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Friday, February 22, 2008

Bombardment in the Indigenous Communities of Murindo

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

February 19, 2008

The Cabildo Mayor [Governing Council] of the Indigenous Reservations of Murindó and Chajeradó, together with the Life, Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Quibdó, worried about the critical situation of the indigenous communities in the region, direct this communiqué to regional, national and international public opinion.

The Facts

On February 8 at 3:30 in the afternoon, in the community La Isla, located within the Embera-Katío Reservation of the Río Murindó, which belongs to the municipality of Murindó in the department of Antioquia, Colombia, a large military airplane appeared that flew over the communities of Coredó and La Isla. Shortly thereafter two super fast warplanes appeared, machine-gunning and bombing the area of the cemetery of both communities, creating panic among the civilian population. The bombs destroyed part of the cemetery and fruit trees. In the cemetery, a crater was left that had a diameter of four meters and a depth of two meters. One tomb was left totally destroyed, which amounts to a profanation of a sacred place and deeply wounds the religious feelings of the indigenous people. Two bombs fell at a distance of barely 200 meters from a house. The force of the explosion threw the inhabitants to the ground, a woman was left deaf and all the animals belonging to the house fled for the hills. Because of the smoke from the bombs, a year and a half-old girl was choking and vomiting and had to be hospitalized in Murindó. The bombs and machine-gun bursts put the lives of men, women and children who were fishing and hunting in the area in grave danger.
The same area was bombed on July 22, 2007. On that occasion, a hectare of cultivated land was destroyed.


We reject the violations of our right to life, guaranteed in the Constitution, and our right to our territory, and we demand of the government authorities that they take measures and effectively guarantee our rights and our ability to carry out our activities in our territories according to our methods and customs.
We demand of the armed forces that they not continue bombing, nor carry out combats in our territory in order not to put our lives in danger.
We say that the war that is being waged in our territory is not ours, so there is no reason or justification for bombing or having combats in our reservations. We indigenous people do not want war, we want to live in peace.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Current "para-politicians" list

The Center for International Policy has provided us with the following information.

CIP Colombia Program
February 19, 2008

There are now fifty-five Colombian national political figures - nearly all of them supporters of the current government - under investigation, on trial, or already found guilty of collaborating with paramilitary groups. This list, compiled by the Colombian think-tank INDEPAZ, is current as of right now.

Caquetá Representative Luis Fernando Almario Rojas
Under preliminary investigation.
Former Sucre Governor and Ambassador to Chile Salvador Arana
Fugitive from justice
Cesar Senator Álvaro Araújo Castro
Detained, currently on trial.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Tolima Representative Pompilio Avendaño
Under preliminary investigation.
Caldas Representative Emilio Enrique Angel Barco
Under preliminary investigation.
Bolívar Senator Vicente Blel Saad
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Magdalena Representative Jorge Luis Caballero Caballero
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Magdalena Representative Alfonso Campo Escobar
Detained, pleaded guilty.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Former Meta Governor Edilberto Castro Rendón
Guilty verdict returned
Atlántico Senator Jorge Castro Pacheco
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Cesar Representative Alfredo Cuello Baute
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Córdoba Senator Miguel De la Espriella Burgos
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Córdoba Representative Musa Besaile Fayad
Under preliminary investigation.
Sucre Representative Jairo Fernández Quessep
Under preliminary investigation.
Sucre Senator Álvaro García Romero
Detained, currently on trial.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Tolima Representative Gonzalo García Angarita
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Antioquia Senator Guillermo Gaviria Zapata
Under preliminary investigation.
Santander Senator Luis Alberto Gil Castillo
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Tolima Senator Luis Humberto Gómez Gallo
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Caldas Senator Adriana Patricia Gutiérrez Jaramillo
Under preliminary investigation.
Santander Representative José Manuel Herrera Cely
Under preliminary investigation.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Córdoba Senator Zulema Jattin Corrales
Under preliminary investigation.
Magdalena Senator Karely Patricia Lara Vence
Detained, currently on trial.
Bolívar Representative Héctor Julio Alfonso López
Under preliminary investigation.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Córdoba Senator Juan Manuel López Cabrales
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Former Magdalena Governor Trino Luna Correa
Pleaded guilty
Atlántico Senator Dieb Nicolás Maloof Cuse
Detained, Pleaded guilty.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Córdoba Senator Julio Manzur
Under preliminary investigation.
Risaralda Senator Habib Merheg Marun
Under preliminary investigation.
Sucre Representative Jairo Enrique Merlano Fernández
Detained, currently on trial.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Former Cesar Governor Hernado Molina Araujo
Under investigation for suspected ties to "El Socio"
Bolívar Senator Reginaldo Enrique Montes Alvarez
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Bolívar Senator William Alfonso Montes Medina
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Cesar Representative Álvaro Morón Cuello
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Sucre Representative Erik Julio Morris Taboada
Detained, pleaded guilty.
Former Presidential Intelligence (DAS) Director (originally from Magdalena department) Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cotes
Detained, under investigation
Antioquia Representative Mauricio Parodi Díaz
Under preliminary investigation.
Cesar Senator Mauricio Pimiento Barrera
Detained, currently on trial.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Magdalena Senator Miguel Pinedo Vidal
Under preliminary investigation.
Antioquia Senator Rubén Darío Quintero
Under preliminary investigation.
Former Vice-Prosecutor General (Vicefiscal) (originally from Sucre department) Andrés Ramírez Moncayo
Under investigation for suspected ties to "El Socio"
Boyacá Senator Ciro Ramírez Pinzón
Under preliminary investigation.
Santander Senator Óscar Josué Reyes Cárdenas
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Santander Representative Luis Alfonso Riaño
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Putumayo Representative Guillermo Rivera Flórez
Under preliminary investigation.
Magdalena Representative Rodrigo Roncallo Fandiño
Under preliminary investigation.
Antioquia Senator Óscar Suárez Mira
Under preliminary investigation.
Bolívar Representative Fernando Tafur Díaz
Under preliminary investigation.
Caldas Representative Dixon Ferney Tapasco
Under preliminary investigation.
Meta Senator Luis Carlos Torres Rueda
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Antioquia Senator (and President Uribe's cousin) Mario Uribe Escobar
Under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Cauca Senator Luis Fernando Velasco
Under preliminary investigation.
Former Huila Governor Rodrigo Villalba
Under investigation for suspected ties to "El Socio"
Magdalena Senator Luis Eduardo Vives Lacouture
Detained, currently on trial.
Resigned post to avoid Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Detained, under formal investigation (indagatoria).
Casanare Representative Óscar Leonidas Wilches Carreño

One investigation has been terminated for lack of evidence, that of Córdoba Representative José de Los Santos Negrete Flórez.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Open Letter to President Uribe: Toward Peace for Colombia

( Translated by Thomas Kolar, a CSN volunteer translator)

Open Letter to President Uribe: Toward Peace for Colombia
[ 02/14/2008 ] [ Source: Collective for The March For Peace and Social Justice in Colombia ]
Bogota, February 6, 2008
President of the Republic of Colombia
For your attention
Cordial greetings,
Through this letter we wish to inform you that a full ensemble of Colombian victims of terror caused by poverty and exclusion want to achieve a great day of solidarity with the Colombian people.
We ask, most politely, that you take the necessary steps at the national and international level to make this march a great success.
We wish that the entire world express its solidarity with those victims of the so-called “paseos de la muerte”, that is to say, with those relatives of those that have died at the doors of Colombian hospitals since they were not attended to because they did not have prepaid medicine or medical insurance.
We want to march in solidarity with those victims of illiteracy that still persists in this country. For the right of many to be included in the National Education System. There are a million children between 5 and 17 years of age who are not included, according to Cecilia Maria Velez, Minister of National Education.
We will march against corruption and penetration of drug trafficking and paramilitarism into many Colombian state institutions such as: the Congress of the Republic, the Prosecutor General of the Nation, the army, the National Police, the DAS, the National Registry, the National Comptroller, some governors and mayors and some ambassadors and consulates of the country. This scourge of drug trafficking continues fixed, mister president, with those monsters from the past protected as senor Jorge Noguera.
We will march against those transnationals that finance squadrons of mercenaries to assassinate union leaders. Chiquita Brands, Nestle, Coca Cola, etc.
We call to march against hunger and poverty that still fester in our country and the world.
We will march against the Black Eagles and the emergent gangs of the new generation.
You have already marched against kidnapping and you presided over the march “against the FARC”, will you preside now over this march against WAR, for the Peace and for Social Justice and Equality.
We will march for Humanitarianism.
We will march in solidarity with the more than 3 million internally displaced persons in our country. For their safe return to their homes.
We have 3,500 kidnapped family members reported an editorial of the daily El Colombiano last February 4. There are also more than 5,000 of our relatives in political exile for dissenting against neoliberal messages that have been implemented in our country.
For all these reasons and many others that surely will be incorporated in this convocation, senor president, it is necessary to march now. Colombians have great problems and they should motivate us and mobilize us without distinction of class, religion, race, politics, etc.
For this we ask you:
1.   Preside yourself over this convocation and march. Fot the peace of Colombia, for Social Justice and Equality and for Humanitarianism.
You can march in Valledupar, in San Andres, in Monteria or in any other part of the nation.
2.   Organize and arrange an operations team as you did for the Feruary 4 march, in
Order to coordinate all necessary for this day of mobilization.
3.   Direct embassys and consulates of the country to promote the march.
4.   Alert the media, such as El Tiempo, El Colombiano, RCN, Caracol, etc, in order to spread news of the march.
5.   Issue a permit of 3 hours for all the public workers who want to march, such as you did the past February 4.
6.   Speak directly or indirectly with the embassy of the United States in this country, so that they transmit to their contacts in all the world, the message of the importance of supporting the march and for all those in the United States who want to participate that they be able to do so without problems. Additionally, in order that they put the Internet to work in support of this massive convocation and march as was done before the February 4 march. So that also CNN helps us with the convocation. So that the city officials of New York and other cities of the United States support the initiative.
7.   Speak with the king of Spain and with president Zapatero so that they understand that the march for justice is not a march in favor of terrorism. And as the march is against war, speak with the editorialists of El Pais so that they do not continue stirring up confrontation with Venezuela.
These are the requests that we make for this day of Colombians who want Peace, Social Justice, equality of opportunity, and all that the Constitution of the country promises, that it all be a success.
We know that you are very busy directing the democratic security but we need that you take some time to attend to these demands.
For our part we will give all our effort as always.
We will try to open an account in Facebook in order to publicize the convocation.
There being no other motive to this letter, we say good-bye, with the certainty that the social and armed conflict under which Colombians suffer will have a negotiated peaceful outcome that will bring Peace and Social Justice, so that Colombia will progress and be a cradle of Liberty and Equality.
Jorge Tamayo
Collective for The March For Peace and Social Justice in Colombia

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

Friday, February 15, 2008

Noam Chomsky welcomes participation in March 6 events/

Colombia Support Network has received the following statement from the distinguished linguist and author Noam Chomsky welcoming the activities on March 6. The Spanish version follows this one “

For far too long, Colombians have suffered torture, displacement, disappearance, and general misery under the dark shadow of paramilitary and military terror, constantly taking new and more menacing forms.  To our everlasting shame, citizens of the United States have unwittingly made a decisive contribution to these horrors for close to half a century.  The vigil on March 6 is a courageous stand by the victims and their supporters, in Colombia and around the world, a passionate plea for this savagery to be brought to a final end.  Please join them in any way you can, and help to bring to this wonderful country the justice and peace that its people richly deserve. Noam Chomsky”

Colombia Support Network recibio la siguiente declaracion del distinguido linguista y autor Noam Chomsky avalando las actividades de 6 de Marzo.

Por demasiado tiempo, los colombianos han sufrido torturas, desplazamientos, desapariciones y miseria en general bajo las  sombras oscuras del terror militar y paramilitar, las cuales cambian constantemente por formas cada vez mas nuevas y amenazantes. Para nuestra eterna verguenza, nosotros los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, inconscientemente, hemos contribuido en forma decisiva a estos horrores por mas de medio siglo. La vigilia del 6 de Marzo es una manifestacion valiente tanto por las victimas  como por sus apoyadores, en Colombia y en el resto del mundo. Es un clamor apasionado para que la salvajada se termine. Por favor unase a ellos en cualquier forma que usted pueda, y ayude a que la paz y la justicia lleguen a este pais maravilloso  cuya gente lo merece enormemente.

Noam Chomsky

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

Business leader seeks hired killer

Ordered assassinations of

Ligia Maria Chaverra and Manuel Denis Blandon.
In spite of recognition of collective land ownership, deforestation, expansion of cattle ranching and palm planting and fruit extraction continue

(translated by Duane Ediger)

Bogotá, Colombia, February 12, 2008
Vice President of the Republic
Minister of the Interior
Minister of Foreign Relations
Minister of the Environment
Federal Prosecutor
Attorney General
Nacional People’s Ombudsman
Controller General

Re:  Plan of an attack against Maria Ligia Chaverra and Manuel Denis Blandon.  Continued occupation of lands in Curvaradó, activities in violation of environmental rights, abuses of authority.  
“Cursed is the one who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person”
Deuteronomy 27: 25
We bring to your offices our Historic Report and Ethical Condemnation, in light of our knowledge of a plan to take the lives of leaders and defenders of the rights of Afro-Colombians, the legal representative of the Community Counsel of Curvaradó, Ligia Maria Chaverra and the former legal representative of the Community Counsel of Jiguamiandó, Manuel Denis Blandon, due to the lack of government action to confront the generalized paramilitary criminality in the region.
Our Condemnation is of abuses of authority committed by military units and agents linked to local governments in actions undertaken in Caño Manso, Andalucía, Las Menas and Caño Claro, and of the development of new techniques and mechanisms of deceit to assure the extraction of the fruit of the (African) palm, the expansion of cattle raising, deforestation, use of the “needs of the people” and mechanisms of participation as part of a new dynamic to legitimize and legalize criminal activity.  
Our Report and Condemnation are aimed at the contempt for the rights of the African Colombians and mestizos, at the rottenness that becomes apparent upon reading each of the actions described in this Report.  
* Thursday January 17. At 9:12 a.m., approximately 10 palm plantation workers attempted to enter land belonging to Enrique Petro, a member of the Curvaradó Community Counsel.  The legal and legitimate inhabitant impeded their action.
Minutes later, the resident of the “Andalucia Caño Claro” Humanitarian Zone, together with the human rights defender of our Commission of Justice and Peace who was with him, were approached by Luis Florez of the “Palmura” company, who declared that his boss’s order was to go in with the tractor, and that he was going to comply with that decision.  
At approximately 11:00 a.m., a second lieutenant of the 15th Brigade whose last name is Ortiz, accompanied by several military units, rebuked Mr. Petro, telling him, “Don’t make things difficult.  Why do you always do things that way?”  The peasant responded, “Am I in the wrong for defending my rights peacefully?”
Luis Florez reported that he would seek the administrator of the “Maria Eugenia” company in order to enter the place.  
* Monday, January 21.  At about 2:00 p.m. in the municipality of Murindó, peasants of the “Nueva Esperanza” Humanitarian Zone, in the Jiguamiandó River valley, were questioned by police personnel.  Emilse Gonzalez, Edelso Sierra, Juan Alvarado, Erasmo Cuadrado and Benjamin Sierra, in spite of being inhabitants of the region known by the regular troops, were interrogated and made to give their names and surnames, tell where they live, their activities, their parents’ names and studies they have pursued.  
* Wednesday, January 23.  Our Commission of Justice and Peace received word that the municipal Representative (Personero) of Riosucio, Dario Blandon Caicedo – in the presence of troops of the National Army’s 15th Brigade (stationed next to the “Villa Alejandra I” Estate), of Carlos Eloy Eljach, Police Inspector of Belén de Bajirá for Chocó department, and the occupying administrators in bad faith, Luis Felipe Molano, a.k.a. “El Tío” and Armando Garzon, a.k.a. “El Secretario” – authorized the continuation of lumber harvesting in this jurisdiction.  Stating, “I am the law,” the Representative lifted the measure that had prohibited the cutting and transport of lumber.  
The decision made by the “local authority” is in contravention to public morals as well as a determination of the national government.
In the meeting Luis Felipe Molano spoke about the ownership of the lands of Caño Manso.  “Those lands belong firstly to the black communities; secondly, to us cattle ranchers, and thirdly, to the community of Caño Manso,” he said, adding that, “People who own land in the zone, they [meaning the cattle ranchers] will be given 4 hectares and 4 cows to work.”  The occupier of bad faith indicated that he would help out by sharing milk and food and resources to initiate productive projects, and that he would organize Caño Manso township (caserío) infrastructure.  Finally, he called for a meeting on February 15 with the presence of the Representative of Riosucio and troops of the 15th Brigade to define the agreements.  
* Friday January 25.  At about 1:00 p.m. peasant Enrique Petro called Lieutenant Ortiz, who stays in the building (casino) built by the palm companies at the high point of the bridge of Caño Claro in Andalucía, and informed him that palm business personnel had placed a chain impeding the free movement of Afro-Colombians, [and] of consumer goods at a distance of less than 50 meters of an Army position.  Ortiz answered the peasant by saying that the road was private and he could not do anything to remove the chain.  
The peasant Petro reiterated that the road was built by the businesses without his consent on lands that he has inhabited in Curvaradó for 47 years and that are recognized by the State as being part of the Collective title.  
Upon receiving this answer, Ortiz said he would speak with the palm business people.  
* Saturday January 26.  In the weekly El Espectador, in an article titled, “The Palm Business File [El Dossier de los Palmeros]” Carlos Merlano, a member of the Board of Directors and a Partner of the palm business “Urapalma S.A”, who is named in investigation number [bajo el radicado] 3856, declared that “Having judged these lands as belonging to the black communities, the businesspeople then began to arrange with the legal representatives of these Community Councils when groups with obscure perspectives and intentions, organized in the form of international NGOs [non-governmental organizations], appeared on the scene, about which, in the sight of all, it is known that they speak (interlocutan) with the FARC, who pressed for the choice of Ligia Chaverra as the legal representation of the Curvaradó Valley Community Council, effectively unseating Moya, who was and continues to be the legitimate legal representative of these communities” … “today the NGOs and their gamepiece, Ligia Chaverra, have hounded the palm sector with multiple accusations, including forced displacements that are not the fault of the palm tree businesses, whose only interest has been to move the region to a prosperous place with palm cultivation and its end product, biodiesel, which is gaining currency as the fuel for centuries to come.”

* Tuesday January 29.  Our Commission of Justice and Peace became aware of the refusal of the Secretary of Government (and) of the Carmen del Darién City Council to register the names of the legal representatives of the lesser councils (consejos menores) of Caracolí, Caño Manso, El Guamo, Camelias, Buena Vista and Villa Luz, in the Curvaradó River Valley.  
The false arguments used by the Secretary of Government (and) of the Carmen del Darién City Council [are related], according to him, “because this act should be carried out by a person of African descent,” a statement not consistent with Law 70 of 1993 and its [associated] regulations.  
* Wednesday January 30.  During the morning in the vicinity of Andalucía Caño Claro, less than 10 meters of the building where the palm workers stay, together with soldiers of the 15th Brigade, a tree nursery was installed with 300 palms ready for transplanting.
The seedlings, property of Gabriel Jaime Sierra, proprietor of the business “Palmas de Curvaradó,” are located on the property of Community Council member Elena Mestre, inhabitant of the Humanitarian Zone of Andalucía Caño Claro.  
Likewise in Las Menas township, on the property of the late peasant Alfonso Ibañez, destruction of the forest is advancing for the sowing of palm. Canals are being dug and a toll-type metal door installed by workers linked with the businessman Jaime Sierra.  
* Thursday, January 31.  During the afternoon, our Commission of Justice and Peace became aware of a document in which the “community council of black communities of Curvaradó” called an assembly for the restructuring of the Greater Counsel (Consejo Mayor) to be performed February 17, 2008 in the town center of Carmen del Darién, The document included no signatures.  
* Thursday January 31.  At about 11:00 a.m. 15-year-old Adriano Alvarado and 13-year-old Jhon Willinton David, left the “Humanitarian Zone Andalucía Caño Claro” in Curvaradó and headed for the Humanitarian Zone of Nueva Esperanza in Jiguamiandó where they live.  
While crossing the Caño Claro bridge adjacent to the building (casino), they were detained by a group of soldiers of the 15th Brigade.  The military commander ordered his subordinates to separate the children.  Once separated, they interrogated them about the presence of guerrillas. When the children said they were lived in the Humanitarian Zones, the soldiers said that the only thing that exists there is guerrillas.
They took from Adriano a cell phone and a piece of paper with family members’ cell phone numbers.  The paper was never returned.  
They told the younger child, Jhon Willinton, who carried no identification document, that they could keep him detained for 46 hours while they verified his identity.  He insisted he was hungry and wanted to get back home.  The lieutenant responded, “Go ask permission from the guerrillas Karina or Becerro.  You are a guerrilla known as alias ‘El Cachaco.’ ”  The boy demanded respect.
For 30 minutes the children put up with the soldiers’ abusive attitudes, and claimed their right to either be allowed to go, or, if they were under arrest, to know that so they could call the accompanying organizations; when they requested food they were permitted them continue on their way.  
* Saturday February 2.  In the afternoon, in the township of Caucheras on the road to the ocean, a family of the Community Council of Curvaradó was approached by an employee of the business “Urapalma S.A.” who offered an arrangement for using their land for illegal palm cultivation.  The worker offered the execution of a lease contract in order “not to lose the investment.
* Tuesday February 5.  At about 11:15 a.m. our Commission of Justice and Peace was informed by a phone call from a highly reliable source that a palm businessman offered the sum of $5,000,000 pesos ($2,500 U.S.) to take the lives of Ligia Maria Chaverra, legal representative of the Greater Counsel of the Curvaradó River Valley and Manuel Denis Blandon, former legal representative of the Greater Council of Jiguamiandó River Valley.  
The businessman in Belén de Bajirá offered several people that amount and in an aggressive tone expressed:  “I am not going to allow us to go to jail because of those accusations of the Community Councils.”
It became known that a person not from Belén de Bajirá accepted the proposal to carry out the assassinations and is getting a fix on the location of the two people of the Community Councils that lie within the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones.  
* Thursday February 7.  According to unofficial information, it was known that in the last week of January of 2008, in Bogota, representatives of the palm plantation businesses – businesses under investigation by the Federal Prosecutors’ Office (Fiscalía General de la Nación) for possible commission of crimes of forced displacement, conspiracy to break the law, environmental crimes, usurpation of lands and falsehoods – met with Luis Mario Gaviria, regional director of Social Action (Acción Social, a government agency) with the purpose of establishing mechanisms to come to an “agreement” to give formal ownership of part of the collective territory that today is illegally sown with African Palm to the workers of the business.
* Monday February 10.  At 4:00 p.m. our Commission of Justice and Peace received a report that in the places known as Playa Roja, San Andrés, Campo Alegre and La Punta about 200 armed men of the paramilitary strategy under the name “Black Eagles” have been deployed, and about 45 armed people under another armed structure, the so-called “Renascientes,” were at the exit to Barranquillita near the township (corregimiento) of Buenos Aires in the farm “El Tigre.”
On El Cuchillo Mountain coca leaf planting supported by paramilitary structures resumed.
* Tuesday February 12.  At 6:50 p.m. our Commission of Justice and Peace became aware that the night before, around 10:30 p.m. in Apartadocito, armed men came onto the property of Mr. Emilio Cabezas, a resident in good faith who had lived peacefully in Curvaradó for over 50 years, and intimidated the inhabitants of the family’s house.
Through mechanisms of the registry Office of Chigorodó, an attempt had been made to fraudulently appropriate the property, which is adjacent to the Collective Territory of Curvaradó.
* Wednesday February 13.  At the 8:00 a.m. our Commission of Justice and Peace was informed in Bogota that a man trying to recover his property was called to the personero of Carmen del Darién, who told him that he called him in order to meet with the “true representatives” [and] to revoke whose who have representation with “arms.”  The meeting was to take place in Carmen del Darién on February 17.  The man added that he was sharing his concern while seeking orientation for what he might do legally.  
Our Ethical Condemnation is directed at the absence of political will to confront the pure criminality that develops new techniques and mechanisms to maintain the illegality of the palm agribusiness, still protected through the impunity enjoyed by structures responsible for forced displacement, land appropriation, palm planting and cattle expansion, and that continues to deny property rights to African Colombians.  Inspired by agribusiness-friendly public policy and a model of development based on exclusion, the business sector supports its many mechanisms of iniquity.  The susceptibility of local authorities to that criminal logic can be seen in their action against right and rule of law, in defense of business investments, in its bias in favor of agro-industrial projects built on the blood and destruction of human lives and of the biodiversity in the Lower Atrato River Basin.  Its rights-denying attitude can be seen with the refusal to recognize Community Councils that object to palm plantations and cattle expansion, or with the actions of supposed Police Inspectors or of Municipal Personeros that officiate as “fixers” in a conflict where the responsibility of armed structures, business and land title fraud, and a whole tangle of criminality could not be clearer, and where what is required is justice.  
Recognition of ancestral and legal property in those territories by national authorities expressed in Resolutions becomes a chimera.  Military protection of wholesale deforestation and of business abuses is the reality; rights are nothing but a formality.  The restriction of free movement and of property rights of the communities is protected by military units.  In no case is it a passive attitude, but a proactive one in favor of criminality.  Collusion by the Army’s 15th Brigade with businesses implicated in ongoing illegal palm fruit extraction, deforestation and cattle expansion is obvious.  The use of fraudulent techniques and operations to make lands appear to belong to businesses breeds corruption, which then becomes the response to the needs of African Colombians.  It is an effort to legalize the illegal, to validate environmental crimes and the occupation of lands of the communities of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.  
Through the media and by unilateral processes of local agencies there is an effort to impose as legal representives people who can be used as part of the strategy of plunder and legitimization of palm cultivation.  It’s a matter of not losing any time, not losing investments, maintaining the money laundering and keeping intact the more appropriately named “necrofuels” [bio=life; necro=death] industry.
The systematic persecution of Ligia Maria Chaverra by false accusations in judicial forums, by threatening messages, by the delegitimizing of her appointment, passing her off as servant of the guerrillas and now with the planning of a crime against her, follows her firm decision to protect the rights of Afro-Colombians to their territories, her exercise of demanding the truth and saying it with a clear and forceful voice in courthouses, conferences, international forums, regarding State and para-state  responsibility for collective displacement and environmental destruction developed through paramilitary and business strategy.  But she is also being persecuted for developing initiatives within the Community Councils of Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones.  The same situation is faced by Manuel Denis Blandon, during whose period as Legal Representative the Community Councils in the Territory formed the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones.  He now stands accused without basis by witnesses who give testify incoherently and falsely on his responsibility in the commission of crimes, as happens with the majority of leaders whose only crime is to denounce, to organize the population in support of their rights, or to maintain their right to be civilian population, without being part of the actions of the State or of the FARC guerrillas.
Before your offices, we bring again our urgent request to avoid irreparable damage to the life and personal integrity of the Afro-Colombians and Mestizos, now especially of Ligia Maria Chaverra and Manuel Denis Blandon, with effective, direct, structural action on the paramilitary structures that operate in Nuevo Oriente, Mutatá, Pavarandocito, Belén de Bajirá, Playa Roja, Caracolí, Caño Manso, places known by military and police intelligence, places inhabited by those who benefit from paramilitarism, by the occupiers of bad faith in the palm plantations and new cattle ranches.
Immediate and full-throttled intervention of the executive is needed: on the 15th Brigade, with full and exact identification of the units that act in protection of illegality; immediate action against abuses of authority, abuse of functions on the part of the “Inspector” of Police of Belén de Bajirá, the Municipal Personero, and those responsible in the Riosucio City Council; on the palm extracting companies Bajirá and Urapalma for possible money laundering according to publicly known indications, regarding Villa Alejandra I and II; on the actions of Acción Social  that make possible the legalization of the illegal, the legitimization of unlawful actions against Afro-Colombians, victims of dispossession; intervention of the Controller General’s Office is needed with respect to the resources offered by the Agrarian Bank to palm businesses for setting up criminal agribusinesses; and the Department of Environment urgently needs to attend to the serious consequences the business operations are leaving behind.  
Today the development of a whole strategy of armed pressure continues, of administrative and judicial actions for social control that make possible the legalization of the violent usurpation of territories, the illegal implementation of agribusinesses like the African palm, the expansion of cattle raising and the processing of coca for illicit use.
In the face of serious attack, once again, we request, with vain hope, and as a witness before all humanity, we appeal to you, we demand of you, that you guarantee respect for human life, the restoration of the Territory to its legitimate owners.
All that can be seen in the Territory is destruction, pillage and corporate imposition through seduction, force and lies, making a mockery of recognition of land ownership.  In spite of that fact that that all this contravenes internal constitutional provisions, international law, the conditionality of the United States with respect to palm and to human rights violations, the Afro-Colombians and mestizos still do not enjoy the ancestral heritage of the Territory.  What we see today is a tangle in which the rights of Afro-Colombians only count as a symbolic efficacy behind which hide commercial, economic and business interests that have destroyed and that continue destroying the planet, human beings and human dignity.  
With deep concern,
Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Organize a vigil for the Colombian Victims March 6 / Howard Zinn invites people to join!

Dear Friends :

We at CSN invite you to  organize a vigil in your home community in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of Colombians who have been murdered or forced from their homes by illegal paramilitaries, often in collaboration with the Colombian Army or Police. The Movement of Victims of State Crimes  (MOVICE) and a coalition of social and human rights organizations in Colombia are organizing a march to be held on March 6, 2008 in Bogota and other Colombian cities and they seek solidarity of individuals and human rights groups in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. As the message enclosed with the poster ( http://colombiasupport.net/2008/Vigil-Poster.pdf or http://colombiasupport.net/2008/vigil-poster.html) explains, the purpose of the march and vigils is to focus attention on the victims of paramilitary and state-sponsored violence, whose situation has been largely overlooked by those who have focused attention on the crimes of the FARC guerrillas.

The enclosed poster does not show a time or place for the March 6 vigils. If you wish to organize one, please contact the CSN office. We will supply you with a poster indicating the time and place you tell us for the vigil in your community. Leave us a phone message if we are not at the office. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and solidarity. CSN

Last February 4 there were marches throughout Colombia organized in opposition to the FARC guerrillas and their murders and kidnapping. Millions of people participated in Colombia and all over the world.  The planners of the March 6 marches and remembrances are also totally opposed to the FARC kidnappings and murders. What they are trying to accomplish, and what we at CSN wish to help them promote, is to harness the public expression against violence and apply it to the crimes of paramilitaries and of agents of the Colombian state.


As Ivan Cepeda, son of a Patriotic Union Senator who was murdered by the paramilitaries in 1994 who is now the director of the Movement of the Victims of State Crimes has said, paraphrasing: " It is important to take advantage of the moment of sensibility which the February 4 march against the FARC brought about to generate awareness of the situation of the victims of the paramilitaries and agents of the State. We seek to give homage to the displaced, the disappeared, and the families of those assassinated and massacred through multiple symbolic acts in Bogota, other Colombian cities and abroad.  We want a moment not only of remembrance, but also solidarity. This is not to counter the anti- FARC march but rather to call the public's attention to  the situation of the victims of paramilitary and State- sponsored violence before the public returns to normality and indifference. There is a social debt to the victims of these paramilitary crimes and State extra- judicial murders. The public has not yet  condemned the crimes of the paramilitaries. We  are not proposing a competition of marches. We as victims of the State and the paramilitaries never have received public recognition. And if a public debate begins about other victims, such as those of the Palace of Justice, who have received no public recognition for the past 23 years, that for us would be an additional benefit. We want citizens to adopt the democratic habit of condemning, without prejudices or ambiguities, all forms of violence. If we arrive at this state of maturity as a society, I believe we will have found the road to peace."

The March 6 events will take place in the following context : the Colombian Supreme Court is investigating the paramilitary ties of members of Congress. 35% of members of the Colombian Congress have paramilitary ties and an estimated 140 persons placed in high positions by President Uribe have participated in or supported paramilitaries.  The March 6th events  seek to provide continued support to the Court which is subject to pressure from the Uribe administration to end its investigations. 

It is very important that Colombian society and the Uribe administration see that the international community is watching and providing solidarity to the call to remembrance on March 6. 

Here are some data which show Colombia's current situation :

There 3, 855,000 displaced persons
31,000 persons have been disappeared since 1990
There are 10,000 presently in 3,000 common graves
1,771 union members have been murdered in the last decade
The paramilitaries assassinate 800 persons per year on average
Since the Uribe administration took office in 2002 and began its so called policy of "democratic security" 955 persons have been executed extra- judicially and 7,500 persons have been arbitrarily detained. 
486 Colombians were assassinated by the state in the year 2007.

Some 6,500,000 hectares ( over 12 million acres) of lands have been stolen by the paramilitaries.
There are 18 indigenous peoples in imminent risk of extinction and 2,460 indigenous have been murdered in the last several years, of whom 900 were leaders or authorities.  Of the total number of homicides in the last 3 decades, 48% occurred during the first administration of Alvaro Uribe- Velez
Thousands of students, teachers, workers, community leaders, human rights defenders, peasants and journalists have been tortured, murdered and disappeared in Colombia by paramilitaries and agents of the Colombian State.
22,582 Colombian nationals sought asylum between 2000 and 2003.
14,000 Children are fighting with illegal groups
In addition, 21,000 children under 1 year of age die each year of preventable causes and 3 children under 5 years of age die each day of malnutrition. Hunger is also a crime of the State.

In spite of this the State Department keeps praising the Colombian Government for improving its human rights record and keeps asking Congress for more military aid for Colombia.

Dear friends :

I am pleased to invite those who receive this message to support the
march and vigils plan for March 6, 2008 in support of the victims of
paramilitary violence and of abuses by the Colombian Army and Police.
Paramilitary violence, often supported by agents of the Colombian
state, has taken thousands of lives and left millions of rural
Colombians displaced in recent years. While a series of public
demonstrations in Colombia and elsewhere on February 4th called
attention to the human rights violations of the FARC guerrillas---
including massacres, selective killings and kidnapping--- the
suffering of the victims of paramilitary violence and of abuses by
the Colombian state security forces have not received the same broad
public attention.

Now , however the Movements of Crimes of the State ( MOVICE) and
other social and human rights organizations in Colombia are planning
to bring the plight of the victims of the paramilitaries and the
Colombian state to public attention in Colombia and abroad through a
series of events in remembrance of them. These events are being
promoted by the Colombia Support Network (CSN), to whose Advisory
Council I belong. Please contact CSN for more details. Sincerely

Howard Zinn

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, February 05, 2008

For Life, Peace and Democracy

(Translated by Peter Lenny, a volunteer CSN translator )

For Life, Peace and Democracy
Call to all victims of crimes against humanity in Colombia

We, the undersigned victims of crimes against humanity in Colombia, declare the following:


1. We repudiate all forms of crimes against humanity. In Colombia, massive and systematic violation of human rights by agents of the State and the paramilitary strategy has spawned crimes against humanity, including genocide, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture and forced displacement. Also, insurgent groups have committed breaches of international humanitarian law, one of the most serious being kidnapping. This humanitarian crisis is closing off any possibility of building a civilized society where respect for life and human dignity are the key principles of living together.


2. All public justification of such crimes is inadmissible, whether for ideological reasons, reasons of State, on the pretext of national security, the purported right to self-defense, the accumulation of wealth and the plundering of lands or any other argument deployed to legitimate what, in the light of ethics and the inalienable right to life, is inhuman. We regard any expression or discourse that ignores human rights and humanitarian law as distancing us from the path of peace and democracy. Society, for its part, must act to demand respect for the right to truth, justice, full reparation and guarantees against any reoccurrence.


3. We call for the victims to be respected, for their suffering not to be manipulated and for them not to be used for political, electoral, economic or military ends. We call for their dignity not to be wounded in any way, for attempts to pit them against one another to be abandoned, and for their rights not to be undermined still more by making them the targets of further aggression. We call for their arguments and proposals to be admitted seriously and respectfully.


4. We call for a Humanitarian Agreement to permit kidnap victims to return to their families and to society, and for support for all national and international facilitation, monitoring and oversight endeavors that can contribute to these purposes. To be avoided at all cost is any type of military operation that could put their lives at risk or in any way jeopardize their wellbeing.


5. We demand truth, justice and reparation for all the victims of crimes against humanity and genocide; for the disappeared to be restored to their families and the displaced to their lands; for the paramilitary groups to be disbanded definitively, for their connections with the State, multinational corporations or political parties to be severed and for all those connected with the paramilitary policy responsible for the human rights violations to be sanctioned and their crimes brought to light before our country and the world.


6. After more than forty years of uninterrupted armed conflict it is urgent to find feasible avenues for us to advance without delay or procrastination towards a negotiated political settlement to the armed conflict which preserves the victims’ rights. We reiterate our conviction that the war plaguing Colombia can be surmounted only through a national dialogue that is broad, pluralist and conducted in concert with society.


Today we are united and assisted by the imperative need for all the victims and all sectors of Colombian society to come together to build a democratic society sustained by peace with social justice and full respect for human rights and human dignity.


Signed by:


Asociación Colombiana de Familiares de Miembros de la Fuerza Pública , Retenidos y Liberados por Grupos Guerrilleros, ASFAMIPAZ.

 Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado

 Yolanda Pulecio

Mother of Ingrid Betancourt

 Movimiento Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y contra la Impunidad

 Familiares de los Desaparecidos del Palacio de Justicia

 Fundación “Manuel Cepeda Vargas”

 Víctimas y sobrevivientes de la Unión Patriótica y del Partido Comunista Colombiano

 Pueblo Kankuamo Desplazado en Bogotá.

 Zonas Humanitarias y Zonas de Biodiversidad de los Consejos Comunitarios del Jiguamiandó y Curvaradó

 Zonas Humanitarias y Zonas de Biodiversidad de las Comunidades de Autodeterminación, Vida, Dignidad del Cacarica, CAVIDA.

 Zona Humanitaria de la Comunidad de Vida y Trabajo de La Balsita , Dabeiba.

 Zona Humanitaria de la Comunidad Civil de Vida y Paz del Alto Ariari, CIVIPAZ.

 Consejo Comunitario del Río Bajo Naya, Valle del Cauca.

 Familiares de Víctimas de Trujillo, Valle.

 Familiares de Víctimas de Inzá, Cauca.

 Asociación de Familiares de Víctimas de la Violencia Política de Río Sucio, Chocó, CLAMORES.

 Movimiento Regional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, Sucre.

 Movimiento Regional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, Antioquia.

 Asociación Regional de Víctimas de la Violencia del Terrorismo de Estado en el Magdalena Medio, ASORVIM.

 Familiares de Desaparecidos forzadamente, Familiares Colombia.

 Fundación “Nidya Erika Bautista” para los Derechos Humanos.

 Carlos Lozano

Director of the weekly “Voz”

 Senator Gloria Inés Ramírez

 Gloria Cuartas

Former Mayoress of Apartadó

 Comunidad de Ullucos del Resguardo Indígena de San Francisco, Cauca.

 Asociación Tequendama de Sucre, Cauca.

 Asociación Nacional de Ayuda Solidaria, ANDAS.

Comité Ejecutivo Nacional

Seccional Barrancabermeja

 Acompañamiento Psicosocial y en Salud Mental a Víctimas de Violencia Política, AVRE.

 Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos

 Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

 Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”

 Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos

 Fundación Afro y Cultura “ La Esperanza ”.

 Resguardo Indígena Emberá de Urada, Jiguamiandó, Coredocito.

 Asociación Campesina para el Desarrollo Integral del Sur del Putumayo, ACADISP.

 Corporación Vínculos.

 Red de Alternativas a la Impunidad y a la Globalización del Mercado.

 Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE)


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

Monday, February 04, 2008

CSN Statement on the Colombian demonstrations

Madison, February 4, 2008

COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK (CSN) applauds the popular expression  of Colombians against violence and for peace. Our organization also has long criticized  the taking of hostages by guerrilla organizations in Colombia, and had often specifically condemned the FARC in this respect. We deplore that the FARC has kept hostages in abysmal conditions. We renew our call upon the FARC to release all hostages they are currently holding and to renounce the taking of hostages in the future.

    With respect to the public demonstrations against the FARC planned for February 4, 2008, however, we are concerned that these demonstrations not draw attention away from the human rights abuses of paramilitaries and the frequent collaboration of Colombia’s military with these paramilitary operations and  indeed human rights violations on their own.  We are also concerned that the planned demonstrations not lead to  an increased support for war and intolerance  of efforts  at a negotiated solution to the Colombian conflict.

    We support efforts at a Humanitarian Agreement under the terms  of which FARC hostages can be freed. We call upon the Colombian government to support the efforts at achieving a prisoner/ hostage exchange which we believe can be a beginning point for negotiations of a peace agreement to bring an end to the decades of civil conflict which have brought so much suffering to so many Colombians.

                                                                        COLOMBIA SUPPORT  NETWORK

Criteria For Integral Reparation of Victims

( Translated by Dan Baird, a CSN volunteer translator)

The organization National Movement of Victims of State Crimes [Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado] believes that those in Colombia who have suffered during the conflict should be given integral or all-embracing  reparation: that is, the reparation should reflect the completeness of the harm suffered – psychosocial, political, organizational, economic, environmental and cultural. The statement below is issued in advance of a decree promised by the Government on administrative reparations.]

Declaration of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes  before the decree which the Government is preparing on administrative reparations

The National Government is preparing to create a Programme of Reparation by Administrative Means [that is, without the need to go through the Law Courts].  This is welcome.  However, while Government spokespeople have given assurances  that this program will recognize the State’s duty  to compensate victims of violations  of human rights and of humanitarian law – a duty established by  the Constitution and in a number of international treaties – it will not  recognize the direct responsibility of the State in acts of violence.

Our understanding is, though, that in developing any proposal for integral reparation that recognizes  the constitutional rights of the victims truth should be a fundamental principle. This implies, as a first step, recognizing who are responsible for acts of violence.  In the case of Colombia, this is not only the so-called illegal armed participants – guerillas and paramilitaries – but also agents of the State and  political and business leaders. For it is they who, protected by political institutions, have colluded with the paramilitaries in genocide and other crimes against humanity.

All actions of integral reparation require justice and the punishment of those chiefly responsible for the crimes: national and foreign business leaders, politicians, landowners and ranchers.  We are concerned that a program of administrative reparation could become a means of buying the silence of the victims and preventing  any attempt to find those responsible for the crimes.

Although it is important that there should be politicians and organizations dedicated exclusively to achieving  the just demands of integral reparation,we consider that the approaches  made known so far open the way to again ignoring or violating the rights of the victims.  Therefore we are setting out a number of principles that should be adhered to in an initiative of this kind:
1. All initiatives for integral reparation should be designed so that they do not obstruct or discourage the search for truth and justice in national or international courts.
2. Administrative reparation should rest on truth and justice, as inalienable rights of both victims and society. As the agent and instigator of the paramilitary groups, the State has a duty to recognize its responsibility and to act accordingly: it should not confine integral reparation merely to financial compensation but should guarantee justice against those – in politics, in business and in the armed forces – who sponsor the actions of the paramilitaries in their crimes against humanity.

3. Any arrangement for administrative reparation established in the country should rely on the active participation of victims’ organizations and movements. This will ensure not only transparency in the arrangement’s public accountability but also democratic participation in its operation.

4. All reparation programs should offer effective non-repetition guarantees and contain exemplary legal sanctions against anyone who reoffends in criminal acts or attempts to frighten, intimidate, blackmail – or exert any pressure on – victims.

5.Similarly, administrative or judicial reparation should consider means  of political reparation. These would involve restoring rights of participation, civil liberties and the cleaning-up of military and political power.  They would also make it possible for communities and organizations that have suffered from widespread criminal acts to make independent decisions.  In addition, they should consider restoring representative functions to those groups whose elected members have been systematically murderd.

6. Reparation should be made to all victims regardless of whether the crimes against them were committed by agents of the State or by illegal armed groups. The rights of the victims should be absolute,  irrespective of who the perpetrators were. Any reparation that ignored State crimes would be partial and discriminatory.

7. Internal refugees are also victims of armed conflict and of paramilitary strategy. Consequently, they are due integral reparation -  compensation for all harm caused to them, including that arising from  actions or lack of protection by the Colombian state.  The years of being uprooted, the material losses, the psychological and cultural damage – these flowed from the violence that caused their flight. They are the inescapable consequences of the violation of the rights of this sector of our people. This sector should be kept in mind when the various procedures are being established and the level of compensation of victims is being considered.  A program of reparation which did not seek to return the land of those displaced or to compensate them appropriately would be regarded as a joke by the four million victims of this crime in Colombia.  

8. Bearing this in mind, it is essential to include in the planned reparation a reference to the restoration of land and territory.  The land and material goods of the thousands of families who were violently dispossessed – ownership of which is currently registered in the names of paramilitaries or their families or their figureheads or business associates – will have to be returned to the original owners, in good condition and free of debt. If possible, they should be given back in better condition than they were in before the violence,  since in the time during which they were abandoned significant improvements could have been made to them.  

9. The economic and material resources used for the reparation of victims should not come from the national budget or from the taxpayers, since that would entail a major benefit to the perpetrators and a loss to the victims and to Colombian society as a whole.  It should be kept in mind that the paramilitary leaders and those who have profited from their criminal services, as well as enjoying a significant reduction in  their sentences, can count on substantial economic resources, the result of the violent seizure of wealth and territory and illegal activity related to drug trafficking.  Such illegally gained resources, as well as the legal resources held by the paramilitaries and their sponsors, should be used to compensate the victims and should be the target of a genuine program for the elimination of criminal power.  

10. Neither the provision of public services, which is the duty of the State,  nor public  welfare provisions intended to supplement the basic needs of the people
can be included as means of reparation.

11. The mechanisms and procedures set up for reparation should be arranged with the victims.  Goods confiscated from the criminals and their allies, which have been used to increase their fortunes, should be entrusted to an independent organization composed of State representatives and democratically elected  representatives of victims’ movements.

12. Reparations should be of a collective nature and take into account the reasons for the criminal actions in each context and the local effects of these actions.  In each case consideration should be given to the rights violated, and the damage – social, moral, political, economic, and cultural – caused to the collective of which the victims were part.

National Movement of Victims of State Crimes 
Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado]

Bogotá D.C., 29 de enero de 2008.

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

Colombiaan Trade Union Movement reaffirms its position on FTA with Condoleeza Rice

( Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN  volunteer translator)

Medellín, January 2008

[Decent work – Work with meaning – 25 years – 1982-2007]
MEDELLÍN: The Colombian trade union movement reaffirms its position on the Free Trade Treaty at a meeting with the US Secretary of State and Members of Congress.

AIL – 24 January 2008. Four points will occupy the meeting between trade union federations and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to discuss the Colombian trade union movement’s position on the Free Trade Treaty with the United States this Thursday, January 24, in the city of Medellín.

The presidents of the three workers’ federations will state their position on approval of the FTT, the march to free the February 4 kidnap victims, and the labor agenda before Congress. They will also insist on the human rights situation of trade unionists in Colombia.
These issues are directly connected with the Free Trade Treaty, which has not yet been ratified precisely because of the hostile situation in Colombia which makes trade union activities impossible.
The FTT jeopardizes employment and industry
The positions on this issue are clear, given the economic situation in Colombia and the support of trade unions which are not representative of the sector as a whole.
“The trade union movement ratifies its position that the FTT is unacceptable and should be rejected, because it is impossible for Colombia with its technological and academic inequalities, especially in agriculture, to sign such a treaty. For example, while in the United States, one hectare of maize yields 11 or 12 tons a year, in Colombia it produces 4. This will put rural employment and security at risk in Colombia if maize is imported from the United States”, explains Boris Montes De Oca, Secretary-General of Colombia’s trade union confederation, CUT Nacional.
Other reasons are the closures of Colombian firms, the increasing numbers of Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado labor outsourcing cooperatives and their growing presence in the government health and education sectors. These strategies are weakening the trade union movement, which today accounts for only 4% of the population in employment, i.e. 18 million employed persons.
“Trade union support is relatively low. The trade union federations have 800,000 members, of whom only 2,000 support the FTT, and these members have a personal commercial interest in this treaty or belong to unions formed by companies, like the EPM Employees’ Association”, adds Carlos Julio Díaz, president of the CUT’s sub-directorate for Antioquia.
Trade union legislation?
The legislative agenda being pursued on these issues is directly related to breaking the deadlock in the negotiations.
At the moment two bills and two decrees are before the Colombian Congress seeking to guarantee basic trade union freedoms, such as the right to strike, regulation of the  Cooperativas de Trabajo Associado, civil servants’ right to collective bargaining and trade union membership, bearing in mind the discussions in the US Congress on approval of this treaty.
“At the moment, these four draft laws have not been discussed with the trade unions, in spite of the foreign missions and the tripartite agreement signed two years ago guaranteeing respect in this regard”, clarifies Apecides Alvis, President of CTC.
These subjects will be included in the ILO’s recommendations to the Colombian government, in an agenda responding to 4 of the 16 points raised by the trade union federations.
“Nonetheless, the proposals do not meet the international demands”, asserts José Luciano Sanín Vásquez, Director-General of Colombia’s trade union school, Escuela Nacional Sindical.
Trade union rights to the defense
“On February 4, we will be taking action for trade union human rights, remembering the 2534 murders of trade unionists in 20 years, differentiating ourselves from the march against kidnapping, calling for peace and the humanitarian agreement and inviting Colombians to defend employment in Colombia”, Tarscio Mora, official of CUT Nacional.
The stand against the FTT will be supported by a delegation from the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) which will be coming to Colombia on February 11 to accompany Colombia’s trade unionists in their opposition to ratification of the FTT.

Calle 51 No. 55-78 (Boyacá con Tenerife)
Tel: (+57 4) 513-3100 Fax: (+57 4) 512-2330
http://www.ens.org.co <http://www.ens.org.co/>
Apartado Aéreo: 12175
Medellín – Colombia

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



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