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Uribe Tolerates the Rising Wave of the Paramilitaries in Colombia
( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)
FROM : Publico.es
Some 10,000 armed men terrorize Colombian campesinos with complete impunity
Comandante Mauricio, with some of his paramilitaries of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia [the United Colombian Self-defense, the paramilitaries—SC], somewhere in Catatumbo. [Cecilia, I think this must have been a pie de foto]
Antonio Albiñana—August 22, 2009
Under different names—the generic name is “emerging bands”—in the greater part of Colombian territory there has been seen a reorganization of the paramilitary phenomenon with the same elements that have been there since the beginning of the 90s: drug trafficking, extortion, seizing lands through forced displacement, and intervening in politics. Insecurity and crime are spreading en Colombia as the evident failure of the banner under which President Alvaro Uribe is trying to be reelected: “Democratic Security.”
For the political scientist Claudia López, who raised the scandal of “parapolitics, “the facts show that if the FARC were to disappear today, the levels of violence, except the deaths by attacks and mines, would remain practically the same.” The Uribe government has centered its policy of democratic security on defeat of the guerrillas, while the phenomenon that has most reached throughout the country has been the resurging of paramilitarism. According to the National Police, the problem includes eight bands with 4,500 members. But diverse NGOs and even the Defender of the People [a government human rights office—SC] have a list of more than 82 bands that operate in 273 municipalities, with no fewer than 10,000 well-armed men, half of whom come from the old paramilitary organizations, supposedly demobilized.
The president focuses on defeating the guerrillas and turns a blind eye to the thousands of murders by the “paras”
Since the beginning of his second term in 2006, Uribe began a process of demobilization agreed upon with the paramilitaries, the majority of which were in groups of the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia). There were public deliveries of weapons, participation by international organizations, and even the appearance of their highest leaders live Salvatore Mancuso in the tribunal of the Parliament to explain the “services” given to Colombia in its struggle against the guerrillas. In reality, as the follow-up commission of the Organization of American States has pointed out, not all the weapons, and not the most modern, were turned over, and the paramilitaries continued organizing in areas like Nariño, Córdoba, La Guajira or Bolívar. In Northern Santander, Mancuso himself rebuilt, through his middle-level commanders, the dread Catatumbo Block, responsible for some 2,000 murders.
In Sucre, the men of “Jorge 40,” currently extradited as Mancuso in the US for drug trafficking (not for the paramilitary crimes) responsible for at least 1,500 deaths who have received no punishment and continue operating, combining forced displacement of campesinos with legal activity through politicians, business people and functionaries. Indeed, the paramilitaries have never really be punished for their massacres and illicit businesses.
The most important emerging bands that reach throughout the country are: The Black Eagles, who are now active in Córdoba, Santander, Magdalena Medio, Antioquia and even in poor barrios of Bogotá, like San Cristóbal; Los Restrajos [The Stubble—SC], inheritors of the cartel of northern Cauca and have now reached into a big part of the country; and The Paisas. The carry out the same activities as always (drug trafficking, extortion, seizing land and forcing the campesinos to be displaced, rape as a weapon of pressure), and are active in 25 of the 32 departments of Colombia.
Politics “has more than ever been taken over by the mafia and corruption,” assures one analyst
They also intervene in politics with the persecution of community leaders, of human rights and victims’ organizations, and they are deeply embedded in state structures. The most recent scandal has been that of the head of the Prosecutor’s office in Medellín, Valencia Cossio, brother of the Minister of Justice, whose activity was presumably linked to the service of the most feared paramilitaries of the region and who today is awaiting sentencing.
The Defender of the People itself has been the object of actions of the new paramilitaries. En reality, the same as always, because as sources in that institution pointed out, “ It’s about the regrouping of paramilitaries who had been demobilized and continue recruiting minors.” On the 11th of this month, the building of the Defender in Córdoba was broken into and the only thing stolen was a computer that contains information about human rights violations by paramilitaries and the security forces. The same thing has happened at their headquarters in Barrancabermeja and Catagena.
There are now 3.5 million displaced persons
According to the Defender of the People, there are constant threats against NGOs and human rights defenders in Bogotá, César, Magdalena and Bolívar. Also, the crimes and threats to achieve violent displacement of campesinos. Today in Colombia there are more than three and a half million displaced persons, and their number keeps growing.
However, the Uribe government does not respond to this phenomenon, acting weakly and treating the paramilitary activity (murders, extortions, expulsions)as isolated acts of “common criminals.” And there is frequent connivance between the forces of order and the paramilitary bands, with the fabulous benefits of drug trafficking greasing everything.
As the analyst Claudia López wrote this week in the newspaper El Tiempo: “Drug trafficking is cleaned and legitimated through politicians and functionaries who pose as governors, mayors, colonels and a complete range of public functionaries and legal business people, at a cost of tens of thousands of deaths.” With tens of parliamentarians who served as a support for Uribe in his first reelection now prisoners because of their connections with the paramilitaries, according to López, Colombian politics “has more than ever been taken over by the mafia and corruption.”
Colombia Support Network
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Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
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THE ASTURIAN AGENCY AGAIN ACCUSES THE ARMY AND POLICE OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN COLOMBIA
(Translated by Anne Boylon, a CSN volunteer translator)
THE DENOUNCEMENTS IN THIS REPORT CONCERNING THE CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA POINT TO THE SECURITY FORCES AS THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR 95% OF THE VIOLATIONS. SEVEN NEW REFUGEES, UNDER THREAT OR VICTIMIZED BY THE REPRESSION ARRIVE IN ASTURIAS.
OVIEDO, July 27 (EUROPA PRESS)
The fifth report put out by the Asturian Agency of Cooperation on the human rights situation in Colombia directly accuses the Army and Police of that country to be responsible for a major part of the atrocities. 95% of the denouncements included in this document point straight at the security forces.
Rafael Palacios, Director of the Asturian Agency of Cooperation, presented this report today in a press conference. He was accompanied by Javier Orozco, a Colombian refugee in Asturias and coordinator of the Asturian Program for Human Rights. Both were part of an Asturian delegation that visited the departments of Cesar, Meta, Guaviare, Santander, Casanare and Bogota from April 18 until May 2nd of this year.
In his summary of the report, Palacios pointed out the connection of the Police and Army with 95% of the denouncements which include assassinations, disappearances, kidnapping and tortures. He made particular reference to extrajudicial executions, which he called “State crimes,” for which the Armed Forces “have an unequivocal responsibility.” He indicated that 1,300 cases, in which more that 1,600 people have died, are currently being investigated.
The report indicates that there is a direct connection between the Armed Forces and the Police with the multitude of sexual abuse cases, executions, bombings of civilian populations, forced disappearances and the blockades of food and other supplies.
Continuing, Palacio pointed out that these same crimes are “committed at the same time in different parts of the country,” which demonstrates that “they were planned” at “superior levels.” He stated that the “modus operandi” was to offer work to people who, upon accepting the offers, relocated to the areas of the supposed work. However, upon their arrival at these places, they were murdered and later presented as members of the guerrilla.
The report also reveals the link between members of Congress and narco-paramilitary activity for which 72 parliamentarians have been investigated. This is in addition to the investigations of 250 other top-level political officials.
The report also denounces the proliferation of arbitrary detentions, usually of indigenous people, camepesinos, unionists or members of Human Rights organizations. Their detentions are for “supposed declarations made by former members of the guerrilla who are given incentives to collaborate” with the anti-terrorist fight. Those detained spend up to two years in prison.
This denouncement as well as those made the about the excessive use of force and repressive strategies used against the most oppressed sectors of society, women and Afro-Colombians, directly affects police behavior. As an example of this, Palacio reminded his audience that the Asturian delegation was present in the May 1st demonstration in Bogota which was “brutally repressed” by the police.
The report also reveals the appearance of new belligerent groups who are responsible for human rights violations which they commit with total impunity.
Also reported is a 24% increase in the number of Colombians displaced by the violence; the discovery last year of 410 mass graves from which there have been 39 exhumations to date; and 111 cases of disappearances.
The Asturian Agency leaves no doubt that these rights violations are due to the continuation “of an armed political conflict which has its origin in social inequality and whose prolongation has given rise to the phenomena of drug-trafficking and para-militarism.
In addition, the document reveals the violence committed against homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals; the huge problematical social inequalities, such as unemployment, poverty, hunger, the lack of electricity; and the inaccessibility of housing.
SANCTUARY AND REFUGEES
In the same press conference Palacios presented a group of seven refugees who had recently arrived in Asturias where they will be staying during the coming months. Together with two other refugees who were already in Asturias and who are in the last part of the program, they are nine altogether. Two of them are unionists and the rest are human rights activists. They have all been threatened and harassed and the family members of some of them have even been murdered.
Orozco said that these refugees are “in a situation of imminent risk which is why they are with us.” He then referred to the fact that one of the people who had once welcomed the Asturian delegation is now disappeared and another has been murdered.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
OUR SITUATION: FROM BAD TO WORSE
( Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
The various assaults that have been carried out against our Community during the last few months, always with the intention of annihilating us through every kind of technique, have not obliged us to be silent, as the attackers are always trying to do.
In spite of all the lies and dishonesty used against our system, we continue more firmly than ever in our principles and, because of them, we must continue to make a record of all of the murderous actions that are going on in our area.
Sunday, July 19, 2009. In the town of La Resbalosa, about 8:00 a.m., Army soldiers entered several people’s homes. They took away their supplies, their dishes, and the agricultural products that had been harvested and stored, such as beans and corn.
Monday, July 20, 2009. Around 11:30 a.m., Army soldiers located in the town of Mulatos detained JULIO GUISAO, the coordinator of our community in that area. They tortured him, beating him savagely about the face, in spite of the fact that he suffers from physical disabilities resulting from previous assaults. Later they threatened to kill him, telling him that he had to leave or “demobilize”, implying that he was a member or a collaborator of some armed group. They kept hitting him and deriding him until 1:30 p.m.
July 31, 2009. Around 6 p.m. paramilitaries killed JAVIER LOZANO REDONDO at the edge of the town of Batata in Tierralta (Cordoba Province), not very far from one of the settlements of our Peace Community. He and his wife and his three-year-old daughter were with him at the time. The paramilitaries confronted him as he was on his way to his house in the town of El Tesoro. As he passed the paramilitary checkpoint, they shot him in the back and they told his wife that she had better disappear and keep quiet if she wanted to stay alive, and that if that son-of-a-bitching Peace Community keeps on filing complaints, they are going to finish off some of their leaders in order to get rid of it. This murder generated the displacement of more than ten families from the towns of Murmullo Alto and Murmullo Medio.
Friday, July 32, in Mulatos, and Saturday, August 8. This year, 2009, there have been battles between the Army and the guerrillas in Arenas, without any respect for the territory of peace or for the entreaties we have been making for 12 years. We have begged that there be no weapons in the living areas and work areas in our Community, and that not one drop of blood be shed in our territory of peace.
Saturday, August 8, 2009. Mr. JESUS RIVERA was murdered at some time in the morning in the town of La Cristalina. Right now we have no information about the killers or about the motive for the crime. We only know that he was dragged from his house and brutally killed. According to the Public Defender, as the Army told us, he was killed by common criminals, as a result of a love affair of some kind. Nevertheless, people close to Jesus Rivera insist that he had been threatened beforehand, not just by the Army, but also by the guerrillas.
Monday, August 10, 2009. At about 7:00 a.m., Army soldiers halted some members of the Peace Community in the town of El Guineo and told them that that the Community was a guerrilla community and that was why they had to exterminate it. After jeering at them for several minutes, they let them go.
Thursday, August 13, 2009. At some time in the morning a person was found murdered in the town of La Unión. It was not a person known in the area. The community immediately notified the Public Defender, so that he could request the removal of the body and the necessary investigation. The Community is wondering why our space is stained with blood and wondering what is the purpose of these crimes, beyond their obvious perverse effects.
All of these facts show the serious situation that we have in this area. It all demonstrates that the persecution of our community and the zeal to destroy it are still strong, and that the attackers don’t care to hide their intentions. They plan to get rid of our Community once and for all, so that they can carry out all their plans for death and destruction in the area. They are attacking farming people with murder, displacement, threats, humiliations, torture, pillage of their belongings, and denying them all of their rights. But all of this just strengthens our intentions to keep on with our system and keep on demanding the end of these atrocities, not just against us, but also against all of the farming people in the areas.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSE DE APARTADO
August 19, 2009.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Industrial University of Santander under political siege
Written by the Informational Whisper Editorial Committee
(Translated by Steve Fake, a CSN volunteer translator)
On the afternoon of May 3, 2009, a recording was leaked of a conversation between Dr. Jaime Alberto Camacho Pico, rector of the Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS), and a paramilitary leader named Felix. This has revealed once again the strategy to silence teachers, students and employees of public universities, culminating in the murder of many of them by state agencies and paramilitary groups, with the full complicity of the judicial authorities. This strategy not only seeks to eliminate the voices of protest, but to introduce a model of education that sacrifices quality while encouraging the privatization of knowledge.
The National Scene
In the last decade, state universities have been subjected to a systematic policy of accusations, stigmatization, persecution, and murder with impunity by state agencies and paramilitary groups. The case of the University of Cordova is well known. The paramilitaries took control of the institution and placed the ex-rector, Claudio Sánchez Parra, at the head, an appointment imposed by Salvatore Mancuso. Since the admission of this fact, last November 21, no fewer than 19 members of the university community have been killed. This violence is not unique to Cordova. Consider the recent murder of Éder Enrique Sierra, a student at the University of La Guajira, and of Jorge Andres Isaza Velasquez at the University of Antioquia. Or take the cases at the University of Valle of Jhonny Silva and Julián Andrés Hurtado, killed in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Or the killings of Oscar Salas from the University Distrital Francisco José de Caldas in 2006, of Gustavo Marulanda, a student of Philosophy at the University of Antioquia murdered in 1999, and of Jaime Alfonso Acosta, a student of engineering Industrial University of Santander murdered in 2002. These are just the most well known, but unfortunately not the only, cases.
At the same time, all strata of the public universities are persecuted by their own directors and university governments for simply trying to voice opposition. The concentration of power in a single agency is clear, to the point that any reform is implemented by the cabinet without the direct presence of workers, teachers and students, under the guise of maintaining institutional integrity.
The tragic case of UIS
An example of this systematic policy has been on display at UIS since the year 2000. To achieve this policy, the internal and external establishment first conducted so-called opinion molding, beginning with the discrediting of the different forms of student organization and expression, as happened with the so-called road map, the document created by the students and endorsed by a university student assembly. This paper proposed mechanisms to "begin a process of dialogue and negotiation with the leadership” in an attempt to engage in a discussion, which, to date, has been ignored by the leaders of the institution. There has also been the elimination of non-institutional spaces, historically belonging to the students, with the excuse that they are “centers of subversion." Thus, for example, the "headquarters of the students," which for more than 40 years had belonged to the general student community, was closed. That entity was vacated in the middle of 2007, and today is only open to representatives endorsed by the institution.
At the external level, policy is evidenced by continuing campaigns of discrediting, backed by the major media, to show that there are infiltrators in the universities that incite students to protest. This can be observed in various newspaper articles and radio opinion programs. For example, the local newspaper, El Frente, in its edition for Sunday, April 29, 2007, wrote: “GUERRILLA PRESENCE IN UNIVERSITY CONFLICTS: The security services move to monitor an urban cell, self-styled the National Liberation Army, which was developing political activities around the strange conflicts occurring at the Industrial University of Santander."
The ex-governor, Hugo Aguilar Naranjo – who was investigated for holding several meetings with members of the so-called Bloque Central Bolivar, and who in 2007 was chairman of the UIS Upper Council - asserted without evidence, in an interview on Friday, 4 May 2007, with the television channel ORT-East Regional: "Everything seems to indicate that some students from the Industrial University of Santander who staged protests in the university senate were making potato bombs with shrapnel and another thing is that they have taken 2 floors and are developing potato bombs and even... using shrapnel." Also, in Vanguardia Liberal: "You must remember that in the disturbances initiated by some students of UIS in November last year, General Orlando Pineda Gomez, commander of the Metropolitan Police in Bucaramanga, said that intelligence work was able to detect infiltration by members of the Clandestine Communist Party of Colombia." These statements were repeated on 2 December 2008 by the governor of Santander, Horacio Serpa: "Unfortunately, we believe that there was infiltration by urban militias of the FARC and ELN in the riots." All this is in perfect sync with the threats made by the paramilitaries in a communiqué by the Bucaramanga Metropolitan Bloc of the New Generation of Black Eagles, released on 15 February 2009: "We are starting a nationwide campaign to exterminate the guerrillas from the Universities and we are going to start with UIS.”
Add to all of this the closure of newspapers, by university decrees, such as the newspaper Pro-texto, formerly the only student media, funded by the university. At the same time, government media is strengthened, where opinion differing from the university leadership is prohibited, as happened with the newspapers Cátedra Libre and Hecho en la UIS.
This method of opinion shaping is not only used for students, but also for any sector that differs from the guidelines. This is true of the Association of Teachers of UIS – ASPROUIS, in which, after a change in the board of the association, university leadership publicly declared: "The teachers' association has become politicized and radicalized in such a way that its primary objective has become the leftist political struggle and opposition to the national government and the administration of the University." This statement appears in an internal email from Alonso Silva, Director of Planning at UIS, sent to ASPROUIS in April 2009.
Measures of strength
In tandem with the siege by outside agencies, the community feels attacked by their own administration: "you have full knowledge of people who are taking on the role of... influencing the students who are moving towards the left?," “you know, and I know, that there are professors who are screwing with this." This is a snippet of a conversation between the University Chancellor and a paramilitary leader in 2007.
The university directors, the organs of the state, and paramilitary groups impose the politics of the stick, such as the disciplinary sanctions decreed by the Academic Council of the Industrial University of Santander, through agreement No. 146 of July 26, 2007, less than a month after the communication between the chancellor and the paramilitary leader. There he ordered the opening of a disciplinary investigation of a group of students from this institution, namely those which participated as student spokespersons in the dialogue process of the so-called road map. One week later (August 2), a message was received from the sender “firstname.lastname@example.org” to the address of the Union of University Workers and Employees of SINTRAUNICOL Colombia, Bucaramanga branch. The communication was entitled WARNING II, and declared seven students, a professor and a worker to be military targets for the crime of being suspected guerrillas.
Of the request to retract what was written and said in the press months before against the Student Movement of the UIS, Hugo Aguilar Naranjo, president of the Upper Council-UIS, said the following: "at no time would a retraction be considered, because the intelligence coming from the national security agencies within the University has demonstrated the infiltration of people who are not students of this institution, as has happened in demonstrations, the permanent assembly, and other activities that have been developing.”
At the same time, on June 16, 2008, a professor was threatened with death by the Central Bolivar Bloc. On the 24th of the same month, 2 students were expelled by administrative act. The expulsion process had begun with the initiation of an investigation ordered by the Academic Council of 17 students, through an elite group within the Council. It should be noted that flaws are evident within these processes, since the university government in UIS acts as investigator, judge and prosecution in disciplinary proceedings.
Private security forces are a widely used weapon of harassment, even though the attorney general and controller in 2002 recommended eliminating such forces and better strengthening security through use of UIS’ own employees. This monitoring is supported by the installation of more than 50 surveillance cameras on campus. But, seeing that the goal was not achieved with previous practices, the use of physical aggression began. More than 9 cases of physical assault on students by private security forces have been reported during the administration of Chancellor Jaime Camacho. At the moment, 47 people, including students, teachers and workers, are threatened with death in UIS by paramilitary groups in public announcements and through other harassment. All these cases have been reported and documented by human rights organizations. In turn, in the course of this decade, the prosecutor’s office has pursued more than 15 students for crimes ranging from terrorism to rioting, many of them accused by the same heads of the university. To date, none of these students has been convicted and most cases have been closed.
Despite the efficiency of the public prosecutor and the security organs of the state in organizing to accuse the university community of various acts, this enthusiasm is not extended to protecting the community. To date, the interior ministry has refused to take precautions or provide protection to the university community, and the directors only approved the inaction. The strange thing is that the chancellor of UIS knew the intentions of paramilitary groups to assassinate members of the community since at least mid-2007. As can be heard in the recording, Felix, who contacted paramilitary leader, said: "This here is what is going to make a “Pistol Plan,” and we will move against the people who are doing that. I need you to assist me with the list of people you see or believe do not agree with what the college is doing, who, on the contrary, want to push things to the left."
Even more disconcerting is the public support given by the same paramilitary groups to the university government "because, in our opinion, they have managed the university well, and we support the re-election of the rector CAMACHO PICO.” Thus reads the communique of February 15 of this year, where the reintegrated forces from the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia declare 26 students, 12 workers SINTRAUNICOL, and 6 teachers to be military targets. Despite the seriousness of the facts, the matter was not reported to the Interior Ministry and the prosecutor for investigation to begin the process of taking measures to protect the community.
We hope this article serves as a call to the different levels of society and protects the most valuable thing that the public universities produce: diversity of thought - the guarantee of a real democracy.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
Displacement of Black Communities
African descent community faces eviction by Anglo Gold Ashanti in Colombia
From the human rights team of the Process of Black Communities and other organizations:
The displacement of the black community of the rural neighborhood of La Toma in the municipality of Suarez, in the northern part of the Cauca department, is scheduled for the 6th of August, 2009. The residents of this neighborhood have been declared ´squatters in bad faith´ in a legal possession order taken out by Raúl Fernando Ruiz Ordoñez and Jesús Sarria. Yet the presence of black communities on these lands dates from 1636. Since then, they have worked small gold mines which todayis the only means of subsistence for hundreds of families.
The black community´s territory in the La Toma district consists of 7,000 hectares, some 6,500 hectares of which, including the cemetery, are sought by Anglo Gold Ashanti for exploration purposes. The company has found a fast-track to an immediate start to operations, via two mining concessions together making up 403 hectares. They are concession EKE-151 (314 hectares) held by Raúl Fernando Ruiz Ordoñez, and concession BFC 021 (99 hectares) held by Héctor Jesús Sarria. Neither of these concession holders are linked with the community, nor have they carried out any mine exploration or exploitation activities. Rather, in light of the known Anglo Gold Ashanti interest, these two gentlemen have initiated a legal process of expropriation that will stop the afro-colombian miners from developing the work that they have carried out for generations in this district.
Anglo Gold Ashanti and the Canadian owned company Cosigo Resort have been pressing for the take-over of other territories in Suárez, and the neighboring municipalities of Buenos Aires and Santander. None of the moves by these mining corporations respect the right of the black communities to consulta previa (prior consultation), the guarantee set out in ILO Convention 169, as recognized by Colombia´s constitution, and elaborated in Law 70 passed in 1993.
This is not the first wave of evictions from this region. In the 1980s the construction of the nearby La Salvajina dam and reservoir system displaced hundreds of families to the urban slums of Agua Blanca in Cali and other cities. The environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of this hydroelectric project have still not been addressed by the operating company CVC (Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca) or the Colombian state. In 1994 the Salvajina project was taken over by Energía Eléctrica del Pacifico-EPSA (in turn owned by Spanish multinacional). EPSA tried to divert the Ovejas river that runs by La Toma in order to augment Salvajina´s generating capacity.
Before Salvajina, the afro-colombians native to this region sustained themselves through fishing, agriculture, ferrying and mining; after the dam´s construction much of the best farming land was flooded under the reservoir and there were drastic climate changes; both of which led to a crisis in traditional farming. For most of the black community the only remaining means of making a living was through artisanal gold mining. Besides the predicted environmental impacts from the open cast mining that Anglo Gold Ashanti and similar multinationals want to undertake, this artisanal mining would disappear and the black communities would be displaced entirely from their territories.
In Judgement No 005 of 2009, Colombia´s Constitutional Court stated a number of contributing factors tending to cause the displacement of afro-colombians including structural exclusion, the pressures generated by big mining and agriculture, and deficient legal protection for the collective territories of the black communities. The Constitutional Court drew special attention to the situation of the black communities who are the ancestral inhabitants of Buenos Aires and Suárez as an emblematic case; these communities are a clear and living example of the risks pointed out by the Court of the vulnerability of territorial rights, the loss of social and cultural control by the communities, the violation of their right to prior consultation, and the absence of registration of ancestral territories that even now have not been recognized as collective property.
The Constitutional Court ordered that there be effective participation of the communities, and set in motion a plan of monitoring that would take into account the general factors and the specific risks identified in its Judgement 005. The Court ordered that the territorial rights of the afro-colombian communities be protected through the design of a plan to be implemented by 30 October 2009, characterizing the lands as ancestral territory, of ethnic significance and part of the patrimony of these communities.
The artisanal gold mines constitute one of the last common goods still conserved by the black communities of northern Cauca. Their eviction from La Toma would be one more link in the historic chain of unjust expropriations that should be blocked by determined action by all the communities.
We call on all afro-colombian organizations, leaders and other social sectors nationally and internationally to take action to demand:
1. That the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy revoke the mining concessions EKE-151 held by Raúl Fernando Ruiz Ordoñez and BFC 021 held by Héctor Jesús Sarria, on the grounds that there has not been prior consultation with the black communities living on these territories.
2. That the Ministry of Mines and Energy definitively stop the order to evict the black communities of the Corregimiento (district) of La Toma, located in the Suárez municipality in the north of Cauca department.
3. That the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Social Action immediately fulfill the the Constitutional Court Judgement No 005, by formulating an action plan of attention and protection of these communities, putting in place the measures organized by the Court to protect the territory and the patrimony of the communities.
4. The application of Consultation with Free, Prior and Informed Consent in accord with ILO Convention 169 and the national Constitution in the case of any process concerning the exploration and exploitation of mining resources, and other projects and political or administrative measures that might affect the black communities.
5. That the Ministry of the Interior adopt measures for the protection of the life and security of community leaders in the region.
With our traditional affirmation of Life, Happiness, Hope and Freedom /
Con nuestra tradicional afirmación de Vida y Alegría, Esperanza y Libertad
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO DE LA TOMA
ASOCIACION DE CONSEJOS COMUNITARIOS DEL NORTE DEL CAUCA
PALENKE DEL ALTO CAUCA
PALENQUE EL KONGAL
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO CUENCA DEL YURUMANGUI
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO CUENCA DEL MAYORQUIN
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO MAYOR CUENCA DEL ANCHICAYA
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO CUENCA DEL CALIMA
CONSEJO COMUNITARIO BAJO MIRA Y FRONTERAS
CORPORACION PALENQUE SIGLO XXI
PROCESO DE COMUNIDADES NEGRAS EN COLOMBIA PCN
FEDERACION AGROMINERA DEL SUR DE BOLIVAR
CORDINADOR NACIONAL AGRARIO. CNA
CAMPAÑA PROHIBIDO OLVIDAR
PAZ CON DIGNIDAD
RECOMMENDED ACTION / ACCION SOLICITADA
Please send to the following emails/ Estos son los correos de los
funcionarios que debieran comunicarse
Director of Black Community, afro-colombian, Palenquera and Race affairs/Dirección para asuntos de Comunidades Negras, Afrocolombianas, Palenqueras
Human Rights Director/Dirección de derechos Humanos. Rafael Emiro
Vice Minister of Justice/Viceministro de Justicia: Miguel Antonio Ceballos Arévalo
Please copy the following address. For more information please contact:/ Si se requiere la
Translated by Colombia Solidarity Campaign <http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/> . The Campaign adds: please also send a brief message with the above demands to the Colombian Embassy in your country.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
For Those Who Have Died and Those Who Want to Live=?ISO-8859-1?B?ig==?=Seeing Catatumbo
(Translated by Susan Tritten, a CSN volunteer translator)
Press Communiqué—Bogotá, July 10, 2009
“I am going to dispense with formality . . . and remember with you how we waited for the bridge to into Tibú to be repaired. . . the signs and graffiti announcing the arrival of the paramilitaries. . . to remember with you all our fear in the central plaza of Tibu when there wasn’t even the possibility of escaping to the street to catch a breath of air. . . to meet on the road boys and girls not yet 15 years old in the ELN squads . . . to remember with you the villages of empty houses, the paramilitary patrols before you get to La Gabarra. . . the paramilitary troops who weren’t just four mischievous kids hanging out on the corner, but a whole uniformed company, with encoded radios, with total control over the area, who could see everything, and with a helicopter at their disposal. In Rio de Oro I also remember thousands of displaced persons trying desperately to escape the violence, and that smell of death that permeated Catatumbo. . . you know about this from the human rights organizations, but I am remembering it for those who weren’t there; these are the things we must remember. This is the living memory of what happened to them, of the deaths the country didn’t want to recognize . . . it pains me greatly to return to this country to see that people here are still yearning for justice.” -Javier Hernandez, Assistant Representative of the Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Opening Ceremony of the Campaign “Seeing Catatumbo.”
Catatumbo, in North Santander, has been one of the regions hardest hit by the recent social and political violence in Colombia. During the last ten years at least five thousand persons have been assassinated there and around forty thousand have been forcibly displaced from their land. Now, Colombia is waiting for justice and truth about these acts and those responsible for them and complete reparation for the outrages committed against human dignity.
Because of this and with the intention of honoring the efforts of the victims to recover their memory, to restore their dignity and to strengthen their demands for truth, justice and complete reparations for the victims, dozens of social and human rights organizations are promoting the campaign, “Seeing Catatumbo, Its Victims: A river of Memory and Dignity” because we believe that these ten years must not have passed in vain: ten years of massacres by paramilitary troops in Tibú and La Gabarra; ten years that marked the beginning of the greatest victimization that Catatumbo has ever endured.
For this purpose, on July ninth, in the National Library of Colombia, the campaign was launched at a press conference for national and international media in the morning and at a cultural event in the afternoon.
Several family members of the victims of the massacres attended this opening ceremony to protest the impunity that has protected those who have committed these crimes for ten years. Also at the ceremony, Gloria Flórez from the Minga Association, Yanette Bautista from the Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation, Fernando Soler of the Association for the Memory and Dignity of the Victims of Catatumbo, and Zoraida Hernández of Sembrar Corporation, recounted briefly the dramatic moments that they lived before, during and after the massacres.
During the ceremony, Zoraida Hernández of Sembrar Corporation stated that several human rights organizations had sent a letter requesting that the Supreme Court study the possibility of disqualifying the slate proposed by President Alvaro Uribe for the office of Attorney General since organizations maintain that the three candidates are not impartial. One example is Camilo Osorio, who, through the incentive rules for Security Forces, encouraged assassinations in combat, giving us the poorly-worded phrase “false positives.”
At the cultural event on the evening of July ninth, guests such as the journalist Alfredo Molano; Javier Hernandez, Assistant Representative from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Jan Noel Wettewald, Representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, and Guillermo Rivera, Representative to the House, among others, commented on the current situation in Catatumbo, paramilitary rearmament in that area, and the barbarity of the last ten years that still has not healed in the hearts of thousands of people in Catatumbo.
The campaign will continue from July to November of 2009, visiting month by month each region of Catatumbo, remembering those who died, but working as well for those who want to live, the people of northeastern Colombia, vigorous, happy and inured to war.
The next meeting will be in the town hall of Tibú on the eighteenth of July. The campaign, “Seeing Catatumbo,” will meet with the wonderful people of North Santander beginning at five in the morning with music as an opening for conversation on the “State of the city of Tibú, Impunity and Justice, Law of Victims and Reparation.”
That same day, there will be a tour of four significant sites of the massacre of July 17, 1999; in each site we will plant a tree and place a commemorative plaque. At the end of our procession, we will have an interdenominational prayer. During the pilgrimage, children from Tibú will carry a poster titled “The Catatumbo That We Love,” displaying their drawings depicting what they want for their region. This activity will be organized by local community childcare workers and the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare. At day’s end, a cultural event will conclude this commemoration in Tibú.
As Javier Hernández of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in the opening ceremonies, “but I remember it for those who were not there, these are the things we must remember, this is the living memory of what happened to them. . .” We will continue navigating this river of memory and dignity that will not be in vain, because the people of Catatumbo will continue fighting for a life free of violence, without forgetting, but with dignity.