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Friday, August 31, 2007

Great article on Drummond and overall U.S. policy in Colombia from The New Republic

Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 11:11:42 -0400

Subject: Great article on Drummond and overall U.S. policy in Colombia from
The New Republic


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

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


(Translated by Kevin Funk,  a CSN volunteer translator)

Medellin, August 17, 2007

University of Antioquia, Rectory, School of Medicine, National School of Public Health, Library System, University Museum, Héctor Abad Gómez Corporation for Education and Public Health, Mayor's Office of Medellin - Secretary of Civic Culture.
Organizers and Conveners of the Act and Tribute called:


Respected Institutions,

Many defenders of human rights killed in the deadly decade of the 1980s, and whose peak, outside of 1987, up to the point that the international press came to call "1987 the year of the dirty war in Colombia" because that macabre sequence of killings, that irrational escalation of state terror, was, as it was deemed by the ex-president Carlos Lleras Restrepo, the coronation of assassination as a political weapon.

Let us recall that in that period, organizations defending human rights and forces of the left were pointing out that the "dirty war" is based on the doctrine of national security and that an alliance of narcotraffickers, landowners, and soldiers is carrying it out.  They also pointed out that the "Dirty War" was being executed by 147 "self-defense" groups or "Death Squads" - a figure delivered to Congress by the then-minister of Government, César Gaviria.

You must also recall that since the middle of 1987, the "Dirty War" got a new look: the proliferation of "black lists" of those threatened with death, accused of "relations with guerrillas" (like several journalists), or as "useful idiots of subversion" (like defenders of human rights).

The threats provoked a stampede, and dozens of journalists, artists, university professors, and intellectuals took the path to exile, obligated by circumstance.

In good time you will carry out an excellent program to praise four emblematic human rights defenders from the period, the doctors: Héctor Abad Gómez, Leonardo Betancur T, Pedro Luís Valencia G. and Luís Fernando Vélez V., killed in Medellin in 1987.

But it is necessary to remember that the decade of the 80s was hardly the beginning of that dark policy of exterminating social and political leaders that participated in the struggle for democracy, since it did not only happen to defenders of human rights, let us recall also that the historic civic movement of Eastern Antioquia, in which 142 of its leaders were killed, not to mention the leaders of campesinos, unions, and the Patriotic Union party.

Ten years later, to be exact August 25, 1997, in the adjoining space of the auditorium of the University of Antioquia, one of the moral and ethical points of reference from that decade who had picked up the flags in the defense of human rights, they commemorated the tenth anniversary for whom you are now commemorating twenty years.
That man in his extreme solitude, who had been the president of the Departmental Committee for Human Rights for nine years, brought to fruition two historic events in that commemoration; he gave a speech in which he denounced the relationship between military commanders, police commanders, which coexist, and with paramilitaries, and in said happening, the second event is carried out, described as an act of renewal of commitment to the defense of human rights JESUS MARIA VALLE JARAMILLO, who more than being a lawyer, was a jurist, a true defender of human rights, and for whom it was a fundamental principal to base himself in the "strength of rightness and not in the rightness of force," he pronounced, in the middle of a completely full auditorium of the University of Antioquia, a speech which culminated:


For that reason tonight, the presence of all of you, of the Abad and Betancur families, that of the honorable judge of the Constitutional Court, Dr. Carlos Gaviria, of the committee coordinators, men and women, fills us with joy.  And in these historic surroundings we can today say: Héctor Abad, Leonardo, Fernando, Pedro Luis, Carlos, Felipe, here we are!  We can say: Heli Gómez, ombudsman of El Carmen; persecuted professors, victims: HERE WE ARE AND WILL ALWAYS BE, IN THE DIN OF THE STRUGGLE OR IN THE CALM OF DEATH!


Men and women of the University of Antioquia, of the Rectory, of the School of Medicine, of the National School of Public Health, of the Library System, of the University Museum, of the Héctor Abad Gómez Corporation for Education and Public Health, of the Mayor's Office of Medellin - Secretary of Civil Culture, and whoever else have organized and convened this great act and tribute: How can we complement in your activities THE INCLUSION, to make it, the more than deserved tribute, to the last of the Presidents of the Defense of Human Rights of Antioquia?


For next February, 2008, ten years of the assassination of Doctor Jesús María Valle will be commemorated, and it seems to me that you have been left with some doubts with this emblematic personality from the democratic society of Antioquia and Colombia and for that reason I propose to you that the different organizations give a posthumous tribute to Jesús María Valle Jaramillo, the distinguished teacher and fighter for human rights, and in that way praise him for what he was: an ethical symbol of our history; the most living example of the virtues that should be imitated for his grand soul, for the strength of his character, for the purity of his heart and for the magnificence of his ideals.

As a gesture of approval, I propose to you that in the different acts as of today, an EMPTY CHAIR be placed in this Barrientos square, to express his absence, his presence, and especially for the closing act of the auditorium of the University of Antioquia that not only is there left an EMPTY CHAIR, but that also an outline of his body is created and that a commemoration is convened for his tenth anniversary.




Carlos A. Ruiz Ospina
Author of a Sociopolitical Profile of Jesús María Valle Jaramillo
Historical Validity of the Struggle in Defense of Human Rights
Member, Board of Directors, National Labor School  



University of Antioquia, Rectory
Tribute to Héctor Abad Gómez, Leonardo Betancur Taborda, Pedro Luis Valencia Giraldo and Luis Fernando Vélez Vélez, defenders of human rights, killed in Medellin in 1987.

August 17-24, 2007



It causes undeniable pain to remember the deaths of those we love, above all if they were victims of violence, but it would cause more pain and grief if we were a society which carried forgetting as a badge of fear or dehumanization.  

Pedro Luis Valencia, Leonardo Betancur, Héctor Abad Gómez and Luis Fernando Vélez Vélez, all defenders of human rights, graduates of and professors at the University of Antioquia, and human beings who struggled with their ideas and words for a country that is more democratic, more educated, and more egalitarian.  They were killed from the sidewalk of cowardice in 1987, that is to say, twenty years ago.  Today we remember them as we have during all of these years, and as we should remember so many others that, also in that year and in later years, have been victims of the brutality of intolerance, of a dread of liberty, and a hatred of the shining and loving right to speak.


We gather here in a commemoration that wishes to be a sincere recognition and that also wants to remember the thoughts and the attitudes of those who worked in life in agreement with their convictions, full of joy and vigor, always taking as a banner the freedom and natural right that we all have to enjoy a decent life.  We gather here in an act that wishes to remember the words of the Dylan Thomas poem as an inscription against the dark cave which violence always draws us into: "And Death Shall Have No Dominion."


Héctor Abad Gómez: He had the stubbornness and perseverance of those of whom nature makes exceptional men.  But he had, above all, a gift of humanity, a professionalism and generosity as a public health specialist, and a mental and intellectual capacity of great reach, which made him not only almost essential to our society and its lack of leading and honest hearts, but also, shamefully, a target of the crudest hate.  That which kills uselessly, because ideas and words deeply-rooted in knowledge and liberty, like in the case of Héctor Abad Gómez, are immune to bullets.

Leonardo Betancur Taborda: Was a disciple of Héctor Abad not only in the School of Public Health but also in the public realm as a leader and tribune in the defense of human rights.  In spite of his youth he had a maturity which made him stand out as much for his impetus as a natural leader as for his personality as a good professor and unconditional friend of the causes that involved the wellbeing of the university, of the new generations, and, before all, which involved the struggle for justice and against all types of violence and crime, wherever they came from.


He was assassinated next to Héctor Abad Gómez, and for the same reasons: the brutality and horror of intolerance could not bear the lives of two calls to the wind, free and lucid.  


Pedro Luis Valencia Giraldo: He carried with him the emblem of rebellion like he who wears a flower on his lapel, and as a complement to an inescapable duty in a society that lives with injustice and inequality.  He was killed in a city which, in a determined moment, turned into the empire of impunity and which recovered with violence the defeats that it suffered in the realm of ideas.  Today his memory and the example of his humanistic and solidarity struggles accompany dreams for equality, education, and culture, immersed in the same city where he lived and died.

Luis Fernando Vélez Vélez: "The only enemy is the one with which we can never exercise the sublimation of words and their regenerating force, their reviving power; he is the one with which we can have no dialogue," said Luis Fernando Vélez once.  On his lips that conviction was the truth that would later take his life.  He did not defend the right to speak and freedom for any personal desire, but rather because he understood that the lack of the two made lacking, up to the point of begging, of an entire society.  He was a lawyer, and anthropologist, theologian, professor, and indigenist, to have languages with which to communicate the need to be free and have reasons in life to laugh, to be friends.


Those who killed him from the shadows, as they killed so many others of his stock and vehemence to love, will never understand that which is the sublime nature of the right to speak.  That is, in truth, the worst evil that afflicts us.  


Friday, August 17, 10:00 a.m. Barrientos Square

  • Héctor Abad Gómez Chair of Civic Formation: "A contribution to the construction of civility," by the writer William Ospina.
  • Inauguration of the commemorative exposition "And Death Shall Have No Dominion."  Administrative Block, Main Library, School of Medicine and School of Public Health
Wednesday, August 22, 11:00 a.m.  School of Medicine Auditorium
  • Presentation from the book, Letters from Asia, by Héctor Abad Gómez, with a foreword by Alberto Aguirre. Guests: lawyer Carlos Gaviria Díaz, and writer and journalist Juan José Hoyos Naranjo.
  • Presentation from bulletin U–235. Guest: public health specialist Fabio Henao Acevedo, teacher from the Department of Preventive Medicine of the School of Medicine of the University of Antioquia.   
  • Concert - musical group, School of Medicine - Director: Said Hurtado
Friday, August 24, 10:00 a.m. Auditorium, University of Antioquia


  • Main conference: "Human Rights or the struggle for dignity", by Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, Representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Presentation of the Memories of the Chair Héctor Abad Gómez: "A contribution to the construction of civility", led by the rector of the University of Antioquia, Alberto Uribe Correa.
  • Biographical sketches of the four human rights defenders, by Carlos Gaviria Díaz (Héctor Abad Gómez), Julio González Zapata (Luis Fernando Vélez Vélez), Carlos Alberto Giraldo Giraldo (Leonardo Betancur Taborda) and Álvaro Olaya (Pedro Luis Valencia Giraldo).
  • Cultural Event: pianist Teresita Gómez.
  • Concert - musical group, School of Medicine - Director: Said Hurtado
As of September 11, commemorative traveling exposition, "And Death Shall Have No Dominion": Library parks: Santo Domingo, La Quintana, La Ladera, San Javier and Belén.

August 17 to September 8: Books and texts exposition, Main Library University of Antioquia.

August 8 to September 10: exposition "From greatness to intimacy", University Museum, culture room.

Thursday, August 16, 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 25, 12:00 m., and Monday 27, 7:00 p.m.: special "Thinking in a loud voice", radio program that Héctor Abad Gómez managed between 1982 and 1987, by the Cultural Station, University of Antioquia – System of Educational Radio.

From July 23 and during the month of August: Commemorative special "And Death Shall Have No Dominion", hypermedia channel at http://altair.udea.edu.co <http://altair.udea.edu.co/> .

  • Book, Letters from Asia, by Héctor Abad Gómez (University of Antioquia Rectory and Héctor Abad Gómez Corporation for Education and Public Health)
  • Memoirs of the Chair Héctor Abad Gómez: "A contribution to the construction of civility" (University of Antioquia Rectory, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and Héctor Abad Gómez Corporation for Education and Public Health, with the sponsorship of the Mayor's Office of Medellin - Secretary of Civic Culture)
  • Bulletin U-235 (Department of Preventive Medicine of the School of Medicine of the University of Antioquia).
Conveners and Organizers:
  • University of Antioquia
  • Rectory
  • School of Medicine
  • National School of Public Health
  • System of Libraries
  • University Museum
  • Héctor Abad Gómez Corporation for Education and Public Health
  • Mayor's Office of Medellin - Secretary of Civic Culture
  • School of Law and Political Science
  • Cultural Station, University of Antioquia – System of Educational Radio
  • Department of Audiovisual Services
  • Department of News and Press
  • Cultural Agenda Alma Máter  
  • Communication Systems Altair
  • Photojournalist Jesús Abad Colorado

Friday, August 24, 2007

Inter-American Court of Human Rights Condemns the Colombian State for Extrajudiciary Execution

Translated and sent by the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective

On July 4, 2007, Inter-American Court of Human Rights Condemned the Colombian
State for the Extrajudicial Execution of the Nasa Indigenous Person German Escué

Inter-American Court Condemns the Colombian State for the Extrajudicial
Execution of the Nasa Indigenous Person German Escué
José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective
Colectivo de Abogoados “José Alvear Restrepo” (CCAJAR)  
August 8, 2007
Bogotá, Colombia
On the night of February 1, 1988, while his family was asleep, members of the
national army illegally and violently entered the home of Germán Escué. At the
time, several of his family members were there, including his newborn baby
girl. The military unit, commanded by Corporal Camacho Riaño, began to search
the house. While asking him where the weapons were, they called him a
guerrillero and beat him. Finally, they tied him up, forced him out his
mother’s home, and then murdered him.
Germán Escué was a recognized community leader. Since he was a child, he had
been participating in the political and cultural life of his community,
Vitoyó, assuming an early defense of their rights. While still a young man,
Germán became the substitute Cabildo Governor and the administrator for the
community store. At the side of his father, Mario Pasú, he fought for the
defense of their territory as well as to eliminate the practice of terraje, a
feudal practice in which indigenous families work without pay for the large
non-indigenous landowners.
According to the Court, for the Paez people the loss of this leader meant
“dismemberment and harm to the integrity of the collective; frustration due to
the all of the trust deposited in him to help them achieve a good life; and
feelings of loss due to the collective effort undertaken with the support of
his [C]ommunity to be able to carry out his mission as a special person.” [1]
While this case was being processed, the Colombian state recognized its
international responsibility for the violation to the right to life, personal
freedom, personal integrity, and the protection of judicial guarantees.
“[…] a request for pardon and solidarity with [the family members], expressing
we may not be able to make reparations for all of the harm that has been
caused, but we will do everything in our power to be able to accompany you and
fulfill our role as society in making reparations to the persons who have been
affected by these acts, which never should have occurred and were carried out
by State agents who irresponsibly and in clear violation to their authority
incurred in acts affecting citizens such as yourselves who never should have
suffered the severity of the corresponding acts. […]” [2]
The Court accorded values to this recognition of responsibility and determined
the scope of each one of the violations, especially in terms of justice by
clearly establishing “the 19-year delay in the national justice system for the
present case is exceptionally unreasonable” [3] and that the authorities must
undertake serious and diligent investigative action. According to the Court,
in order to follow up on all of the logical lines of investigation, due
procedure in the investigative processes requires that these processes take
into account the complexity of the acts, the context and the circumstances in
which they occurred, and the patterns explaining their commission. Minimally
and especially in cases concerning extrajudicial executions, judicial
authorities should attempt to: a) identify the victim; b) recover and preserve
the probatory material related to the acts; c) identify possible witnesses and
obtain their testimony; d) determine the cause, manner, place, and time in
which the illicit act took place, as well as any other pattern or practice
which could have caused the act; and e), in cases of death, differentiate
between natural, accidental, suicidal and homicidal death.
Additionally, the Inter-American Court also considered the Colombian State
responsible for arbitrary and abusive intervention in the home of Germán and
his family.
Lastly, although the Court positively valued the turning over of the victim’s
remains to his family members and Community, which made it possible to bury
the victim in accordance to traditions, uses, and customs of the Paez People,
the Court also bore in mind that the family members waited four years for the
Colombian State to turn over the remains of Mr. Escué Zapata and determined
that the prolonged wait for more than two years had spiritual and moral
repercussions on the family members, since in accordance with Nasa culture
“once a Nasa child is born, the umbilical cord is planted in the Mother Earth
[…] in order to germinate life. Now, when he dies, we also plant him, as
opposed to burying him, so life will be there. But to take him away is
disrespectful of the culture, of Mother Earth. Taking him from his bosom is
like cutting out the womb of the woman who saw him conceive, procreate, and
grow. It is a considerable cultural affectation and creates deharmonization
and decontrol of the territory.” [4]
As a result, the Inter-American Court ordered a series of satisfaction
measures and guarantees of non-repetition in favor of the Nasa people, the
victims, and his family members:
a.     The Court stipulated the State must effectively undertake the criminal
processes presently in course -as well as those to open in the future- in
order to determine the corresponding responsibilities for the acts of this
case and apply the consequences envisaged by Law. Additionally, the State
should exhaust the lines of investigation concerning the execution of Mr.
Escué Zapata in order to establish the truth of the acts.
b.     The State must ensure the family members of the victim have full access and
capacity to act in all of the stages and instances of said investigations and
processes, in accordance with national law and the norms of the American
Convention. The State must also publicly divulge the results of these
processes so Colombian society –and especially the Paez indigenous community-
may know what really occurred in the present case.
c.     Fund for Community Development: The Court also considered that the recovery
of the memory of Mr. Escué Zapata must be undertaken through works to the
benefit of the community in which he exercised a certain kind of leadership.
In order to achieve this, the State must designate, USD $40.000,00 (forty
thousand US dollars) to a fund named in honor of Germán Escué Zapata so the
Community may invest this money in works or services of beneficial collective
interest, in accordance with their own ways of consultation, decision-making,
uses, customs, and traditions, independently of the public works designated
for this region in the national budget.  
d.     Higher education for the daughter of Germán Escué: the State must provide
Myriam Zapata Escué with a scholarship to undertake university studies in a
Colombian public university chosen by her and the State. The scholarship
should cover all of the expenses throughout her university studies, including
academic material, food, and housing. The State should also provide transport
from the city where the beneficiary studies to her Community so she may easily
maintain ties, traditions, uses, and customs, as well as contact with her
family on a regular basis.
e.     Comprehensive medical treatment: The Court stipulated the State’s
obligation to provide –without any charge whatsoever- specialized medical,
psychiatric and psychological treatment, including the provision of
medication, once consent is expressed for said treatment. When treatment is
provided, the particular circumstances and needs of each person –especially
their customs and traditions- must be considered in such a way that suitable
treatment is provided.  
f.     Publication of the judgment in a nationally distributed newspaper in the
Spanish and Nasa Yuwe languages.  
g.     Public recognition of responsibility: In order to make reparations for the
harm caused to the victim and his family members, the Court considered the
State must undertake a public act –previously agreed upon with the family
members and their representatives- to recognize its responsibility with
respect to the violations stated in this judgment. This act must be undertaken
as a public ceremony in the Jambaló Indigenous Reservation with the presence
of senior State authorities. This act must also allow the leaders of the
Community and the family members to participate if they so desire. [5] The
State must also provide the necessary means to facilitate the presence of said
persons in this act. [6] Furthermore, the State must carry out said act in the
Nasa Yuwe and Spanish languages as well as take into account the traditions,
uses, and customs of the Community members.
[1] Anthropological expert witness testimony provided by Esther Sánchez de
Guzmán on January 19, 2007. (Merit file, volume III, page 611.) Case Escué
Zapata vs. Colombia. Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Judgment of July 4,
2007. [Translator’s note: the excerpts of the judgment are not official
[2] This statement made by Mr. Camilo Ospina, Colombian Ambassador before the
OAS, during the public hearing for this case. Case Escué Zapata vs. Colombia.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Judgment of July 4, 2007.
[3] Taken from paragraph 103 of the judgment. Case Escué Zapata vs. Colombia.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Judgment of July 4, 2007.
[4] Statement made by Flor Ilva Trochez on January 29 and 30, 2007. Taken from
paragraph 153 of the judgment. Case Escué Zapata vs. Colombia. Inter-American
Court of Human Rights. Judgment of July 4, 2007.
[5] The judgment makes reference to Plan de Sánchez Massacre Case vs.
Guatemala, (Art. 63.1 American Convention on Human Rights) Judgment of
November 19, 2004, Series C No. 116, paragraph 100; Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous
Community Case, supra note 20 paragraph 201; and Sisters Serrano Cruz Case,
supra note 20, paragraph 194.
[6] The judgment makes reference to Plan de Sánchez Massacre Case vs.
Guatemala, Reparations, supra note 147, paragraph 100; and Sisters Serrano
Cruz Case, supra note 20, paragraph 194.

"Peace is not possible as long as such profound, disproportionate, and aggravating
differences exist in the fate of persons and peoples." - José Alvear Restrepo

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

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The fund for Reparations for the Victims: Budget for the Victimizers, but not for the Victims

( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator )

Sent by : Colectivo de Abogados  “Jose Alvear Restrepo”
Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective

 (August 20, 2007)

While the national government has since 2005 been implementing hundreds of productive projects, training course, grant funds, agreements with economic groups, all with the goal of reinserting the demobilized paramilitaries, thousands of victims of paramilitarism patiently await the distant possibility that they will received economic reparations for the crimes against humanity committed against their loved ones, through the Fund for the Reparation of Victims, recently put into operation.
Despite this Fund, administered by the Presidential Agency for Social Action, does not have the resources with which to respond, not only because the paramilitaries themselves are wise to the fact that “they only have to give up or declare the goods that came from illegal sources” [i]  and have worked out all kinds of judicial maneuvers, among others front men, offering goods that have not been judicially cleared and the return of properties with productive projects in favor of the demobilized; but also because on the 26th of July the Fund for the Reparation of Victims “has only received goods of the demobilized Mister Manuel de Jesús Pirabán, alias “Don Jorge” or “Pirata”[2] , which are two farms, one of 910 hectares, the other of 955, three lots that are 200 square meters each, three campers, 152 creole bulls and two horses. [3]
Similarly to date the Fund has not had any income from foreign donations, nor from resources that would come from the national government budget to maintain it [4],   as does paradoxically the high Presidential Council for the Social and Economic Reintegration of Groups and Persons in Armed Revolt, which according to its director Frank Joseph Pearl González, has a budget of 294,000 million pesos [5]  [in US terms, 294 billion pesos, or about $147 million [USD-SC] as well as 40 projects with private support and the possibility that the United States will commit $51 million USD in the next three years.
According to the High Counselor, by January 31 of this year, the Accompaniment System indicated that of a total of 31,521 demobilized paramilitaries, 26,790 received some sort of benefit, among them humanitarian aid that amounts to 358 thousand pesos [about $129 USD—SC] per month, even if they are not attending workshops or courses. Of the rest, that is, 4,731, there whereabouts are unknown.
And although the talk is of a total breakdown of the reinsertion process, since apparently part of the first 5,276 million pesos [about$ 2.14 million USD- SC] invested in this process was lost, what is certain is that since 2005 the national government has been implementing what in its moment was called “Productive Projects for Peace” as part of the base for the creation of business projects in the area where there are massive demobilizations, that is, Urabá, the southeast of Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Tibú (in the north of Santander) Palmira, Córdoba and the south of Magdalena. [vi]  (6)
In effect, today of the 2,624 demobilized paramilitaries who should be employed in 41 economic projects in nine departments, less than a quarter remain connected to them. An example of this is the fact that despite the government’s paying out 600 million pesos [about $300,000 USD] for 300 ex-paramilitaries who belonged to the bloc of Hernán Giraldo to produce estevia un producto relativamente nuevo…], in July of this year there were merely five demobilized people cultivating the natural sweetener.[vii]  (7)
That’s how things are, an unprecedented situation that while the victims of the paramilitary groups have no real psychological support, or any humanitarian aid to be able to live and attend the statements of their assassins, while they struggle to get the money to maintain their families, the forced displacement that they have had to take on because of threats and persecution, the demobilized paramilitaries continue receiving—despite the complete fiasco of the process, in addition to the billions of pesos that have been lost—advice, information about health, education, psychosocial attention, job training, in whichever of the Referral Centers organized by the government for that purpose, like in the case of Antioquia.[viii]  (8)
So it is clear once again that the only beneficiaries of the decisions of the government under the Law of justice and Peace are the paramilitaries, while the victims continued being affected and victimized, in addition to the fact that they will only be beneficiaries of the Fund if they manage to participate directly in the reparation process, if they can come forward and prove that it was that paramilitary leader or bloc who committed the crime, if the particular case ended with a sentence, and of course if the reparation fund manages to get money to give them reparations.
Mancuso said it well, in an interview with El Espectador in 2005: “the productive projects and the full return to civilian life of the demobilized are generating an available flow for when we want to use them as a political trampoline.” [ix] (9)
In conclusion, to date there isn’t a singe peso for reparations for the victims, the fund is a pipe dream fund, and one more fraud added to the lack of truth and justice that would level the road so that the victims might appeal to the International Criminal Court or other bodies to look for truth, justice and reparation.

[i] <#_ednref1> Article 9 of Decree 3391 of 2006, which opposes the decision of the Supreme Court in their sentence C-370 of 2006.

[2] <#_ednref2> Response to the petition presented by the Legal Collective “José Alvear Restrepo” signed by the Technical Sub-Director of Attention to Victims of the Violence, of the Presidential Agency for Social Action

[3] <#_ednref3> Source: Office of the president, SNE May 25, 2007

[4] <#_ednref4> Reply of Social Action, July 26, 2007

[5] <#_ednref5> “We All have to Build this Country” El Espectador, December, 2006

[6] <#_ednref6> “Economic Projects of the ‘Paras’ Take Off” El Espectaor, March 13, 2005

[7] <#_ednref7> “The Reintegration of the Ex Paramilitaries are Now three Years Behind” El Tiempo August 11, 2007

[8] <#_ednref8> Where is the Reintegration process of the AUC Heading? For more information, see:
file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrador/Escritorio/desmovilizados/EN%20QU%C3%89%20VA%20EL%20PROCESO%20DE%20REINCORPORACI%C3%93N%20DE%20LAS%20AUC%20super.htm <file://localhost/C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrador/Escritorio/desmovilizados/EN%20QU%C3%89%20VA%20EL%20PROCESO%20DE%20REINCORPORACI%C3%93N%20DE%20LAS%20AUC%20super.htm>

[9] <#_ednref9> “Salvador Mancuso Says ‘The Ideal is to Create a national Guard’” El Espectador, August 7, 2005

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


(Translated by Stacey Schlau,  a CSN volunteer translator )

Public Announcement

Department of Arauca, August 17, 2007

The Social Organizations of the Department of Arauca have a legacy of dignity that has historically characterized our defense of life, culture, natural resources, environment, national sovereignty, and food and agricultural security as inalienable and permanent rights that work as vital elements in the development of an autonomous and sovereign people. Confronting the critical moment we now face in our region, we announce, through different media, to local, regional, national, and international public opinion, national and international human rights organizations, and the current diplomatic corps in Colombia, the following facts:
1.         Since August 5, 2007, the FARC in the Department of Arauca have been spearheading an armed strike, which has caused pressure and intimidation to stop activities for [all] sectors, productive organizations, truckers, educators, community and economic solidarity projects. It has been thirteen days; they say that it is against the transnational oil companies, but in actuality it has been one more form of oppression for our Araucan communities, because peasants and workers in the informal sector have lost their daily means of earning a living, while the fields of exploration and exploitation of petroleum continue fully functioning.
2.            Araucan peasants still haven’t recovered from the results of the aerial fumigations that poisoned our Department and our economy, in a chemical and bacteriological war that affected food security. Today, with the strike, agricultural production such as the rice fields have lost more than half their crops; the banana plantations, whose perishable fruit cannot wait to be picked, are being ruined. Milk, a basic product for nourishing children and part of the economic wellbeing of the peasant population, has not been able to be distributed. This same thing is happening with other agricultural products.
3.            Education, which has suffered a severe crisis due to the privatization policies of the State, the administrative corruption of the Department, and the trafficking of patronage through political favors, is also experiencing the consequences of this armed strike, since the agricultural high schools and rural schools are affected by the interruption of academic and technical work, harming a large number of students, the majority of whom are peasants.
4.            Trade, which is a significant economic item, is seeing its income affected and we, the consumers, find ourselves without the basic foodstuffs we need at home, which encourages speculation in the price of products.
5.            The truckers, who, along with the other sectors have been willing to participate in the different stages and processes of community development, are suffering from restrictions on traffic. The FARC have gone to the extreme of burning some vehicles, whose owners are poor working people of the region. Besides, this is the work that feeds their families.
6.            We the Social Organizations have been systematically victimized by aggression, stigmatization, punishment, and criminalization by the paragovernment of Uribe Vélez and the transnational oil companies, which have invaded and plundered our natural resources, destroying our flora and fauna, polluting our air, rivers, and lagoons, with their farce: the “Democratic Security Policy.”
7.            In this situation, we find ourselves obligated to demand of the FARC that they stop the strike, because we think that besides affecting the population of Arauca, it has placed obstacles in the way of our (the organized communities’) legitimate right to mobilize and express ourselves. As a tribute, it would pay posthumous and solemn homage to hundreds of fallen comrades who, like Alirio Martínez, Jorge Prieto, and Leonel Goyeneche, became martyrs as a result of the foolish and macabre state policies, carried out by regulations born out of the immorality and greed that is eating away at Colombian institutions.
8.            We recognize that in our country there is an armed conflict; at the same time, we urge the FARC to respect and apply Article 3 of the Geneva accords, regarding respect for and protection of the civilian population.

For life, defense of human rights, and remaining on our land
The Social Organizations of the Department of Arauca
Network of Fraternity and Solidarity—Colombia
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
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Thursday, August 16, 2007


( Translated by Ann Boylon, a CSN volunteer translator)
 By Hector Castro Portillo
Resident of Lyon, France
President Uribe is presently in a confrontation with the Supreme Court of Justice in regards to the so-called justice and peace law.  The President’s attack on this court, the highest in Colombian common jurisdiction, cannot but result in serious consequences.  This is not any ordinary bit of bother between an important judicial institution and national politics because, in a large measure, the future of the country’s political regimen depends on its outcome.  
This conflict affects one of the pillars of the modern State, the separation and independence of public powers.  Also at risk is the nature of a political crime and even the juridical existence of armed conflict.  The President’s action has placed the country at a very delicate juncture.

As part of a judicial process, the Penal Section of the Supreme Court of Justice has denied political status to members of the paramilitary groups who have decided to submit to the Justice and Peace Law (Law 975 of 2005).  According to the Court, the actions of the paramilitaries do not fall into any of the penal categories of political crime: rebellion, sedition or riot
In the judgment of the Court, because the paramilitaries have never proposed to overthrow the national government, nor abolish or modify the constitutional regime or the law of the land or temporarily impede its free function, nor violently and tumultuously demand that the authorities carry out or omit any function proper to its mandate, they fall under the common law criminal category of aggravated conspiracy to break the law.  Nevertheless, to the surprise of everyone, the paramilitaries have, within the framework of this process, declared themselves to fall under the category of sedition.
The government agrees with this.  The reaction of President Uribe to this declaration has been, to say the least, over the top.  He has even accused the Supreme Court of Justice of torpedoing the peace process with the paramilitaries.  He has described the magistrates as having a certain ideological inclination favorable to the leftist guerrilla; he has decided to present a proposed law to Parliament which seeks recognition of the above-mentioned status to the paramilitaries and, finally, he has threatened to appeal to the people if it is necessary to achieve his objective.

President Uribe sees the Court’s decision as a major obstacle to the achievement of the goals of the Justice and Peace Law, which is a judicial instrument designed to allow the so-called paramilitaries to submit to the judicial system.
This law has been denounced by human rights organizations and by the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights as an instrument of impunity for the crimes committed by the paramilitaries during more than two decades.  The paramilitaries are the ones most responsible for the massacre of civilians, for the forced internal displacements of more than three million people and for the dispossession of poor and middle level peasants of their lands and goods.
These groups have been strongly implicated in drug trafficking and have, over almost three decades, accumulated enormous economic power and influence among the political officials at the local, regional and national levels. Their close relations with the military and police forces have been demonstrated in the judicial courts.
The justice and peace law, which appears more of a macabre joke against the victims than an authentic desire of sanction, has been served up by the President to the paramilitaries for the purpose of facilitating a decorous surrender and avoiding extradition to the USA for drug trafficking.  Thus the President expresses gratitude for services rendered by the paramilitaries to the State in their fight against the Marxist guerrillas.  This law stipulates that the penalties imposed by this law cannot exceed a seven year prison sentence.
Faced with the overwhelming juridical arguments presented by the Court, The President has had recourse to the maneuver of invoking the superior interests of the country, thus denying the right of the court’s jurisprudence in this matter, the law of the land, and the Constitution itself.  Uribe maintains that the paramilitaries should be placed on an equal juridical footing with the guerrilla in order that they also enjoy political status. For Uribe, there should be no juridical difference between them.
Why give political treatment to those who attack the constitutional regime and deny it to those who defend it, asks the President, while simultaneously proposing the elimination of political crime from the national juridical system.  In the President’s judgment, this is justified by the fact that with this legaldefinition there wouldn’t be an armed conflict in Colombia but a terrorist threat, an argument that echoes that of the Bush administration since the 2001 attacks.
In reality, there are not many precedents of this kind in our recent political history.  In the past, of course, governments have objected to certain decisions taken by high level courts, but in the end they always complied with them without calling into question their lawful judicial authority.  In the present case, the situation is very different.  The President not only doesn’t agree with the Court’s decision to treat the paramilitaries as common delinquents, but he does not appear ready to respect their decision.
He even attributes to the Court political responsibility in the event of an eventual failure of the process of paramilitary submission to justice.  This maneuver could, in the violent and polarized context of the country, result in an incitement to make an attempt against the lives of the magistrates.
Political crime has a long history in Colombian penal legislation and has always enjoyed constitutional support.  In our case it is the members of the guerrilla organizations that have recourse to it via the rebellion proviso in the law.  The Supreme Court of Justice has, not a few times, recognized the altruistic motives that are involved in the crime of rebellion given that the rebel is not seeking egotistical gain, but rather is guided by the search for the common good of the population which they declare themselves to represent.  It is for this reason that the legislation reserves for the political delinquent a distinct treatment with respect to other transgressors of the penal law, granting them a more benign sentence and the possibility of a pardon or amnesty, and leaving them the right to hold political or public office after completion of their sentence.
Thus, when President Uribe advocates for political status for the paramilitaries he is opening the way for the possibility of pardons, amnesties and even the possibility of holding elective offices.  He is also protecting them from an eventual extradition to the USA.  This would mean a total impunity for the uncountable crimes committed by these groups and the legalization of their enormous political and economic power.
It is noteworthy that the President is advocating for political status for the paramilitaries at the same time that he insists that the category of political crime should not exist, given that, in his singular point of view, there is no armed conflict in Colombia.  This clear incoherence on his part is due to his desire to label the guerrilla as common terrorists without political ideology.  If this proposed law becomes a reality, the traditional separation between political crime and common crime, an old historical legal patrimony recognized in even the most obscure places of the planet, will be wiped out.
How to explain this defense to the death of some of the groups that have been identified nationally and internationally as having committed horrific crimes, many of which fall under the purview of international penal law? Why assume the defense of people who are guilty of such crimes, even defying the independence of the judiciary?  Nobody in Colombia seems to doubt the close connections between the present Colombian President with the paramilitary groups, a connection that dates from his term as governor of Antioquia in the middle of the nineties.  There is an abundance of information supporting this relationship which has been published in the press.
Debates in Parliament, initiated by the principal opposition party, Polo Democratico Alternativo, have proved this connection.  Both of Uribe’s presidential elections have had significant direct support from these groups.  It isn’t a coincidence that that in both of these elections the paramilitaries have identified Uribe’s triumph as their own. In a position to choose between the rights of the victims and the interests of the paramilitaries, Uribe has not hesitated.
But even beyond this presidential loyalty to the paramilitaries there is another not unimportant factor which helps to understand Uribe’s obstinacy. The Colombian President is known for his authoritarian exercise of power, for his war-like spirit and for his belief that he is the national savior.  He came to power in an atmosphere of social polarization and desperation following the failure of the peace process between the Pastrana government and the FARC having made the promise to abolish the Marxist guerrilla. He is convinced that the prerequisite for peace is their military defeat and is prepared to ignore any legal or constitutional obstacles to achieve this end.  Nevertheless, it is six years since his rise to power and this objective does not seem reachable in spite of the enormous financial resources invested toward this end.
To those who demand respect for the independence of the other branches of public power, he answers that their independence is not absolute but relative.  All public powers must participate in only one war strategy designed by the Executive.  No one can, therefore, ruin the government’s plans and programs, not even in the name of the law of the Constitution. The superior interests of the nation, he says, are above all that and above, of course, the interests of the citizenry.  In this war against the guerrilla the civil population does not exist.
The population better make up its mind to align itself with the State which includes providing information about the terrorists and unconditional support of the Armed Forces and the Police. All positions of neutrality favor the guerrilla and, therefore, should not be tolerated.  With this totalitarian strategy, Uribe threatens the lawful State because he doesn’t accept its rules or because he changes them to suit his purpose.  In this he has the  help of a docile Parliament.
At the beginning I said that Uribe’s defiance of the Court’s decision could have serious effects in the configuration of the political regime. The concentration of power in the President has been a characteristic of our precarious political system. The President is not only the head of State, but he is also head of the government and the supreme administrative authority.  In this system the different powers have been functioning under a certain equilibrium based on the autonomy of each one.
But Uribe, to the detriment of the other branches of public power, is dangerously weakening this equilibrium with his authoritarianism and his extension of presidential powers.  This is one of the gravest challenges which the country will confront, along with impunity, a legacy of the justice and peace law, and the daily assassinations against social and political opponents which the paramilitaries continue to commit.
(1)  Articles 467, 468 and 469 of the Colombian Penal Code (Law 599 of 2000)

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


            The courageous brother of one of the persons “disappeared” by the Colombian Army in its counterattack on the Palace of Justice in Bogota 22 years ago, Rene Guarin Cortes, has received serious threats against his life. During the last weeks he has received threatening telephone calls and been apparently followed by suspicious persons. The telephone threats referred to a necessity to silence any activity demanding justice, truth and reparations for the families of the Palace of Justice victims. Two unknown persons within a white jeep which sometimes has license number APJ 005 and sometimes license plate number AP 005 follow him  around.

    These threats are an example of the advanced state of persecution against those who try to uncover the truth of what happened, brought by those who caused the deaths of at least 11 persons “disappeared” and later murdered after being taken out of the Palace of Justice alive. Other related events which have already occurred are the murder 9 years ago of defense and human rights attorney Jose Eduardo Umana Mendoza, who represented relatives of the victims of the Palace of Justice, and the theft of information obtained by relatives of the victims from the residence of Enrique Rodriguez Hernandez, the father of the Palace of Justice cafeteria administrator.
            Now the Guarin family is being threatened. Quite understandably, they have little confidence that Colombia’s Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, or DAS, which is like an FBI, will investigate and prepare evidence against those responsible for the “disappearances” and murders, since the DAS has been implicated in murders of labor leaders, local community leaders and university professors.
            It is vital that the international community express its support for the efforts of Rene Guarin and the other relatives of the Palace of Justice victims and for the efforts of Attorney General Mario Iguaran, who has renewed and carried forward the investigation into the Palace of Justice events.

Please write the following persons to tell them you want to see the Colombian Government take appropriate measures to protect the lives of Rene Guarin and all of the other relatives of the Palace of Justice “disappeared’, and to support Attorney General Iguaran’s investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Palace of Justice murders.


US AMBASSADOR IN COLOMBIA; Currently Charge d’ Affairs Mr. Brian A. Nichols

Vicepresident of Colombia
Dr Francisco Santos E-mail : fsantos@presidencia.gov.co>

Procuraduría General de la Nación
Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón Email : reygon@procuraduria.gov.co & anticorrupcion@presidencia. gov.co

Defensoría del Pueblo
Dr.  Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz.
Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN in Geneva

Colombian Embassy in Madrid*
*The current Ambassador Nohemi Sanin, was Minister of Communications at the time of the takeover of the Palace of Justice and censored the mass media to report

 To the following  European Embassies that have shown support for the relatives of the victims :

bogota@diplobel.be <mailto:bogota@diplobel.be>
embsueca@cable.net.co <mailto:embsueca@cable.net.co>
vertretung@bog.rep.admin.ch <mailto:vertretung@bog.rep.admin.ch>
nlgovbog@etb.net.co <mailto:nlgovbog@etb.net.co>
delegation-colombia@cec.eu.int <mailto:delegation-colombia@cec.eu.int>
bgota@international.gc.ca <mailto:bgota@international.gc.ca>

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


( Translated by Deryn Collins, a CSN volunteer translator)

Once again the State, through its armed arm, silences the sensitive voice of a young student and fatally wounds another. Flowers cut down in full springtime. The pain affects the rebel happiness. The National Army of Colombia assassinated Catherine Soto Ospina (Natural Sciences Student) and gravely wounded Rolando Quintero (Philosophy Student) both students at the University of Valle, Cali.
When will the assassin’s bullets stop?

 In the early hours of  Friday 3 August 2007 at approximately 3.30am, in the rural zone of the municipality of Buenaventura, a hamlet of San Cipriano, a very popular rural tourist  area in the department of the Valley del Cauca, Catherine Soto Ospina and Rolando Quintero were treacherously attacked and shot at by Army units, without warning and with no consideration of their civilian state ( desarmados  and indefensible) whist they were walking as normal in a zone for tourists and local inhabitants in general.

 Our companions, like common and wild beings….our companions in flight, Catherine and Rolando, walking along the railroad track towards the hanging bridge, and just as they were crossing (Catherine was walking in front of Rolando) were surprised by a stray but officially marked bullet. She fell mortally wounded, a victim of the Army assassin’s bullets and immediately after Rolando was hit three times by another burst of fire, causing him to fall into the river gravely injured, where the current took him took the bank where he hid, hoping that the light of day would save him from the hoard of assassins. With the first rays of the sun, Rolando decided to come out of hiding to find help and who should find him but precisely the Army that hours earlier had shot him. They were travelling on a vehicle with guns that uses the train track – a typical vehicle in this zone). Sadly, very sadly, because not only was he injured but he was placed by the body of his walking companion Catherine. And this with the absolute  order that he must not look at her or touch her. Don’t touch, don’t look, don’t talk but minutes earlier they had shot  Catherine four times and him three accurate bullets in the leg. Heroes exist, that is clear and like prison dogs hunt their victims. Our friend, travelled now, his leg covered in mud, ‘travelled’ with his attackers (victimarios), towards Buenaventura, his head next to her  head, even though hers was destroyed by a bullet that entered the left maxillary.
Once in Buenaventura, Catherine was taken to the morgue and Rolando moved to the regional hospital in the custody of the army, where due to the gravity of his injuries the medical corps decided to move him to Cali. But said move was not immediate and it was only made possible when a commission of the University arrived from Cali, thanks to a communication from Rolando to a companion of his. Meanwhile, the military authorities in Buenaventura,help was offered by the Navy and the Army in transporting Roland and Catherine’s body, including a helicopter offered by Captain Edwin Moreno, but in the end no help at all was given, not even with the medical costs that were caused those attending for a another dishonour of a institution stained by some officials, sub-officials and soldiers that along with the State have to respond to the community of the university of the valley and Colombian society on account of such cowardly and savage acts that for at least four times in two years put in mourning  the university student body that unto this day the national government with its already known exhaustive investigations punish those guilty of these crimes.
This is not an error of
intrigue by the mass media, when in  the  mass media media the declarations of the army general  LEONARDO GÓMEZ HURTADO, affirm that it was an "error" in a military operation, justifying it on account of the suspicions the unit had about  the movements of  the students, Catherine and Rolando, who were on the only and obligatory path used habitually by tourists and locals in general. According to him Catherine had gone forward, then returned to where Roland was and then she went ahead again; this is nothing more than an example of the level of  devaluation of human life that the units of the Colombian army have reached in their paranoia of guerrillas, where after spying on uanarmed  civilians they fire and then investigate. Can it be right that today he simply says it was an error? Can it be right  that to the friends and family of Catherine, a general of the Colombian Army, threatens those who do not know how to make with silly things such as  demands that the army will pay for everything , while a lawyer asks what they will do with this money? According to this general the problem can be resolved with money and because of this State will pay, as someone said, the life of Catherine and many more does not interest them. Today with the pain that the Colombian Army has caused with the assassination of CATHERINE SOTO OSPINA, of just twenty two years of age and the grave injuries of Rolando, and the even more grave injuries to his soul, we ask for the punishment of the units of the Army who participated in this cowardly act, we ask for no more ‘exhaustive inquiries’ ,while those responsible are free to carry on committing crimes through the length and breadth of the country, because the surest thing is that they will be order to move while being exonerated of any responsibility, in the traditional ‘solidarity of the corps’, institutional, for impunity  is the response that is given to Colombian society. 
The memory of Catherine, we ask the Colombian State and its government, with respect, to punish the cowardly criminals. Colombian society deserves that the Colombian Army be an institution that respects human life, and metes out ordinary justice and not penal military justice sooner rather than later, applying the new penal norms that make justice to the damage caused by the army billeted in San Cipriano on August 3
rd 2007. 
We ask that the national and international communities make their respective pronouncements, to the President of the Republic Alvaro Uribe Vélez, the Minister of  National Defence Juan Manuel Santos, the Minister of the Interior Carlos Holguin Sardi, the Procurator General of the Republic Eduardo Maya Villazon, the National Defender of the People Volmar Pérez, so that the effective military billeted in San Cipriano who are responsible for the death of  KATERINE SOTO OSPINA and who left ROLANDO QUINTERO gravely injured, students of Valle University and those who, over the last two years at least have assassinated four other students with absolute impunity to date.



The Commander of the Third Brigade regrets to inform that public that military operations carried out in operation Cisneros with the objective of neutralising terrorist acts -  at around 3.30 a.m today on the railway track Buga-Buenaventura, in the rural area in the rural neighborhood of San Cipriano, in the municipality of Buenaventura,  resulted in the death of the young Caterine Soto Ospina and the wounding of  Señor Rolando Quintero. At the place of the incident were Commandants of the Third Division and the Third Brigade, accompanied by functionaries of the Penal Military Justice system, the CTI and LA FICALIA, with the object being to progress the respective investigations tendientes the clarification of the event . The Commander of the Third Brigade expresses his condolences to the Soto Ospina family and wishes for the prompt recovery of Señor Rolando Quintero.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Sent and translated by Lawyers Collective

The Office of the Attorney General should initiate a serious and thorough investigation:

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective  
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”
Bogotá, Colombia
13 August, 2007  
In testimony provided to the Justice and Peace Prosecutorial Unit in the City of Medellín, Antioquia, on May
16, 2007, paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso revealed the names of several senior Colombian
government officials, politicians, and military officers that have ties with paramilitary groups.  
As a part of his testimony, Mancuso confirmed denunciations by many human rights organizations with
respect to the emergence and consolidation of paramilitarism in Colombia owing to a State policy, basing
his argument on counter-guerrilla army manuals from 1963. [1] The paramilitary chief also sustained that
the current vicepresident of Colombia, Francisco Santos Calderón, proposed creating the Capital Bloc of the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), which indeed were
established and operate in the city of Bogotá D.C. [2]  
Additionally, Mancuso asserted that Francisco Santos told Carlos Castaño, former commander of this same
organization, “that he liked the model [of the self-defense forces] in Córdoba and that he would like for them
to be repeated in Bogotá.” He then sustained “[Carlos] Castaño proposed that [Francisco] Santos command
the Capital Bloc; however [Santos] rejected this, saying he didn’t know about these things.” Later, Santos
wrote a newspaper column titled “Counter-Insurgent Project” in which he referred to the AUC. [3]
Capital Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
The AUC Capital Bloc was first seen in Bogotá in 2000, as a part of the Centauros Bloc, which was born from
the paramilitary incursion led by Vicente Castaño Gil in Mapiripán, Meta, in 1998. In October 2001, the murders
of congressmembers Octavio Sarmiento and Luis Alfredo Colmenares Chía –who were accused of aiding the
insurgency- were attributed to this paramilitary bloc. [4] Said criminal structure was also held responsible for
the murder of countless young people in the localities of Bosa and Ciudad Bolívar as well as the sector of Altos
de Cazucá, the largest recipient community of internally displaced persons in Colombia. For many years now,
different social organizations and leaders have spoken out against this extermination of young people at the
hands of the AUC Capital Bloc. [5]
Furthermore, civilian leaders have asserted that armed men would violently enter residences and remove
persons from their homes. They would also frequently force people off the public transport to check if their
names appeared on death lists, in which case they were taken and never seen again. [6]
At the previously described hearing, paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso swore under oath to the charges
made against third parties, including those he made against Vicepresident Santos. [7] Nonetheless, Attorney
General Mario Iguarán Arana sustained he was not the proper authority to investigate the vicepresident and
that it was unclear what authority should carry out the investigation, even though he had publicly committed
himself to investigating all persons accused by Mancuso of having ties with paramilitary groups. [8]
In this sense, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective urges the Attorney General to initiate a serious
and thorough investigation of the charges made by Salvatore Mancuso, and especially those against
Vicepresident Francisco Santos Calderón. Likewise, we continue to ask the international community to provide
ongoing follow-up to the current situation in Colombia with respect to ties between public servants and
paramilitary groups.
1 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, Bogotá, Colombia, May 15, 2007. Available at:
2 Semana Magazine, National Section, Bogotá, Colombia, June 10, 2003. Available at:
3 Semana Magazine, National Section, Bogotá, Colombia, May 15, 2007. Available at:
4 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, Bogotá, Colombia, November 6, 2004. Available at:
5 Extermination of Youth in Altos de Cazucá. Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services, Bi-Weekly
Peace and Conflict Bulletin, Bogotá, Colombia, March 31 to April 15, 2004. Available at:
6 For more information, please see: <http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/colombia/doc/chiquitin1.html>.
7 El Meridiano. Monteria, Córodoba
8 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, May 20, 2007
[On July 28, 2007, the principal Colombian human rights and peace coalitions sent the following letter to the
Attorney General’s Office requesting information on the investigations being carried out against Vicepresident
Francisco Santos.]

July 28, 2007  
Bogotá D.C.  
Mario Iguarán Arana  
Attorney General  
Honorable Attorney General,  
We the undersigned as spokespersons from human rights and peace organizations address you now to present
the following right to petition with the purpose of requesting you to inform us of the name and post of the
official from the Office of the Attorney General responsible for handling the investigation that should have been
initiated against Mr. FRANCISCO SANTOS, Vicepresident of the Republic, for his presumed ties with paramilitary
groups.  Moreover, we request to be informed on the investigation’s file number as well as the current state of
the process.  This request is motivated by the following acts:  
1.    As is publicly known, on May 16, 2007, in the city of Medellín, Salvatore Mancuso provided testimony before
the Justice and Peace Court in which he stated that the current Vicepresident of the Republic had met with him,
as well as other important paramilitary commanders, on at least 6 occasions. At these meetings, Mr. Santos
requested for the creation of a paramilitary structure in Bogotá.  
2.    After this information was revealed, the Vicepresident issued a public pronouncement in which he requested
for the corresponding authorities to initiate and finalize –as soon as possible- any pertinent criminal and
disciplinary investigations.  
3.    On previous occasions, both prior to and following the described acts, you made pronouncements on this
matter to the effect that any link between public officials and paramilitary groups emerging from the hearings
of the Law of Justice and Peace would be investigated.  For instance, on May 20, in an interview with the
journalist YAMID AMAT, you stated that you would transfer the matter concerning the Vicepresident to the
Prosecutor Delegate before the Supreme  Court of Justice.  
As you well know, this situation strongly influences the normal life of democratic processes in our country,
especially due to the investiture held by Mr. Francisco Santos Calderón and in particular due to him being in
charge of the human rights policy for the current government.  Uncertainty concerning the reality of the acts,
as well as the possible veracity of this testimony, has reduced the chances for a healthy environment between
citizens and authorities, and especially between human rights and peace organizations and the Vicepresidency
of the Republic.  
In this regard, it is important to remember the role fulfilled by an independent and impartial judicature under a
social and democratic rule of law, and in particular with respect to the  processing of senior government officials.  
Due to the foregoing reasons, we believe it is of utmost importance for the Office of the Attorney General to
carry out a criminal investigation quickly and effectively so as to establish the possible responsibility of Dr.
FRANCISCO SANTOS in the creation of paramilitary groups.  
Lastly, we ask you to send your response to the following address:  
Carrera 10 No 24-76, Oficina 905, Bogotá D.C.  
ALLIANCE OF SOCIAL AND RELATED ORGANIZATIONS (Alianza de Organizaciones Sociales y Afines)                      
Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarollo)  
PERMANENT ASSEMBLY OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY FOR PEACE (Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz)  
"No podrá haber paz mientras subsistan diferencias tan profundas, desproporcionadas e irritantes  en la suerte de
las personas y de los pueblos." - José Alvear Restrepo
"Peace is not possible as long as such profound, disproportionate, and aggravating differences  exist in the fate of
persons and peoples." - José Alvear Restrepo

Dangerous message from the President when denouncing the Security Forces

For the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
For the United Nations Human Rights Council
For the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights

Dangerous and disconcerting message of the President of Republic about the persons that document and denounce the occurrence of extrajudicial executions directly attributable to members of the Security Forces

Observatory for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Coordinación Colombia-Europa -Estados Unidos

President Álvaro Uribe Vélez continues using a dangerous and defiant language which besides disqualifying the persons that report the occurrence of extrajudicial executions by security forces and security entities members, may endanger his life and personal integrity. The President prefers, once more, to deny the reality, contributing thus to maintain killings committed by State agents in impunity, instead of publicly stating his concern for the increase of denunciations regarding this serious violation of the right to life, as it is the case in a significant parts of the country, namely in Antioquia[1]
On July 27, 2007, during the commemoration of the second year of enforcement of the Act 975 of 2005 (known as the Justice and peace Law), the President referred to denunciations of extrajudicial executions ascribable to Security Forces, as a new strategy used by guerrillas:
“Now the guerillas have another strategy: every time there is a casualty in the guerrillas, immediately they mobilize their coryphaeus in the country and abroad to say that it was an extrajudicial execution. But the Armed Forces have been very careful so that there cannot be any ground to point out that the Armed Forces members are in collusion with paramilitary groups” .
With regards to the high number of extrajudicial executions attributable to the Security Forces and their impunity, in October 2006, the CCEEU warned the Interamerican Commission on Human rights that “to hide a crime and on top of that, to present it as a military success is an oddity”[3]  . Today, it is even more unreasonable that referring to facts where there is sufficient evidence to believe that the Security Forces carried out extrajudicial executions, the President of the Republic asserts that those who denounce them are “coryphaeus or guerrillas leaders”.
The words of President of the Republic are intended to restrict the right of any citizen, or of the human rights organizations,  to publicly denounce the occurrence of serious crimes, worsened by the fact that one can assume that the perpetrators are State Agents.  They also intend to intimidate and disqualify the persons who exercise this right, based on serious investigations to document cases of human rights and humanitarian law violations, clearly disregarding the Declaration on the right and the duty of individuals, groups and institutions of promoting and protecting the human rights and the fundamental liberties universally- acknowledged[4]
The President of the Republic continues polarizing the Colombian society and his speeches would appear to correspond to a logic of war, according to which, the “enemies” of democracy are the persons that look after the respect of human rights because their denunciations would weaken the Security Forces in the war against the guerrillas. Accusations of serious violations of human rights perpetrated by State Agents are not and cannot be considered acts of “juridical and political war”[5]  against military and police members, although some army officers continue  maintaining such assertion[6]  .
These denunciations are not intended to discredit the police and the Security Bodies, but rather to call the attention about institutional and illegal behaviors so that these institutions and their members abide by the doctrines and practices compatible with the human right treaties ratified by the Colombian State, the Constitution and the law. Along these lines, the National Minister of Defense reminded the obligation of the Armed Forces  to unrestrictedly respect them within the framework of the internal armed conflict:
“The principles of legality, distinction, need and proportionality must drive all military actions. Given the circumstances and the new forms of the crimes and of the illegal armed groups – which are more often operating in small groups disguised as civil population- the Security Forces must do every effort to distinguish the civil population and to protect it in all circumstances.
“Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind that:
·        Military targets must be properly identified and they can be attacked.
·        The war means and methods used must be proportional to the military advantage intended.
·        Attacks to civilians do not provide any military advantage.
·        Casualties produced in combat and resulting from the proportional use of force are legitimate and are framed in the Humanitarian International Law, provided we are referring to persons who participate directly in the hostilities.
·        Casualties produced out of combat or when the use of force is not consistent with the criteria of absolute need and proportionality are considered violations to the right to life and in the frame of human rights international law which constitute extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. In addition, these behaviors are crimes that must be dealt by the International Criminal Court by virtue of the Statute of Rome”[7] .
The State, and in particular the Security Forces, do not lose legitimacy due to denunciations of crimes ascribed to their members, but only by the fact that their agents have perpetrated them. Therefore, it is disconcerting that while the President of the Republic stigmatizes as guerrillas cooperators the persons who denounce and document killing of civilians committed by the Security Forces, the Minister of Defense, has recently reiterated the obligation of the Commander of the Security Forces to protect the civil population, to the light of the International Humanitarian Law and the human rights, during the development of any war operation:
“(…) the need to maintain order and recover peace for the Colombians in the consolidation stage cannot lead the members of military institutions to commit tactic excesses that can easily lead to the strategic weakening of the State and of the Security Forces in particular, which at the same time will entail to lose their most precious asset: legitimacy”[8]  .

Bogotá, August 1, 2007

* * *
Notes on the increase of extrajudicial executions attributable to Security Forces

Persistence of a worrisome number of extrajudicial executions directly ascribable to Security Forces. Between July 2002 and June 2006, 726 persons would have been victims of extrajudicial executions perpetrated by Security Forces members. These cases do not correspond to isolated facts. On the contrary, extrajudicial executions were reported in 27 out of 32 departments of the country.  Among the most affected departments are Antioquia (183 victims), Valle (53 victims), Arauca (40 victims), La Guajira (36 victims) and Nariño (32 victims).
·       In October 2006, the Observatory of human rights and humanitarian law of the CCEEU submitted to the Interamerican Commission an analysis of the occurrence of extrajudicial executions ascribable to Security Forces as well as detailed information on 98 cases, gathered from judicial dossiers given by the organizations making part of the CCEEU.
·       In March 2007, the Observatory of human rights and humanitarian law of the CCEEU produced during the fourth period of sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council a brief document stating the four features of the extrajudicial executions attributable to Security Forces in Colombia: i) The increase of the violations to the right to the life, directly attributable to the Security Force coincides with the implementation of the “democratic security” policy; ii) extrajudicial executions have been committed in many parts of the Colombian territory; iii) extrajudicial executions correspond to clear action patterns that are repeated in all the country, regardless the military or police unit involved in the facts; and iv)  there is a deliberated attempt to maintain these cases in the impunity,  most of which are being heard by the military criminal  jurisdiction.
·       In May 2007, the Observatory of human rights and humanitarian law of the CCEEU publicly presented the report entitled: Extrajudicial executions: the Eastern Antioquia case.  Besides the analysis of the particular context of the eastern region of Antioquia department, the report includes detailed information about 74 cases (110 victims) of extrajudicial executions and general information about other 48 persons  allegedly killed by members of the Security Forces ( most of them assigned to the Fourth Brigade of the National Army).
·       In June 23, 2007 El Espectador a weekly magazine revealed that the Procurator General’s Office informed the United States Embassy that as from January 1st, 2002, the controlling body “has started 54 disciplinary proceedings against officers and non- commissioned officers of the Security Forces for irregular operations in which country people who apparently were not subversive, had been presented as guerrillas casualties in combat”[9]  .
In Antioquia, the number of extrajudicial executions attributable to Security Forces could be significantly higher than the one mentioned in our reports. On May 22, 2007, during the launching of the report mentioned, the secretary of Government of Antioquia, Jorge Mejía, revealed that “between 2004 and 2006”  the Inter- institutional Committee of Human Rights and  IHL of Antioquia heard “264 denunciations, most of the them in the Eastern side”[10] <#_ftn10> . On July 4, 2007 El Tiempo newspaper stated that, according to information gathered by the Inter-institutional Committee, “312 cases in Antioquia, in which there were casualties in combat and concerns are reported, were sent to the Fourth Brigade”[11] .
Note:  the documents mentioned above can be requested ad Minister of National Defense, Permanent Guideline n. ° 10. Reiteration obligations for the authorities in charge of enforcing the law and preventing homicides in persons protected, Bogotá, June 6, 2007, page 2 of the CCCEU (coeuropa@etb.net.co).

Bogotá, August 1, 2007

* * *

[1] <#_ftnref1> In her last annual report on Colombia, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned that extrajudicial executions attributable to Security Force members persist and that they were recorded in 21 departments of the Colombian territory: “The right to life was affected by the persistence of homicides with indications of extrajudicial executions ascribable to members of the security forces, in particular the army. The Office in Colombia has received a greater number of complains compared to the year 2005.  These events were recorded in 21 Departments, especially in Antioquia, Nariño, Valle, Putumayo, Cesar, Atlántico, Tolima and Guajira.  In many of the cases reported, three common elements were identified:  the civil victims were presented as if they were killed in combat, the scene of the crime was altered by the perpetrators and the facts have been investigated by the military criminal justice system”.  Human Rights Council, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Colombia, 4° period of sessions, doc. A/HRC/4/48,  March 5, 2007, par. 36.

[2] <#_ftnref2> Speech of the president Uribe when commemorating the second year or the Justice and Peace Law, Bogotá, SNE, July 25, 2007, www.presidencia.gov.co/prensa_new/sne/2007/julio/25/09252007.htm

[3] <#_ftnref3> Observatory of Human rights and humanitarian law of the Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos (CCEEU), “False positives”. Extrajudicial executions directly attributable to the Security Forces in Colombia, July 2002 to June 2006, Bogotá, CCEEU, October 23, 2006, page. 18.

[4] <#_ftnref4> Article 6 of this Declaration  reads: “all persons are entitled, individually and collectively:

“a) To know, gather, obtain, receive and hold information referring to human rights and fundamental liberties, including the access to information on the means by which such rights and liberties are enforced in the internal legislative, judicial and administrative systems;

“b) According to the provisions of the human rights instruments and other international instruments applicable, to publish, disseminate or freely spread to third parties, the opinions, information and knowledge regarding all the human rights and fundamental freedoms;

“c) To study and debate whether these fundamental rights and liberties are observed, under the law and in practice, and to  form and maintain an opinion on this respect, as well as to attract the public attention to these matters by these means and using other proper means”.

[5] <#_ftnref5> Notions of “political war” and “juridical war” were updated in a publication made by retired generals and admirals. See Body of retired Generals and Admirals of the Armed Forces, Shearing the Wolf. The unknown dimension of the Colombian intern conflict, Bogotá, See Body of retired Generals and Admirals of the Armed Forces, June 2002, 412 pages.

[6] <#_ftnref6> On May 22, 2007 the Commander of the Fourth Brigade of the National Army maintained that the report on extrajudicial executions held in Eastern Antioquia, prepared by the Observatory for human rights and humanitarian law, “makes part of the political and juridical war”. Declarations made by General Jorge Rodríguez Clavijo to the newspaper El Colombiano. “NGO documents 110 summary executions”,  El Colombiano newspaper, Medellín, May 23, 2007, (www.elcolombiano.com.co).

[7] <#_ftnref7> Minister of National Defense, Permanent Guideline n. ° 10. Reiteration obligations for the authorities in charge of enforcing the law and preventing homicides in persons protected, Bogotá, June 6, 2007, page 2.

[8] <#_ftnref8> Minister of National Defense, Permanent Guideline n.° 10. Reiteration obligations for the authorities in charge of enforcing the law and preventing homicides in persons protected, Bogotá, June 6, 2007, page 2

[9] <#_ftnref9> “The United States is investigating extrajudicial executions made by military members”. “¿Is the US certification to Colombia in danger?”, El Espectador weekly publication Bogotá, 24 to 30 June 2007, pages. 1A & 4A.

[10] <#_ftnref10> “NGO documents 110 summary executions”, El Colombiano,  newspaper Medellín, may 23, 2007, (www.elcolombiano.com.co).

[11] <#_ftnref11> “16 military officers were arrested for ‘false positives cases’”, El Tiempo, newspaper Bogotá, July 4, 2007, page 1-4 (www.eltiempo.com/ tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-07-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3622976.html).
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