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S.O.S TIMBIQUI, CAUCA, COLOMBIA
Territorial Region of the Pacific, Municipality of Timbiqui
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN's Program Assistant)
Alert by the Community Councils Black Rebirth and Blacks United in the Timbiqui River Valley, Blacks in Action in the Bubuey River Valley, the High South of Saija, San Bernardo North Patia and Lower Saija in the Saija River Valley. All of these Community Councils are part of the Higher Palenke el Kastigo – Association of Community Councils of Timbiqui. The alert is concerning the enormous and irreparable harm to the environment and the cultural and territorial integrity of the Black community caused by the situation in Zaragoza on the Dagua River, in the Municipality of Buenaventura in the department of the Cauca Valley.
The newspaper El Tiempo, in its April 29, 2010 edition, made public the presence of two retro-excavators in the Timbiqui River. According to the newspaper, more than twenty of the 200 retro-excavators that are present in Zaragoza Buenaventura, Cauca Valley will be sold to Timbiqui, Cauca. These excavators will destroy the environmental and ecological wealth of the townspeople of the Timbiqui River and of other rivers on the Cauca coast. We therefore present the following alert to the National and International Community:
The Municipality of Timbiqui was founded in 1772 and is one of the last places in the Southern Colombian Pacific where the violence, narco-trafficking, militarization and neo-colonization have reached. Timbiqui is located in the Western part of the Department of Cauca and can only be reached by water from Buenaventura or Tumaco, or by air from Cali. There are approximately 33,655 inhabitants, and they have historically made their living through agricultural tradition, the coconut economy, wood exploitation, fishing, and cultural mining where the environmental and ecological impacts are minimal. In 1900, with the support of the Republic, the English company The New Timbiqui Gold Mines Ltd. established itself. The English mining company's principal offices are in Paris, and the Colombian government gave the company the rights to the entire right margin of the Timbiqui River. This company subjected our superiors to a relationship of slavery that obligated the men to work at least one day per week for the company. People who had lived alone in the territory before its arrival, now had to seek permission from the company before carrying out any actions. The company also controlled the local commerce and created their own currency, the Cachaloa, to control business and trade in the area. It was the resistance of our superiors that made possible the departure of the company, the liberation of the territory and the freedom of our families. In 1989 the government granted permission for a Russian company to establish itself on the same margin of the river until 1993. In addition to the enormous damages to the environment in the territory and to the farms of the natives and their houses, the company removed the gold and impoverished the families that had historically made a living through gold mining, generating a great social deterioration in the entire Municipality. The presence of these companies and the responsibility of these impacts have never been assumed by the Colombian State.
The Territorial Region of the Pacific is one of the most important environmental and biodiverse zones of the world. This wealth of ours, of the country and of the world, is being destroyed, due to, among other reasons, the inactivity of the governmental entities responsible for environmental control and environmental policy, and for the formulation and implementation of policies and measures regarding the sphere of development not appropriate for the social, environmental and cultural reality of the communities that inhabit this territory. Zaragoza is a crude and painful example of the inactivity of the State entities and their refusal to protect the rights of our communities and the environmental and ecological wealth of the nation. The environmental, social and cultural disaster of the illegal mining in Zaragoza occurs in the form of the construction of the two way road from Cali to Buenaventura, a project of infrastructure property of the government. An environmental license was authorized for its construction. The illegal mining in Zaragoza is the responsibility of the government and its "incapacity" to apply all of the measures, in this case the studies of environmental impacts and its diverse plans of management, mitigation, and reparation of the impacts. We are in a bad way, because the government does not adhere to Prior Consult and Free and Informed Prior Consent, and when it does, as is the case with the two-way road, an important project for all of the plans of port expansion, it does not comply with the results of the consultation.
Suarez and Buenos Aires in the North of Cauca, Zaragoza in Buenaventura, and what could happen in Timbiqui on the Cauca coast, are clear examples of legal and illegal mining and of the government's responsibility to protect the environmental, territorial and cultural rights of our communities. The government is not adhering to the stipulations of Agreement 169 of the International Workers' Organization, Law 70 of 1997 and what was ordered by the Constitutional Court, among other regulations, in Court Decree 005 of 2009. The government does not adhere, regarding legal and illegal mining, to the protection of the constitutional rights of the Black and Afro-Colombian communities. While the lives and cultural integrity of our communities are profoundly affected it seems as though all of the state and governmental entities have agreed to do nothing.
The communities, community councils, and organizations of the zone are preparing for a great battle to protect our rights and impede the arrival of these retro-excavators to our territories.
We therefore ask for the solidarity of social, environmental, ecological, human rights, Indigenous and Black organizations of the National and International level to take action and call to the Colombian government to stop the environmental and ecological disaster, the violation of human rights and the cultural integrity of the Black communities in Timbiqui, Cauca, Zaragoza, Buenaventura, Cauca Valley, and La Toma in the Municipality of Suarez, Cauca, Colombia.
HIGHER PALENKE EL KASTIGO-ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COUNCILS OF TIMBIQUI
BLACK REBIRTH COMMUNITY COUNCIL
BLACKS UNITED COMMUNITY COUNCIL
BLACKS IN ACTION COMMUNITY COUNCIL
COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF THE HIGH SOUTH OF SAIJA
SAN BERNARDO NORTH PATIA COMMUNITY COUNCIL
COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF THE LOWER PART OF THE SAIJA RIVER
PROCESS OF BLACK COMMUNITIES IN COLOMBIA (PCN)
Paramilitaries Threaten Comunas in the Valle del Cauca
Paramilitaries Threaten Comunas in the Valle del Cauca
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN’s Program Assistant)
The organizations that have signed below see with incredible concern how the lives of young boys, girls and youth have once again been put in danger by the actions of paramilitary groups that, in the midst of the election period, seek to sow terror amongst the population.
According to the information that has been gathered through testimonies of the community, since the first weeks of March, members of a paramilitary group have used pamphlets and lists to send death threats to inhabitants of the municipalities of Jamundí, Yumbo, Buenaventura, Zarzal and Florida, as well as inhabitants from Comunas 12, 14 and 18 of the city of Cali, in the Department of the Valle del Cauca and in the municipality of Puerto Tejada, which lies in the Northern part of the Department of Cauca.
Through this strategy of intimidation the paramilitaries want to seize control of the population by cultivating a state of fear, obligating the inhabitants to remain in their houses at times that vary from 8 to 10 at night, affecting the right to move freely and causing great difficulties to those who work until the late hours of the night.
One of the threats says, “The hour of social cleansing has come and now it is the turn of the sons of bitches, sluts, crack addicts and people with aids, drug dealers, street and apartment thieves, car thieves, kidnappers and young drinkers, we have you identified…Every son of a bitch that we find in a bar after 10 p.m. we will not find innocent, there will be no more thieves causing work for society, beware, because we know who you are…justice or death, you decide…” One of the lists that includes the names and aliases of the threatened youths says, “put the good children to sleep, because we will put the bad ones to sleep.”
In the last week of the month of March 2010, “the paras – Autodefensas,” as they signed the document, threatened to carry out a “social cleansing” against “drug addicts, gays, sluts, snobs, informers, and thieves.” These threats appeared in pamphlets distributed throughout the Comuna 18 in the neighborhoods of Los Chorros, Lourdes, Althos Los Chorros, La Esperanza, La Cruz, Napoles, Las Palmos and the sector of La Torre.
Two weeks later, lists appeared with 30 names and nicknames of various youths of the sector. The lists were posted in visible places in the community, for example: The Little Plaza in the neighborhood of Lourdes and on four corners in the Los Chorros neighborhood, and they were slipped under the doors of the houses of the youths. In some cases they were given directly to family members.
On Monday, April 19, in a place known as “the hole” two men with hoods pursued the 26-year-old youth nicknamed “cuca,” who managed to get away without being shot.
On Thursday, April 22, various youths of the sector were found bathing in the La Chociona river, when armed men dressed in civilian clothing with rubber boots, divided in two groups, arrived at the place. Some came down via the hill and others arrived by road in two cars and various motor bikes; they went down and took the youths out of the river, as well as one man the youths did not know who was bathing in the river with his family. They made them stop in a line, they hit the man and put a gun to his head, while other men pointed guns at the rest; they took the man and said to the youths, “now you follow” and they mentioned the names of the youths, and the assailants introduced themselves as being part of the “Kangri” band. They put the man in the car and took him and they told the youths to go, and to count while they were leaving, and pointed their guns at them.
In the last week, during the day, a black four-door truck with tinted windows has been going around the sector near the houses of the youths whose names appear on the list; a woman gets out of the car to talk on a cellular phone and later gets back in the car, and they go.
Starting at 11 p.m. men with hoods dressed in black, with plastic boots and heavily armed, patrol the entire community and have established a curfew. Pamphlets that have been distributed state that “Beginning at 11 p.m. anyone who is seen in the street will be killed.”
It is very worrying that in spite of the strong military presence in the zone these groups have mobilized themselves with evident ease, threatening the community without any action being taken to stop them or without any protection being offered to the population by the army. In Comuna 18, the Third Brigade of the special Military Police group is present, as well as mobile bases (one location in the las palmas sector – Mobil Base Polvorines- and higher up, in the Cerro de la Teta, the High Mountain Batallion).
The death threats and the intimidation that young boys, girls and youths are the objects of, by illegal groups and especially those called the “Black Eagles,” are a violation of all of the international agreements that the Colombian State has signed, and the abuses violate the promises of protection and the guarantees of rights of young boys, girls and youths.
Based upon the acts that have already been committed, and in the face of the gravity of the situation, the below-signed organizations demand:
From the State authorities:
1. An investigation of all of the acts that cultivate terror, fear and insecurity in these communities.
2. Protection of the threatened communities and urgently of Comuna number 18, that is at the mercy of these illegal groups that have been taking control of the territory without any State-official entity offering protection for the population that lives in these communities.
3. Guarantees of freedom of movement for the population in the territory, since, because of work, many families must travel until the late hours of the night through the Comuna to access their houses, above all in the high parts of Comuna 18.
4. Respect of the “rights of young boys, girls and youths,” as the Colombian Constitution and the Convention of the Rights of the Child signed by the Colombian State both state.
5. That the official entities like the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing –ICBF (in Spanish)-, make public what actions they are going to take against this situation and that they take actions integral to the protection of childhood and youth in these communities.
From the International Community
1. That the Country’s Special Team of the Resolution 1612 regarding childhood and armed conflict documents the afore-mentioned situation and informs the Special Representative of the Secretary General about the gravity of the acts committed by the paramilitaries who continue to threatened the young boys, girls and youths of the communities in the area.
2. That the diplomatic community carries out their duties so that the Colombian government will respond to the urgent situation, guaranteeing the right to life, personal integrity and free movement of the inhabitants.
Bogota, May 6, 2010
Program co-financed “For our territories we create identities”, Terre des Hommes Germany, Colombia Office
Coalition Against the Linking of Young Boys, Girls and Youths to the Armed Conflict
Galeria de la Memoria Tiberio Fernandez, Cali
Banco de Datos, Cali
Modified (Friday, May 7, 2010)
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621
The CUT Condemns and Repudiates the Assassination of Four Educators in the Department of Cordoba
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN's Program Assistant)
The Central Workers' Union of Colombia (CUT) denounces before the national and international community the assassination of four educators affiliated with the Teachers' Association of Cordoba (ADEMACOR).
- On January 28, 2010, Overto Beltran Narvaez was assassinated. Narvaez worked in the Julio Cesar Miranda Educational Institute in the Municipality of San Antero. The professor was intercepted and made to get off of the motorbike he was riding as a passenger only 800 meters from the school where he worked. He was then riddled with bullets by hit men.
- On February 3, 2010, Rigoberto Polo Contreras, licensed in child education, was assassinated at 6:45 a.m. near the educational institution of El Provenir, located in the urban center of the Municipality of Tuchin. The victim was traveling as a passenger on a motorbike taxi when two other motorbikes caught up to him and ordered Contreras to get off of his bike. His murderers then riddled him with bullets on the side of the road.
- On April 21, 2010, in the sub-region of the Manso river, a rural zone of the Municipality of Tierralta in the Department of Cordoba, the lifeless body of teacher Elkin Eduardo Gonzalez, who had been missing for two days, was found in a solitary place with various bullet holes.
- On April 25, 2010, Benito Diaz Alvarez was found in his home in the urban center of the Municipality of San Bernardo del Viento with his throat slit.
The National Executive Committee of CUT expresses its most heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, companions and students of our lost teachers that always extolled social justice and the fight for collective good.
At the same time, we call to national and international human rights organizations, and in general to the entire union movement to reclaim respect for life and justice in the wake of these heinous crimes.
We demand guarantees from the National Government protecting the exercise of union activities and we demand that competent authorities investigate these abominable acts.
Tarsicio Mora Godoy
Domingo Tovar Arrieta
Luis Alberto Vanegas Z.
Director of the Department of Human Rights and Solidarity