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Threats and murders in this holiday season Dec'07 against the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado
December 27, 2007
In this holiday season we have unfortunately again received word of threats and murders committed against the Peace Community of San Josesito de Apartado. While the Peace Community members continue to reject use of arms and violence, paramilitary forces, often in coordination with units of the Colombian Army and Police, have carried out a series of actions against Peace Community members, including the following:
1. On December 10, 2007 Army personnel threatened Peace Community member Yurlandis Tuberquia of La Union, charging that the child she expects to give birth to soon is a little guerrilla and that she must leave the area at once.
2. On December 14 members of the Peace Community found Juan Javier Manco Molina of Chigorodo murdered in la Balsa. Army personnel would not allow Peace Community members to come near Manco’s body, which bore civilian dress. Later, they showed him with a gun in his hand and falsely alleged he was a guerrilla who had fired upon the Army unit. On December 22 paramilitaries threatened to kill the widow of Juan Javier if she did not leave the area.
3. On December 18 Police arrived at the hospital where Peace Community member Alba Lucia Giraldo was receiving medical attention for a cut finger and told her to get into a car of theirs because she was suspected of being a guerrilla; instead she retuned to San Josesito accompanied by members of Peace Brigades International.
4. On December 19 Alfonso Usuga, who brought supplies to the Peace Community, was murdered by paramilitaries at the place where the road to San Josesito leaves the city of Apartado.
5. On December 20 paramilitaries held a meeting at which they reiterated their intent to wipe out the Peace Community and massacre its members because the Community was “talking a lot about what they (the paramilitaries) are doing in the zone.” And members of the Army installation in San Jose reportedly threatened to destroy the Peace Community.
6. On December 23 in Arenas Altas the Army detained Peace Community member Maria Margarita Giraldo Usuga as she harvested manioc (yuca) near her home. They then murdered her and claimed she was a guerrilla who had died in combat with the Army. Her body showed signs of torture. Hat same day paramilitaries set up and operated a check-point at the point where the road to San Josesito leaves the city of Apartado, a location barely 5 minutes away from a Police checkpoint.
CSN protest in the strongest terms these continuing attacks upon the Peace Community and its members. We are determined to continue our wholehearted support of the Peace Community. We have registered complaints about the recent events with the Ministry of National Defense and with the National Police. We call upon them to investigate the wrongful conduct of Army and Police personnel and to present those responsible for prosecution for their crimes. We remind them that they must act consistently with the responsibility assigned to the Colombian government by the Inter-American Court to protect the Peace Community and its members.
Please send your protest messages to your Members of Congress. See our web site : CSN’s Action Center www.colombiasupport.net and
US AMBASSADOR IN COLOMBIA; Mr. William Brownfield
Please write to the following Colombian government offices :
Human Rights Office of the Colombian Army
Teniente Coronel Juan Carlos Gomez-Ramirez
Human Rights Office of the National Police
Coronel Efraín Oswaldo Aragón. Director
Teléfono: 315 94 38
Vice-ministro de la Defensa
Dr. , Sergio JaramilloCaro
Vicepresidencia de la República
Dr. Francisco Santos, Vicepresidente de la República
Cra 8ª # 5-57, Bogotá D.C.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Fiscalía General de la Nación
Dr. Mario Hernán Iguarán Arana.
Fiscal General de la Nación
Diagonal 22B # 52-01, Bogotá D.C.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Procuraduría General de la Nación
Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón. Procurador General de la Nación
Teléfono: 336 00 11
E.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
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Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
NO PROSPECTING, NOR MINING
NO PROSPECTING, NOR MINING
De Ver 407 CERRO CARE PERRO (USA KIRA)
THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT AND MURIEL MINING CORPORATION RAISE FALSE HOPES OF PROGRESS IN INDIGENOUS AND AFRO-DESCENDENT COMMUNITIES
The Embera Oibida community of Alto Guayabal-Coredocito and Urada in the Jiguamiandó River basin declare NO PROSPECTING OR MINING on indigenous lands
(Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN volunteer translator)
The purpose of the Mande Norte project is to mine copper, gold, and by-products such as molybdenum and other minerals including pyrites, calcopyrites, Bornite, molybdenite and malachite in three zones – Quebrada La Rica, Taparos-Batatal and Jarapetó – in the Carmen del Darién (Chocó) jurisdiction and one in Murindó (Antioquia). This large-scale mining project contemplates 16,000 hectares suitable for intervention, but which at the same time are traditional lands of indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, which they have occupied ancestrally.
Since 1975 these communities' lands have been in the sights of international private corporations which have carried out studies for the Colombian Institute of Geology and Mines, Ingeominas. These firms include the Panamanian CYPRUS Minera, which started mining activities through the United States mining company ANTACORI CORPORATION, the Cuban registered GEOMINERA and, since 2005, MURIEL MINING CORPORATIÓN (MMC), which has been granted 9 mining permits entitling it to prospect and mine the subsoil under mining concession contracts.
These concession contracts correspond to agreements signed by Colombia's Ministry of Mines and Energy, which grant concessionaires – in this case MMC, exclusive rights to extract and transport minerals. According to the Colombian mining code, these rights are for 30 years from the date of the entry in the Mine Register.
The indigenous communities and the Jiguamiandó Senior Community Council have, emphatically and on more than one occasion, declared their position with regard to this concession and have said NO TO PROSPECTING AND MINING with regard to the Mandé Norte project. Although the company has claimed that it will not operate in the Usa Kira located in the upper part of the Embera de Urada–Jiguamiandó indigenous reserve in the sector called Alto Guayabal, the planned mining operations will target 11,000 hectares of land belonging to this native people and cause serious environmental disturbances and impact adversely part of their territory and their identity.
The many potential impacts include damage to the river headwaters, the springs that serve as direct sources of water for consumption by the communities. Contamination of these headwaters would harm their food crops, animals and health, and entail loss of the basis of the subsistence economy and their existence. Over the 30 years the project is planned to last, mining would losing their territory and handing it over to the company, which is a weighty argument for the communities to reject any mining operations.
The communities affected have notified the government and the companies involved that they denounce any agreement or understanding entered into by members of the community unless they have consulted, and been authorised by, all its members.
The Ethnicities Department (Dirección de Etnias) of the Interior and Justice Ministry, which is the body with competence to undertake the prior consultation has held 3 meetings, the first in March 2006, followed by others in June 2006 and September 2007. Ten delegates from each community were invited to attend. However, the prior consultation proceedings have not been conducted properly. Not all the community has participated, which means a failure to comply with the provisions of ILO Convention 169 stating that "It is not enough to talk to a few inhabitants, because they do not represent the majority opinion, no siendo esto una verdadera consulta. No se ha respetado el principio de representatividad y no se tiene el consentimiento pleno y debidamente informado de los interesados".
A the meeting held in September 2007, in the municipality of Carmen del Darién, a document started to circulate among those present called "Proposal by the indigenous communities to the prior consultation meeting called by the Interior and Juztice (sic) Ministry and the National Department for Ethnicities to be analysed by the mining company Le Muriel which is at the prospecting stage in the Mandé Norte project". This document sets out the following points: (the Cerro Careperro hills will not be touched, there will be no water pollution, they will respect the communities' ways of life and cultural traditions, there will be no ecological damage to fauna or crops and labour will be hired in the community; the results of studies will be socialised with the communities, reparation or damages will be paid to the communities and the companies will support the development of projects to improve the life of the indigenous communities).
This document was intended to be signed by those present so that the mining company could embark on the prospecting stage. However, the community did not agree because – as it has already said – it does not want any kind of mining and not all those involved were present at the meeting.
Despite this, Muriel Mining Corporación (MMC) is pursuing dialogues with members of the communities and has presented minutes of meetings that were not held where these members were in agreement with the company. These agreements are improper, null and have been manipulated by those with an interest in seeing the project executed.
Evidently the agreements between certain members of the communities and the company are intended to negotiate without consensus, without prior consultation and without real guarantees. It is the State's constitutional function to guarantee these rights to indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples.
Given the lack of guarantees, the lack of clarity, the denial of the right to prior consultation, the indigenous communities of the Urada-Jiguamiandó reserve have stated their position.
Next February the black communities of the Jiguamiandó Council, Embera indigenous communities of Coredocito-Alto Guayabal, Urada and others affected by the project will hold an internal consultation to decide on measures to respond to the illegal acts of these government bodies and private organisations.
We are attaching a letter from the indigenous communities to the Ethnicities Department of the Interior and Justice Ministry,
Inter-Ecclesiastical Justice and Peace Commission
Bogota, 19 December, 2007
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Colombia Support Network sends you holiday greetings
Colombia in the Sight of the International Criminal Court
(Article sent and translated by the Alvear Restrepo Collective)
José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”
November 19, 2007
The different informal academic visits to Colombia undertaken by senior ICC
officials –along with their meetings with victims, judicial authorities, the
national government, and human rights organizations-, in addition to the
recent visit by ICC Prosecutor-General Luis Moreno Ocampo, fulfil the
expectations of the victims of crimes against humanity with respect to the
possibility of overcoming impunity as an historic challenge in demand for the
rights to truth, justice, and comprehensive reparation, which would be
impossible within the framework of so called “Justice and Peace” regulations
applied to paramilitary members.
Likewise, this visit by the ICC Prosecutor –and the one the President of the
Inter-American Court- are a show of support for the Supreme Court of Justice
and its investigations into “para-politics” as well as a call to respect the
Court’s independence, which has recently been attacked by the president of
When Souhayr Belhassen, president of the FIDH, spoke with El Tiempo on the
report evaluating the application of the Justice and Peace Law, she concluded
the law is “[…] a disguise sanctioned to avert the action of the ICC. […] The
report confirmed the aim to eliminate the criminal responsibility of the
principal authors of crimes against humanity. The victims participating in the
public hearings are not guaranteed their safety. The paramilitaries continue
to commit crimes from jail. Moreover, instead of expressing remorse for their
crimes, they justify them in their voluntary confessions.” 
The ICC means to deny impunity or the absence of punishment for those
responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity. This is an
impunity, which has been desired by the victimisers and those supporting these
crimes. The grave and systematic human rights violations are crimes normally
carried out in settings favouring impunity by politicians, civilian or
military authorities, or groups that are a part or prolongation of the State
(such as paramilitary groups). In the criminal exercise of power, these
parties perpetrate acts of torture, forced disappearances, forced
displacement, extrajudicial executions, genocide, as well as other abuses,
against a defenceless civilian population. In short, these sophisticated
mechanisms of repression are set to guarantee impunity.
History reveals how impunity is inherent in these types of crimes. In many of
the countries where grave human rights violations have been committed, the
judicial system does not function. In many of these crimes, investigations are
initiated and apparent trials are carried out before military tribunals or
civilian courts; however, these actions usually only result in prescriptions,
dismissals, the closing of proceedings, or acquittals, which create the
appearance of justice. In certain cases, persons are imposed sentences, which
are ridiculously disproportional to the gravity of the crimes committed. (As
will surely occur in the proceedings of the Justice and Peace Law.)
Accordingly to the ICC, trials must be carried out against those most
responsible for crimes against humanity. As a result, the Court is following
up on the application of the so-called Justice and Peace Law as well as on
such grave cases as para-politics (which currently implicates hundreds of
politicians with links with paramilitary organisations). In this sense, Luis
Moreno Ocampo recently stated, “[w]e are following up on how the Colombian
Justice system may process these types of cases. We are checking.”  In
other words, the ICC is waiting to see if the Justice and Peace processes are
genuine trials or merely ways to extract the responsible parties from justice.
Likewise, the ICC sees these para-politicians as the instigators and economic
and political beneficiaries of the crimes perpetrated through paramilitarism.
Nonetheless, in spite of the very important work being carried out by the
Supreme Court in the search for justice, these politicians are still not being
processed for these crimes against humanity, rather only for aggravated
conspiracy to commit an crime (corresponding to belonging to these groups),
which does not resolve the principal judgement for these crimes committed with
the purpose of guaranteeing their current economic and political power.
With respect to such international crimes as crimes against humanity, all
States must investigate and punish. Each State possesses the jurisdiction for
the crimes committed by their citizens -or citizens from other States- in
their territory. However, in a complementary manner, when a State cannot –or
does not want to- investigate and convict, the opportunity rises for the ICC
to investigate and punish the parties responsible for the unpunished crimes.
“If the national State does not guarantee the absence of impunity, the
international community will,” asserted Luis Moreno Ocampo.  On this visit,
senior officials from the ICC Prosecutor-General’s Office confirmed the
ongoing commission of crimes against humanity (despite the enforcement of ICC
jurisdiction since November 2002), which during the Álvaro Uribe Vélez
administrations has amounted to more than a million persons internally
displaced, hundreds of new forced disappearances, and thousands of civilians
murdered and extrajudicially executed. These crimes -as well as those of the
past- also remain in total impunity. Furthermore, the regulations like those
for the Justice and Peace process have resulted in more than 35,000 persons
demobilized collectively and individually, but only 55 in prison.
The ICC will put into motion the national investigations and trials for crimes
against humanity. According to Luis Moreno Ocampo, “crimes against humanity
are not national affairs. The international community may intervene. It is not
a local affair and it is not an ideological issue.”  This statement, which
concerns recent government criticism of the Supreme Court, also manifests
that, if justice does not function in either the Justice and Peace or ordinary
jurisdictions, the ICC will intervene. (And officials from the executive
branch, members of congress, or members of the military will enjoy no special
immunity against prosecution.) Furthermore, Ocampo stated, “[a]ll I do is
analyze the criminal investigations of acts committed after November 2002,
when Colombia ratified the treaty of the Court. I analyze if there are current
criminal investigations and if they are genuine.” 
With a permanent International Criminal Tribunal (such as the ICC), which
tries the authors of crimes against humanity, the current impunity reigning
within States may be overcome without violating the principle of sovereignty.
The Colombian State is preparing for this eventuality. In fact, the executive
branch and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has gone to The Hague, where the
ICC is headquartered, and even keep an official there on an ongoing basis (who
in the hallways of the Court is known as "Justice and Peace" since he tries to
convince everyone the trials are real and that the magistrates, judges,
prosecutors, and human rights defenders will be able to pursue justice against
the paramilitaries members, active duty generals, and members of congress).
Nonetheless, even more significantly, after holding interviews with the Office
of the Prosecutor (in Colombia and The Hague) and the Victims and Witnesses
Unit, the victims continue to present communications on crimes under ICC
jurisdiction. Furthermore, many of these ICC officials study this vast amount
of information on Colombia in the Spanish language. In conclusion, we believe
in advocating for ICC jurisdiction with respect to the current impunity in
1 Piden a CPI investigar a ex 'paras'. El Tiempo, Bogotá, October 4, 2007,
<http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007- <http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-10-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html> 10- <http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-10-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html> 04 <http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-10-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html> / <http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-10-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html>
ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html <http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/justicia/2007-10-04/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3751257.html> >.
2 Corte Penal Internacional sigue pista a la parapolítica, asegura su fiscal
jefe, Luis Moreno Ocampo. El Tiempo, Bogotá, October 21, 2007,
INTERIOR-3775574.html <http://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/2007-10-21/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3775574.html> >.
"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
Colombia Support Network Statement on Break in Efforts at Hostage/Prisoner Exchange
December 5, 2007
The Colombia Support Network (CSN) has received word of President Uirbe’s termination of mediation efforts by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba with frustration and sadness. There is no question that a majority of the Colombian people, as well as human rights organizations around the globe, are distressed to see the efforts to achieve the release of hostages and prisoners come to naught. We believe that Senator Cordoba as facilitator and President Chavez as mediator had taken important steps toward achieving the release of FARC hostages, in spite of some questionable public posturing, and we are sorry to see their efforts end. There is substantial evidence to suggest that neither the FARC nor President Uribe wished to achieve an exchange of hostages and prisoners without demanding of the other side concessions it was not prepared to accept. Thus the FARC demanded a demilitarized zone in Colombian territory which the Uribe Administration had no intention of approving, while the Uribe Administration refused to recognize the FARC as a legitimate revolutionary force with which discussions leading to a possible peace agreement could be undertaken.
CSN has always opposed kidnapping as wrong, an inhumane breach of basic human values, whether it be for money or as a political bargaining chip. The FARC bear responsibility for creating a hostage crisis, and for severe and unjustifiable violations of international humanitarian law and of the basic human rights of their captives. The recent revelations of the wretched conditions in which they have kept the hostages and their prisoners lead us to renew our demand as conscientious human beings that they release these captives and renounce kidnapping as a tactic once and for all.
A recent CSN sister community delegation from the United States has the privilege of meeting with Yolanda Pulecio, the mother of Ingrid Betancourt, whose poor treatment since being kidnapped by the FARC as she campaigned for President more than 5 years ago has shocked the world. We have also been fortunate to have been in touch with Jo Rosano, mother of U.S. citizen Marc Gonsalves, whom the FARC have held since the plane in which he and other U.S. contract workers were traveling crashed in territory controlled by the FARC in 2003. We greatly admire the tremendous courage and commitment of these two extraordinary women. But it is past time for their children, Ingrid and Marc, and the other FARC hostages, to return home safe and sound and end the nightmare their families have lived for years.
We call upon President Uribe to renew the negotiations for their prisoner exchange by agreeing to further efforts at mediation of this issue with the FARC. And we call upon the FARC to respond reasonably to the initiatives to obtain agreement for a prisoner exchange. There are historical precedents for such exchanges. And such an exchange could lead to productive efforts to achieve a lasting peace. There should be no unreasonable preconditions on either side, but rather a true commitment to reaching an agreement which will allow Ingrid, Marc and the others to return safely to their homes and loved ones. And we pledge to do whatever we may to help achieve this goal as soon as possible.
John I. Laun, President of CSN, on behalf of
the CSN Board of Directors and membership
Verdict of the International Tribunal of Opinion on the Forced Displacement in Colombia
Elíptico Salon of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia
Bogotá November 21, 22 and 23, 2007
(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN volunteer translator)
The clamor of millions of forcibly displaced persons from Colombia has reached the international community. As an answer in solidarity, this Tribunal of Opinion was held in Bogotá, November 21-23, 2007, to listen to the persecuted and devalued victims of this crime against humanity, with the goal of contributing to the full restoration of Justice and Law.
Composed of 8 members, the International Tribunal gathered the extant facts about the displacement and its causes, at the formal behest of the Colombian government and the United Nations, as well as of non-governmental organizations. Five regional hearings took place in the Cauca Valley, Chocó, the central zone, Arauca and the Atlantic coast, where hundreds of testimonies were recorded. Finally, an international jury met in the Congress of the Republic, in order to gather more than 30 testimonies and analyze three socio-juridical studies that were added to the documentation already gathered. The Colombian authorities whose presence had previously been requested to present their point of view, did not appear. Besides, the leaders of the National Coordinating Committee of Displaced Persons and members of the Tribunal received constant threats from the paramilitary group that calls itself the Black Eagles, for holding this tribunal.
The Displacement of Populations in Colombia
Massive forced displacement in Colombia reveals the structural nature of the humanitarian crisis that as of 2007, has affected more than 4 million people inside the country, a much higher number than the official statistics, because they count only registered displaced persons. There are, besides, thousands of refugees outside of Colombia. The current wave of forced displacements dates from the beginning of the decade of the ‘80s. Nevertheless, it has even older roots. In the middle of the ‘40s, paramilitary repression against the Gaitán movement provoked an internal migration, product of a political violence that Jorge Eliécer Gaitán called a practice of the state against the people. A similar genocide took place in the ‘60s with the United Front, whose leader was Camilo Torres.
From the middle of the ‘80s, Colombian drug traffickers decided to bring their dollars to Colombia and launder them by buying large tracts of the best land, in general, uncultivated, whose improvements or possessions they appropriated illicitly and illegitimately through various forms of divestment, always using intimidation or elimination. The drug cartels and the oligarchy, from the political classes and the military forces, created a new version of paramilitarism, offering support and training, affirming that it was necessary to fight against insurgency.
In this way, an alliance was forged through which para-militarism eliminated members of the leftist parties of opposition (Patriotic Union) and the civic movements that demanded better living conditions, in exchange for the establishment’s allowing them to continue their illicit activities, which were in turn financed by political power. The illegal appropriation of these lands promoted not only a severely inequitable concentration of lands in the country, but also a transformation of its use. Large tracts of land good for agriculture and forests were used for cattle.
This wave of displacement increased again during the first half of the ‘90s, when the neoliberal policies that facilitated transnational investment expanded. Large multinational companies demanded free rein to continue with the appropriation of one of the principal productive sectors of the country, land, on which would be established large investment megaprojects (agriculture, industry, mining, ports, tourism, highways, among others). With the pretext of counterbalancing the insurgency of the guerrillas, but with the goal of controlling military and economic power in certain regions of the country, the Plan Colombia, a military strategy financed by the United States government, was introduced in 1997. With the Plan, there was a new increase in the annual numbers, the highest ever registered, in terms of forced displacement. Indiscriminate bombings, massive captures, criminalization of different social movements, a strong military presence in several regions, among other reasons, explain this increase.
At the beginning of the present decade, the official numbers of forced displacements fall, although they continue to be terrifying. The same reasons explain the displacements, but now there are depopulated zones available and immense tracts of unclaimed land. Inter-urban and intra-urban displacements are also evident, as are new causes (indiscriminate fumigations even in regions where there are no coca plants, massive detentions, extrajudicial executions, criminalization of social organizations and leaders) not recognized by the government, and a new modality of war, such as the confinement of populations, reached its peak. Today, despite what is affirmed in the media, the annual numbers of displacements continue to be very high, affecting different regions according to the mobility of the armed conflict in Colombia.
The Colombian government has proposed legislation that intends to legalize the taking over of the lands of the displaced persons, and leaves with impunity the crimes of Lese Humanity committed during armed conflicts (Statute of Rural Development, Law of Justice and Peace, Law of Lands, Law of Mines, Law of Petroleum, etc.).
The Juridical Bases of the Verdict
The problem of displaced persons has concerned the United Nations for more than a quarter-century. For that reason, programs have been created and juridical instruments developed. International and national legislation consider forced displacement as a crime of Lese Humanity. Colombia has ratified the majority of the conventions on human rights and about International Humanitarian Law, obligating the State and the so-called armed actors to respect these principles.
The Political Constitution of 1991 defined as a vital right the protection of life and mobility, and the express prohibition of forced displacement, rights that the State and its agents precisely violate in the framework of their policies that apply forced displacement. This is a fundamental strategy for the imposition of an economic model. Recently, criminal legislation has defined this conduct as criminal and given them the designation of Lese Humanity. Nevertheless, the structure of impunity that drives Colombian justice makes inapplicable not only internal but also international norms, doubly victimizing those persons of this violation, especially girls, boys, women, and the elderly.
An effort to be highlighted are the decisions of the Constitutional Court that have obligated the State to respect the rights of displaced persons and to apply the political calls about forced displacement, complied with partially and in bad faith. We must highlight that the Colombian government violates the principal provisions of the United Nations about displacement in the interior of the country, especially the principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 6-C. 9, 10-1-2, 11, 13-1-2, 14, 16, 18-1-2, 21-1-2, 23, 25-1-3, 26, 27-1, 28-1 y 29, not only in a direct manner, but also by protecting with impunity the conduct of public functionaries responsible for this crime, as in the case of the extermination of the political movement Patriotic Union, whose survivors were forced to make a claim before the International Human Rights Court.
The Tribunal calls on the Colombian government, multinational companies, and the governments of developed countries and their officials to stop these practices, which severely violate people’s human rights, and to respect the principles and norms of International Humanitarian Law, human rights, and rights of refugees. This Tribunal also asks the Colombian government to set up a Truth Commission or process aimed at revealing the intellectual and actual perpetrators so that they may be legally judged and punished, seeking reparation for the victims.
The Testimony and Its Content
The Tribunal heard direct testimony, which was added to numerous others heard in regional courts and to the ample documentation already gathered, which provides a significant demonstration of what happens throughout Colombia. The testimony comes from northern Santander, Vichada, Casanare, Arauca, Meta, Antioquia, Choco, southern Bolívar, Nariño, Cauca, Sucre, Bogotá, Cartagena, Boyacá, Valle, the coffee growing region, Guaviare, Putumayo. Of the cases, 28 had an economic and 10 a socio-political origin. Those responsible were the army (21), police (3), army and paramilitary groups together (8), and paramilitary groups (6).
It was verified that in the 28 cases in which there was an economic motivation, they took place basically in areas like Choco, where there are mining and energy projects and deposits of petroleum, gas, gold, copper, molybdenum, uranite, coal, and areas of production of electrical energy, forests and water sources. There are also projects related to wood, the African palm and “ecotourism.” Similar motivation exists in Arauca, where Repsol and the Occidental Petroleum Company are accused of severely violating the human rights of workers, of indigenous persons, and of the population in general. In Antioquia and Nariño Canadian and U. S. companies are developing exploration and exploitation of petroleum, gas, and gold, utilizing similar methods. In southern Bolívar, the Anglogold Ashanty Company is trying to expel small miners and appropriate the immense deposits of gold in that region, with the open support of the paramilitary groups by the army and the Colombian government. The latter provided a listing of the protestors from the exodus of 1998 who were arrested, disappeared, or assassinated. The situation of northern Santander was also highlighted where military and paramilitary action that supports companies like Harken Energy, Anglocoal, and investors linked to the Uribe Vélez family exploit the coal, gas, and petroleum in the area.
In the Cauca region, where there are also deposits of minerals, petroleum, and gas, paramilitary and military operations have been directed at expropriating indigenous people and people of African descent from their lands, in order to give them to palm and lumber companies in cooperation with the landowners of the area. It must be noted that the forced displacement has occurred more often in areas populated by people of African descent such as Chocó, Nariño, Cauca, Cauca Valley, northern Bolívar, and Uraba from Antioquia. Other departments like Putumayo, Vichada, Casanare, Sucre, Meta, Cauca Valley, have had forced displacements as a measure that “guarantees” the presence of companies involved in petroleum, gas, mining, lumber, African palm, etc. Finally, we note that where displacements occurred as a form of social control, that occurred in departments where social organizations were very strong, as for example in Arauca. In this Tribunal no cases of displacement forced by guerrillas were presented.
The Actors and Their Reasons
Many witnesses linked the government with forced displacement, by commission and by omission. There are paramilitary groups which, with the complicity of the military and the police, exercised terror against the peasant population in many areas of the country. Paramilitary groups like the Black Eagles, New Generation, Nutibara Chief’s Blockade, and Calima Blockade continue assassinating and displacing. Through its brigades, the national army either acts in a similar way or simply does not intervene although they may know about the presence of these groups in the areas where they operate and displace people.
A part of the political class and of the landowners in many areas of the country, have been named as members or allies of paramilitary groups, which use terror to destroy and appropriate the lands of small farmers and to maintain political control in municipal governments, the Congress, the Senate, and the national government, as a strategy of social control, without tolerating at all any political opposition, nor the democratic exercise of civil rights.
Judicial power in Colombia often works partially and venially regarding the displaced population, not recognizing their right to property and assigning ownership of their land to the members of paramilitary groups, landowners, and politicians who displaced them. Multinational companies like Harken Energy, GreyStar Resources, Cemex, Holcim, BHP Billiton, Angloamerican, Xtrata, Drummond, Chiquita brands, Oxy, Repsol, B.P., Union Fenosa, Codensa, Urapalma, Glencore, Anglogold Ashanty, Petrocanada, Colombian Consortium of the Cerrejón, and Kedada are complicit in the displacement, because they finance and lend their facilities to the paramilitary groups that threatened and massacred thousands of union members, members of communities of African descent, indigenous peoples, and peasants.
The responsibility of the U. S. government in the forced displacement has also been proven, because of its military support through the Plan Colombia and the Patriotic Plan, military aid, sending of mercenaries, and extensive, indiscriminate fumigation.
These actions have included: massacres, selective assassinations, threats, burning of houses, false operatives, massive arrests, violence against women, forced military recruitment, disappearances, state terrorism, and psychological terrorism against victims.
The urban displacements are also the result of the actions of banks that with unreasonable interest rates cause the dissolution of families and make use of the police force to force people from their homes.
Structural Causes of Displacement
The first forced displacements were those imposed by the Spanish conquerors who threw the indigenous peoples off their lands on the plains, where they then put cattle, forcing those people to move to the hillsides where many of them or their descendents still cultivate the land intensively. The new owners then proceeded to force small towns to group together into bigger ones, in order to vacate the land and create large ranches. The result was genocide, with millions of dead indigenous people and slaves imported from Africa on the plantations and in the mines. In this first phase of capitalism, the region was part of the famous triangular commerce (Europe, Africa, America) and contributed to the accumulation of monetary capital in Europe. In the interior, they created the basic wealth that the richer classes sought without any criminal intent, be it religious or civic, but simply with the desire for profit and economic power--a historical constant in Colombia.
Currently, the entrance of external capital and the domination of transnational companies corresponds to the opening of world markets, the outcome of the neoliberal model of development. The super-exploitation of natural resources (petroleum, gold, and other metals), the expansion of mono-agriculture for export of agricultural and cattle/dairy products, and recently for the production of agricultural fuels, are the origin of the expulsions of the peasants, indigenous communities, and communities of African descent from their lands. The expulsions follow the exigencies of the globalization of capital and they emphasize the dependent nature of the dominant Colombian classes to mainly North American and European capital. Ecological disaster can be added to social catastrophe.
The continuity of this economic model causes the current government to implement the latest phase of expropriation of lands and the re-ordering of populations that is the basis of the true anti-agrarian reform that is occurring worldwide today. The returns do not modify the process and they are implemented in those areas in which paramilitary control has already been consolidated, under the model established by the transnational companies and with the help of part of international aid. In the best of cases, the government’s response consisted of (judicial) assistance. Regarding urban displacement, the principal actors are the banks, following the logic of financial capital.
Besides, the geostrategic place of Colombia in a continent in which new alternative economic and political spaces and new projects of integration are being opened explains both the brutal intervention of imperialism, wanting to preserve its hegemony, and how the implementation of the Plan Colombia and the Patriotic Plan emphasizes violence and displacements. It is thereby understood that solutions to the problems demand not only internal changes that challenge death projects, but also a different orientation of the world economy.
To provide a solution to the human drama of displacement, the following are needed: 1) a policy of returning based on principles of justice; that is, the return of lands to peasants and communities, applying the Colombian Constitution; 2) financial compensation for material damages sustained; 3) a recognition of the crimes committed under the eyes of the justice system, truth, integral reparation and the guarantee that the crimes will not recur, putting an end to impunity; and 4) the establishment of a Commission of Reconciliation.
Regarding the forced displacement of almost four million Colombian women and men, after having heard all the testimony, verified the evidence brought by the victims, examined and weighed it with the experts’, we condemn, because of or for the acts of commission and omission in the forced displacement for almost four million Colombian women and men:
- 1. The Colombian state and government and its agents; that is, public administrative officials, members of the armed forces and the police, judges and judicial functionaries, members of the state intelligence services, military and paramilitary personnel, functionaries of the prosecutor’s and public defender’s offices and procurators, for not having acted or for being accomplices in the crime of forced displacement.
- 2. The multinational companies mentioned above that, as operators of the imposition of an economic model that guarantees the sacking of natural resources belonging to the nation, utilize military and paramilitary personnel, mercenaries, members of the police force and of the state intelligence services as agents of forced displacement. They guarantee with this crime of Lese Humanity the appropriation of those areas where mega-projects are developed for the exclusive benefit of these companies. We also denounce as accomplices to the several kinds of displacement members of the Colombian establishment such as cattle ranchers, landowners, owners of industry, drug traffickers, and financial institutions and banks.
- 3. The governments of countries such as the United States, Canada, England, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, South Africa, and the European Union for lending military aid to the Colombian government, for allowing multinational companies of these countries to directly finance the military and paramilitary operations that displace millions of Colombian women and men in order to “guarantee” the operation of these companies in Colombia.
- Finally, the Tribunal holds responsible the Colombian authorities for the security of all those who have participated as organizers or witnesses in this session about displaced persons.
- Bogotá, November 23, 2007
- Francois Houtart (Belgium), President
- Orlando Fals Borda (Colombia), Vice President
- Patricia Dahl (United States)
- Don Tomas Balduino (Brasil)
- Louis Nicodeme (Belgium)
- Joao Lucio Da Costa (Brasil)
- Dieter Misgeld (Canada)
- Francisco Ramírez (Colombia), prosecutor
Colombia Support Network
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