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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Army Official Arrested in Massacre Cases

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
Army Captain Guillermo Armando Gordillo was arrested by the Public Prosecutor for his alleged responsibility in two massacres, the one in San Jose de Apartado (Antioquia Province) and the one in La Resbalosa (Cordoba Province).  He is charged as the co-perpetrator in the crimes of murder of a protected person, conspiracy and terrorism.
The massacres took place in February of 2005 and the investigation that implicated Gordillo arose out of a direction that the investigation took at the beginning of this year, when the Public Prosecutor decided to tie more than 20 active military specifically to the events in San Jose de Apartado.
At this moment, a prosecutor from the Human Rights Unit has been able to prove that Captain Gordillo, commandant of the Bolivar counterinsurgency company of the Velez Battalion, part of the Army’s XVII Brigade, made use of paramilitaries as guides for an operation known as Phoenix, aimed at countering guerrilla activities.
The paramilitaries who served as guides for the regular Army troops were paramilitaries of the bloc known as “Heroes of Toloba”.  In carrying out this operation, they pointed out several civilians, among them two children, as collaborators with the guerrillas.
The victims
The events that directly implicate Captain Guillermo Armando Gordillo took place on February 21, 2005, in the town of Mulatos Medios, in the district of San Jose de Apartado (Antioquia Province) and in the town of La Resbalosa, in the municipality of Tierralta.  Five adults and three children were murdered.
In the district of Mulatos Medios, Luis Eduardo Guerra Guerra, his partner Beyanira Areiza, and his son Deyaner Andres Guerra Tuberquia lost their lives.  In La Resbalosa Alfonso Bolivar Tuberquia Graciano, his wife Sandra Milena Munoz Pozo, his children Natalia and Santiago, and Mr. Alejandro Perez were killed.
The arrested officer is in military custody.
Colprensa News Agency

Friday, November 23, 2007

Declaration on the Spanish Foreign Ministry=?ISO-8859-1?B?uQ==?=s Support for Colombia=?ISO-8859-1?B?uQ==?=s Justice and Peace Law

[Translated by Micheal O’Tuathail, La Chiva, a CSN volunteer translator]
On the two year anniversary of the implementation of the Justice and Peace Law
The below signed organizations have become aware of the celebration in the Casa de América, Madrid, of the seminar, entitled “International Seminar: Evaluating Two Years of the Application of the Justice and Peace Law,” and of the 1st “Salvamos Colombia” International Forum in Barcelona.
We regret that, on this occasion, just as in that which occurred during the approval and implementation of [the Justice and Peace] law, neither the victims nor the organizations that represent and accompany them have been taken into account. On the contrary, the central focus remains on the victimizers.
On this anniversary of Law 975 of 2005, more commonly known as the Justice and Peace Law, we would like to hereby state that:
Of the demobilized, 92% have received the benefits granted by Law 782 of 2002 and Decree 128 of 2003 [1], and only 8% have fallen under the Justice and Peace Law.
Law 975 of 2005 came about as a means for ensuring the impunity of Crimes Against Humanity committed by paramilitaries and their supporters, thereby eluding potential prosecution by the International Criminal Court [2].
This continues to serve as the primary objective of the Colombian government, to not charge paramilitary members with the crime of insurrection, something that the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice has objected to [3].
Although the benefits extended to those subject to this law were conditional upon the cessation of hostilities [4] and their contributions to peace, namely confessing to the entirety of the crimes committed, none of these conditions have been met. Moreover, in spite of this, the law has not been stopped nor has a single case been publicized about the revocation of those benefits.
The primary objective of the law, the effective disbandment of paramilitary groups and their structures and the control of their financing (drug trafficking), has not been attained [5].
The legal structure is designed to disallow the real participation of victims in the demobilization processes: the hearings are private, and their transmission through the mass media is prohibited; also, direct interrogations may not be filed [6].
The victims have not, and will not, receive reparations through Law 975 of 2005. Similarly, on the individual level, they will neither receive restitution, compensation, nor readjustment [7]. On the collective level, there is no guarantee that the crimes will not be repeated. The paramilitaries are able to hide their property, including that which they obtained unlawfully; also, that which is delivered will not begin to cover what has been paid by the totality of the victims of the conflict. The government considers collective and symbolic reparations to be the suitable mechanisms through which the victims of the conflict might receive compensation [8].
As of today, the victims continue to run grave risks: threats, intimidation, displacement, and murder [9].
It has been briefly revealed that profound relationships exist between specific state agencies (the army, police, DAS [Security Services], parliament, senate, etc) and paramilitary groups, links that social organizations have been reporting for a long time.
Be aware that, based on the aforementioned, this law and its implementation has not so much as attempted to satisfy the guarantees of truth, justice, and reparations recognized by the International Rights of Victims.
It is for this reason that we would like to express our profound disagreement with the celebration of this seminar and forum, which attempt to present this law as a step towards peace in Colombia, ignoring the voices of victims and paying special attention to victimizers.
We also demand that the Spanish state:
 - Neither second nor support initiatives and policies directed at validating the Justice and Peace Law as a means through which the conflict in Colombia may be resolved, especially given that the only objective of this law is to attain impunity for crimes against humanity committed in the country.
 - Immediately revoke the support of the Spanish government for the supposed demobilization of the paramilitaries, given their disregard for the principles of truth, justice, and reparation.
 - Cease all support for the Colombian government until human rights are fully respected in this country.
 - Take all possible measures to stop the extradition of paramilitaries to the United States to face drug trafficking charges; this is used as a mechanism through which to gain impunity for crimes against humanity committed in Colombia.
We should all remember what the Inter-American Human Rights Court said (in the Barrios Altos vs. Perú case, Sentence 14 March, 2001):
“Become inadmissible resolutions of amnesty and resolutions of prescription and the establishment of exclusionary responsibility that attempt to impede the investigation and sanction of those responsible for violations of human rights, such as torture, summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, and forced disappearances, all of which contravene inalienable rights recognized by international human rights law […] 43. Laws of self-amnesty work to ensure the indefensibility of victims and the perpetuity of impunity, issues that are manifestly incompatible with the letter and spirit of the American Convention […] 44. […] Such laws lack judicial effects and cannot continue to represent an obstacle for the investigation of the facts, paving the way for, in this case, neither the identification nor the punishment of those responsible.”
Logroño, 28 October, 2007
Organizations in the Spanish state:
AMSALA – Asociación Misionera Salvatoriana para Latinoamérica
Asociación Española para el Desarrollo y la aplicación del Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH)
Asociación Acción Verapaz
Asociación de Amistad Rioja-Cuba
Asociación de Mujeres Feministas: Laguz.
Asociacion Pro Derechos de la Infancia - Melilla
Asociación Solidaridad Derechos Humanos Colombia
Campaña Contra el Plan Colombia
Colectivo de Solidaridad por la Justicia y Dignidad de los Pueblos: COLICHE
Colectivo IQUIQUE
Colectivo Sur Cacarica
Colectivo Sur Cacarica, de Valencia
Comité de Solidaridad Oscar Romero de Madrid
Comité de Solidaridad Oscar Romero de Zaragoza
Comité de Solidaridad Internacionalista de Zaragoza
Comunidad Cristiana de Base Sto. Tomás de Aquino
Comunidades Cristianas Populares
Comunidad de Vanguardia Obrera
Ecologistas en Acción, España
Ecologistas en Acción – Madrid
Ekologistak Martxan
Equipo Nizkor
Espacio Alternativo-Madrid
Federación de Comités de Solidaridad con África Negra
Izquierda Unida - La Rioja
Izquierda Unida de la Comunidad de Madrid
Komite Internazionalista de Ermua (País Vasco)
Komite Internazionalistak de Euskal Herria
Logroño en Bici-Ecologistas
Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de España
Paz con Dignidad
Plataforma Rural /Alianzas por un Mundo Rural Vivo
Red Capicua
Salva la Selva - Latinoamérica
Secretaría de la coordinadora de los Comités Oscar Romero del Estado Español
Sodepaz Balamil
Soldepaz Pachakuti (Asturies)
Unión de Juventudes Comunistas de España
Xàrxa de l'Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Catalunya
Other Organizations:
Andas Medellín
Asociación Campesina de Antioquia (Colombia)
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos ASFADDES (Colombia)
Asociación para la Promoción Social Alternativa -MINGA- (Colombia)
Association Asamblee International de la Societe Civil por La Paix de Colombie Dans Le Monde, Section Suisse.-AIPAZCOMUN (Suiza)
Comité Estudiantil de Derechos Humanos Gustavo Marulanda, Colombia
Comité Permanente de Derechos Humanos Héctor Abad Gómez, Colombia
Corporación Compromiso – Bucaramanga (Colombia)
Corporación Jurídica Libertad, Colombia
France Amérique Latine Bordeaux Gironde (Francia)
Fundación Sumapaz, Colombia
End Notes:
1. A ruling that excludes said criminals from being investigated and put to trial for crimes committed owing to their membership in an illegal armed group; rather, the decree seeks to grant pardons, self-inhibit judges, prematurely end investigations, and cease proceedings, all of this without the necessity to assume the responsibility to confess the truth regarding the acts committed, including crimes against humanity.
2. In September of 2004, the magazine Semana revealed the content of several recordings made in Santa Fe de Ralito between the High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo, and spokespersons of the AUC. In these conversations, the paramilitaries expressed worry with respect to the reach of the International Criminal Court. The High Commisioner responded, “… the danger of the Court isn’t imminent. It can only work if justice hasn’t been given in the country. That is why the model being set forth focuses on judgment and sentencing in this country. The fact that the government offers a law that includes a sentence is important because it blocks the possibility of international jurisdiction.”
3. See text of the sentence denying that paramilitary activities can be classified as ‘political crimes’ or ‘sedition’. Supreme Court of Justice, Sala de Casación Penal, Bogotá, 11 July 2007. See also: the commentary on the sentence that refuses the paramilitaries the legal classification of ‘sedition’ and ‘political crimes’. Transcription of the commentary on the sentence by Radio Nizkor, 19 July 2007.
4. According to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, paramilitary groups have continued to operate while in the process of negotiating with the government. Since the beginning of this process, on 1 December 2002, and up until 30 April 2007, at least 3040 civilians were either killed or disappeared by paramilitaries. The government has failed to react, even though it had announced that the process was conditional that the groups not commit even one more murder. On the contrary, the High Commissioner for Peace has declared, “the end of hostilities is a metaphor that ought to be used with a lot of flexibility”.
5. The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation published the report “Dissidents, Rearmed, and Emerging: Criminal Gangs or A Third Paramilitary Generation?” (Area of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR), August 2007), where it notes the existence of 22 groups who together number between 3500 and 5000 armed men operating in 20 departments in the country that coincide with areas formerly controlled by paramilitaries.
6. The Supreme Court, in its 11 July 2007 sentence, expressly states: “The Supreme Court affirms in this sentence that Article 71 of Law 975 of 2006 violates the rights of victims” and adds:
“1. The participation and interest of victims in the sentencing process resolves an issue: beyond the mere expectation of obtaining economic reparations -- as a simple subjective law that makes the crime a source of responsibilities that would have a judicial route for the exercise of attaining wealth – that would become a fundamental constitutional right that among which would guarantee (1) effective reparation for the offense suffered, (2) assure the state obligation to find and make known the truth about the events, and (3) an accessible means to justice, which would be in accordance with Colombia’s Constitution, penal law, and international treaties that form part of the block of constitutionality.
2. The perspective of the victim can only be understood when it is accepted, as it must be in order for it to remain covered by:
“a system of guarantees founded in the principle of effective judicial guardianship, of wide international recognition, and with evident constitutional acceptance by way of Articles 229, 29 and 93 of the Charter. This premise is characterized by the establishment of a system of guarantees of a bilateral nature. That implies that guarantees such as the access to justice (Article 229); to equality before the hearings (Article 13); to defense during the process (Article 29); to the impartiality and independence of the hearings; to the effectiveness of the laws (articles 2 and 228); and that they be relevant, as much for the accused as for the victim. This bilaterality has been admitted by this body in order to point out the completeness of due process, which involves the premise of legality, due process in the strictest sense, the right to defense and its guarantees, and natural judgment. These apply equally to the victims and the accused.”
7. Restitution: the victim can return to the situation prior to the violation. Compensation: for psychological and moral damage, including loss of opportunity, material damage, defamation, and legal expenses. Readjustment: medical attention that addresses the need for psychological and psychiatric attention.
8. Article 16, Decree 3391 of 2005 – Mechanisms for victims’ reparations: “… the integral character of reparation is not established as the exclusive function of an economic nature…”
9. The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation published the report “Dissidents, Rearmed, and Emerging: Criminal Gangs or A Third Paramilitary Generation?” (Area of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR), August 2007), where it is stated: “Moreover, those illegal coercive groups have shown, with more clarity in recent months, their willingness to exercise political control and intimidate social organizations working in support of paramilitary victims’ organizations”.
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

Peasant killed in Catatumbo

[Translated by Elena Renderos, La Chiva, CSN volunteer translator]

Troops from the 30th Brigade Murder Peasant in Catatumbo
Presented as “Deceased in Combat”

Peasant Association of Catatumbo / Friday, October 19, 2007

The Peasant Association of Catatumbo (Ascamcat) reports a grave incident that occurred in the rural neighborhood of Cartagenita, county of Convención (North Santander).
On October 16, 22-year-old Wílmer Jácome left a farm in the village of Patiecitos and walked towards another farm in the nearby village of Gramales, where he worked as a coffee picker. Along the way, he was attacked by troops from the Gamza Mechanized Battalion Group, assigned to the 30th brigade.  
The young man’s parents began to worry because he was not present at work, nor did he return home. It was then that the community of Patiecito went to search for him. According to the community, it was not until the morning of October 17 that traces of blood were found an hour away from the path that led to Gramales. That same day, Wílmer Jácome was reported by the troops as deceased in combat.
The citizens express great concern and discomfort over indiscriminate attack on peasants. In addition, they demand justice, respect for life, freedom of movement, and for the distinction between peasants and combatants.
We call forth control agencies and national and international human rights advocates to monitor and demand from the military forces respect for life and an end to these attacks. Above all, we must keep in mind that the humanitarian situation in the region of Catatumbo is becoming increasingly critical, especially given the five previous deaths that have occurred here over the past month.

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

Killing of civilians in Arauca

Urgent Action

Life Has No Value…

[Translated by Caracol, La Chiva, CSN volunteer translator]

Further acts committed against Arauca’s population ended the life of seven civilians in the towns of Tame, Arauquita and Saravena, increasing the violent trend that describes the humanitarian crisis experienced in the region. Since September 27, a wave of killings in those towns began, leaving the tragic aftermath the following details we will outline below:

1. On Thursday September 27, the youth JUAN DIEGO CARRERO, a 18 year old from the county of La Horqueta, municipality of Tame, was murdered.

2. On Friday September 28, in the same county, another youth, YESID PEREZ, was also killed.

3. On Tuesday October 2, in the county Puerto Nariño, town of Saravena, MAURO DE JESUS GÓMEZ ACEVEDO and INOCENCIO RUIZ were shot, causing the immediate death to the first individual and considerable wounds to the second.

4. On October 8 at 5 a.m., siblings PEDRO JOSÉ and JOSÉ ANTONIO BELTRAN BERNAL, 27 and 25 year old respectively, were killed in the outskirts of Arauquita.  Also, a 50-year-old rancher, Mr. GRATINIANO ARGOTA, was killed in the county of Brisas de Caranal.

5. On October 5, in the county La Chucua, town of Saravena, in incidents currently under investigation, HOLMAN MONROY, former manager of the Transportation Cooperative of SARARE –COOTRANSARARE LTDA-, was killed. According to journalist accounts, the incident happened in the middle of a battle between members of armed opposition groups and the Colombian National Army.

We demand that the state departments of Justice and Control perform the criminal and disciplinary investigations required and without delay.

We demand that armed actors in the conflict not involve the civil population in their actions nor use their goods as well as respect and behave according to the principles of international human rights.

Also, we reiterate our plea to advance negotiations and humanitarian compromises now, and to follow a political, negotiated solution to the conflict as the only path of overcoming the conflict.



redher@redcolombia.org  <mailto:redher@redcolombia.org>      redeuropea@redcolombia.org <mailto:redeuropea@redcolombia.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


(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

Bogotá, November 21, 2007
Vice President de la Republic

Minister of the Interior

Minister of Foreign Relations

Minister of the Environment

Attorney General

Inspector General

Comptroller General

National Defender of the People
RE:      Threats and intimidation in Curvaradó
“The criminals act without stopping, but we are in the territory for dignity” (Psalm 118, 49)

Once again we express our testimony and ethical censure of the structural inaction in the face of the paramilitary-style reengineering which continues to be developed in Curvaradó and the business operations that are the beneficiaries and participants in these operations that protect the planting of the palm and the extraction of the profits.
The Petro family has again been threatened with death, as part of a circle of persecution, of intimidation, of illegal acts protected by toleration and inaction in the face of paramilitary-style operations and the arrogant disrespect of legality of the behavior of the bad-faith occupants, beneficiaries of paramilitarism or the paramilitaries themselves.
Today, early in the morning, a telephone call announced the death of Enrique Petro and the extermination of his entire family. This threat was added to the various kinds of attacks against Eustaquio Polo, leader of El Guamo, and the burning of housesof the legitimate owners of the territory in Caño Manso.
We put before you the new facts of which we provide testimony and which reflect the absence of a real willingness to provide restitution of property and adopt effective measures to protect the right to use and benefit of the earth.
* Sunday, September 30 at 12 PM 6 paramilitaries armed with shotguns, their faces covered by ski masks, arrived at the property of the campesino Walter Marin, a member of the Consejo Comunitario (Community Council) in the area between the communities of Caño Manso and Montería in the lower Atrato. The armed men threatened the campesino, saying. “If you don’t open your mouth, nothing will happen to you.”
Minutes after marauding  around  they , the “armed civilians” of the paramilitary strategy went to the property of Eleodora Díaz, who recently returned to the region after 10 years of forced displacement.
The paramilitaries proceeded to burn the house, and after verifying its total destruction by the flames, they left. Because of these acts Eleodora left there and relocated in the old settlement of Caño Manso.
According to witnesses, the place where this incident happened was surrounded by workers under the command of José Luis Luna, one of the administrators of Hacienda Villa Alejandra, located in Caño Manso.
* Saturday, October 20, during the morning, and lasting until about 4:00 in the afternoon, in the hacienda Villa Alejandra, scarcely 50 meters from where campesinos who had returned to the old sttelement of Caño Manso were lodging, the saw people known as “El Tío” or “Colonel Molano,” Jose Luis Luna, Molina and “The Secretary.” These are aliases of some of the beneficiaries of the the paramilitary operations
* Sunday, October 21, around 8 AM the same four men who were together the previous day went in the direction of the property of Tomás Mercado. The habitation of this resident was burned.  The same with the corn, plantain yucca and sugar cane crops were destroyed by the cattle brought in the beneficiaries of the paramilitary strategy.
The original inhabitant was forcibly displaced.
* Wednesday, October 24 in the morning our Justice and Peace commission was informed that Julio Acosta, known as “Gausa,” a worker for the Palmadó company, administered by Gabriel Díaz, declared in Brisas de Curvaradó that the campesino Eustaquio Polo, a representative of the Lesser Council of the community of El Guamo, in the Curvadó Basin, is a guerrilla. He added, about the community leader, that Polo, “that guerrilla goes on in peace cutting down palms. The same thing is going to happen to him as happened to Walberto and Miguel Hoyos.”
*Wednesday, October 25, according to witnesses, in the afternoon in the area known as Brisas de Curvaradó, Julio Acosta said, “I want to know who that Eustaquio Polo is in order to identify him.”
* Wednesday, October 31 about 7:00 AM Julio Acosta rrived at the house of the campesino Eustaquio Polo in El Guamo, telling him that he had to make a road to take out some wood. The leader of the Afro-Colombian communities said “That wasn’t his decision, but one of the entire community.” Half an hour later, “Guasa” left.
* Friday, November 2, around 10:30 AM, the campesino Marino Morales was approached by the person known as “The Secretary,” who told him that the territory of Caño Manso is private property and that they are going to be removed from there. The campesino said, “Whom are you going to remove first? The campesinos who are the true owners of these lands, or those who occupied them in bad faith?”
* Thursday, November 8, at mid-day, in the municipality of Riosucio, María Eudocia Ruíz López an inhabitant of the Humanitarian Zone of El Tesoro, was approached by Luis Rodelo, 22 years of age, who was a guide for the army in March of this year.
Minutes after Rodelo identified her, police units arrived on the scene, asking for identity documents. The asked Mrs. Ruíz about her husband, later they took her fingerprint, they announced that they would take her photograph, in they end they refrained from doing so. A few minutes later they allowed her to continue on her way.
* Friday, November 9 about 1:30 PM in the settlement of Caño Manso, when the campesino Jairo Reales Medina entered on a motorcycle, he was approached by the person known as “The Secretary,” who told him that he couldn’t move through this area as it was private and intimidated the campesino:  a lot of shit is going to go down here, a worse law is to come that has no consideration.”
Despute the threats, the campesino continued on to the school of the community of Caño Manso, where the families that returned are sheltered.
* Saturday, November 10, at 6 AM Units of the 15 Brigade of the army arrived at the community of Caracolí, in the Collective Territory of Curvaradó, saying that they had arrived because: ”They advised us that the palms were being cut sown with chain saws.”
Liria Rosa García that more than three months before those palms were cut down to plant corn, rice, yucca and plantains, that the lot is part of the collective property recognized by the State, that the improvement belonged to Sixto Pérez and his son, and, “We are the ones who are working there.” Doña Liria rosa told them, “You don’t come to protect the commuities but to protect the palm.” “Nobody is taking it away here, you can stay calm.” A soldier replied, “Yes, imagine it, they send us here to protect the palm.”
The soldiers made of photographic record of the hectares planted three months ago in sugar cane, corn, yucca and plantains by their legitimate owners.
Afterwards, the soldiers said, “They sent us to protect a man, who we thought was a rich person, who had swimming pools here, because he was threatened, but this man is a poor man, he has nothing, he’s called Enrique Petro.”
* Tuesday, November 13 about 5:30 PM a group of units of the 15 Brigade arrived in Caño Manso and went towards the house of the hacienda where the occupants of bad faith live.
Around 6:00 PM they went to the school where the families who returned in august are lodging, and a sergeant named Delgado said: “Miss Marta I have to talk with you.” The campesina, surprised that an unknown person would call her by her correct name, asked the soldier how he knew her, and he said “fro the time one arrives here, you know with whom you have to talk.”
The soldier told her that it’s better to arrange things in a good way, “why didn’t they talk with the administrators who are together there?” The delegates of the community told him, ”We have t talk with the the person who makes the decisions, with the general administrator of these lands, Hugo Fenal Bernal Molano.” The soldier replied, “Yes, of course, I know him, he is my Colonel Molano.” The campesinos asked him if he knew him, to have him come here “since no one has wanted to show their face, only the houses are burned and they send administrators.”
The soldier then said, “We are good friends, but he’s a very busy person. He can’t come here because he’s in other tasks.” The community said that he ha come here to make payments to the hacienda workers; the soldier insisted: “That can’t be, you know? Tell me what he looks like so see if we’re talking about the same person. The campesinos described him as a tall, bald, olive-skinned man. The soldier assented, “yes, we’re talking about the same person.”
Later the soldier left.
Wednesday, November 14, about 8:00 AM, the regular solider Delgado, of the 15 Brigade, asked Martha Martínez to give him a list of the people who were staying in the school.
The same day, during the morning, the campesinos Mariano Morales and Francisco Palencia were approached by a worker form the hacienda Villa Alejandra known as Andres, who prevented them from collecting firewood.
Around 4 PM, the person known as “The Secretary” called Sergeant Delgado, Lieutenant Balaguera and two soliders to tell them about the work of the campesinos while he pointed out the shelter.
In a few minutes Delgado called Martha Martínez, who approached him asking him to have the “Secretary” come and about prohibiting the entry of the legitimate owners of the Collective Territory. The soldier said that they wanted to talk about that and proposed a meeting for Saturday, November 17, with the presence of the general administrator.
* Saturday, November 17 around 10:20 AM Lieutenant Balagera and Sergeant Delgado asked the members of the community of Caño Manso if they were ready for the meeting, that on the side of the hacienda people were José Luis Luna and Molina. The campesinos said; If the owner isn’t there, it makes no sense to talk.” The administrators, in the presence of the community, said that it was true, that they could not make any decisions.
The same day at around 11:00 AM, First Sergeant Delgado left, dressed in civilian clothes, on a tractor of the hacienda Villa Alejandra.
The same day, Gustavo Martínez, a recognized participant in undercover paramilitary-type operations approached a family member of one of the sons of the campesino Enrique Petro, asking about the status of the process of returning the lands.
* Tuesday, November 20 about 11 PM the telephone of the family of Enrique Petro en Belén de Bajirá began to ring insistently until beyond midnight. At that hour, one of the sons of the recognized leader Enrique Petro, a member of the Community Council, answered and they said, “Petro is dead. We’re going to finish off the entire family in Bajirá,” Then they cut the call. Then the phone continued ringing insistently, and the family refrained from answering.
From Saturday the 17 and until Monday the 19th at the same time, the telephone has rung with the same insistence, and the family has not answered.
Our testimony and ethical censure of the evident abuses of authority, the improper role and insanely illogical activity of the 15 Brigade are in our offices.
Today absolutely nothing has changed, except the techniques of control and repression, and the institutional reengineering in the military and social spheres. Property restitution continues to be a chimera. The measures that should have been adopted with respect to the paramilitary-type structures remained on paper alone. The illegal behavior continues being accepted, legitimated, tolerated, not only by the strength of the warrior but the effective inaction of the investigative arm and the justice system. The victims, subject to the law, do not have what is necessary to be favored by the law, nor is it being created, while the criminal elements, that which started with General Rito Alejo del Río Rojas, continues enjoying the benefits of impunity.
For the victims nothing, absolutely nothing. Or perhaps, words about good will, words that are gone with the wind; for the victimizers everything, absolutely everything: impunity, benefits, privileges.
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (The Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission)

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, November 21, 2007

Situation in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander, Colombi

Translated by Amy Pekol (a CSN volunteer translator)
November 2nd, 2007
Interview with one of the leaders of the Social Integration Committee of Catatumbo-Cisca.

Currently, this region is experiencing an escalation of conflict stemming from the exploitation of its natural resources.  Transnational companies, favored by the policies of the Colombian government and the actions of the Colombian army, are playing an important role in this.

Tell us a little about the history of the social process and what is currently happening in the Catatumbo region.

In the Catatumbo region, many peasants are coming in search of work through a process of colonization.  We are located on the border of Venezuela.  Our region has a rich subsoil of carbon and petroleum and great biodiversity.  The Catatumbo River, the main tributary of the Maracaibo Lake of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, crosses through most of it.  It is a territory shared by peasants and is the original home of the Barí, an indigenous group that has occupied the territory for centuries.  Today, the Barí, together with the peasants, work collectively on this land in food production as well as acts of resistance.  We, both the Barí community and the peasants want to be allowed to live on this land.

From all of this, the Social Integration Committee of Catatumbo-Cisco was born.  It attempts to create a proposal to remain on the land and defend our lives.  The Committee is representative of those who live in the Catatumbo region, composed of teachers, workers and laborers, peasants, Barí peoples, women, children and the elderly.  It seeks to allow us to continue living in the Catatumbo and opposes the Colombian government’s intentions of removing people from the region in order to exploit its resources.  Their intentions are to clear the region and, together with the transnational companies, acquire its riches such as carbon and petroleum, as we already mentioned, and also to implement strategic crops such as oil palm, cacao, rubber and higuerilla (castor-oil plants).  They have been offering us this option but we have not accepted it.

There is a great extension of oil palm in the lower Catatumbo region where the paramilitaries have been exercising control over the land since 1999.  After the so-called demobilization of the paramilitaries in 2004, they have implemented oil palm crops and there has been increased interest in exploring and exploiting the petroleum and carbon on behalf of the transnational companies and the Colombian government.  There is a very important relationship between the paramilitaries and the emerging exploitation of resources and how it is affecting the lives of those who live in this region.

What is your organization’s proposal and how has the Colombian government answered your demands and requests?

We are in a region that has been abandoned by the government and has not reached the development indices that all human beings deserve. This abandonment is reflected in the terrible condition of roads leading to the region.  There is no possibility of selling our products, we are isolated and refused the right to education and health.  Speaking of living conditions, it is impossible to have a dignified home. For all these reasons, we have organized and started building a proposal called Plan de Vida (Life Plan), in which the communities begin to reflect upon what it is that we want, what we deserve and what our rights are as well as understand that there is a government responsible for what happens or stops happening to us.  In this sense the communities, rural divisions, Barí people and peasants are creating a Life Plan, a plan to assure our permanence on the land, to have a life and to live in the Catatumbo.

However, the Colombian government’s proposal is ignorant of all the initiatives in the region and they offered to provide us with more military presence.  Currently, Mobil Brigades 15 and 30 are present in the region and it has just been announced that Mobil Brigade 21 will start operations for the month of November.  This means a strong militarization for a region composed of 8 municipalities and inhabited by approximately 250,000 people.  This offer of military presence from the government, which they have been offering to many communities, is a series of attacks that have been increasing through extrajudicial executions, which have exceeded more than 30 for this year.  These thirty deceased inhabitants of the region were far away from any armed conflict but presented by military forces as guerillas who died in combat.

The number of incidents and manner in which the peasants are being attacked worries us.  We can no longer travel alone on the roads.  At any moment, someone could be shot and reported as a guerilla that died in combat, when, in reality, the victim is a peasant on his way to the market with his family, harvesting crops or simply working on his farm. Since February of this year (2007), this situation has become apparent as a systematic decision to execute those who live in the Catatumbo region.

There are many cases to list.  

Eliécer Ortega in the Bobalí region of Bogotana was detained by the army and later found dead in the Ocaña morgue, reported as a guerilla who died in combat when he was really just a peasant from the region.  

Carlos Daniel Martínez from Santa Catalina of the San Calixto municipality: The army arrived at his house of this nearly 50-year-old man and found him all alone.  That morning he was assassinated, reported as a guerilla who died in combat.

There is also the case of two boys who were detained by the army, murdered and dragged to the Catatumbo River.  Their bodies were found in the lower part of the river.

This list can go on as there are more than 30 cases.

This worries us very much because the Army Brigades are considered successful when they are really just killing peasants and reporting them as guerillas who died in combat.  We wish to express this to the national and international community because we are victims of a conscious decision to eliminate the people who live in the Catatumbo region.  We are aware of the developing conflict in the region, but what we demand is that they leave those of us who live in the region—the civil society, the non-combatants, the peasants and the indigenous—alone.  We want them to recognize us in this conflict.  All that we have is a small piece of land to work and to raise a family. We are not allied with any armed actors.  We are not saying anything other than that we want to remain in this region and create a permanent presence on the land.

The Colombian army continues to commit all types of atrocities against the population.  We have already denounced this situation to the government, the Vice Presidency of the Republic, the Ministry of the Interior as well as to the commanders of the Brigades themselves.  In El Tarra Municipality, the community, friends and family members of the victims who had been executed by the army protested this behavior to the High Command of Mobil Bridage 15.

We believe that some mechanisms must exist so that the Colombian government and army understand that we have a right as Colombians to inhabit this region and they must allow us to live peacefully in the Catatumbo.

According to your view of the situation, do the army’s attacks on the community respond to a necessity of reporting positive results against insurgent groups or do they respond to a strategy of depleting and displacing the population for the previously mentioned carbon and petroleum interests in the region and of implementing cash crops for the industry?

The army brigades established themselves in the region under a pretext of fighting an insurgency and eliminating guerilla presence in the region.  However, we believe that underneath this military strategy is the guarantee of exploiting mining, energy and natural resources in the region. This military presence brings security to the petroleum companies, the multinational companies preparing to exploit the carbon, those harvesting palm oil and those who want to privatize the water.  They are also present along the border to control the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s plans. There is also a strategy of stigmatization of those who live in the region accompanied by terror spread by the Colombian army.  In the Catatumbo region, from one small town to the next they go around saying that the Águilas Negras (Black Eagles, a new criminal group that emerged after the demobilization of the AUC paramilitary groups) are coming.

We believe that this strategy of terror spread by the Colombian army is intended to scare the peasants out of the area.  In some cases, the Colombian army has asked the peasants directly, “Why don’t you go away, why don’t you leave the region?” This shows that there is an interest in clearing the territory and displacing the people by any means possible, through criminalization, legal prosecution, detentions, assassinations and strategies of terror.  This is all related.  Even if they are successful in fighting the insurgency, they will still want to provide all conditions of security to the transnational companies exploiting the resources of the region.  This is how we understand it.  

In the face of all this horror, we ask the national and international community to pay close attention to us and our situation because they are killing and displacing us to have our territory, a territory that will practically be destroyed as 15 thousand hectares of the Catatumbo region are being solicited for the open-air exploitation of carbon.  This is going to be a great ecological harm. Production will destroy life in the region and will also surely destroy the Barí community.  Despite having been driven to the edges of the region, the remaining part of this land that they have managed to hold on to will also be threatened by the exploitation of energy resources.

Last Sunday, October 28th, 2007, there were administrative elections in Colombia.  The government says that everything went as planned.  What do you guys think of this situation?

In the proposed construction of Life Plan, we have also come to understand that it is necessary to participate in the democratic scene in which the people can elect their governors and participate in the local government, but also where there can be government programs that know of the humanitarian crisis the region is experiencing.  The latter is what motivates us to participate in the October 28 elections.  People started voting early  But we find a contradiction in what the government says—that the communities participate and consolidate democracy—and what actually happens.  On Sunday, in the regions of Honduras, Trinidad, Las Pitas and La Libertad, the voting cards arrived after 10:00 am and were transported by helicopter, which hindered people from voting because they were afraid of being shot.  In these respects, the possibility of a smooth election process was put at risk.

Another practice that took place during the elections leaves us very worried.  In Filo Gringo in El Tarra municipality, when the people came to vote at the corresponding tables, the Colombian army asked them for their ID cards and compared them with their lists, which generated fear in the community.  Due to the previous fabrications by the same army where they tried to blame the community for events and actions in which they did not participate, the people were afraid that, upon examining their IDs, the army would detain them as part of yet another set-up.  For this reason, the community of Filo Gringo, although prepared to vote, decided not to participate in the elections.  It is a form of coercion against the democratic right to vote.

In another rural area of El Carmen, where another voting table was operating, the army told voters who intended to support the Alternative Democratic Pole Party not to do it.  They told them not to vote for a party formed by the guerilla, which also generated a lot of fear.

The army instilled fear in the people who supported the Alternative Democratic Pole and, in general, in everyone who intended to participate in the elections.  We must continue advancing democratic participation in which the people no longer abstain from voting and go express themselves at the ballot boxes.

The government of Alvaro Uribe continues to say that democracy in Colombia has been increasing.  Those of us who live not in the large cities but in the rural areas are living very far from the possibility of a real democracy where there is community participation, because there is a coercion against the freedom of expression, freedom to choose a political party and freedom to determine or at least give an opinion on who should govern the people.

I want to thank you for this opportunity that you have given us to share our voice and unite it with the voices of other people around the world so that people know what is happening in the Catatumbo region.  Here we are building resistance and creating a life plan that will allow us to remain on the land, raise our families and participate in society.  We, the inhabitants of the Catatumbo, demand to be recognized as a part of Colombian society.

We are not a nuisance to Colombia, nor an obstacle for transnational companies.  The only thing that we want to yell to all the people of the world is that, in the same way you are doing it, here we are doing what we have to do in order to be considered and recognized as people living on a land rich in natural resources but abandoned by the state.  The little that we have gained has been a result of self-management and community initiatives.  The least we expect is to be allowed to live in these remote regions.  Even though the Colombian government does not care about its people, but rather its resources and the riches of Catatumbo that make transnational companies even richer, we do care about life.  For us, the most important thing is to live and to do so in harmony with nature.

For this reason, the indigenous and peasants of the Catatumbo region demand the state of Colombia to respect our life and our decision to remain on the land.  We are also asking for the solidarity of all those who can listen to us, who can read about us and those who know that we are building resistance. Do not forget about us, accompany us, follow what is happening and help be a voice in defense of life and permanence on the land.

From the Catatumbo, a brotherly hug to everyone building resistance and conditions for life around the world.


(Translated by Thomas Kolar, a volunteer CSN translator)
THE REGIONAL BOARD OF MONTES DE MARIA "LUIS MIGUEL GOMEZ PORTO" wants to inform national and international social and human rights organizations of the outrage to which the communities of Los Montes de Maria are being subjected by police forces.
1. as is well known, the region of Los Montes de Maria, between the departments of Sucre and Bolivar, for months has been the site of operations by thousands of soldiers and police against groups of insurgents supposedly in the area.
2. the presence of the police forces is evident especially in the grave and continuing agressions against the campesino population living there, such as, arbitrary detention, persecution of community leaders and targeted killings, now made more grave by the presence and complacent acceptance of outside fighters, generating a situation of humanitarian crisis and pushing the communities to the edge of massive displacement.
3. among recent violations of human rights by police forces against the campesinos and their organizations are the following:
a. members of the police of Chalan and troops of the Infantry of the Marine Battalion of Riflemen No.5 de Corozal have held prisoner in his house and continuously harrassed for months MANUEL DE JESUS REYES REYES, treasurer of the Regional Board of Montes de Maria "Luis Miguel Gomez Porto" provoking his forced displacement with terrible consequences for his family and for the organization in which he is a working farmer responsible for sustaining his wife and several children and additionally he is an outstanding community and union leader and fighter for the development of the community and region.
b. similarly, in recent weeks, troops of the Marine Infantry and members of the Gaula and the CTI of the Attorney General have held and harrassed and forced the displacement of LACIDES ANTONIO ACOSTA VILLEGAS, vicepresident of the Regional Board of Montes de Maria "Luis Miguel Gomez Porto.
c. members of the police forces have appeared in villages of rural zones searching for community leaders and generating terror in the communities that know well the strategy of mass and arbitrary detention and targeted killings that have previously been used in this area in conjunction with security forces and paramilitaries.
d. in recent days, several campesionos have been held arbitrarily in rural zones by police forces:
   . RICARDO DIAZ, ELIECER ALVAREZ, EUSEBIO ALVAREZ - elderly farmers, held October 8 until 4:00 in the afternoon by a member of the municipal police of Chalan.
   . DELSY YEPES NAVARRO - housewife, JOAQUIN LUNA - farmer, held October 28 in the jail of Almagra, sector Plaza Pizarro.
   . NAFILO ENCHAVE - taxi driver, held 31 October in town of Ovejas.
1. to the social and human rights organizations, national and international, that are in solidarity with the organizational efforts and resistance of the farming communities of Los Montes de Maria that are expressing themselves in the creation and strengthening of the Regional Board of Montes de Maria "Luis Miguel Gomez Porto" whose work focuses on the defense and promotion of the human rights of the campesinos and of their land rights and their remaining in the area under the theme--"THERE ARE NO CAMPESINOS WITHOUT LAND, AND NO LAND WITHOUT CAMPESINOS".
2. to the media of communication and opinion that are attentive to the acts of the police forces and security forces of the state in the region of Montes de Maria and in all the farming areas of Colombia that they cease the outrages and human rights violations against the campesinos.
1. that the national government, the armed forces, police, and security forces respect nationally and internationally recognized rights and norms for the whole population.
2. that they respect and grant the right of life, liberty, equality, work, education, health, land, and to remain in their homes to campesinos living in the region of Montes de Maria and all over the country.
3. that the institutions of authority, national and regional, that the Attorney General, the Prosecutors, the Public Defenders investigate, adjudicate, and punish those responsible, by act and omission, for these crimes against the human rights of the farmers of Montes de Maria.

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, November 13, 2007


(Translation by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)

On November 9, we carried out the March for Life, in which we joined forces with all who are searching for peace in the communities organized as civilians.  We started the March around 10 A.M., from San Josesito toward Apartado, the members of our community along with the indigenous community of Las Playas.  We started step by step to memorialize our comrades who have been murdered this year.
In Apartado, we went to the places where Francisco and Hector had been murdered by the paramilitaries.  In each place we left a cross and bouquets of flowers.  In the bus terminal, men dressed in civilian clothes began to take pictures and make tape recordings of those of us who were taking part in the March. When we asked them for identification, they said they were police officers and that they were doing it as part of security and intelligence activities.  This is just more evidence of the continuing siege  carried out by the police against our community.
From the bus terminal we headed toward the route out of Apartado where the paramilitaries and the police murdered Dairo.  We left a cross and a bouquet there and we also memorialized Jesus who was murdered by the Army.
Several international organizations accompanied us in this March for Life.  We are saying to Death that we will not be exterminated and that those who sow death will some day be judged by humanity.  In the same way, many people in different parts of the world have joined with us in carrying out Marches for Life.  We are grateful to them.  We know that their support will permit activities from civilian communities for peace to be respected some day.
This moment of memory will send us on the way to follow the principles for which our murdered comrades lived.  For that reason, our next effort will be to return to the town of Mulatos on February 21, 2008, three years after the massacre of eight people by the Army and the displacement of all of the people of that town.
We repeat our thanks for the support we have received and for those who walk for the memory of the victims, so that justice will become reality in our country, a country that is living through dark moments under the dominion of paramilitarism.
November 13, 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

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Monday, November 12, 2007


(Translated by Kevin Funk,  a CSN volunteer translator )

COL 022 / 1107 / OBS 140
Illegal Searches / Acts of intimidation and harassment

November 8, 2007


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT, according to its acronym in French) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, also according to its acronym in French), URGENTLY seeks your intervention in the following situation in Colombia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has received with concern news from the Corporation for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights "REINICIAR" about illegal searches that were made of its headquarters, acts which took place in the city of Bogot á.
In accord with the information received, on November 6, 2006, in the morning, members of the "REINICIAR" Corporation affirmed that someone had entered the organization's offices in downtown Bogot á during the weekend, upon finding the locks on several desks and filing cabinets forced open, the safe opened, and a black bracelet in the shape of an "8" on one of the drawers.  The relevant authorities were immediately informed of the occurrences.

The members of REINICIAR, with the support of the Technical Investigations Body (CTI, according to its acronym in Spanish), were able to establish that they had stolen two cell phones, 2,700,000 Colombian pesos in cash, and the file from the internal affairs agency on the forced disappearance, in September 1985, of María Eugenia Castañeda, member of the Patriotic Union Party, in which members of the security forces had been implicated.  However, another sum of money that was in the safe was not robbed.   
The Observatory recalls that members of the REINICIAR Corporation were on several occasions victims of threats, and acts of harassment and intimidation [1] <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftn1>.  For example, on March 30, 2007, REINICIAR was informed about the existence of a plan to assassinate its director, Mrs. Jahel Quiroga Carillo, financed by the paramilitary group "Bloque Capital," which operates in Bogot á [2] <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftn2>.

REINICIAR, whose members - including Mrs. Quiroga Carrillo - have enjoyed temporary precautionary security measures provided by CIDH since March 2002, filed a complaint with the authorities.


The Observatory condemns these repeated acts which are framed in a context of constant intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders in Colombia.  The Observatory declares its extreme concern for the serious situation of insecurity in which human rights defenders, social leaders, opposition leaders, trade unionists, and the displaced, are often the objects of persecution and stigmatization because of their work in denouncing human rights violations of which they are victims as are the organizations to which they belong and the ones that they accompany.

 Requested action:

 Please contact the Colombian authorities, exhorting them to:


i.    urgently adopt the appropriate methods to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of all members of the REINICIAR Corporation, of all members of their respective families, and in general of all the members of civil society organizations in Colombia;

ii.    immediately carry out an exhaustive and impartial investigation into the illegal searches and particularly the removal of all the important information and work material of the REINICIAR Corporation, with the goal of identifying the responsible parties and bringing them before an independent, fair, and impartial court, and applying to them the legal and administrative sanctions set forth in the law;

iii.     put an end to all types of harassment and violence against human rights defenders in Colombia;

iv.    assure the application of what is stipulated in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, particularly in its reference to the protection of the rights of all people " individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" (Art. 1) as well as in relation to the duty of the state to guarantee "the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration." (Art. 12.2)

v.     generally, guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental liberties throughout the country in accordance with international human rights norms ratified by Colombia.               

Geneva-Paris, November 8, 2007.
Please inform us of any action you undertake, referencing the code from this appeal in your response.


The Observatory, a joint program of the OMCT and FIDH, is dedicated to protecting human rights defenders and providing them with concrete, daily help in whatever form possible.
  Misión Permanente de Colombia ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra. Chemin du Champ d’Anier, 17-19, 1209 Ginebra, Suiza. FAX: + 41.22.791.07.87; TEL.:+ 41.22.798.45.55. E-mail: mission.colombia@ties.itu.int
·         -Sr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Misión Diplomática en Bruselas: FAX: +32.2.646.54.91, E-mail: colombia@emcolbru.be
·         Doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Presidente de la República, Cra. 8 # 7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Santa Fe de Bogotá. Fax:+57.1.566.20.71: auribe@presidencia.gov.co
·         Sr. Francisco Santos, Vicepresidente de la República, buzon1@presidencia.gov.co
Téls.: +571334.45.07, +573.7720130, E-mail: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co <mailto:mail:fsantos@presidencia.gov.co>  ;
·         Dr. Carlos Franco, Director del Programa Presidencial de dd.hh y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario (DIH). E-mail: cefranco@presidencia.gov.co ; ppdh@presidencia.gov.co
·         Observatorio DDHH de Vicepresidencia: obserdh@presidencia.gov.co;
·         Dr. Fernando Ibarra, Asesor del Programa Presidencial de dd.hh y de DIH. Tel.: +57.1.336.03.11, FAX: +57.1.337.46.67, E-mail: fibarra@presidencia.gov.co
·          Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo, Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá. Fax: + 57.1.640.04.91  E-mail: secretaria_privada@hotmail.com ; agenda@agenda.gov.co
·          Doctor Mario Hernán Iguarán Arana,  Fiscal General de la Nación, Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá. Fax: +57.1.570.20.00; +57.1.414.90.00,
E-mail: contacto@fiscalia.gov.co;  denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co
·        Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón, Procurador General de la Nación, Cra. 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá. Fax: +57.1.342.97.23; +571.284.79.49 Fax: +57.1.342.97.23;
E-mail: cap@procuraduria.gov.co, E-mail: quejas@procuraduria.gov.co; webmaster@procuraduria.gov.co; cap@procuraduria.gov.co; reygon@procuraduria.gov.co; anticorrupcion@presidencia.gov.co
·         Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Ministro de la Defensa, Avenida El Dorado con Cra. 52 CAN, Bogotá. Fax: +; E-mail: siden@mindefensa.gov.co; infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co; mdn@cable.net.co


[1] <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftnref1>  See the Observatory's 2006 annual report.

[2] <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftnref2>  See Urgent Appeal COL 008 / 0407 / OBS 033, sent April 12, 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, November 09, 2007

Statement of CISCA in the face of Coal Exploitation in the Catatumbo

( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

Statement of CISCA in the face of Coal Exploitation in the Catatumbo Region

The Social Integration Committee of Catatumbo (CISCA) transmits its position in the face of exploitation of natural resource and coal in particular to the national and international community. This position is the consensus reached in the recent energy premeeting of Catatumbo, where 400 delegates of associations of community action councils and other associations of the region came together.
The unified voice of this premeeting expressed:

  • The exploitation of coal is destructive, from what’s visible to us, the damage will be very great…As a people we gain nothing from the exploitation. As a community, our share will be…social deterioration, the destruction of an entire life of organization…Threats, exiles and murders among the people…forced displacement, uprooting, abandonment of the fields, our quality of life will fall even more, there will be greater economic dependency, greater slavery…in the end our share will be total exclusion and an enormous pit like a great grave for everyone.

  • In the environmental area, the damage will be no less: The exploitation of the mine will damage the forests, the water, the air, and make them disappear… It will certainly change the climate…The soil will be more arid and will have a notable effect on the crops. Many diseases, both of humans and of plants and animals, will follow. The earth will be destroyed…Agricultural production will not be the same…

  • In the cultural area: we’ll see the loss of values move even further along, the loss of our cultural identity...the growth of individualism, changes or disappearance of good customs.

Because our natural resources must be seen as the great reserve of every man and woman, because the must contribute to the solution of structural problems of the Colombian nation and in no way be converted into a great prize for transnational companies, we say roundly say NO to the exploitation of coal in Catatumbo and we propose:
Strengthening the work of CISCA and encouraging even more the development of our Life Plan, staying united and standing up to the situations to come…
More information, building consciousness in the communities about what our rights are…Knowing our rights we will know why we are out demanding…
Catatumbo, September 15, 2007

For Intergration, Life and Territory, NO to exploitation of coal!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Zero and Up To Now 23 Awa Murdered in 2007

( Translated by Steve Cagan,  a CSN volunteer translator)

ONIC Comuniqué 236
November 3, 2007
ONIC: 25 Years of Resistance!

The cross of the Awá people is heavier every day. The indigenous people who live in the reservations of La Cuchilla del Palmar and Maguí, live and fall caught in the crossfire.
In the Calvary that they confront day by day, the list of their members lost keeps growing, because of the three armed groups that are fighting over the Awá territory. In 2007 up to now, there are 27 Awá indigenous people of CAMAWARI who are abandoning the mother earth in the midst of Spring.
In a public communiqué of November 2, The Association of Traditional Indigenous Authorities (Asociación de Autoridades Tradicionales Indígenas Awá-CAMAWARI, denounce the fact that on the 24th of October the indigenous man Vicente Nastacuas was murdered by members of the Column Mariscal Antonio José of Sucre of the FARC, within the Maguí reservation.
According to family members’ versions, “this compañero was taken from his house by tricks and later killed; until now his cadaver has not received the required treatment, for fear of retaliations.”
It is worth pointing out that just like Vicente, on the 31st of August the Awá indigenous woman Esther Nastacuas was murdered by the same guerrilla column in the community of Quembi, in the Nulpe reservation in the Alto San Juan River district.
In the face of this true ethnocide of an ancestral people, we sound the alert one time more, we denounce one time more, we demand one time more that the Defensoría del Pueblo (the official human rights office) make know the Declaración Defensorial (Human Rights Declaration) which was shared with the public on August 10th, and which in its “whereas” clauses corroborates what is happening and continues to happen to the Awá people.
To the Colombian State and its government of “democratic security,” that they account for the permissive silence in the face of the ethnocide of the Awá people. To the FARC guerrilla army and the other armed actors, that they respect the unwavering decision of this and all the indigenous peoples of Colombia to respect their autonomy and self-government, and their thousand-year position of not participating in a conflict that is not ours, that our weapon is the word, to continue defending ancestral territories. Because…In the face of rifles—the word!
National Indigenous Organization of Colombia—ONIC


(Sent and translated by the  Alvear Restrepo Collective)

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective
Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo
October 25, 2007
Bogotá, Colombia  
On the September 29, 2007, the delegate prosecutor before the Supreme Court of
Justice took the unprecedented decision of certifying copies for the
Indictment Commission of the Chamber of Representatives to investigate former
president Belisario Betancur Cuartas’s involvement in the disappearance of
eleven persons, among them cafeteria employees, Palace visitors, and a
guerrilla member. The prosecutor delegate also sent copies to the Office the
Attorney General to investigate General Rafael Samudio Molina, commander of
the national army, and General Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales, commander of the
XIII Brigade, who were then a part of the armed forces chain of command. This
decision is vitally important for the right to truth and justice of the
victims, their relatives, Colombian society, and the international community
as a whole. Since these violations occurred in the very heart of the Republic,
this may be the most significant case in the legal history of Colombia from
the last century.
The indictment was also issued against Colonel (Ret.) Edilberto Sánchez Rubiano,
chief of the XIII Brigade’s B-2 Unit, Major (Ret.) Oscar William Vásquez
Rodríguez, his immediate subordinate in the Casa del Florero, as well as three
noncommissioned intelligence officers, for the punishable offenses of
aggravated kidnapping and forced disappearance for the disappearance of eleven
persons who were alive when they left the Palace of Justice.
Up to now, Colonel (Ret.) Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega, former commander of the
Cavalry School and presently under preventive detention, has been linked to
the investigation given he commanded the operation to take back the Palace of
Justice, carried out intelligence work on the persons removed, and considered
them “suspects” or “special”. In the tactical unit under his command, grave
human rights violations were committed, including forced disappearances, acts
of torture, extrajudicial executions, and other cruel, degrading and inhumane
treatment. Colonel (Ret.) Luis Carlos Sadovnik Sánchez, second-in-command and
chief of staff of the XIII Brigade, has also been linked to the investigation.
However, copies still need to be certified concerning Generals Rafael
Hernández López and Carlos Fracica Naranjo, members of the Artillery School,
as well as other commanders from such tactical units as the Marine School,
Presidential Guard and Military Police Battalions, due to the role carried out
by their units in the handling of the hostages and other persons who left the
building. This would be in accordance with the “doctrine of the chain of
command” or co-authorship, which international criminal courts interpret as
all actors sharing a common plan consisting of attempting to take part in a
joint criminal enterprise and favoring -individually and jointly- the criminal
For the first time in Colombia, a prosecutor certified copies for the civil
courts to investigate the practice of torture that may have been committed
against disappeared persons’ relatives, who are also victims. Insofar as cases
concerning the forced disappearance of persons, jurisprudence of the
Inter-American Court allows understanding the violation of the right to the
psychic and moral integrity of the victims’ relatives as a specific, direct
consequence of this phenomenon. This situation causes them to severely suffer
from the act itself, which, among other factors, increases when State
authorities continually do not provide information on the whereabouts of the
victim or initiate an effective investigation to achieve the clarification of
the acts.
It should not be forgotten the progress achieved up to now is the result of
the insistence and perseverance of the relatives of the persons disappeared
from the cafeteria at the Palace of Justice. On June 29, 2001, these relatives
requested the Colombian Attorney General to open a judicial investigation for
the disappearance of their loved ones. On November 2005, twenty years after
the acts were committed, Attorney General Mario Iguarán Arana especially
appointed the Fourth Delegate Prosecutor before the Supreme Court of Justice
to pursue the investigation to its end.
As a part of the investigation, it has been proven intelligence agencies from
the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military forces, senior army, navy and air
force intelligence officers, senior national police intelligence officers, and
senior DAS intelligence officers, had been informed –since October 16, 1985-
M-19 was going to take over the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The authorities also knew members of the Council of State were under threat,
since the latter had received death threats in October 1985.
Nonetheless, days before the takeover, the public force withdrew the police
guard at the Palace of Justice, a decision not intervened by any magistrate
from the high courts, which presumably violated the State’s obligation of
preventing the commission of the act. To the contrary, this act was
facilitated with the purpose of both eliminating the guerrilla command as well
as the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Council of State,
who inconvenienced them with investigations.
The investigation also dismissed the possibility members of the cafeteria or
the regular or chance visitors could have any link with the members of the
guerrilla group. Additionally, the investigation determined the fire at the
Palace of Justice resulted from a projectile shot by the national army from the
outside towards the library and that this fire began at five in the afternoon
on November 6, 1985.
The investigation also reaffirmed the irregular inhumation of the bodies in a
common grave as ordered by Judge 78 of the military criminal proceedings, who
did not posses any file relating to the preliminary proceedings of the
investigation and issued the extra procedural order to bury a group of 25
bodies in a common grave, 17 of which had still not been identified and thus
interrupting the process being carried out by the relatives to recognize the
In this regard, we demand the Indictment Commission of the Chamber of
Representatives to seriously investigate the participation of then president
Belisario Betancur for the disappearance of these persons -not as a mere
formality or in a manner meant to fail- as required by international human
rights standards. Likewise, we also expect the Office of the Attorney General
to initiate investigations against Generals (Ret.) Rafael Samudio Molina and
Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales.
The criminal judges of the Specialized Circuit Court in Bogotá (who must try
Colonels (Ret.) Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega and Edilberto Sánchez Rubiano, and
their subordinates, for the forced disappearance of eleven persons at the
Palace of Justice) have an immense responsibility with the victims’ relatives,
Colombian society, and the international community, who are waiting for the
results. The Supreme Court of Justice is also not divested of responsibility,
which has issued important decisions this year on political crime and
para-politics and should also investigate or try senior officials of the
military command.
As requested by the victims’ relatives, the case of the persons disappeared at
the Palace of Justice is presently being studied by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, which should issue a decision this next year on if
it sends the case to the Inter-American Court, concerning which it will bear
in mind the behavior of Colombian judicial bodies.

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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