The latest news for the struggle for human rights for all in Colombia
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NO to the Diverter
Civic Committee for the Defense of the Guarinó River
(Translated by Steve Cagan, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The Civic Committee for the Defense of the Guarinó River and “No to the Diverter,” in the face of the swarm of functionaries that ISAGEN [an energy-generating company, among other things, connected to the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy—SC] sent to La Dorada to spread the word about the “advantages” of the diverter, on Tuesday September 7, 2010, reiterated their robust opposition to diverting part of the river’s flow. The Committee’s final conclusion was that the water that runs off through the tunnel will definitely be gone. In that way, the water reserve needed to maintain the water table levels, or the underground water that is the reserve for droughts, located downstream from the diversion tunnel will be lost forever. On the other hand, more water will end up in the veredas [small rural communities—SC] already affected by their location downstream from the Amaní dam of the Miel 1 Hydroelectric Center. It will flood them more continuously, affecting their crops, fishing, tourism, recreation, etc
We pointed out that La Dorada and the region is a zone in which classic and hemorrhagic dengue fever are chronic. Permanently lowering the volumn of the Guarinó River will reduce the speed of flow; puddles will form and the habitat for the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which has already caused several deaths, will expand. Neither has it been determined that it will not affect the municipal aqueduct. The fishermen of the Charca know that the waterfalls that provide it with oxygen come from the Guarinó. Even now during a rainy period and without energy being generated, the Guarinó is just a thin sheet of water. The condition of several rivers can be seen from the bridges between Honda and La Dorada.
Among other people, council members, office secretaries, members of COMCHIDOR [Consejo Municipal de Cuencas Hidrográficas de La Dorada y la Región- Municipal Council of Watersheds of la Dorada and the Region—SC], fisherman, campesinos, members of the “Juntas de Acción Social” [Social Action Boards, governing bodies of the barrios—SC] and educators attended. The majority came from the urban district of La Dorada, but there were people from the rural area as well, including, in addition to those from La Charca de Guarinocito and Buenavista, people from Victoria and Berlin, who also consider themselves to be affected, some by the diversion of the Guarinó, and others because water springs have already begun to dry up due to the construction projects of the Manso diverter.
For the members of the Committee, the most aberrant aspect is that it was the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, which is charged with protecting our surroundings, that granted the licenses to divert the Manso and Guarinó Rivers. We ratify our opposition to the diverter of the rivers, because it endangers our health and quality of life, agriculture, cattle raising, fishing, biodiversity, the right to a healthful environment, etc.
In La Dorada we have an excess of sun and a shortage of potable water. Why does ISAGEN not investigate and look for sources of energy that are less damaging to the planet and its inhabitants?
For the defense of the water, biodiversity and cultures, not one river more for the hydroelectric plants.
Electricity has substitute sources—it can be obtained in many ways. But not water!
Our struggle goes on. Members of the Civic Committee who attended the event:
Herenia Polania Pardo
La Dorada, September 10, 2010.
Death Threats Against Ms. Judith Mojica Maldonado, Director of the Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez (CCALP) in Bucaramanga, Department of Santander.
(Translated by Leo Torres, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
COL 013 / 0810 / OBS 098
Assault / Death threats
August 10, 2010
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Colombia.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has received, with concern, information from reliable sources about the assault against Ms. Judith Mojica Maldonado, Director of the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Pérez (CCALP) in Bucaramanga, Department of Santander.
According to information received on August 4, 2010 at 4:40 p.m., two gunmen on a motorcycle assaulted Ms. Maldonado when she was getting out of her vehicle in front of her office in the city of Bucaramanga. The men beat her and said, "you are asking to be killed, bastard." Finally they took her purse with documents and communication equipment. According to the same information, on the same day at 2:00 p.m., Ms. Judith Maldonado and Ms. Julia Adriana Cortes, also CCALP manager, were followed by two men on a motorcycle. These facts were duly reported to the Criminal Investigation Section (SIJIN).
CCALP members have been victims of threats and harassment for several years because of the organization’s work denouncing human rights violations. The CCALP provides support and legal advice to victims of forced displacement and to the process of defending the territory of the indigenous community “Motil Bari” and the Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT), among others, against the interests of extractive companies operating in Catatumbo, one of the hardest hit regions by the social and political violence in the country.
For example, on March 12, 2010, Ms. Judith Mojica Maldonado received a message from the paramilitary group "Aguilas Negras” (Black Eagles) in her voice mailbox: "You got into a problem, a problem you will not slip away from. We will place a bomb; we will place one and you will be the culprits. You went into the community and we will not allow you to do that anymore. You went into where you should not. We say, a bomb and you are to blame. Hey Judith, your organization went into and ruined the plans, the plans that the Black Eagles had against them. You're going to pay for it. You're going to pay for it dearly.”
On April 13, 2009, the video "Catatumbo in focus," by ASCAMCAT was altered by people who are still unknown. The ten-minute video, posted on www.youtube.com, presenting the problems of the region and denouncing the interest of mining companies in the area, particularly coal companies and the crimes committed by paramilitaries and extrajudicial executions attributed to the security forces, was converted into a five-minute video entitled "Catatumbo targeted by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)" accusing the organizations that accompany the process of defending the territory of supporting subversive groups. This video was also posted on youtube website by a group called "ColombiasinPF."
In addition, on 1 April 2009, CCALP had detected the existence of “ghost mail” in the inbox of the organization’s email, a program capable of removing and replacing the mail received with blank emails, although the emails may still be visible in the inbox. We worry not only about the ability to extract and modify the contents of the inbox, but also about the threat that comes from including e-mails that can be used to compromise the work of the organization. Additionally, on March 31, 2009, a laptop, a digital recorder, a digital camera, an electronic appointment book, and a keyboard were taken from the same place where Ms. Judith Mojica Maldonado was staying in the town of Arauca. These elements contain data from eight years of work related to the fight against impunity, homeland defense and strengthening of social organizations.
All these facts, and previous threats, have been duly reported to the authorities. However, investigations thus far have not yielded results. Moreover, CCALP is one of the regional organizations listed in the folders of illegal intelligence activities conducted by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS).
The Observatory condemns the attack against Ms. Maldonado and expresses its serious concern regarding her physical and psychological integrity, as well as that of the other members of CCALP. The Centre makes calls on the Colombian authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment against human rights defenders in Colombia, and ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and by the international covenants and conventions ratified by Colombia.
Please write to the authorities urging them that Colombia:
I. Immediately adopt the most appropriate measures to ensure the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Judith Maldonado Mojica and Julia Adriana Figueroa Cortes and other members of CCALP, as well as of all human rights defenders in Colombia;
II. Conduct an independent, prompt, thorough and impartial investigation on the above facts in order to identify those responsible, bring them before a competent, independent, fair and impartial court and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
III. Ensure an end to all kinds of threats and harassment - including judicial - against Ms. Judith Maldonado Mojica and Julia Adriana Figueroa Cortes, CCALP and general human rights defenders in Colombia;
IV. Ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of the UN, in particular as regards the protection of the right of everyone "individually or collectively, to promote and ensure the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels "(Article 1) as well as to the State's duty to ensure "the protection of everyone, individually or collectively, against any violence, threats, retaliation, discrimination, negative in fact or in law, pressure or any other arbitrary action of the legitimate exercise of the rights enumerated in this Declaration" (Art.12.2);
V. In general, guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international standards of human rights ratified by Colombia.
S.E. Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic, Carrera 8 # 7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Santa Fe de Bogota. Fax: + 57 1 566 20 71
Mr. Angelino Garzón, Vice President of the Republic Tels: +57 1 334 45 07, +573772 January 1930. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo, Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá. Fax: + 571 640 0491, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Germain Vargas Lleras, Ministry of Interior and Justice, Carrera 8 No. 13-31 4th floor. Tels: 57.1.4443100 Ext 2410 Fax: +57 1 2827440 E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Guillermo Mendoza Diago (manager), Attorney General's Office, Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá. Fax: +571 570 2000, +571 414 90 00 extension 1113, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado, Attorney General's Office, Cra 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá. Fax: +57 1 342 97 23, + 571 284 79 49 Fax: +571 342 9723, E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Rodrigo Rivera, Minister of Defense, Avenida El Dorado Carrera 52 CAN, Bogotá. Fax: +220.127.116.11.74, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations in Geneva. Chemin du Champ d'Anier, 17-19, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland. FAX: + 41 22 791 07 87, E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo, diplomatic mission in Brussels: FAX: +32.2.646.54.91
Please also write to the embassies of Colombia in their respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, August 10, 2010.
Please inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a joint program of FIDH and OMCT, is aimed at the protection of human rights defenders, victims of rape and to providing concrete support. Human Rights Prize of the French Republic, 1998.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809.49.39 / 809.49.29
· Tel and fax FIDH: (+33 1) 43 55.25.18 / 4355.18.80
Inspector General Limits Prosecutor
August 16th, 2010 at 11:00 pm
(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
IN A HISTORIC DECISION in 2006, the Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in three circumstances: rape, endangerment of the mother's health, and fetal malformation.
The decision set forth norms to guarantee the safety and accessibility of abortions. Three years later these norms remain generally unregulated, while the Court declares that school lectures on women's sexual and reproductive rights are a necessity. These are human rights, along with many others; as such, they form the foundation of all democratic states.
Despite this, the Inspector General of the Nation, Alejandro Ordóñez, has stated that the Court has overstepped its jurisdiction by adjudicating these rights. He added that such a decision would not only expose students to a complex problematic, but would also lead to its increased practice. This is undoubtedly an unusual argument. The complexity of this issue lies in the convergence of various rights; if the abuse of one results in its elimination, we end up with nothing. Moreover it is surprising that – after living in an enlightened period – schools attempt to ignore constitutional rights, whatever they may be.
Although the Inspector General's petition to nullify these rights was rejected, the episode leaves a bitter taste: it reflects a poor management of power, which is currently being denounced internationally. On July 8, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a letter from the Reproductive Rights Center in New York asking that she reconsider the donation from the United States that helps promote rights development in Colombia, taking into account that the Inspector General administers the 2.9 million dollars sent annually by USAID.
In the letter, Nancy Nothop, president of the organization, stated that the current Inspector General does not utilize high ranking officials to promote human rights but instead takes steps which actually undermine recently adopted rights. Women's Link Worldwide, an international organization that promotes gender equality and defends legislation upholding women's rights, supports the New York Center. In a press release, Nothop lamented the deterioration of these rights and shared her hopes that the Secretary of State would address the issue in her visit. Instead in her speech, Clinton put limits on Plan Colombia and Free Trade.
One fact remains clear: the government mismanagement that has given the Inspector General's office [too much] power is widely acknowledged. One example is the nomination of Ylva Myriam Hoyos for Inspector General for the defense of the rights of children, adolescents, and the family: she openly opposes the decriminalization of abortion. Reports from the New York Center state that Hoyos founded the Colombia Future Network, an organization that on numerous occasions has successfully blocked constitutional norms that permit women's access to abortion procedures.
We are forced to ask: what is the sense in appointing a rights advocate who seeks only to violate that right?
COPYRIGHT © 2010
Complete or partial reproduction or translation to any language is prohibited without written permission by the author.
All rights reserved 2010 EL ESPECTADOR
The Movement for Access to Water as a Human Right Continues!
Manifesto to Colombian Citizens, September 9, 2010
(Translated by Nancy Beiter, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Like the rivers which, sooner or later, find their way to the sea, we continue to move our efforts to pass a referendum downstream in spite of the rocks thrown in our path by the opposition... After the slam that the party of Uribe gave our referendum in Congress, refusing to recognize and denying the original text, at the Ninth Assembly of the National Committee for the Defense of Water and Life (CNDAQV) we reiterated our concerns to the new government and we called on all Colombians to continue the struggle for the fundamental right to potable water. We must recognize the importance of this movement, using the right to water as a guiding principle to move us toward a renewal of the public agenda in this country so troubled by a political, humanitarian and environmental crisis such as we have rarely seen in this nation.
The power of our movement, which has not only the legitimacy of public opinion expressed through more than two million signatures, but also the strength of community, social and political efforts in a permanent common search to solve the problem of access to potable water. We want to stop a development model that destroys ecosystems vital to water cycles, the páramos (unique mountain ecosystems found between 3000 to 5000 meters above sea level), forests, rivers and wetlands, and rural areas, inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombians. We have a public responsibility to defend new goals which may contribute to a renewal of a national politics thirsty for the ideas we propose. Our decision is reinforced by the recent declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations that recognizes the essential right to access to water and sanitation. We note the paradox that while the Colombian government opposes our referendum that enshrines this right, the Colombia delegation to the UN voted in favor of the declaration supporting it. This highlights the demagoguery used by the new government. Therefore, we invite everyone to come together to continue the movement and to help us expand, deepen and renew the following objectives:
1. The water movement carries with it enormous potential to contribute to the rebuilding of social networks of active and critical citizens, as well as the discourses, forms of struggle and public agendas of social and political transformation, after so many years of systematic violence against alternative forms of expression and against the social groups that embody the diversity of this country. With its ideas and with its true diversity, the movement for water expresses the need and, at the same time, embodies the possibility for a profound transformation of the dominant political and economic structures, whose environmental and social decrepitude is revealed by the absurd way in which they are benefiting and profiting from the devastation naturally arising from lawlessness and social injustice, indignity and violence, which have degraded national politics through the corrupt practices linked to the privatization and the commoditization of the public and common good.
2. The national electoral process illustrated the difficulties, but also the strengths, of a trend tilting the country toward the right. This rightward trend has been imposed upon us with blood and fire, co-opting thousands of citizens by depicting the country's needs in the most extreme and naïve way and, prompted by a neoliberal world view, creating a complex separation between the social, the economic and the political. This view, colored by a pragmatic outlook, a tolerance of mischief and shortsightedness typical of mafia-style groups, debases the concept of the public good. That's why the movement for water represents an opportunity to advance the search for new avenues for civic and collective democratic action and the potential to renew political and social agendas and to develop new ways to address those agendas.
3. The platform of the proposed referendum uses the political heritage of the movement, not only for its content (see box at end), but also for its the legitimacy that has been lent to it by more than two million citizen nationwide. This is no small thing in an environment riddled with illegitimacy and it provides us with political capital upon which to build. In this sense, the proposals in the Referendum on Water must become a program for a struggle that promotes and develops the entire country, while municipal and departmental committees become the stage for coordination of multiple social struggles that, linked to water issues, make the proposals of the Referendum a realit.
4. We propose to define a strategic vision of the Movement for Water based on the following:
a. The ratification of the proposals for the country that were in the referendum, making its key ideas a force within the construction of a citizens' social movement, tand the idea of applying themn nationally, regional and locally in order to build comprehensive public agendas which will serve as alternatives to the models of export development, free trade, agribusiness and the extraction of natural resources, among other aspects of the current dominant political and economic discourse.
b. The continuance of the dynamic convergence of the struggles over water use, including the prevention of water diversions, the misuse of water by agribusiness, the damming of rivers, the fight against the use of large-scale mining as a basis for our development and all forms of privatization, emphasizing the protection of the páramos, and the importance of water cycles in the development national and regional nutritional sovereignty, security and autonomy, as well as other fundamental issues.
c. A political agreement to continue together, united in this social movement centered around the above two points and a joint work plan, based on the formal declaration of the start of this national movement's third stage with several lines of action:
1) The continuity of the organizational structures that have been brewing in the movement, such as the National Committee in Defense of Water and Life (CNDAV) the territorial, departmental and municipal committees, the groups building citizen initiatives, etc. and the call for joint events and workshops at the national, regional and local levels.
2) A national information and communication campaign to protest the blocking of a participatory democracy and which has expressed by the open and blatant disregard for the will of more than two million people, by a Congress comprised of an illegitimate parliamentary majority whose members have been accused of various crimes.
3) A national campaign and regional struggles against departmental plans for water which further privatization and exclusion from access to drinking water.
4) An impetus to the process of organiing community water systems throughout the country.
5) Given the refusal of the National Registry of Civil Status to authorize our collecting additional signatures that would have allowed the promotion of the referendum in accordance with the provisions of Law 134 of 94, we invite everyone to propose alternative symbolic forms of national and/or regional expressions of the support of the Colombian people for the referendum proposals. The definition of these forms of expression of our collective would be a subject of the next national assembly of the movement.
6) To try to affect wherever and however in the next departmental and municipal plans of development and the revision of planning and zoning schemes to conform to the proposals of the referendum.
7) The continuation of legal proceedings (guardianships, claims, inquiries, etc.), which are ongoing or which are yet to be brought.
JOY, FRIENDS OF THE WATER, JOY, THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD AND AWAITS US. THE DROP OF WATER THAT PERSISTS PIERCES THE HARDEST STONES AND OPENS THE PASSAGE OF OUR FRUITFUL RIVERS! LONG LIVE THE MOVEMENT OF THE WATER THAT ROCKS OUR HOPE ON ITS WAVES.
SIGNED: THE COMMITTEE OF PROMOTERS OF THE REFERENDUM FOR WATER, THE ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONS WHO ARE PART OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE IN DEFENSE OF WATER AND OF LIFE, AND ALL THE ORGANIZATIONS AND PEOPLE WHO WANT TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT FOR WATER.
Violence Against Women Increases in the Department of Cauca
Network for Life and Human Rights in Cauca
CIMA -- CRIC -- ANUC UR -- CODESCO -- MCC
(Translated by Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Translator)
All organizations belonging to the Network for Life and Human Rights in Cauca are sounding the alarm and condemning the increase of violence against women this year in a state where armed conflict is getting worse, militarization of the territories is growing and the presence and pressure of legal and illegal armed groups in the communities is deepening.
The Network for Life and Human Rights has been informed of a new act of violence against women. A community mother [a woman who cares for children who no longer live with their families, but in a government home] and leader in the district of El Hoyo in the municipality of El Tambo, VICTORIA EUGENIA MOSQUERA MOSQUERA, 35 years old, mother of three sons and one daughter, all minors, was brutally assassinated by unknown assailants, who sexually violated and tortured her. They left her with about 25 wounds from a machete and beheaded her. The lifeless body of Victoria Eugenia, wrapped in black bags, was found by a countryman from the area on September 12, 2010.
The above-described event occurred in an African-American community that has been working on their Community Council charter and has registered complaints on several occasions about the social and ecological impact of large-scale mining in their region and the presence of armed groups.
The data recorded by the Network's Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Observatory, show that 30 women have been assassinated this year. The majority of the bodies show signs of torture and sexual violence. One was assassinated by the National Colombian Army; 4 were victims of confrontations among armed groups; 23 were killed by hired assassins and in gang fights, and 2 died at the hands of partners. Compared with those recorded in 2009, these numbers show an increase of 43%.
Also this year they recorded the sexual violation by a paramilitary of a young girl from a rural area who was subsequently threatened and displaced. There were four threats against the life and personal safety of women leaders: 1 by the FARC, 1 by the group "Los Rastrojos " [a narco-paramilitary group], and 2 by unidentified perpetrators. There have also been collective threats, issued by the Central Bloc of the Black Eagles [paramilitaries], on victims belonging to the Association of Women Miners of Palo Blanco, and the women's groups "Country Flower" of Balsa and "The Orchids of Cascajero" of the municipality of Buenos Aires.
This situation in which rural and urban women and underage girls live makes clear that the degradation of armed conflict exacerbates violence toward women. For this reason, the Network calls upon the state and national governments and institutions charged with guarding human rights and women's rights to assume their responsibilities and to implement Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council for the protection of women in areas of armed conflict.
Likewise, the Network calls upon national and international human rights organizations that work to defend the human rights of women, to declare their opposition to these events and to continue monitoring the situation in which women live in the department of Cauca.
Popayan, September, 14, 2010
-Weaving Together Life and Dignity for the Cauca Region
*CIMA - Center for the Unity of the Colombian Massif (Centro de Integracion del Macizo Colombiano)
CRIC - Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (Consejo Regional Indigena del Cauca)
ANUC U.R. - National Farmworkers' Association Unity and Reconstruction (Asociacion Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos Unidad y Reconstruccion)
CODESCO - Association of the Dispossessed of Cauca (Corporacion de Destechados del Cauca)
MCC - Farmworkers' Movement of Cajibio (Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio)
The destruction of lives continues in our territory
(Translated by Rowan Viva, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
“Has Colonel Rojas forgotten that his troops are constantly patrolling the area and have a checkpoint a short distance from where the event occurred? Has he also forgotten that the presence of troops in our villages has led to numerous murders and hundreds of other crimes against life and liberty?”
Just four days after reporting the murder of Alvaro Montoya, the President of the village of San José de Apartadó’s Community Action Board, we have to report a new murder to the country and to the world, this one, it appears, perpetrated by members of the FARC:
On Monday August 16, 2010, at 12:00 pm, men who were wearing camouflage outfits and carrying rifles, and who were identified as members of the FARC, came to the house of NELLY VARGAS, 32, on the Mulatos-Cabecera path. They took her from her home and brought her to a place about ten minutes away, where they murdered her. Nelly’s parents as well as her cousins are members of our Peace Community. She leaves behind three orphaned children, ages 12, 7 and 2, who will be welcomed and provided for by our community.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 17, 2010, Colonel Germain Rojas, commander of the Voltígeros Battalion of the 17th Brigade, attributed responsibility for the events recorded to our peace community, stating that, by not allowing the presence of security forces, we are responsible for these events. He had earlier said that Alvaro Montoya was killed in front of our settlement of San Josesito, then said that the event had occurred 50 meters from it and that the lack of troops at the scene was what made it possible. Has Colonel Rojas forgotten that his troops are constantly patrolling the area and have a checkpoint a short distance from where the event occurred? Has he also forgotten that the presence of the troops in our villages has caused many hundreds of murders and other crimes against life and liberty?
Once again, lies, defamation and slander are directed at us with the intention of causing maximum damage to us when we have no way to defend ourselves. The crimes of other actors are also used to create new blackmail and threats. Once again, we are surprised and indignant that Col. Rojas’s superiors will allow all sorts of outrages to be perpetrated against us without sanctioning him, and that the supervisory bodies of the state protect him with scandalous impunity.
Our Community condemns Nelly’s murder and renews its call to the insurgency not to use methods prohibited under the humanitarian law which governs armed conflict everywhere in the world.
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
August 17, 2010
By Laura Gil
(Translated by Susan Tritten, CSN volunteer translator)
“The door to dialogue is not locked,” said Juan Manuel Santos. In spite of the prudence of his words, a marked change in tone (no less than that of his inauguration), he left the impression that the door now was opening.
Consequently, there was reason for hope in the annual meeting of the Assembly for Peace, a coalition of NGOs whose objective is to promote peace through citizen diplomacy.
However we are far from including a negotiated solution to the conflict on the national agenda. The time has arrived for civil society organizations to abandon the strategy of confrontation with the government when the issue is peace. They need to take steps that permit President Santos to keep the possibility of dialogue on the table.
The final goal of legitimatizing a negotiated solution to the conflict can only come from the citizens. Uribism resulted from frustration with Caguan and today negotiation with illegal armed groups continues to be rejected by Colombians.
National public acceptance is necessary. What Colombia needs least of all is one more process arranged behind the people’s backs such as was seen in paramilitary negotiations, which still today remains relatively private. This has been seen before with paramilitary negotiations, much of which remains relatively unknown/where many details remain unknown.
The legitimization of dialogue will occur through the continued demands of civil society organizations on the FARC. The words of “Alfonso Cano” are not sufficient enough to demonstrate the political will of the guerrillas. W e need concrete actions such as freedom for all those who have been kidnapped, renunciation of land mines, and the release of minors fighting in their ranks. No government is going towill risk political capital in a rapprochement ifin approaching FARC if does not produce acts of peace are not produced.
The legitimization of dialogue will come about through the creation of a broad movement that unites people from the full political spectrum. Peace cannot continue being to be a banner waved only by the left. We have to quit mixing apples and oranges. If we try to use the peace movement to campaign against free trade agreements or for environmental reform, it will continue to be marginal. However worthy many causes may be, our purpose is to unite for peace and not to exclude anyone.
The legitimization of dialogue requires greaterrequires greater diversification of spokespersons from the international community. The times for of allies of negotiation, as customary as Castro or as divisive as Chavez, is over. In the future they may perhaps play a role but, currently they only polarize the debate more. To insist upon their involvement against the wishes of the government becomes counterproductive.
The Colombian peace movement cannot continue to talk only with those who are already supporters in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. A partner as committed as U.S. Democratic Representative Jim McGovern is an extreme example. The challenge lies in better persuading institutions and political leaders to influence their own governments. It is only in this way that we can get Washington and other capitals to adopt a discourse of peace. All this takes time and requires diplomacy. Pressuring the government to make a quick peace offer risks the future of negotiation; it is better to proceed slowly but surely.
Meanwhile, we can encourage scenarios conducive to the search of negotiated peace and dynamic dialogue. The roundtable discussion on land, promoted by Gustavo Petro, is one of the most important and would be even more so a truth commission on land dispossession was established along with it.
THE END OF THE URIBE REGIME
By Germán Uribe
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
The time has come to give a “democratic” burial to the “anything goes” of “democratic security”, “investor confidence”, and “social cohesion”.
If Silvio Berlusconi could call me a “hero” the way he recently called Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe Vélez, frankly I would feel that that man, dissolute and a neofascist, was trying to do me harm. Indeed! If there are dangerous “encomiums”, how even more dangerous would be the one who collects them with pride. And that is what happened not long ago with Uribe. Of the more than a few decorations, awards, and tributes, all of which came from the extreme right or from those who admired the paramilitaries, the only label missing was “hero” as Berlusconi described him in order to say farewell with all “honors” to his eight disastrous years of government.
But let’s get to the point. Finally, with the change of government this August 7, came the final hour of the era of “the short cut” –the idea that anything can be done, and the method doesn’t matter. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, informed by history, will surely label this era a “long dark night” when in Colombia, between 2001 and 2010, there were more deaths, more bloodshed, more corruption, more fear, less social investment, more riches for the rich and more international isolation than perhaps in any other epoch in our national life.
His last hour has arrived and the time is here for responses to the period in which any difference with the government converted the dissenter, automatically or by an expedited judicial proceeding emanating from the governing Uribism, or by the arrogant speech of Uribe himself, into an insurgent, a conspirator, a bandit, a narcoterrorist and an enemy of the Fatherland. Not an enemy of Uribe or of his government. No. A traitor to the Fatherland, because Uribe was the Fatherland. And if the criticism from the Presidents of Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Ecuador, was literally and exclusively of him, he and his courtiers immediately converted them into infamous attacks on “the Colombian people”. Because Uribe was the people. He was all of Colombia: a nation, a government, a people, a destiny.
There arrived at last his final hour, the hour of the Last Rites, Amen to the time to give a “democratic” burial to the “anything goes” of “Democratic Security”, to “investor confidence” and to “social cohesion”, three expressions whose Uribist application can be summed up as
A war without quarter against the FARC-EP, with its purpose and genesis of pure personal vengeance and a certain smell of exclusive attention, such as you find, let’s say, with “room service” in a hotel, for the large landowners’ oligarchy and to the detriment of the safety of citizens in the towns and cities abandoned to common criminals. A war with the following ingredients: a person who preached to the paramilitaries (the same ones that cut people in pieces, along with the displacements, the chain saws and the common graves) a “sermon” called “Why it’s OK to kill communists” was his choice to be Assistant Director of his government’s Organization for Intelligence and State Security, an agency attached to the Executive Office, receiving orders only from the head of state.
This is not now considered to be the neo-liberal economic opening of the Cesar Gaviria Trujillo type. Instead, up front and without shame, it is the delivery of our sovereignty and our riches to foreign capital. Come on over, gentlemen and ask for what you want because what you want is what we will give you. How can we forget your meeting with Carlos Slim, that insatiable octopus of postmodern capitalism, when you offered him, at a moderate price, the chance to pocket Telecom, a gigantic telecommunications business that belongs to all Colombians? Fortunately, the then-Comptroller General of this republic put a stop to that. And according to the society pages, that presidential “gift” was offered while the dessert was being served at a Babylon-like dinner in the Presidential Palace, while a private jet waited with motors running for the distinguished exponent of Forbes Magazine. He only came for a few hours to express his support for the policy of “investor confidence”.
To say today that the famous labor reform, when, to give even more benefits, and more, and more to the business class, which has always rejoiced in having placed and kept him in power, he withdrew from the workers the overtime and night and Sunday extra pay, with the deceit that this would broaden the worker base and create thousands of new jobs that would benefit them. Not one single significant new job was created, but, on the contrary, there has been a deterioration in the quality of life for workers and their families such as has never been seen before. Not to speak of the dozens and dozens of trade unionists who have been murdered during his term of office.
Fortunately Social Cohesion is also over with. It seems like a joke coming from a technocrat, but coming from his mouth, “Social Cohesion” is no more nor less than the up to now unquantified drama experienced by the people, especially Colombia’s farmers, during the eight years of his government. The money that was required for that was divided among the military, so that they could liquidate the FARC, and among the rich so that they would realize the splendor of their gratitude and loyalty.
This is the Uribe that is leaving and this is the battered country that he leaves. More than “disorganized”, as one former Colombian president called him, he was almost morally insolvent and almost not viable socially.
As the International Criminal Court appears now to be looking at Colombia, may God in the same way look upon this mistreated country, and protect us from the possibility that, beginning on August 7, the same Uribe will appear in another’s body.
(Translated by Marla Greenwald, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Bogotá August 27th, 2010
For public opinion-
Through this release we denounce and seek support for the difficult situation affecting the organized recyclers in the Recyclers Association of
Bogota (ARB) and its leaders as a result of [or “because of”—SC] their attempts to enforce the rights of those excluded from bidding on the Doña
Juana landfill operation, the official final destination for Bogota waste removal.
The organized recycling community has won the right to participate in the public system for getting financial benefit from the city’s waste, thanks to
determined action on the part of its leaders. Through legal measures the community leaders have countered the trend towards privatization of waste
management and the collateral exclusion of the recycling community that has been consolidated through public policy in the region.
This privatization has been denounced widely on the part of the ARB and supportive agencies, in particular in the article “Continuity or
Disenchantment?” (“¿Continuidad o Desembrujo?”) in the series “The Enchantment” (“El Embrujo”), published in 2009 by the Colombian Platform for
Democratic Human Rights and Development (Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos Democracia y Desarrollo).
Today a new chapter of exclusion is being written by the district administration in charge, the Special Administrative Unit of Public Services
(la Unidad Administrativa Especial de Servicios Públicos, UAEPS). Despite the requirement of the Constitutional Court to include components, criteria,
and mechanisms in bidding on operations of the Bogota landfill in order to ensure sustainable incorporation—and coverage-- of recyclers in the business
of getting financial value from waste, the UAESP has loosely interpreted the law and generated symbolic and derisory modes of inclusion without
mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of said inclusion and without respecting the recycler participation percentages established by the high
court. Worse still, the director of the UAEPS has initiated a campaign to discredit the ARB, its work and its legitimacy as representative of the
recyclers’ guild, claiming that the ARB is comprised of a small group of recyclers seeking to benefit themselves. These accusations have already
triggered aggression and threats against ARB leaders. The UAESP director forgets that the ARB unites 23 recycling organizations that boast 2,300
members making it the second-most important entity representing organized recyclers in the country.
We kindly ask for your support and solidarity in this fight to defend the rights of recyclers and the struggle for real and sustainable inclusion for
the recycling community in future waste management. Finally, we want to warn against the negative effects that the UAESP actions may bring for the
leaders of the recycling community who, as they have demonstrated in past actions, have done nothing other than give voice to the cause defending the
18,000 families in Bogota and 250,000 recyclers nation-wide.
We ask that letters of support be sent to the following email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate your support in this struggle for justice.
Enda A.L., National Coordination Entity of the Colombian Platform for
Democratic Human Rights and Development
Campaign Rejects Declaration from President Uribe in La Macarena Public Hearing
(Translated by Emily Ellis, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Communications Campaign- July 29, 2010
The national and international campaign, "For the Right to Defend Human Rights in Colombia", vigorously rejects the declarations of the president of the republic, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, about the public hearing held on the past 22 of July in the town hall of Macarena, in the department of Meta under the motto " Let's tell the truth." The hearing was convened by Senator Gloria Inéz Ramírez, member of the Human Rights, Peace and International Humanitarian Rights Commission of the nation's senate and numerous social organizations, unions and national and international human rights organizations.
President Uribe, on a completed intervention before stationed troops at the military base in Macarena, said two days after the mission: "Now terrorism-let's hope the nation knows this-wants to set the trap of stopping this partial victory, through a combination of forms of struggle...Today terrorism, through representatives, is proposing peace to refresh and recuperate in order to prolong final victory...Terrorism, in a combination of forms of struggle, while through some representatives proposes peace, through other representatives comes here to Macarena to look to discredit law enforcement and accuse them of human rights violations...We cannot fall into the traps of terrorism. Stay strong!"
These again put at high risk the lives and physical and moral integrity of national and international delegates that in an approximate number of 1300 people, participated in the public hearing in La Macarena; In addition to forming a new act of stigmatization and irresponsible declaration on the part of primary authority of the country against the national human rights defenders, leaders of agrarian and farming communities in the departments of Caquetá, Meta, and Guaviare; as well as the six members of European Parliament (Ana Gomes, Richard Howitt, Ole Christensen, Bernd Lange, Evelyn Regner, Gianni Vattimo), the three members of British Parliament (Eric Joyce, Tony Lloyd and Madeleine Moon), and numerous union leaders of Europe and the United States (Christine Blower, Stephen Cavalier, Benjamin Davis, Jeremy Dear, Billy Hayes, Jack O'Connor, Yrki Raina, Alan Ritchie, John Smith, Peter Waldorff, Spencer Wood, Matt Wrack).*
Our campaign, was part of the aforementioned hearing and clarifies that it is not part of mainstream politics or armed force, and therefore, demands the respect on the part of the President for our role in the protection of the human rights supporters.
From the campaign, we are making a call to all the organizations and assigned people so that they demonstrate against this new act of aggression and public stigmatization that affects the legal and legitimate practice of defending human rights in Colombia.
Tell Georgetown University you disagree with this controversial appointment
Colombia's ex- president Alvaro Uribe-Velez has been invited by Georgetown University in Washington D. C. to teach in that university's Edmond A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. There are many reasons why this invitation is a mistake and a very bad idea. As President of Colombia Uribe was responsible for a great deal of violence and corruption. His actions and those of his government include the following:
1. His government presided over the murder of thousands of innocent non-combatants, many of them kidnapped and later killed by the military and presented as "guerrillas killed in combat." This phenomenon became known as "false positives", a "positive" being Colombian military lingo for a killed guerrilla. When a common grave with some 2,000 bodies was discovered next to a military base in the town of Macarena, Uribe's response was to praise the military—likely responsible for these deaths---and criticize the human rights workers who brought the mass grave's existence to light.
2. Uribe has a long history of support for paramilitary forces, illegal under Colombian law, and his political coalition is composed of many figures with paramilitary ties. High-ranking advisors of President Uribe even received a known paramilitary hitman in the Presidential Palace, almost certainly with Uribe's knowledge and approval.
3. As President, Alvaro Uribe oversaw illegal wiretapping of Supreme Court Justices and opposition political leaders, apparently for his own personal political reasons. In fact, he ran the DAS (Colombia's FBI) as a personal political tool and the agency became involved in all manner of illegal activities, including committing homicides.
4. In order to win re-election as President in 2006, Uribe, through high-ranking members of his Presidential staff, successfully bribed a Colombian Congresswoman to change her vote to one in favor of his re-election.
5. Uribe severely criticized U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia Michael Fruhling, who worked vigorously to protect human rights, and later complained about U.N. investigator Philip Alston, when he examined the "false positives" occurrences.
6. President Uribe presided over a government whose policies, particularly failure to control paramilitary violence in the countryside, led to the displacement of millions of people, bringing Colombia to the point of having the second largest internally displaced population in the world, 4.5 million people, nearly 10% of the country's inhabitants.
Some leading Jesuits have severely criticized Uribe's appointment by Georgetown, a Jesuit university.
See Javier Giraldo S.J.'s letter to Father John Dear S. J. http://colombiasupport.blogspot.com/2010/09/javier-giraldos-letter-to-john-dear-on.html
Please call or send a letter to Georgetown President Dr John DeGioia. Please call and write to
Georgetown Universisty President
Dr. John DeGioia,
Office of the President, Georgetown University, 37th and O Sts., NW
Washington, DC 20057
and ask him to rescind this appointment and not allow Uribe to teach at Georgetown.
Helpful links to read :
Journalist Fernando Garavito's letter to Georgetown University President http://colombiasupport.blogspot.com/2010/09/journalist-fernando-garavitos-letter-to.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=0yP9buLdQ4wC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=masacre+El+Aro+Ituango+Francisco+Villalba&source=bl&ots=_uOpKR7gBA&sig=C0sTLbUimjbebrWd47D7X3lncjM&hl=en&ei=OdR_TOCRPIH6lweup5myDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDsQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q&f=false <http://books.google.com/books?id=0yP9buLdQ4wC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=masacre+El+Aro+Ituango+Francisco+Villalba&source=bl&ots=_uOpKR7gBA&sig=C0sTLbUimjbebrWd47D7X3lncjM&hl=en&ei=OdR_TOCRPIH6lweup5myDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDsQ6AEwCDgK#v> <http://books.google.com/books?id=0yP9buLdQ4wC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=masacre+El+Aro+Ituango+Francisco+Villalba&source=bl&ots=_uOpKR7gBA&sig=C0sTLbUimjbebrWd47D7X3lncjM&hl=en&ei=OdR_TOCRPIH6lweup5myDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDsQ6AEwCDgK#v>
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Fax: (608) 255-6621
Javier Giraldo's letter to John Dear on Georgetown's appointment of Alvaro Uribe
Father John Dear S.J. has authorized Colombia Support Network to make public this letter to him from leading Colombian Jesuit Javier Giraldo S.J.
( Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
My Dear John:
I send you brotherly and loving greetings.
I write to you with great concern regarding the fact that Georgetown, our Jesuit University, has hired the outgoing president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez as a professor. I am constantly receiving messages from individuals and groups who have suffered enormously during his term as president. They are protesting and questioning the mind-set of our Company, or its lack of ethical judgment in making a decision of this kind.
It is possible that decision makers at Georgetown have received positive appraisals from Colombians in high political or economic positions, but it is difficult to ignore, at least, the intense moral disagreements aroused by his government and the investigations and sanctions imposed by international organizations that try to protect human dignity. The mere fact that, during his political career, while he was governor of Antioquia Province (1995-1997) he founded and protected so many paramilitary groups, known euphemistically as “Convivir” (“Live Together”), who murdered and “disappeared” thousands of people and displaced multitudes, committing many other atrocities, that alone would imply a need for moral censure before entrusting him with any responsibility in the future.
But not only did he continue to sponsor those paramilitary groups, but he defended them and he perfected them into a new pattern of legalized paramilitarism, including networks of informants, networks of collaborators, and the new class of private security companies that involve some millions of civilians in military activities related to the internal armed conflict, while at the same time he was lying to the international community with a phony demobilization of the paramilitaries.
In addition, the scandalous practice of “false positives” took place during his administration. The practice consists in murdering civilians, usually farmers, and after killing them, dressing them as combatants in order to justify their deaths. That is the way he tried to demonstrate faked military victories over the rebels and also to eliminate the activists in social movements that work for justice.
The corruption during his administration was more than scandalous, not just because of the presence of drug traffickers in public positions but also because the Congress and many government offices were occupied by criminals. Today more than a hundred members of Congress are involved in criminal proceedings, all of them President Uribe’s closest supporters.
The purchase of consciences in order to manipulate the judicial apparatus was disgraceful. It ended up destroying, at the deepest level, the moral conscience of the country. Another disgrace was the corrupt manner in which the Ministers closest to him manipulated agricultural policy in order to favor the very rich with public money, meanwhile impeding and stigmatizing social projects. The corruption of his sons, who enriched themselves by using the advantages of power, scandalized the whole country at one time.
In addition, he used the security agency that was directly under his control (the Department of Administrative Security) to spy on the courts, on opposition politicians, and on social and human rights movements, by means of clandestine telephone tapping. The corrupt machinations he used to obtain his re-election as President in 2006 were sordid in the extreme, with the result that ministers and close collaborators have gone to jail.
He manipulated the coordination between the Army and the paramilitary groups that resulted in 14,000 extrajudicial executions during his term of office. His strategies of impunity for those who, through the government or the “para-government”, committed crimes against humanity will go down in history for their brazenness.
The decision by the Jesuits at Georgetown to offer a professorship to Álvaro Uribe, is not only deeply offensive to those Colombians who still maintain moral principles, but also places at high risk the ethical development of the young people who attend our university in Washington. Where are the ethics of the Company of Jesus?
I am writing you these lines because I am sure that you will share our concerns and perhaps you can forward them to the Jesuits at Georgetown and to other circles of thoughtful persons you know and to those who are in sympathy with justice.
With a fond embrace,
Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J.
Journalist Fernando Garavito's letter to Georgetown University
MR. JOHN J. DEGIOIA Ph. D.
Esteemed Mr. President:
Press reports indicate that Mr. Alvaro Uribe, ex-president of Colombia, will teach classes at the Walsh School for Foreign Service beginning this fall. This news has many ethical implications that I'm not sure have been sufficiently considered by Georgetown University.
Mr. Uribe was President of Colombia for eight years. During these years, two areas of public policy reached critical proportions: first, administrative corruption; second, systematic trampling of the rights of the opposition and of human rights.
I am not an enemy of Mr. Uribe. I am, simply, a Colombian who is concerned that the teaching of "global leadership" in one of the world's most prestigious educational institutions, fall into the hands of one who has exercised perverse leadership. At this time my daughter Manuela is beginning her university studies here in this country. She wants to participate in the public life of the United States, a country which has generously opened to her the doors that Mr. Uribe and his regime closed to her in Colombia. If by some chance she were studying at Georgetown and one of her professors were Mr.Uribe, I would not hesitate for one moment to ask her to withdraw from that institution.
I want to be clear: I have no desire to establish any form of censorship against Mr. Uribe. On the contrary, it seems to me that he has the obligation to give an accounting of his acts, which many people in my country consider to be "crimes." But this accounting must be given before a court of law. In Colombia at the moment preliminary documents for criminal proceedings are being prepared against him to be presented to the International Criminal Court. I believe that until his legal status is determined, he should not hold a chair at any institution which offers instruction to those whom he himself describes as "future leaders."
I would welcome an opportunity to debate some of these matters with Mr. Uribe before the university community. I am prepared to travel to Washington whenever you may call for such a debate. Your students have the right to know who their professors are, what they represent and what they have to teach them. My resume is insignificant compared to Mr. Uribe's. I am, simply, one of the journalists whom he and the reigning powers of Colombia condemned to silence.
I believe that one of the obligations of university leadership is to defend the community placed under its care. The appointment of Mr. Uribe as a member of the Georgetown faculty is a threat to the ethical training of your students.
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Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
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phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621