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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coal: An Empire Without God Or Law

(Translated by Janelle Nodhturft and Rolf Schoeneborn, CSN volunteer translators)

By: Ismael Paredes

Capital hates the absence of profits…if the profit is suitable, capital is game… 20% profit gets it excited; 50% profit causes a demented recklessness; 100% results in the trampling of every human law; and at 300% profit there is no crime they wouldn’t dare commit…” J.F. Dunning

The passage of time and the mining of coal have changed, for better or for worse, the history of Tintoba Chiquito, a rural community of 15 families, some 60 people.  Several of the houses made from wood and mud – with roof tiles made also of mud – are the mark of the last generation guarding and preserving its traditions.  Elderly men and women hold fast to their word and firm convictions, and to their woolen ponchos and hats, and have fought a hard and perhaps final battle against the passage of time; resisting trends, the revolution of ideas, and technological advancement.

There are few elderly living there today.  A woman, besieged by brutal asthma, remembers how it was when she was a young girl, the coal would seem to come floating in abundance all over the land. Since then she knew that the coal would change the history of her farm.  Her parents were still living; Gorgonio Paredes and Teodolinda Barrera, ‘Miss Tioda,’ were the owners of “La Hornilla,” a farm where coal has now been mined for the past four years.

The history of this elderly woman, whose illness “is worsened, according to her children, by the coal dust,” represents that of many of the families that have lived by cultivating wheat, corn, potatoes and other vegetables that will grow, albeit poorly, on these dry lands, and from raising goats and chickens.  With the sale of these products they can shop at the market for salt, sugar, oil, lemons and coffee: the indispensables.  In those days, the women would spin sheep’s wool to make ponchos, typical for this particular region.

The history of the community began to change radically six years ago when geologists and engineers, guided by town officials, initiated technical surveys, i.e. in an exploratory stage.  The actual mining of coal in two mines,“La Hornilla” and “Los Arrayanes,” began four years ago.

Now, with the new generation and the emerging mining industry there are new cinder block buildings with zinc roofs, televisions, DVDs , sound systems and the newest cell phones have  arrived. Alcohol is also sold to miners who “invest” their money in consumption.  Little by little praying with rosaries and reading the bible is being replaced by street dancing and music, alcohol, partying and watching soap operas.

The people of Tintoba Chiquito have been and continue to be witnesses to a technological and industrial boom; the area has been invaded by colossal machinery (retroexcavators, dump trucks, power drills, electric pumps, and power plants) that broke the immemorial silence of a region “forgotten by the State and the local government,” according to several people.  “You take away a part of someone’s life when you destroy their land with so many mines and roads,” says a niece of Mr. Gorgonio, the elderly man who died without enjoying the enormous riches of his farm.

The Queen of the Mountains and the Town

The eagle extended its wing, followed its prey, caressed its young and circled the immense skies of the Oriental Cordillera Mountain Range.  The tops of these mountains offered him nourishment and freedom of flight.  He was lord over the tremendous heights of the mountains of Jericho, a sleepy town deeply rooted in its conservative tradition and caught up in old political disputes. Here he made his nest, raised his young chicks and stayed in order to protect “the people of the mountain tops.” This legend gave life to the town of Jericho, located in the Oriental Cordillera Mountain Range, at 3,140 meters above sea level, to the north of Boyaca.

But this majestic bird, a symbol of freedom to the people of Jericho, didn’t protect the indigenous agrarian people, the first settlers on this land.  They were wiped out by the Spanish under the command of Hernán Pérez de Quesada, who arrived in 1560 with his conquistadores searching for the sanctuary of Casa del Sol – a place where the indigenous worshipped their gods and kept large quantities of gold.

Today Jericho is a Catholic town, “but without gold,” affirm several people.  “The Spanish took almost all of it with them.”  The only gold left is in the church called la Custodia where the Host is kept and becomes the body of Christ when the faithful come to take communion.  Since its founding as a town on the 21st of October, 1821 Jericho has identified itself as the “nest of eagles and the birthplace of kind people and dream-like landscapes.”

Coal mining, trade, the cultivation of potatoes, cereals, vegetables, legumes and recently alfalfa, small scale livestock operations, the breeding of sheep and goats, are the principal activities that keep the economy in motion and determine the way of life and thus the customs of Jericho.

Tintoba Chiquito: The “Cinderella” of Jericho

Until 22 years ago, Tintoba Chiquita had survived five landslides that wiped out nearly all of the fertile land and half a dozen homes.  The second to last landslide in 1980 caused a lake (la laguna) to form. Along with the lake several legends of treasures and spells emerged.  The best known include the legends of the chicken with eleven yellow chicks and of the huge snake made of gold.
There were long, dry summers, sometimes four in a row, that left the soil parched and arid and the people plunged into deep poverty. One of these dry summers was attributed to a curse by Luis Francisco Pinto, a priest expulsed from Jericho by the last aristocratic caudillos.

The “reverend,” according to several testimonies, did not have any problems following the recommendation of the Christian gospel: “Where you are not well received take off your shoes, shake the dust off your feet and place curses on the town…” So therefore in Tintoba Chiquito there were no basic services, no schools; what exists today was constructed at the end of the 80s. The rest of the towns and farmlands in the area obtained their services some twenty years earlier.

In 2005 when coal mining began there were already roads and electricity in Tintoba Chiquito. The road was built thanks to the dedication and pressure from several peasants who, with hard work and determination, helped with the machinery and the bulldozing during the difficult steps of construction. They opposed the suspension of work that was being considered when the road was only halfway finished. “We made them the road and now they – the concession owners and their friends- are the ‘we’ and we have to pay homage to them” a 60- year old man said with irony.

With the popular election for mayoralty in 1998, some things changed. “There’s more attention and Tintoba Chiquito at least is now being mentioned,” affirm some Tintoba Chiquito residents. The mayor and his staff see people without an appointment – 30 years ago they dealt with peasants by screaming at them, pounding the desk and having police escort them to the outskirts of town. Today the vast majority of staff pays attention with respect and interest, especially to women, who preserve an air of joy and tenderness that characterizes the beautiful women of this town.

Who Benefits from the Coal

Today there is extensive coal mining in the Tintoba Chiquito area that once had very rich farm land but is now populated by impoverished people that have hardly begun to realize how much black gold is taken from their lands, leaving them with enormous environmental problems, fewer water resources, infertile land, community divisions and quarrels, and huge profits that go not to them, but to those who exploit the land.

People in the region insist that the concession owners have been able to acquire fancy vehicles, extensive farms and luxurious homes in several cities as a result of their mining profits. “Their earnings are increasing disproportionately, while they are destroying soil and water.” In 2007 and almost all of 2008 the total of coal mined reached a price of $350,000, with  a daily coal production amounting to 40 to 60 tons. The owner paid the miners $1,500 pesos per ton and recently $3,500 per ton.

Eduardo García-Suárez – who was granted a mining permission by Ingeominas  under the contract of concession FD6-093 – of the mine “La Hornilla”, affirms that the mining industry presents itself as an alternative for overcoming poverty, “but this is actually very costly and the profits earned are not very much.”

The benefits “are for the concession owners. The community does not receive even 0.5% of the profits that mining brings in,” affirms Juan de Jesús Hernández, who with Pedro Paredes and a few other people has demanded a fairer deal that abides by environmental norms and better remuneration for the land owners. Both are peasants, who like other young people left the region in search of  a better life.  Upon their return, they warned people what they saw happening as a result of mining.  “Nobody paid any attention, ” they remember.

In January of 2007 Paredes and Hernández with the help of some others carried out a blockade of the road, demanding improvements. They made demands under the authority bestowed upon their mothers, Luisa María Paredes and Rosana Paredes, who had directly inherited the land. In order to represent the women, they made claims and conducted negotiations in defense of their rights and interests. However, the police evicted them. Since then, according to the men, they have received threats and been the victims of aggression on the part of the concession owners and the mayor’s office. “The mayor told me that I was brute and ignorant,” said Pedro.

Eduardo García (twice mayor of the town: 1988-1990, 1995-1997) filed  a  restraining order with city hall against Juan de Jesús and Pedro for interference with the mining process and the administration ruled in his favor. The leaders of the community in Tintoba accused the mayor of exceeding his authority and political favoritism with respect to this  ruling: “those who own the  coal mines finance his election campaign; they arrange everything among themselves and the community is left to shoulder the consequences,” affirms Juan de Jesús.

Arguello maintains that he has not attacked or threatened the community. “I didn’t do anyone a political favor; as mayor I have to comply with Law 685 of 2001, the mining code. The ruling was made in favor of those who had the proper papers in order for the mining of coal. García for his part affirms that “I was not assaulted nor did I assault anybody…. the State gave me the concession on behalf of ‘Tintoba Chico;’ I tried to make it so that all the people would benefit. What happens though is that sometimes incomprehension reigns…”

Who The Mining Industry Benefits

Pedro Paredes affirms that the mining activity violates the right to privacy of the people that live in the group house in “La Hornilla,” in the proximity of the mining camp. “It’s only 10 meters from the house and it’s no secret to anybody that here there are no sanitation services.”

Freddy Suarez Vargas, representing the city of Jericho, says he has not received any complaints regarding violations of human rights, but maintains that the mining legislation does not favor the property owners. “They have to cede the lots of land where there is coal to be mined according the conditions that the owner of the mining concession sees fit.”

Hernández and Paredes say that so far just the government has been supportive. Even the Attorney General’s Office issued protective measures. “But the authorities still protect the concession owners, while threatening us and labeling us criminals.” They report that they asked Ingeominas Boyacá for permission to begin mining and then refused to pay for it.

In effect the Mining Code, in article 250, has provisions for the association of peasants to acquire mining licenses; “the community associations benefit from the special prerogatives laid out in the present Code.” However, according to the government official Suarez “the people can organize themselves and create associations but it’s very difficult to get the government to grant them concessions. I even dare to say that there are many special interests playing a role that influence the ways in which the government allocates mining zones.” He says this based on testimonies from those who have solicited concessions for different areas.

Juan de Jesús thinks that the mining code isn’t made to favor the community, nor the actual owners of the land, but rather to satisfy the political and economic interests in the mix. “Furthermore,” he says “ the people here because of their meekness and a lack of knowledge are afraid to insist on their rights. Those who have the mining licenses intimidate the land owners, saying that if they do not allow for mining on their land, it will be taken by force.

Other people in Tontoba Chiquito say mining causes air pollution, water pollution and even pollutes peoples’ consciousness.  “To me it hurts to see that they are taking away the riches of my grandparents and ruin the farm that they left to us,” says Dona Tioda’s granddaughter. Eduardo García explains that it is not a question of appropriating resources. “The coal belongs to the State and they negotiated a contract with the people in regard to making mining possible on their land. They pay the people for the right to mine there, and they also pay those who are actually working in the mines.

Pedro Paredes say that the coal is indeed property of the State, “but those who mine it enjoy the benefits  and the community suffers the consequences: contamination, environmental depredations, health problems and human rights violations. The companies pay a laughable fixed percentage without taking the community into account. The benefits are practically nothing, only one percent of the workers are from here and the rest are from other areas.”

For the local government, the mining industry “has generated work, economic growth and income for the owners of the land,” assures Mayor Arguello, but he admits that the owners of the mining concessions are indeed doing very well for themselves economically but fail to make social investments in the town.

“If  there are really so many benefits how is it possible that the town that generates the most royalties for the municipality lacks an aqueduct, some seven households do not have electricity and there is not even one teacher for the school?” asks Don Gorgonio’s granddaughter.

Arguello insists that there will be an aqueduct and power for the town. “The administration is moving forward with a project to bring water to the people of Tintoba Chiquito- in 2009- for an aqueduct,  human consumption and  for electricity for the four or five families still without it.”

“Wisdom Has Built Its Own House”

The complaints of a Tintobian woman, mother of three girls, in reference to their education, contrasts with the slogan of the school, which is “Tintoba Chiquito: Wisdom Has Built Its Own House.” In 2008 some fifteen students lost their school year because the teacher assigned to the school got sick in October and there was no replacement. The community presented various memos to the municipality. There was no response.

The mayor affirms that in 2009 there will not be a problem like this and says that he contacted the Department of Education to solicit a teacher. “We were not able to finish the academic year because there were no resources, and the teacher was unable to work 8 to 10 days and given this situation there was no replacement possible.”

Today the dwelling place of wisdom is a temple without a teacher and in a state of  utter neglect; the walls broken down, the garden withered and the kitchen a terrifying mess. …The community doesn’t explain if it is due to a lack of interest and commitment on the part of the Department of Education, the local administration, or if the marvelous woman – wisdom - has neglected to do her work.
Water and Customs Disappearing

The few water wells- clean and usable- that were left are muddy and contaminated today. “Some have already dried up,” Pedro Paredes corroborates. Another women predicts that “in 10 years there won’t be any water.” Humberto Paredes, town councilor maintains that Tintoba Chiquita is one of the  towns that is  richest in minerals such as coal “but we are alarmed by the extreme poverty of its residents, total neglect of the area, the ruin of its soil and water wells, and contamination….We have hope to meet this challenge and improve this situation.”

The town councilor asks that the appropriate organizations, such as Minambiente, the Departments of Health and Education, Ingeominas and Corpoboyaca “take charge of the situation and turn their attention to these people that truly need assistance.”
The mining industry also appears to have been affected the customs of the region. ‘Dona Tioda,’ a woman of courage and fortitude, who died seven years ago was one of the last wool spinners. “After her death there was no longer anyone who spun, the mining industry has damaged everything….” says a woman in the community.

The Miners

Underground mining is done here which requires a mine shaft - a type of tunnel- and in order to advance downward  timber supports, i.e. pieces of round wood,  are placed vertically on the sides of the shaft. They support the cross beams which support the weight of the rock. The worker takes out the coal with a wheelbarrow up to the top of the shaft, and there puts it in a little car hooked up to a  hoisting machine and a motorized pulley that is driven by an operator up to a fixed point. Here the workers bring it to a bin where the carbon is stored.

Two or three people work in the same shaft. They have to separate the layers of coal from the    rock. “This is called intercalation,” explains a miner. “Each layer or seam is between 20 and 40 centimeters.” To deal with the darkness they carry mercury lamps with rechargeable batteries. After twelve hours of hard work the miner has taken out from one to three tons of coal, for each ton he receives a payment of 17,000 pesos. He has to pay for his own food.

The local government warns the miners of the health problems and general risks associated with work in the mining industry. “There are cases,” says Arguello, “in which huge rocks fell and a few workers were left disabled or lost their lives.” In November of 2008 in “La Hornilla” a 27 year old worker suffered an accident and hurt his spinal column. Today he sits in a wheelchair.

This “is a real problem,” affirms the government representative  Suarez. “There have been official hearings several times to investigate complaints by the community and encourage the miners to take legal action to try to ensure the payment of their social benefits. The worker should be insured so that in case of an accident  he receives  disability payments or a pension to which he is entitled.”

Being inside a mine with suffocating heat, nauseating odors and irritating coal dust doesn’t seem to bother the miner that much, nor does being worn out by the discomfort and darkness.  The fatigue caused by a week’s worth of work in the mines is quickly forgotten when the worker gets to the bar offering frww drinks for everyone.

Few miners save money or think about the future; some say that they have to take advantage of every little bit of time and the mining job should be seen as a temporary activity. “If one works for a long time in the mines  health and life is gone. One gets dust and coal in the eyes and lungs which leaves the miner with red, worn faces and which affects their bronchial tubes. The water inside of the mining shafts causes allergies and a light red rash,” explains a young miner.

The Clamor of a Community

In the course of their efforts to preserve their land, life, culture and their scarce water sources the inhabitants of Tintoba Chiquito are launching now  definitive steps  and say that the response they receive will determine either their destruction or their survival as a community. Pedro and Juan de Jesús, opposition leaders describe the area as vulnerable to environmental deterioration and as difficult to reclaim. To them, the voice of protest of the granddaughter of ‘Dona Tioda’ sums it all up. “If today this land isn’t producing any crops, what will happen here in 30 years when they’ve extracted  all  the coal .”

Environmental Management Plan, EMP

Tintoba Chiquito “is a burned, dry and arid area,” affirms Mayor Arguello. “There is no water to use for reforestation, but the miners are under the obligation and the commitment of reforesting the affected zone.” García explains that they have not been working on reforestation during the summer because the community was not in agreement. He assures that “in 2009 we will have to comply with the established timeline for environmental management and with the agreements made with the community for reforestation.

The Independent Regional Corporation of Boyacá says that if the community feels affected it should ask for a verification visit. “This organization will provide support and suitable  accompaniment during the process.” The Environmental License- EL- 42/07- granted Eduardo Garcia by Corpoboyacá  makes the reforestation program the main priority. Its principal objective should be to “identify, define and evaluate the potential impact and effects of mining on the natural resources and the physical, biological and social environment in terms of each project alternative.”

The Continued Plundering of the Colombian Macizo by the Government and the Indigenous Uprising of the Yanacona People

(Translated by Marla Greenwald, a CSN volunteer translator)

Note: The Colombian Macizo refers to a mountainous region in southern Colombia.  As you move north, these mountains turn into three distinct ranges of the Andes Mountains.
Greetings to the indigenous and popular resistance movement (the Minga), a movement that is more alive than ever… the unconstitutionality of the “statute of rural development” is still more evidence of the significant effort made by this indigenous and popular movement to achieve freedom for mother nature.  With determination, resolve and unity, one begins to see the fruit of one’s labor.
This government, like those before, aims to clear the Colombian Macizo of its peoples, its ancient protectors: the Yanaconas and the mestizos.  They wish to hand the land over to the multinational water corporations and possibly use it for a North American military base currently located in Manta, Ecuador.
Members of the CRC (Corporacion Autonoma Regional del Cauca, an environmental and development agency for the Cauca region) recently informed indigenous people that they must abandon their plots of land on the mountainside.  Furthermore, they threatened the people saying that if they did not evacuate and cease their agricultural activities, they would be forcefully removed by military personnel stationed at a nearby base and taken to prison.  We met to discuss these developments at a meeting convened by the indigenous communities of the Yanacona territory, in Monterredondo, which is under the jurisdiction of the Guachicono and San Sebastian Indigenous Reservations.
The CRC and National Parks Unit, ignoring traditional authorities and as well as the authority of all the Yanacona, had already begun a trip through the Yanacona interior to inform people of a project on the famous biological corridors.  They also stated that one such project may be conducted in the Colombian Macizo and offered gifts to some community members.
Functionaries of the CRC and the National Parks Unit attended the assembly and were informed that, first, the authorities would meet with the community present and once they had made their decision they would call them in order to inform them of the decision.  After discussing the situation for approximately two hours, they called the functionaries to the center of the meeting and asked them to ensure that the territory be vacated immediately.  They were also asked to relay these clear demands to their superiors in the following order: (1) The immediate evacuation of the two corporations from the Yanacona territory; (2) Immediate cessation of any and all dialogue and actions with the two corporations until the traditional authorities decide to resume them; (3) To refuse any intermediary from the corporations.  What must be done will be done authority to authority, that is to say the Yanacona Council of Traditional Authorities, the community board, and the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development; (4) The promoters, functionaries, or people accompanying those entities from indigenous territories will never have the status of spokesmen with the CRC or National Parks Unit, the only spokesmen are the traditional authorities: the internal councils, the community board, and the general meeting of all Yanacona; (5) The Yanacona people will not be responsible for the security of outsiders in the territory; (6) There will be no dialogue in offices, everything will be done in the Yanacona territory, and specifically in Monterredondo; (7) No authority or individual person can negotiate with institutions that have to do with territorial or environmental issues. This will be done by the Council of Traditional Authorities of the Yanaconat, and (8) That they declare themselves in permanent session to confront the internal problem of the Yanacona.
“The Yanacona People will, in the context of their autonomy, continue to fight for the liberation of their territory and will not stop its actions until it has achieved its goal.”
¡Long live Mother Earth’s free waters!
Yanacona Council of Traditional Authorities
Community Board
Monterredondo, March 21st, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Colombian Human Rights Organizations Report, In Colombia, Two Or Three People Die Each Day

(Translated by Dan Baird, a CSN volunteer translator)

By Ainara Lertxundi
Published in the Basque Newspaper Gara
April 2, 2009

The brother of Gloria Luz Gomez disappeared in 1983.  He was a student leader who “dreamed of seeing a high standard of education in Colombia”.  His body was found a few days later bearing the marks of torture.   Linda Paola Medina lost her brother in 1988. As well as being a student activist, her brother took part in the founding of the Patriotic Union (a left-wing political party). The two women have united to seek truth and justice and to rescue the disappeared from silence.

Disappearances, extrajudicial executions, paramilitarism, the corpses of peasants presented as guerrillas killed in combat so that their killers can receive financial reward—the list of human rights violations in Colombia is endless and, at times, it looks as if the Army ordered them, with the complicity of others.  Gloria Luz Gomez and Linda Paola Medina are striving, through the organization Asociacion de Familiares de Detenidos (ASFADDES, Association of Relatives of the Detained), to rescue from silence the victims of the “Dirty War” and to discover what happened to their relatives.  
Two decades have passed since their brothers disappeared. What have the years of searching been like?

Gloria Luz Gomez: “They’ve been very difficult.  My brother was 19 years old and studying for the final year of the Baccalaureate in a secondary school in Bogota. He was always heavily involved in student actions and one of his greatest wishes was to bring about high-quality education.  On November 14, 1983 he went out to buy a few things and never returned. Some days later we found his body, extensively tortured.  We never discovered who kidnapped and tortured him, much less who killed him.
“Leonardo was a friend of other students who were being gradually targeted and ‘disappeared.’ This went on from March 4 to September 13, 1982, and was the reason our association was founded.  After 26 years, their relatives still don’t know what happened. They found the bodies of two of them, tortured and mutilated.  
“In March, ASFADDES had been in existence for 26 years.  On March 4, 1983, we went out for the first time into the central streets of Bogota to demand justice and the punishment of those responsible for the crimes.  Since then, our work has been to publicize them. In Colombia between two and three people disappear every day.  It’s impossible to give exact figures because some families are too afraid to report the disappearances and many others have to move away to the cities because of threats.”
Linda Paola Medina: “My mother, who was a humble peasant, started the search.  The National Police arrested my brother on February 19, 1988 in  Neiva, in the Huila region. They brought up a van and took him to the prison of one of the security agencies.  We never found out what happened to him.  He was a student leader in the Faculty of Linguistics and Literature at the University of Colombia.  He was involved in setting up the Patriotic Union (UP).  After twelve years we succeeded in having the second lieutenant of the Police in Huila sentenced to 45 months in prison.  But he didn’t spend a single day there.  He had previously been dismissed and had joined the ranks of the paramilitaries.  It’s sad to realize that, at the age of 70, my mother is still waiting. When you speak about the disappeared, it’s different from what happens with kidnap victims.  In the case of the disappeared, the idea is put about that ‘they did something bad’ and that’s why they disappeared.  When you go to report a disappearance, you’re told that the person ‘has gone away because of debt, or other women, or because he’s gone to join the guerrillas.’  
“In my brother’s case, we didn’t get justice but at least we made what happened known because the case was even considered  by  La  Comision Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (Inter-American Commission for Human Rights).”   Human rights organizations report that their work has been criminalized by the State. Has ASFADDES experienced that?

Gloria Luz Gomez: “As victims of the disappearances, we’re constantly threatened and persecuted.  Our organization isn’t recognized as legitimate.  The Government targets us every day. The paramilitary groups who’re supposed to have disbanded have simply changed their names and continue to threaten all human rights organizations.  Anyone who demands their rights is branded a ‘terrorist.’ Human rights defenders in Colombia are repressed by  Alvaro Uribe’s government.  In spite of the harassment and condemnation we get from the Government, we continue to be with the families in their search, and to press for the State to put into practice the legal powers it has to end abuses and to stop granting immunity.
“In our struggle, which has gone on for years, we’ve succeeded in having forced disappearance categorized as a crime.  Although the Army opposed it at the time, in July 2000  Law 598 ordered the setting-up of a commission to search for disappeared people.  But in the nine years since then there has been little progress because there’s no political will to strengthen that commission and enable it to carry out its functions.   
President Alvaro Uribe boasts about the achievements of his Policy of Democratic Security (La Politica de Seguridad Democratica).  How would you evaluate it?

Gloria Luz Gomez: “For us, the Policy of Democratic Security is a distraction, a more refined form of repression that is carried out secretly, to hide it from the eyes of the international community.”  
It is reported that every day in Colombia two or three people are disappeared.  What media coverage do these disappearances get?

Gloria Luz Gomez:  “The media is totally at the service of the Government.  The reality in Colombia is not shown.  The cases that they make known they use for propaganda and because they can’t cover them up.  The majority of serious human rights violations remain hidden. The media only talks of kidnappings and rescues, of Ingrid Betancourt, but they don’t mention the thousands and thousands of disappeared Colombian citizens, whom we can’t even count, or the families affected by this practice.  They do not talk about forced displacement, the criminalization of protest, or of the unsanitary conditions in which political prisoners are held.
“All these problems are hidden by the media, which only picks up and shows what the Government orders them to.  They talk of kidnapping, which is equally serious, but not as serious in scale as the cases of forced disappearance.  There are more than 50,000 of these.  The ‘false positives’ (‘falsos positivos’—innocent civilians killed by the Security Forces to boost their ’kill’ figures against the guerillas), which have now come to light because the situation got out of control, are the responsibility of the Armed Forces and have been happening for 20 years.”
The disappearances are the order of the day, just like threats and attacks.  How can people live in this situation?

Linda Paola Medina:  “There’s constant fear and anxiety in knowing that at any moment you can be the victim of a forced disappearance.  When you walk down the street, you can’t be sure that the agents of the State, posted only meters apart and supposedly there to protect you, won’t harm you at any moment.”
Extrajudicial Executions to Justify the Army’s Tactics   
The International Mission for Observation on Extrajudicial Executions and Impunity in Colombia (La Mision Internacional de Observacion sobre Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales e Impunidad en Colombia), consisting of thirteen independent professionals—jurists, journalists, anthropologists, forensic scientists and human rights experts—expressed its concern at the “high number” of extrajudicial executions that “remain covered by absolute impunity.”
“ We have met community leaders for whom these are not isolated incidents but systematic behavior showing evidence of premeditation.  The victims were ordinary peasants, indigenous people, community leaders and the socially marginalized.  In many cases, they were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty by the Army, dressed in military clothing and executed.  Their bodies were afterwards presented as guerrillas ‘killed in combat,’’’ concluded the Mission’s final report, made public in Bilbo yesterday.  
The report warns of the ‘existence in the Security Forces of economic and professional incentives and rewards for displaying ‘positives’—allegedly ‘enemies’—and for the intimidation of relatives and witnesses”.  It sees as ‘worrying’ the fact that senior functionaries of the State publicly suggest that human rights organizations are carrying out their work of reporting in order to discredit the Armed Forces, “a suggestion that puts these organizations at serious risk.”
In statements to Gara, the lawyer, Liliana Uribe, of the Medellin Legal Association for Liberty (la Corporacion Juridica Libertad de Medellin), who took part in the presentation of the report, cited the example of Juan Manuel Santos, the Minister of Defense. In September 2008, Santos accused organizations operating in this field of  “opening a legal and political war in favor of the guerrillas.” Liliana Uribe emphasized that, “The difference from previous periods is that now it is the Army that directly carries out executions and disappearances, on the pretext of the fight against crime or guerrillas or the paramilitaries.” She points out that, “The Government allocates for war 6.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP), a higher percentage than the United States or Israel.  There is a permanent need to show that they can defeat those groups by military means.  In this battle the sacrifice of many lives is seen as unimportant.  The President himself has told the Police and the Army ‘Kill them, that is my answer.’  There is no respect for human life.  The death penalty is allowed by the highest levels of power, even though it is banned in the country.”
Bogota has just announced a new operation against the FARC (the main guerrilla movement), called ‘Strategic Leap’ (‘Salto estrategico’).  Liliana Uribe has no doubt that it will involve “more violations against the civilian population.”

Paramilitary Presence in the Municipalities of Ocana, El Carmen and Convencion in the North of Santander

(Translated by Diana Mendez, a CSN volunteer translator)

We thank you for helping to disseminate news of what is happening in the region and the great threat that looms over the lives and dignity of the peasants and indigenous people, due to the paramilitary presence. Additionally, we suffer from the threat of fumigations to be announced by the government in the coming days.
We ask your solidarity and support.

The Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT) denounces, before the national and international community as well as the Colombian State, the worrisome situation that has developed during recent days in the Catatumbo region in the North of Santander.
According to reports from the rural community of Guamalito in the Carmen municipality, on March 10, several men were seen distributing a leaflet with a written message threatening the lives of community members found outside of their homes after 10:00pm.  In the same leaflet, they threatened to kill drug users, thieves and prostitutes. They asked to be forgiven for any accidental deaths that might occur. This leaflet was also distributed to the youth and students of the area.
On March 11, these same leaflets threatening acts of social intolerance (or the poorly named “social cleansing”) were also distributed in different neighborhoods of the Ocana municipality.  There are reports that this also took place in the neighborhoods of Polaco and Carmen, where people were gathered together in order to give them these threatening leaflets.
On the evening of March 12 several men who identified themselves as paramilitaries threatened and committed extortion against various residents and business owners in the municipality of Convencion.
We are spreading the word about these serious threats so that urgent measures may be taken in order to guarantee the safety of the region’s residents.  After all, when such actions have been threatened in the past, they have often been carried out.
Catatumbo, March 19, 2009

Coordinacin Colombia Europa Estados Unidos- Nodo Nororiental
Nacional de Victimas Crimenes de Estado- Capitulo Norte de Santander
Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez
Corporación Jurídica Humanidad Vigente

Monday, April 20, 2009

We Are United in the Struggle to Win Title to Our Lands

(Translated by Rich Henighan and Susan Tritten, CSN volunteer translators)

Periferia Prensa Alternativa, Edition 32

By Carlos Gustavo Rengifo
February 6, 2009

This past July my friend Patty (we fondly call her "the Indian girl") invited me to Christiania, in Antioquia, a reservation of the Embera-Chami people, also known as the "children of the corn."  I didn't know exactly where I was going.  On the way, Patty told me, "Caliche, you are going to become acquainted with my people.  My ignorance of indigenous issues led me to imagine I would be meeting Indigenous people like those I commonly saw in our own streets, begging for coins, quaintly and colorfully dressed, but with spirits wilted from hunger and the hot sun.  However, as soon as we arrived at the reservation, I saw people who looked more like peasants, without unusual outfits.  Though they spoke a language I didn't understand, their words reflected the mountains, the sky, the rivers, all of nature.

Soon after we got out of the car, a "chiva," one of those big colorful buses, common to our coffee-growing areas pulled up.  Many Blacks, Indigenous and Whites were arriving.  At the Embera reception area, they spoke a familiar language of hugs and laughter that they offered each other like recently harvested fruit.  When I noticed a blackboard, I began to understand the purpose of the journey: an inter-ethnic meeting would take place there.  Inhabitants of Pacific Colombia were coming together to discuss the common climate of persecution and violence in that region due to paramilitary organizations, guerrillas, drug lords, and even the Army.  They were going to develop strategies of resistance and struggle.

This was not the first meeting; there had already been five others.  At sunset, Patty told me, "Caliche, there are Wuonans here who live in El Choco and Panama, the Esperara Sapidura, Afro-Colombians from the Rio San Juan and the Rio Naya, community members of Cupica and San Joaquin, and leaders of CRIC (the Regional Council of the Indigenous People of Cauca).  I responded with a gesture as if I understood well the ethnic geography.

The meeting was part of an Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and peasant school that met to create strategies to structure their organizing activities.  The inhabitants of Pacific Colombia were planning to defend their territories from outsiders invading, assassinating, and displacing the residents from their ancestral home.

The Rio Naya Massacre, Known to and Reported By the Government

The main reason for the inter-ethnic meeting was to share information about the human displacement in Pacific Colombia, a territory that includes the department of El Choco, the Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Narino.  One participant began to describe how the inter-ethnic relationships of Pacific Colombia, existing since 1989, were destroyed by paramilitary troops in April 2001 when they carried out a massacre in the Rio Naya valley, separating Valle del Cauca from Cauca, one of the most important and emblematic valleys of Pacific Colombia.  They killed more than 100 Indigenous, Blacks and peasants.  During the six months before this massacre, paramilitary troops murdered and dragged to the Rio Cauca about 400 people, a few at a time.  In 2000, the ELN continuously abused the local population and killed Elias Trochez, the governor of Alta Naya, accusing him of collaboration with the paramilitary organization.

This barbarity occurred although, during those six months, the communities' defenders had issued many warning regarding these problems.  What happened along the Rio Naya, as well as throughout the rest of the Pacific regions is part of the historic Colombian land tenure problem.  Various illegal armed groups have established themselves there to change land use patterns to favor the drug business.  Beginning in the 1980s, a new managerial elite, also with resources from the drug business, established itself, intending to invest in land, livestock, agro-industrial production, the extraction of wood products and minerals, shrimp farms, fisheries and other industries.

Displaced by poisonous chemical spraying from traditional coca-producing areas (Caqueta, El Caguan, Putumayo, etc.). the drug business itself has arrived and is expanding through Narino towards El Choco.  There the FARC, the paramilitary organizations and even the Army have restricted the activities of the indigenous and Afro-Colombian people of the area.  "Now we cannot hunt as before,” says a Wuonan.  "We can't do our normal work.  We see dead bodies floating down the river.”  An Afro-colombian says,"Whites come from outside for cocaine.  The people in charge are from Caguan, but our people are dead.”  The situation there is almost slavery.  "The indigenous people harvesting the coca spend all their money at bars owned by the very same coca growers," says another participant.  The situation is complicated by the substitution of food crops with coca.  "Communities stop sowing food crops; then when chemical spraying or food blockades begin, there is starvation."  Then, because most food has to be imported, the price rises.  A pound of rice might cost almost 3000 pesos.

Mega-Projects and the Armed Forces

As noted above, due to the great wealth of Pacific Colombia, a series of mega-projects are being constructed.  These benefit multinational corporations rather than the local population.  There is the Archimedes project, planned to channel the San Juan River to join it with the Rio Strato.  The Malaguita highway is under construction.  Ecopetrol is undertaking explorations without prior consultation with the local population, denying them any authority.  There is also palm oil cultivation and plans for extensive grazing.

In these areas, naval bases have been constructed to "protect" the projects, but these have become the principal obstacles to community organization.  One of the inhabitants of lower Cauca says, "They treat us as if we were guerrillas.  When we come to retrieve our dead, they consider us guerrillas, rather than escorting us.  The Army has even occupied the San Pedro Claver School in the municipality of San Buenaventura, turning it into a military base.”  They do this, aware that international humanitarian laws prohibit it.  This shows that the Armed Forces, with the complicity of the government and the president, are disposed to violate the law and international agreements in order to defeat the guerrillas.  (They did this too when they used the Red Cross symbol in the rescue of the fifteen hostages.)

In practice, the Army harasses and persecutes these communities.  "They treat us like guerrillas, making continuous and unnecessary searches.  They even give us free haircuts, but only as a pretext to interrogate us."  Conflict over the territory has reached a climax in which peasants, indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians are struggling against the government over 300,000 hectares.  "They don't want to recognize our ownership of these lands, although we have occupied them for generations," says one of the local inhabitants.  "They want them for the University of Cauca for bio-corridors."  Lately in El Choco, they are exploiting natural resources in an indiscriminate way without local officials being able to control or prevent it.

Later at the University of Antioquia, human rights organizations discussed the situation in Pacific Colombia and the case of the Rio Naya.  In this presentation a chilling realization became evident: human displacement there is the goal of the war, not simply a by-product.  "In effect the narco-traffickers’ urgent need to launder profits corresponds with the State's interest in modernizing Colombian agriculture.  The invitation to investors, national and foreign, to invest in modern, highly profitable agro-industrial projects, mainly bio-fuels, requires the prior clearing of population from large areas of land.”  This situation reproduces and continues the Colombian conflict over land in the ways described above.

We Want to Die Peacefully of Old Age, Not of Bullet Wounds

The first gatherings to reestablish relationships among the various ethnic groups of Naya were held in 2003.  They came to one conclusion: the different communities had to agree on a defense of their common right to the territory.  This idea grew as a lovely reflection of the belief of the Esperara Sapidara tribes, for whom the Rio Naya represents "The Big House," that is, the house were ceremonies are performed.  Therefore, the territory must be treated just as if it were the big house itself.  "We came to the conclusion," said a participant, " that although we are Blacks, Indians and peasants, we have the same problems and our territory unites us."

It was now a matter of building unity from diversity.  One indigenous person expressed it, "Kinishia Waubua," which means "the intention to fight and defend."  This meant that divisions among communities must not be allowed to exist now that they had common problems.  They considered it important to forget cultural differences in order to agree on how to live and, above all, on how to avoid expulsion from their lands.  In this way, the inter-ethnic school grew as a strategy to manage the current conflict and to defend their territory.

The assault, persecution and annihilation already described can be seen as ethnic genocide, which is slowly destroying the distinct cultures of the Rio Naya area and Pacific Colombia.  It is already destroying the customs, expressions, languages, memories, traditions, and knowledge of the native peoples,  Afro-Colombians and peasants of the region.  Because of this, territorial defense is not just of land, but for everything that develops on that land.  Territorial defense is so important because it is also the cultural defense of these communities.  The strategy for ending displacement from their territory is to force the government to give them full title to their lands.  According to them, this guarantees that they will not be expelled and that those who left in fear of assassination may return.  Nevertheless, the Colombian government has opposed this and appears to favor other interests.

The inhabitants of Pacific Colombia want to live in peace and to die of old age as do people everywhere in Colombia.

“We are united in the struggle to win title to our lands.
We are united in the struggle to win title to our lands.
We are tired of so much evil
And only want to live in peace...”

(An Afro-Colombian song of the Rio Naya)

Public Letter from the Inter-ecclesiastical Commission of Justice and Peace

(Translated by Anne Boylen, a CSN volunteer translator)

Bogota, D.C. October 22, 2008

Francisco Santos - Vice-President of the Republic

Jamie Bermudez - Minister of Foreign Relations

Fabio Valencia Cossio -  Interior Minister

Mario Iguaran Arana - Public Prosecutor

Edardo Maya Villazon - Federal Prosecutor

Volmar Perez  - Peoples Defender

Ref:  Paramilitary takeover in Buenaventura and Forced Displacement of Afro-Colombians.  Inaction and participation of the Public Forces.  Eventual armed confrontations with FARC / EP militias.

How blind you are!
You who devastate our cities and lay waste
To the temples.  You who ruin the tombs
And trample upon the sanctuaries wherein lie the ancient dead
You are also dead!!

We respectfully greet you.

Our historical proof and moral condemnation of the State for its clear responsibility in the persistent and grave situation of human rights violations and on-going social-political violence in Buenaventura which has occurred as a result of the struggle for control of the urban territory. The citizens of  Buenaventura are suffering forced disappearances, selective killings and forced displacements; the people living in the Bajamar barrios are being criminalized.

We condemn the direct institutional responsibility for these crimes; for the institutional support of covert paramilitary operations which is occurring in spite of “demobilization;”  for the failure to carry out effective and timely investigations which could clear up these crimes; for the failure to sanction and make integral reparation; and for the failure to prevent the repetition of crimes that so wound humanity’s conscience.

In what remains today of what is called justice, we continue to make known the presence and actions of the public forces which  so loudly bear witness to the lack of respect for human rights and the discriminatory repression.

The State continues to lose legitimate authority: it uses paramilitary strategies in its fight against the FARC, strategies which by any measure are illegal and  count as crimes against humanity. It is emptying entire barrios of their peoples in order to make way for large scale commercial infrastructure projects.  

The FARC have also been responsible for grave infractions against human rights in the barrios in Buenaventura where they maintain a presence.

This is the reality in Buenaventura - a reality that is being hidden from the country and the international community - one of grave human rights violations which has grown into a major humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis which is being covered up and minimized and outright denied or distorted via the programs “Juntos,” “Familias en Accion,” and “Guardabosques,” which have become tools of officialdom and present the displaced as mendicants or groups of survivors deserving of help but not as people with rights.  

In a recent report the People’s Defender indicated that between January and May of 2008 its office received 112 denouncements of disappearances and of 413 families displaced in Buenaventura.  As of this writing, according to the registers, there are more than 50 thousand displaced in the city.  And this number does not include those who have not been able to register  their status due to the difficulty of being accepted as a valid displaced person or because of fears of further victimization.

The  silence around the disappearances has become the best tool for hiding the reality of what is taking place.  The Prosecutor‘s office does not investigate them, and so the witnesses to the terror and the families of the disappeared effectively get the message that to come forward would be very dangerous indeed.   Silence and terror is thus linked to the banishment of thousands of people from their homes and their sea ; and day after day more and more are forced to leave their homes - their places in the world which are so linked to their identity as Afro-Colombians.  

Buenaventura is the epicenter of the armed conflict which has openly moved into the urban areas.  This is not due simply to the desire of the entities that finance the war for territorial control but rather for strategic control of territories that will strengthen the armed infrastructure - that of the State and that of the guerrilla.  It is a phase of the armed struggle that is involving and affecting more and more civilians.

We bear witness to the grave and systematic events in which the State is complicit.

*Saturday, October 11th:  At 10:00 p.m. paramilitaries that were mobilized in the “Country” and “Plancha” sectors in the San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios entered and occupied the “Puerta Roja” sector in the San Francisco barrio and an area of the Kennedy barrio in Comuna 7.  Following this occupation there were confrontations between the paramilitaries and milicianos of the FARC EP who were stationed there and carrying small arms.
According to information received, the paramilitaries warned the milicianos that they would  be killed if they didn’t give themselves up.  The miliciano commander then met with the paramilitary leader known as “Camisa” and agreed to give themselves up and to work with the paramilitaries, keeping their arms.  Some of the milicianos then stayed in the area and others decided to leave.

While all of this was taking place, there was a constant Police presence in the San Francisco and Kennedy barrios.

This is the second phase of the paramilitary occupation.  The first began on September 3rd with the appearance of graffiti stating: “FARC CP MUERTE A PARA”  (FARC CP DEATH TO THE PARAS ). That very day the Police entered the Juan XXIII barrio shooting in the air and calling the inhabitants guerrilla collaborators.  That was also the beginning of a permanent Police presence in the San Francisco barrio.

*Sunday, October 12th:  Around 2:00 p.m. paramilitaries killed LEONARDO HINESTROZA, apparently a miliciano, in the San Francisco barrio.  He had participated in a crime against a storekeeper in the Kennedy barrio near to the area where the paramilitaries were stationed.

In the afternoon of the same day Police units, SIJIN, GAULA and Marine infantry entered the Kennedy barrio and, deploying themselves around different streets in the area, began patrolling.  A group of paramilitaries, armed and dressed as civilians, then entered the area, in full view of the public forces.  They stayed there, maintaining a presence in the San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios.

From the 13th to the 16th of October the paramilitary presence remained constant, simultaneous with that of the Police in the Kennedy, San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios where they patrolled constantly.

*Thursday, October 16:  There were confrontations between the FARC EP milicianos and the paramilitaries on “Brisas” Street in the Lleras barrio during the night.

*Friday, October 17th: During the morning the Afro-Colombian paramilitary commander known as “Camissa,” who was in charge of the “El Caguan” sector of the Juan XXIII barrio, entered the Juan Jose Rondon College and, classroom by classroom, threatened the students, telling them:  “do not carry arms, especially in school.  Do not use piercings  or earrings and do not wear your hair long.  Do not steal.  If you do not obey these orders, you know what will happen.”

*Saturday, October 18:  In the Lleras barrio during the night hours there was a confrontation between paramilitaries and  FARC EP milicianos on “Runidera” Street.  Two milicianos were killed in this battle and a youth from the area was wounded by a flying bullet.  The paramilitaries had told the milicianos to give themselves up or be killed.

*Sunday, October 19th: Around 11:00 a.m. paramilitaries from “Piedras Cantas” in the Firme Bajo and the Alfonso Lopez barrios raided the Lleras barrio and occupied the areas covered by the “Brisa Marina,” “La Fortaleza” and “Brisas del Mar” streets.  During their occupations these paramilitaries shot and killed dogs, shot up wooden houses all the while shouting that the inhabitants are “pimps and bandits.”   This lasted until 2:00 p.m..  The people who live in the area called the Police various times asking for help.  The police on duty told them that they had never heard of the Lleras barrio and told the callers that ,“Now, you see you need us - save yourselves as best you can.”

Around 100 families from the above-mentioned barrios and also from the “Veinte” and “Lleras barrios were forced to flee to other barrios and even as far as Cali.  Beginning at around 3:00 there was a massive displacement; the paramilitaries threatened all the inhabitants with death telling them:  “get out of here because we are going to kill all of you for being pimps.”

While these Afro-Colombians were fleeing, Police, stationed at CAI on 19th Street (also known as “La Guarapera”) five blocks from the area where the paras were terrorizing the people, were shouting at the fleeing populace to “Emigrate! Emigrate!”.

Around 5:00 p.m. Police and Marine infantry occupied the streets that the paramilitaries had taken over.  They brought the few remaining inhabitants together and told them:  “Do not flee.  We are going to stay here.”  Meanwhile, the paramilitaries stayed in the area, armed and dressed as civilians.

*Monday, October 20th:  Around 100 displaced people went to the municipal offices demanding that their rights be respected: that they be granted protection, that the armed presence in their barrios be removed and that they be allowed to return to their homes.

Later in the afternoon, after the Security Council meeting was over, a city civil servant and the government municipal secretary told the petitioners directly and via the radio station Cascajal of RCN  that:  “We are going to give humanitarian attention to those displaced, but first they must register themselves as displaced and they must also collaborate with and call the Police at telephone number 123 about any problems they may be experiencing.”

As of this writing the inhabitants of the Lleras barrio are still being forcibly displaced.  Very few people have returned.

 At the time of the completion of this “Historical Proof,” the paramilitary occupations in the Rockefeller, Juan XXIII, San Francisco, Kennedy, Lleras, and La Inmaculada barrios continue.  There is also a Marine Infantry presence in the tidal areas and Police patrols in the Llears barrio.

*Tuesday, October 21st:  Paramilitaries entered and occupied the Santa Cruz and La Inmaculada barrios.  They are still there as of this writing.  This occupation was preceded by serious human rights violations and infractions of humanitarian law from January through until September.


*Tuesday, January 1st: At 1:50 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated the youth ALEXANDER CAICEDO BOHORQUEZ, 20 years old, in the El Triunfo barrio in Buenaventura.  ALEXANDER was killed with a gun on a street in El Triunfo.

That same day paramilitaries assassinated the professional diver, FELIX CUNDUM, 39 years old, in the Cordoba section of Buenaventura.  The paras knifed him in the groin and left him to bleed to death.

*Thursday,  January 3rd: At 3:30 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated WASHINGTON CUERO MONTANO, 25 years old,   They shot him various times in front of his home in the La Palera barrio.

*Saturday, January 5th: At 1:30 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated RICAUTE ANGULO VALENCIA, 54 years old, after breaking into his home in the Bellavista barrio.  RICAUTE had been a Inderena worker and a Police inspector.  At the time of his death he worked for a notary.

*Monday, January 14th: At 7:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated HOOVER DELGADO HINESTROZA, 34 years old.  HOOVER was an auto mechanic and lived in the F-8 barrio..

*Saturday, January 19th:   At 11;30 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated FREDDY FERNANDO QUINONEZ, 33 years old, in the Nayita barrio.  

FREDDY was waking in the area with PATRICIA RAMIREZ when he was accosted by paramilitaries dressed as civilians who were in a camioneta 4x4, one of them openly carrying a gun.  The paras attempted to force FREDDY and PATRICIA into the camioneta but FREDDY resisted and was killed on the spot.  PATRICIA  was forced into the camioneta.

Seconds later military units and Marine Infantrty ordered  the camioneta to stop  a few meters from where the above-mentioned events had taken place.  The camioneta and its occupants were then taken to the Police Command Center in Buenaventura and detained by members of the Marine Infantry.  There PATRICA was threatened with death if she dared repeat what she had seen.  She was forced to sign a document and was let go about 3:00 p.m.  The threats against PATRICIA were such that she was forced to flee the city after leaving the command station.

*Monday, January 21st:
 At 1:20 a.m. Buenaventura Police units beat the taxi driver CESAR AUGUSTO ROMERO HOYOS causing his death.  Police units had been maintaining a check point at which CESAR AUGUSTO did not stop.  The Police followed him to his home in the El Dorado barrio where they handcuffed him and beat him repeatedly, sometimes using motorcycle helmets.  He was critically wounded and died on January 28th in the Buga Municipality Hospital.

*Wednesday, January 23rd:
 At 9:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated JUAN CARLOS CAMACHO ARAUJO, 25 years old.  JUAN CARLOS lived in the Antonio Narino barrio and was shot and killed by paramilitaries in the El Progreso barrio.

*Saturday, January 26th:  At 11:00 a.m. paramilitaries shot and killed the youth, FERNANDO CUERO MESA, 20 years old, near the Bellavista barrio.  

*Monday, February 4th: At 9:00 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated the conductor JUAN CARLOS DELGADO IZQUIERDO, 26 years old, in the La Libertad barrio.  The paras broke into JUAN CARLOS’ home and, in front of his mother, shot him various times and killed him.

*Saturday, February 22nd: Paramilitaries assassinated WILLIAM HINESTROZA, 23 years old, as he was walking down “Garrido” Street in the El Firme barrio.

*Saturday, February 29th:
At 11:00 a.m. military  units from the Marine Infantry occupied the Nayita barrio and, according to testimonies, the firearm of one of the marines went off killing LEIDER CAICEDO RIASCOS, 22 years old.

*Friday, March 28th: At 2:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated the youth, YEN LOPEZ BALLESTEROS, 17 years old, in the Uribe Uribe bario.  Yen worked selling brooms.

*Friday, April 18th: At 6:30p.m. Police units assassinated FABIO ALBORNOZ GRUESO, 21 years old,.  FABIO, an auto mechanic, was detained in the El Jorge barrio by Police agents who first searched and then beat him.  FABIO attempted to flee but the police shot and killed him.

*Friday, May 2nd: Paramilitaries beat to death the senior citizen, VIDAL AGUILAR ORTIZ, 72 years old, after forcibly entering him home in the Vista Hermosa barrio.  VIDAL was a taxi driver.

*Thursday, June 5th:
 At 8:00 in the morning paramilitaries assassinated MANUEL PACIFICO ARAGON as he was leaving his home in the Bellavista barrio.  MANUEL was a municipal education supervisor.  According to testimony, the paramilitaries had been in front of Manuel’s home for some tine waiting for him to appear.

*Monday, June 16th: Paramilitaries forcibly disappeared the Afro-Colombian campesinos, JUAN PAULINO MORENO, LIZARDO VERGARA BARCO, LUCIANO MORENO ACEVEDO AND TIRSON LOZANO GONZALEZ.  These men had left their homes in Orpua and La Playita ,communities in the Docordo municipality in  Choco, and were on there way to “EL Venadito” to cut wood.  The Public Forces were present in the area at the time.

When family members and neighbors learned of their forced disappearances, they went to search for them.  

*Monday, June 23rd: The campesinos who were looking for the four disappeared men arrived at “La Venadito,” a five hour walk from their homes in La Playita.  There they found a farm house that had been burned.

The next day, June 24th, the campesinos found a grave under the burned farm house.  In it they found the four men for whom they had been searching.  They then returned to La Playita and told the Navy personnel about what they had found and asked for help to return the place of the killings.  These Navy personnel limited themselves to offering them a bit of petrol for their return.  

*Wednesday, June 25th:
Family members and neighbors of the four killed men returned to “El Venadito”  and disinterred the bodies of JUAN PAULINO MORENO, LIZARDO VERGARA BARCO, LUCIANO MORENO ACEVEDO  and TIRSON LOZANO GONZALEZ who had been forcibly disappeared the previous June 16th.  

Their bodies presented with bullet wounds and sings of having been beaten about their heads with axes.  Their hands and feet were tied.

Those family members and neighbors who had found the bodies fled the region for fear of paramilitary reprisals.

*Wednesday, July 30th:  Paramilitaries tortured and assassinated the Afro-Colombian youth, ARLEY VIAFARA, 21 years old.  His body was found on “Brisas Marinas” Street in the Lleras barrio and presented with machete wounds and acid burns.

*Sunday, August 17th:
Paramilitaries assassinated LIVISTONG NARANJO in the Los Pinos barrio, where they maintain an occupation..  LIVISTONG, 39 years old, was an auto mechanic and lived in the Doce de Abril barrio.  

*Saturday, August 18th: Paramilitaries assassinated with a shot to his head the youth, JOSE LUIS RIASCOS,  20 years old.  JOSE LUIS earned his living washing cars.  He was walking in the Vista Hermosa barrio when he was attacked.  Paramilitaries have a permanent presence in the Vista Hermosa barrio.

*Saturday, August 23rd:
 At 4:00 p.m. Buenaventura Police units assassinated VICTOR ALFONSO CUAMA, 23 years old, in the El Firme barrio on “Siete Leguas” Street. The police shot VICTOR in the face critically wounding him and would not allow the local inhabitants to call for emergency medical service. VICTOR died some minutes later.  VICTOR was a fisherman.

*Wednesday, September 3rd:
Around 3:00 p.m. police units entered the area known as “El Caguan” in the Juan XXIII barrio in Buenaventura.  They first shot in the air simulating an armed confrontation  and then searched the inhabitants, calling them guerrilla collaborators.  Police then entered all of the homes and occupied rooms and  back yards.

*Thursday, September 11th:
  At 8:30p.m. Police SIJIN units arbitrarily stopped 10 young Afro-Colombians in the “San Antnio” and “Puerta Roja” sectors of the San Francisco barrio.  These youth were taken to the SIJIN installations in Buenaventura and photographed.  They were released around 10:00 p.m. after the police had made written descriptions of them.

*Monday, September 8th:
Buenaventura police units arbitrarily stopped and disappeared JONATHAN HURTADO IBARGUEN, a mentally ill person, who was 23 years old.  According to various witnesses, JONATHAN  was taken by a Police patrol in the Bajo Firme barrio. He has not been seen or heard from since.

*Thursday, September 18th:  At 7:30 a.m. Police units, simulating an armed confrontation, shot various times in the San Antonio sector of the San Francisco barrio.  The public forces maintain a permanent presence in this sector.

*Sunday, September, 21st: At 11:30 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated ARLEY GONZALEX PRETEL, 29 years old.  ARLEY lived in the El Jorge barrios where he worked selling cell phone minutes.  According to testimonies, ARLEY was making a phone call in a public phone booth in the Rockefeller barrio when paramilitaries shot him to death.

This same day, during the night, paramilitaries assassinated ORLANDO ANGULO ESTUPINAN, in the El Eucaristico barrio as he was driving in his car.


*Friday, January 4th: At 9:00 a.m. guerrilla milicianos from the FARC EP assassinated the fisherman, YEFERSSON ANTONIO MOSQUERA, 21 years old, in the Punta del Este barrio.

*Wednesday, January 30th: At 11:00 a.m. FARC EP milicianos assassinated JHON JAIRO GAMBOA VIVAS, 24 years old.  JHON lived in the Maria Eugenia barrio.

*Saturday, February 9th:  At 6:30p.m.FARC EP milicianos assassinated JEISSON ESTIVEN SALAZAR, 20 years old, as he was walking along a street in the Kennedy barrio.

*Friday, March 28th: At 10:45 p.m. FARC EP milicianos assassinated SANDRA MOSQUERA MARTINEZ in the Kennedy barrio.

*Sunday, April 6th: At 12:00 FARC EP milicianos assassinated the fishermen, JOSE JAIR RIASOS and JHON JAIRO VIVAS, both 20 years old.  According to testimonies, these youth were killed in the Llears barrio on the “Antonio Narino” and “Manhattan” Streets, respectively.

*Saturday, April 12th: FARC EP milicianos assassinated the youth ANCHICO GONGORA, 19 years old, in the Inmaculada barrio.  According to testimonies, ANCHICO worked in construction and had only come to Buenaventura from Cali a week previous to his assassination.

*Saturday, June 14th: FARC EP milicianos assassinated JAVIER RODRIGUEZ and JAVIER VALVERDE, 32 and 22 years of age respectively.  They were killed in the Inmaculada barrio.

*Tuesday, August 5th:  FARC EP milicianos assassinated MARIA TERESA LARGACHE REYES, 38 years old, in the Lleras barrio.

*Wednesday, September 3rd:  These painted words appeared during the morning hours in the San Francisco barrio:  “FARC CP MUERTE A PARA.”  


*Tuesday, September 9th:
Between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. militaries assigned to the Second Marine Infantry Brigade, SIJIN and Police judicial intelligence units,  and AFEUR (Special Urban  Action Forces), who had arrived in vehicles and motorcycles,  raided the Tres Esquinas sector of the San Francisco barrio.  AFEUR is an anti-terrorist unit that is part of the  Navy’s ‘PLAN DE CHOQUE’ (SHOCK PLAN)

At the moment of the raid there was a brief confrontation between the Public Forces and the FARC EP milicianos.  Around 6:00 p.m. the Public Forces retired from the area, while various paramilitaries dressed as civilians remained and occupied various abandoned homes   Among the paramilitaries was the previously mentioned commander of the paramilitary base in the El Caguan sector in the Juan XXIII barrio known as “Camisa” and another known as “James.”  They both belonged to the Calima Block.  Their present legal situation is unknown.

*Thursday, September 11th: At 3:00 p.m. in the Country, La Cancha and Atanasio Girardot sectors of the San Francisco barrio, a group of FARC EP milicianos armed with rifles, revolvers and hand grenades made their way to the Caguan sector of the Juan XXIII barrio, anticipating  a confrontation with the paramilitaries who have a base in that sector under the command of the same above-mentioned “Camisa.”  Police and SIJIN camionetas arrived at the same time and shots were exchanged between them and the milicianos.  A miliciano known as “El Calvo” was wounded as a result.

*Thursday, September 18th:
 At 7:30 a.m. in the San Antonio sector police units shot around indiscriminately and in the air.  

*Friday, September 19th:
 Some Afro-Colombian families were forcibly displaced from their homes  in the San Francisco barrio on account of the terrible anxiety and fear produced by the armed actions carried out by the regular and irregular armed groups who had been increasing their presence in this sector of the barrio since early September.

*Saturday, September 20th:
 At 8:30 p.m. in the Country sector of the San Francisco barrio there were further armed contacts between the paramilitaries and FARC EP milicianos.  These occurred in an area near the football field.  

*Sunday, September 21st: Around 4:00 a.m. shots were heard in the inlet areas of the San Francisco barrio in the San Antonio and El Country sectors.  According to information received, the paramilitaries shot in the air in one sector and the milicianos of the FARC EP shot  in the air in the other.  


*Sunday, January 6th: Around midday, the youth ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ RUBIO, 18 years old, was assassinated after leaving his home  in the El Progreso barrio in a sector controlled by paramilitaries.  ALEXANDER , who worked in his father’s woodworking shop, was on his way there when he was killed.

That same day, CRISTIAN ALBERTO MOSQUERA TOVAR, 21 years old, who suffered mental problems, left his home in the Antonio Narino barrio headed for the Gran Colombia barrio.  He has not been seen or heard from since.  Both of these barrios are under paramilitary control.

*Monday, January 7th:  FEDERICO CASTRO PINEDA,  39 years old, was assassinated.  He was a lumber merchant who lived in the Juan XXIII barrio.

*Tuesday, January 8th:
FERNANDO POSSO MESTIZO, 35 years old, was assassinated by sicarios (hired assassins) who shot him repeatedly as he was about to enter his home in the Independencia barrio.  FARC EP milicianos have a presence in that barrio.

In January of 2008 the body of VLADIMIR VALLECILLA VANEGAS, 26 years old, was found in the bajamar secion of the El Firme barrio.  VLADIMIR worked in construction and lived on Garrido street in the El Firme barrio.  His body, which was tied hand and foot, presented with signs of torture:  his penis was cut, his eyes had been gorged out and his body burned with acid.  VLADIMIR had been reported as disappeared on September 15, 2007.

*Thursday, January 10th:
 Around 9:00 p.m. Senora MARIA QUINTERO SANTA, 44 years old and a business woman, and her son, ESTEBAN QUINTERO, 4 years old, were knifed to death..  Their bodies were found the next day around 7:00 a.m. in the Juan XXIII barrio.  Apparently MARIA’s husband had problems with drug traffickers.  He was in Cartagena at the time of the killings.

*Monday, January 14th:
 MARLEN MICOLTA RIVAS, 17 years old, was assassinated in the early morning hours in the San Luis barrio.  According to testimonies, MARLEN had left her home to go to a party the previous night and at 6:00 a.m. the next morning was found dead.  Her body presented with two stab wounds and signs of having also been the victim of a violent sexual attack.

*Thursday, January 17th: MISAEL RODRIGUEZ, 44 years old, was assassinated in the Antonio Narino barrio.

*Sunday February 10th: LEONARDO ALOMA CALONGUE, 20 years old, and a resident of the El Cristal barrio, was assassinated in the early morning hours.  His body presented with various bullet wounds in the head and thorax.  His body was found in the Santa Fe barrio along the railroad tracks.

*Saturday, February 22nd:  JHON JAMES HENAO, 40 years old, was assassinated after leaving his home in the Viento Libre barrio at 6:00 in the morning.  His body was found two days later in the tidal area of San Antonio.

*Tuesday, February 25th:  CARLOS RIVERA CASTRO, 20 years old, was assassinated in the El Modelo barrio.

*Sunday, March 16th: ERMIN VALENCIA RUIZ, 27 years old, was assassinated at 6:30 p.m. in front of his home in the Miraflores barrio.

Thursday, March 22nd:  JADER ANTONIO CASTRO LABORABA, 30 years old, was seen for the last time at 7:00 p.m.  Nothing is known of whereabouts since that time.  JADER, who was a container supervisor, was wearing a yellow shirt with café colored stripes, short blue jeans and black tennis shoes at the time of his disappearance.

*Saturday, March 29th: YIMI YHOJAN CAICEDO, 20 years old and a crap iron dealer, was assassinated at 8:40 a.m.  An unidentified man broke into his home located in the Jorge Eliecer Gaitan barrios and shot him four times.  There is a strong paramilitary presence in this barrio which belongs to Comuna 9.   YIMI’s mother witnessed his killing.  

*Tuesday, April 1st: CRISTHIAN DELGADO CORTES, 22 years old and a secondary school student, was assassinated as he was walking along one of the streets in the Independencia barrio.  He was shot twice.  CRISTHIAN lived in the Bolivar barrio.

*Sunday, April 6th:
The Afo-Colombian, VICTOR LUGO LEUDO, construction worker, was assassinated at 9:00 p.m.  Unidentified men shot him various times near his home in the El Porvenir barrio.

*Friday, April 25th: JUSTO MASIAS BECERRA, 51 years old, a retired Colombia Port worker, was reported disappeared by his family at 6:30 p.m.  His body was found two days later in the Santa Cruz tidal area.  It  presented with signs of torture and was half buried.

JUSTO’S children denounced his killing to SIJIN and led them to the area where his body was found.  While there the existence of other unidentified graves were noticed.

JUSTO was a leader in his barrio and a candidate for the presidency of the  Barrio Communal Action Council. Elections were scheduled for April 27th.  The present council president has been threatened by FARC EP milicianos.  

*Thursday, May 15th: The Afro-Colombian, ROBINSON PAZ, was assassinated at 2:45 p.m.  ROBINSON was a construction worker and lived in the Antonio Narino barrio.  He was with some friends in the Union de Vivienda sector when he was killed.

*Wednesday, August 20th: SEGUNDO SALAS BANGUERA, 39 years old, was found dead in the Bajamar area of the Inmaculada barrio.  SEGUNDO , a native of the Calambre River area, worked in a saw mill and lived in the Santa Fe barrio.  Four days after his family reported him as disappeared ,his body was found with eight knife and four bullet wounds.


These cases have been revealed,  some confidentially, by family members and witnesses who  are in states of severe emotional crises.  In spite of this and in spite of living in a state of terror and high tension,  they have dared to speak.  

We condemn the practice carried out by the public forces of calling the Afro-Colombians guerrilla auxiliaries; we condemn their on-going apprehensions and illegal detentions; we condemn their complicity in and tolerance of the secret paramilitary style strategies by which the systematic disappearances are effected.  

The constant presence of the public forces in Buenaventura in the majority of the barrio sectors and their incursions into urban spaces where there is a guerrilla presence have led to paramilitary type operations and criminal control over the lives and territories of the citizens.  It is not a secret from anyone that the public forces support or use paramilitary groups in their confrontations and in their brutal harassment of the people. It is only the State institutions that close their eyes.

We require immediate  intervention into the Army Brigades, the Navy and the Police who are operating in Buenaventura and facilitating a new phase of paramilitary consolidation .  We require the immediate substitution of the high commands and the strict application of humanitarian law.  We require a confrontation with the paramilitary structures, particularly the so-called “Cuervos,” who have declared war on the guerrilla milicianos and identify the citizens as FARC collaborators.  All of this has generated a massive new wave of forced displacements.

The families of the Rockefeller, Juan XXIII and San Francisco barrios live in the midst of paramilitary operations which are backed by the public forces.  They are in constant fear of the armed confrontations with the FARC guerrillas and of forced displacement and irreparable damage to their lives and personal integrity.   And, as we have seen above, young people are particular targets of armed retaliations.  

We Morally Condemn the displacements caused by the paramilitary operations  and the armed confrontations.  People are being uprooted from their homes and lands; the Afro-Colombians are not being protected and their survival as a people is at risk.

We require that the victims of the forced displacements be recognized as people with rights under the law.  Forced displacement requires a state response that validates the socio-cultural identity of those displaced and an intervention that deals with the causes of the displacements.  Basic needs must be met and the quality of life improved.  These interventions must be social and not military and  that section of Article 169 of the International Organization of Work, which refers to the right of consultation and the need for sufficient information in collective decision making, must be applied.  

 In addition to this on-going violent uprooting, different infrastructure projects are presently underway which are also causing displacements :  Agua Dulce,  the Industrial Port Complex, G2 and the Ecopetrol oil exploration initiatives in the rural areas.  These projects are generating forced displacements, a case in point being those occurring in the Calima and San Juan river areas.

We leave you with this PROOF of the grave crimes occurring against the inhabitants of Buenaventura, many of which are crimes against humanity.  These crimes form a pattern and are part of an aim for territorial control, a control which goes beyond military and social control.  Economic interests are the moving force here.  In the name of the people who are suffering and the Afro-Colombians who are being destroyed for the sake of these interests, we appeal to the State for coherent action that conforms to a true and authentic Lawful Social State wherein life with dignity is possible for all; where the majority are not forced to live in indignity so that a few are able to live with wealth and well-being.

With profound indignation and anxiety,


Population Confinement: The Other Devastating Reality of the Conflict

(Translated by Buddy Bell and Anne Schoeneborn, CSN volunteer translators)

Freddy Ordonez, Friday, March 13, 2009

Among the dynamics of the armed conflict that constitute violations of International Human Rights and directly affect the human rights of the civilian population are measures implemented by the different actors such as checkpoints, detention centers, blockades of food and public health necessities, attacks on medical clinics, landmines, curfews, and the restriction of mobility.  These measures have resulted in the confinement and isolation of populations, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
It is believed that the rise of this phenomenon in […] recent years is due to a combination of factors, such as the restructuring of the conflict, the change in strategies used for interacting with and controlling civilians both by illegal armed groups and the military in their efforts to regain lost territories [1].

Confinement and forced displacement represent two devastating realities of the internal conflict unfolding in the country.  The magnitude of the tragedy of population confinement is just beginning to be revealed, both on national level and international levels [2]. Below we present the two principal interpretations on the confinement of populations in Colombia.

Population Confinement As a Form of Forced Displacement

The perspective of population confinement as a form of forced displacement is being advocated in Colombia by the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, an entity that has used this terminology in recent texts, and principally in its annual reports.
In the section of the Fourteenth Report of The Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic that reviews the situation of forced displacement, the different forms of displacement that occurred during the year 2006 are reported.  Among these, confinement and restrictions of movement are included [3]. The report states that during 2006, various communities’ access to food and basic needs was controlled and their freedom of movement restricted by illegal groups, who maintained control of roads and rivers [4].  Furthermore, “the imposition of methods of territorial and population control, control of travel corridors, and the violation of ancestral territories by armed actors have negative effects on civilians—indigenous communities being those most affected. These communities are seriously affected in terms of their unique cultural traditions, their socioeconomic ties, and their connection with their surroundings—all of which endanger the very existence of these communities” [5].

The isolation of populations is also included in the 2007 report.  It warns that, in 2007, the confinement and economic blockades were not only a frequent method used by illegal armed groups but also by the national army, who impeded the free movement of people and the supply of food for trade [7].
The lack of a definition of confinement and of a special stipulation for the protection of populations being isolated has resulted in the Human Rights Ombudsman including them within the category of forced displacement.  Firstly, this is to offer special protection to confined populations who are suffering from a human rights violation on the same order as communities being forcefully displaced.  Secondly, the isolation of communities can later lead to their displacement.  On many occasions, civilian populations, especially in rural areas, that have had their routes blocked have indeed consequently chosen displacement.  Another trend demonstrating the close link between confinement and displacement is the gradual displacement of people in some regions over a specific period of time, which can mask the phenomenon of population isolation.  
The Constitutional Court recently carried out evaluations guided by this idea.  In Auto 093 of 2008, the High Tribunal defines confinement as a condition that has a high-risk of displacement, saying there is “a causal relationship between situations of confinement and the occurrence of later displacement,” citing the ruling that “the national authorities have an urgent responsibility… to act promptly to prevent circumstances that cause the forced displacement of populations” [8]. In Auto 093, the High Tribunal ordered the Director of Social Action to provide Emergency Humanitarian Aid to both confined people as well as displaced people in the state of Samaniego (Narino).

Population Confinement As Another Aspect of the Humanitarian Crisis

This point of view considers confinement as a phenomenon separate from forced displacement rather than being one form thereof.  Confinement is instead seen as one of the many manifestations of the humanitarian crisis being caused by the armed conflict.
Confinement is understood to be “a situation in which rights and freedoms are violated, involving the restriction of movement as well as access to items needed for survival—a situation to which the civilian population is subjected as a consequence of military, economic, political, cultural, social or environmental practices, explicit or implicit, carried out by legal or illegal armed groups in the context of the armed conflict” [9].
From this perspective, we speak of situations of confinement considering the different activities being carried out by the armed actors of the conflict.  According to CODHES, the Office of Human Rights and Displacement,
“The use of landmines; the restriction of movement; the use of human shields; the mechanisms of moving, controlling and using workers in illicit crop cultivation; the prohibition of traditional customs; curfew restrictions; forced recruitment; threats; selective killings; the blocking of humanitarian and medical missions; the limitation of supplies; the permitted movement of certain people in specific nuclear family roles; and other types of coercive action taken by legal or illegal armed groups all contribute to situations of confinement” [10].
This view establishes that while these types of actions may restrict people’s movement and therefore violate their right to free movement, a state of confinement is not necessarily defined by this particular restriction.  Groups can be isolated without having their movement restricted. Impeding the entrance of goods and basic services into their territory can confine them. This happens, for example, in cases where food, medical and agricultural supplies are restricted. Although this does not imply limiting the movement of individuals, in practice, it does imply the isolation of the population.
Two broad kinds of confinement can be identified: indiscriminate and selective. In the case of indiscriminate confinement, armed groups completely restrict movement in one or more rural communities, isolating the entire population indiscriminately. In selective confinement, which is less visible, the armed groups only sporadically control the movement of the population and the limitations are principally focused on transport, commerce, and the acquisition of certain goods and products [11].
As we can see from both of the interpretations presented here, the confinement of populations results in the violation of many human rights—violations equivalent to those suffered by displaced populations.  Confined communities suffer from threats to or violations of the right to a life of dignity, personal integrity, family unity, health, work, unrestricted movement, education, etc. The rights of children, women, indigenous groups, the handicapped, and the elderly are particularly threatened—rights established at the national level and also by many international human rights organizations and treaties.  It should be added that the dynamic of the armed conflict is leading the different actors to rely more and more on the practice of confinement as a war tactic. Therefore, it is urgently necessary that we give the victims of confinement legal footing.  While this is being accomplished, isolated populations ought to enjoy the same constitutional protection granted to displaced peoples.   

[1 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh1> ] Project Counseling Service, PCS, Confined Communities in Colombia, Bogota, PCS, 2004. p. 9.

[2 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh2> ] Frequent references have been made to the isolation of communities as a result of armed conflict in reports by international agencies and organizations.  For example, see the Report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights about the human rights situation in Colombia during the years 2006 (pp. 17 – 19), 2007 (p. 28) and 2008 (pp. 23, 32 – 34).

[3 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh3> ] The text states, “The Human Rights Ombudsman indicated that during 2006 forced displacement affected most regions in the country.  The displacement took various forms: individual, whole families, or large-scale, urban, rural, and also as the restriction of mobility, mainly of people living in rural areas”. Human Rights Ombudsman, Fourteenth report of the Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic, Bogota, National Press, 2007. p. 70. Italics added

[4 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh4> ] Human Rights Ombudsman, Fourteenth report of the Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic, Bogota, National Press, 2007. p.73.

[5 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh5> ] Ibid. p. 71.

[6 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh6> ] “Among the types of forced displacement included were individual displacements, large-scale displacements, blockades and confinements, whether as a result of the presence of armed forces or of explosive weapons, mines, and unexploded munitions.”  Human Rights Ombudsman, Fifteenth report of the Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic. January-December 2007, Bogota, National Press, 2008. p. 155. Italics added

[7 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh7> ] Human Rights Ombudsman, Fifteenth report of the Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic. January-December 2007, Bogota, National Press, 2008. p. 155. A few years prior, the Human Rights Ombudsman had already stipulated that the National Army had was forcing civilians into starvation. Human Rights Ombudsman, Thirteenth report of the Human Rights Ombudsman to the Congress of the Republic, Bogota, National Press, 2006. pp. 41 – 42.

[8 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh8> ] Constitutional Court, Auto 093 of 2008.

[9 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh9> ] Project Counseling Service, PCS, Op. Cit. p. 10.

[10 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh10> ] Office of Human Rights and Displacement, CODHES, Confinement: The Other Face of the Humanitarian Crisis and of Human Rights, Bogota, Codhes, 2008. p. 18.

[11 <http://www.prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2025#nh11> ] Project Counseling Service, PCS, Op. Cit. pp. 11 – 13.



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