S.A.
February 3,  2007


Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Friday, February 02, 2007

Concerning the Removal of Colonel Hernan Mejia

Concerning the Removal of Colonel Hernán Mejia
(Translated by the Colectivo Jose Alvear Restrepo)

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers¹ Collective (CCAJAR)
February 1, 2007
Bogotá, Colombia

³It was on August 29, 2003, when the body of Ever de Jesús was found at the Valledupar city morgue with his face disfigured, dressed in camouflage, and presented by the army as killed in combat against the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). But we all know that it isn¹t true, that it is way the military silences the community leaders who dare to speak out.² [1] Paradoxically, from August 29 to August 31 of that year, the Human Rights Ombudsman¹s Office was carrying out a workshop in the community of Chemesquemena, which included the presence of an official from the Ministry of the Interior¹s Ethnicities Office, the Human Rights Delegate for Indigenous and Ethnic Minority Affairs, Gabriel Mujuy, and the Community Human Rights Liaison.

Ever de Jesús was returning from Valledupar to apply for economic support for the murder of his father, Hugo Montero, who had been killed by paramilitaries on April 16 of the same year. ³Three armed civilians took him off the public transportation he was traveling on with several other persons, including Gabriel Mujuy, the Human Rights Delegate for Ethnic Affairs of the Human Rights Ombudsman¹s Office. Ever de Jesús was heading to Guatapurí, after getting some documents in order to access the Assistance Program for Victims of the Armed Conflict, a program that is a part of the governmental Social Solidarity Network.²

Ever de Jesús, though, was not the only persons murdered that year. According to Jaime Arias, cabildo governor of the Kankuamo people, 44 cases were denounced that year up to the month of September, [2] the majority attributed to the paramilitaries. At the time Colonel Hernán Mejía was the commander of the La Popa Battalion based in Valledupar (Department of Cesar), when it became one of the battalions with the most kills in combat registered from between 2002 to 2004, according to the witness that denounced Mejía¹s actions and links with paramilitarism (a former junior army officer and subordinate of Mejía). [3]

The murder of the 19-year-old Ever de Jesús, who at the time was a promising young leader for the community of Guatapurí, is probably one of the cases for which Juan Manuel Santos, Minister of Defense, announced last Friday he had removed Colonel Hernán Mejía from his post for his ³links with paramilitarism, human rights violations, and cases of kills that may not be the result of military operations, rather acts of corruption"; and who since August, 2006, has commanded the troops in Santana (Department of Putumayo).

According to information gathered by the Kankuamo indigenous people, [4] during the month of August 2003, seven persons from their community were murdered by paramilitaries. Of special concern is Jhon Jairo Montero Maestre, who was bound and taken from his house located in the Kankuamo community of La Mina, after a group of approximately 60 heavily armed men had just arrived. Jhon was taken to a nearby place known as El Charquito, where he was shot dead in front of several witnesses from the community.

During this same paramilitary incursion of August 25, 2003, and in the same manner, the 18-year-old Santander José Arias Arias was killed, along with countless other violations committed against this population.

A few days previously, on August 11, 2003, Andrés Ariza Mindiola had been murdered by paramilitaries in Atanquez during a paramilitary incursion of his farm, which also robbed him of 56 cattle. Alciades Arias Maestre was also murdered in the township of Los Haticos.

According to Alirio Uribe from the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers´ Collective, ³in the complaints and denunciations presented before the Human Rights Ombudsman¹s Office and the humanitarian missions meant to follow up on the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the Perija Mountain Range, the armed forces present in this area of the country are held responsible, particularly in the department of Cesar, for allowing paramilitary groups to freely move about in these areas, establish their bases of operation within indigenous territory, jointly patrol and carry out actions in order to terrorize, as well as indiscriminately attack the population.²

Likewise, Alirio Uribe states that in some cases the national army is attributed to being responsible for grave breaches to international humanitarian law, including extrajudicial executions and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment inflicted against indigenous persons and their authorities.

At the time, reports gathered by the Human Rights Ombudsman¹s Office stated that a paramilitary base was located in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta (in the area under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Valledupar) at a place called La Mesa. This paramilitary base was just 6 kilometers, or 10 minutes, from the military base for the La Popa Battalion. It was also under the command of the paramilitary David Hernández Rojas, alias ³39², who as reported by the magazine Semana in its latest edition was a close classmate of Colonel Hernán Mejia.

Nevertheless, while the national government was fully negotiating with these paramilitary groups, in 2005 several persons were murdered in the areas surrounding the paramilitary bases, which continue to exist in La Mesa and Río Seco. As should be remembered, the last groups belonging to the Northern Bloc of AUC demobilized at La Mesa on March 10, 2006. At this time the High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo, announced the demobilization of 1,220 members of combat fronts and 1,325 members of the fronts offering social support, though only 793 weapons were surrendered.

Due to the grave situation of extermination faced by this indigenous people (which has also caused mass displacement from their territory), it must be pointed out that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted them precautionary measures of protection on September 24, 2003. Additionally, because the Colombian State did not fulfill with its obligations and the irreparable damages to this people continued, on July 5, 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights decreed provisional measures of protections, which had been jointly petitioned by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers´ Collective.

However, the so-called paramilitary demobilization process has not been able to bring about the dismantlement of the paramilitary structures, which continue to intimidate and control territory under the currently re-baptized ³Black Eagles², identified by the population as being the same persons belonging to the former Tayrona and Mártires del Cesar Blocs of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Lastly, it is odd that the government has only proceeded to remove Colonel Hernán Mejía from his post, when he should have been definitively separated from his duties, through exercising the Presidential discretional power in accordance with the relevant constitutional mandate.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers´ Collective hope an investigation is carried out by the Attorney General¹s Office that contributes to definitively clarifying the facts concerning the crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta.

[1] Testimony.
[2] ³Jaime Arias, cabildo governor of the Kankuamo people, spoke out against the extermination of his community. According to Mr. Arias, 200 members of the Kankuamo community have been murdered since 1986, and 44 cases have occurred this year.² El Tiempo Newspaper, September 26 2003.
[3] Semana Magazine. De Héroe a Villano. January 29, 2007.
[4] Kankuamo Indigenous People. Hoja de Cruz. 2006.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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