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Monday, January 31, 2011


(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Communications CJL


The National Movement for Victims of State Crime disclosed their plans in respect to the Victim's Bill before the public and general society in a second debate held this past December 13 in the Plenary of the House of Representatives.


Since the birth of this movement, support for the creation of a protective and just model for victims has manifested and has pushed for a political and negotiated solution to the armed conflict.  It has been expressed on different occasions that only truthful reparation policies for victims can ensure the reconstruction process and the expansion of democracy.  From this spawns interest in the victim's bill that began its second debate this past December 13 in the Plenary of the House of Representatives.


Statement complete



Judicial Freedom Corporation

E-mail:  comunicaciones@cjlibertad.org

Web page: www.cjlibertad.org

Telephone numbers:  2318355 2516350


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited. 

The Standing Committee of the Peasants of Catatumbo

(Translated by Steve Fake, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)

Written by the Standing Committee of the Catatumbo Region Humanitarian Displaced Camp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Standing Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp denounces the serious injuries caused by the Anti-riot Mobile Police Squadron (ESMAD) to two young peasants, one of whom lost an eye, while the other may lose his fingers.

As reported in the press conference on the morning of Monday, November 8, 2010 by the Standing Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp, yesterday, November 7, 2010, between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., ESMAD, in a joint operation with the SIJIN (Local Branch of the Judicial and Investigative Police), burst violently onto the premises of the municipal government of Teorama and Convention where a peaceful protest of some 100 peasants was taking place, leading to serious violations of the protesters' fundamental rights.

It is the responsibility of ESMAD and the authorities that gave the order for the onslaught, the unscrupulous and cruel infliction of personal injuries to the young men, both 23-year-olds. According to the medical report, one of the youths lost his left eye as a result of a would inflicted by a rubber bullet, and the other lost some fingers on his right hand because of the shrapnel from one of the devices released by ESMAD.

Meanwhile, the peasants of Catatumbo reiterate our decision to remain in the Municipal Peasants Council until the national government meets with a high-level commission. We call for a first meeting with our policy commission, leading to a concerted agenda to address the major humanitarian crisis currently existing in the region. We have presented solutions, such as the creation of peasant reservations, conducting popular hearings, establishing the Forum for Dialogue and Agreement (MIA), and implementing our own development plan and the seven criteria for the pilot plan for crop substitution, among others. To these solutions we have not received any statement from the national government to move forward.

Under the Municipal Peasants Council, today we begin a peaceful picket outside of the government headquarters in the city of Cúcuta. The protest focused on rejecting the violent actions of ESMAD, while in the municipalities of Teorama and Convention meetings were held with the authorities in order to seek the solidarity of the mayors and councilors in organizing a meeting between the national government and the Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp.

Also, the Mayor and the Representative of the Convention helped to locate people who participate in the Houses for the Peasants movement in the municipality and committed to ensuring that the police respect the integrity of our farmers. Additionally, the Representative committed to pressing for the return of the community's belongings lost in the government headquarters after their violent eviction.

In Teorama, the meeting went ahead with the Mayor, the Representative and almost all of the Municipal Cabinet. Finally, the Mayor permitted the municipal gymnasium to be used for lodging for the protesters and agreed to return a video recorder that ESMAD seized from a group of peasants. For its part, the protest continued with a march through the main streets of Teorama.

Finally, the peasants who peacefully protest in El Tarra, vacated the seat of the municipality voluntarily and are currently in the gymnasium developing the Municipal Peasants Council.

San José de Cúcuta, November 8, 2010

Standing Committee of the Catatumbo Region Humanitarian Displaced Camp


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited. 

The war and the 500 thousand women victims of sexual violence

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


Never again – Violence against women

Thursday, December 16, 2010

According to a study, in the last nine years 489,687 women have suffered rape, harassment, social imposition and forced prostitution in the conflict areas.

If the figures for sexual violence in Colombia published in the survey of the NGOs Oxfam, Casa de la Mujer [Women's House—SC], Sisma Mujer and the Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo [José Alvear Restrepo Legal Collective], among others, are correct, the country is confronting one of the worst dramas in the history of the conflict.

According to the document, 17.58 percent of the women in Colombia were victims of sexual violence between 2001 and 2009; that is to say, according to the projections of the survey, the total was 489,687 women.

The report calculated that 94,000 women had been raped, 50,000 had had a forced pregnancy or abortion, 175,000 had been victims of sexual harassment, 48,000 were forced to do domestic work, and that the armed groups had tried to regulate the social life of 327,000 of them.

The contrast between these figures and what the justice system has so far uncovered demonstrates that there is still a great deal that has to be done to reveal how far these crimes against women reach, and to punish the victimizers.

For Oxfam, the number of sexual crimes in Colombia is comparable to that of countries with prolonged internal conflicts and where crimes against women are used as a weapon of war. According to the report, "sexual violence is a habitual and frequent practice within the framework of the armed conflict."

Oxfam interviewed women, and one of every five feels intimidated by the presence of armed men. In numerous cases of massacres there has been testimony of women who were victims of sexual violence.

An investigation in April of this year by CODHES, the Consultants on Human Rights and Displacement, got women survivors of two massacres, that of El Tigre in Putumayo and that of Chengue in Sucre to recount what happened to their villages and how they were victims of abuses by paramilitaries.

In Chengue, according to the report, several men of the Bloque de los Montes de María took advantage of the situation to try to abuse the women. One of them remembers: "Many armed men came into the house, they threw open the door. I was not able to move because I had fallen a week earlier; I was paralyzed. They all raped me and they threw me to the ground. I fainted."

Another case, reported by the magazine Cambio, is that of Lucrecia,* who recounted that in 1995 a FARC guerrilla threatened her because her brother was carrying out his military service. He told her that if she did not sleep with her they would kill him. One day, she encountered another three guerrillas who raped her and told her that her brother deserved that punishment for not wanting to be with the FARC.

According to the study, the most common form of sexual violence is that of "regulation of social life." In projections of this, Oxfam believes that this kind of crime touched 327,000 women. For example, paramilitaries and guerrillas prohibited women from dressing in some ways, they denied them entrance to billiard parlors or discotheques, and they controlled whom they went out with.

Investigators from Women for Peace [Mujeres por la Paz, MPP] told VerdadAbrieta.com that they knew of various cases in Valledupar where "paras" burned young women with acid for wearing suggestive shirts or hip-hugger pants. "They are Colombian Taliban," one of the NGO's lawyers said.

The report offers a calculation that 49,000 women were obliged to do domestic service. In many areas of the country the paramilitaries and guerillas forced women to sign up to cook, to be nurses or to do cleaning. But few women denounced the crime, because they did not think it was one.

In Sucre, Marco Tulio Pérez, alias "El Oso" ["The Bear"] of the Bloque de los Montes de María of the AUC [The "United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia"—the paramilitaries—SC], was accused of forcing a woman who did not want to have sexual relations with him to do a week of service in his house. There are also cases where women were intimidated into sweeping the streets of the village. During his hearing, very few wanted to confront the demobilized paramilitary, since they had been threatened.

The study was done in 15 municipalities in Antioquia, Caldas, Coquetá, Córdoba, Bogotá, Meta, Magdalena, Huila, Nariño and Valle. They questioned 2,639 women from 15 to 44 years of age. Later, they projected the ages and statistical results of the study to the feminine population of 417 municipalities hurt by the violence, where nearly 2.8 million women live, in order to have global estimates.


One of the most worrisome results is that very few women see themselves as victims.

When the investigators from Oxfam and the Casa de la Mujer asked them if they had suffered because of these kinds of crimes, only 6.5 percent said "Yes." The number rose to 17.5 percent, three times as much, when they explained to them that sexual violence also includes regulation of social life, forced domestic service, or forced abortion, prostitution, pregnancy or sterilization.

Thus, 60 percent of the women who are victims of forced sterilization do not believe that it is a form of sexual violence, and more than 44 percent do not consider sexual harassment a crime.


Fear is without doubt the main obstacle to the crimes being visible. The studio shows that 80 percent of the victims of some sort of sexual violence have not denounced what happened to them. Among the reasons are: "I prefer to leave it be" (47 percent), fear (29 percent), or lack of confidence in the justice system (7 percent), among others.

Furthermore, among the victims, 69 percent think that the presence of the armed groups is an obstacle to denouncing [the crimes]. And the fact is that despite the demobilization of the AUC, the [remote] regions are still held by criminal gangs and guerrilla groups.

That was the case of Ana*, who was raped by paramilitaries. As she recounts: "They did not ask anything. They took my husband out, in his underwear; they tied him up. They took me aside and abused me. The just called me bitch; that was the word I heard most. I begged them to consider my condition; I was pregnant. They laughed out loud."

After fleeing to another location with her children, she had to demand a writ of protection in order to get the Prosecutor's Office to open an investigation. Members of a public security organization found her and told her to meet them in the same area where she had been raped. Days later, a regional newspaper divulged her photo, her story and the village where she lived.

That day her problems began. They called her with threats several times. Ana also received a letter with an intimidating drawing: a cross, a revolver and an eagle; in the letter, they gave her 72 hours to leave the village. "There, I felt I was surrounded, I realized they were going to kill me."

Ana's story summarizes the dangers that lie in wait for the women who are victims of sexual abuse: threats, lack of investigation by the police, little accompaniment by the officials who are responsible for dealing with those crimes, displacement.

And if the figures revealed in the study by Oxfam and the Casa de la Mujer approach reality, getting their stories known, getting them investigated and having the guilty punished, is an enormous challenge and debt for the Colombian justice system.

  • The names of the victims were changed to protect them.

This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

Friday, January 28, 2011




(Translated by Deryn Collins, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.) 

DAVID RABELO, recognized human rights defender in the Colombian area of Magdalena Medio, was deprived of his liberty under a particular legal proceedings process against him. His capture came after an increase in threats and harassments against him. Even though all kinds of declarations have been made by international and national Human Rights Organisations, public denouncements, letters sent to the government, videos, news items and other actions about his risky situation, this human rights defender has become the victim of new aggressions.

Campaign "Por el Derecho a Defender los Derechos Humanos en Colombia" – (Human Rights Law in Colombia)

September 2010 

Once more, a human rights defender in Colombia has been tried without foundation. On the 14th September at about 3.00pm David Rabelo Crespo was detained in the city of Barrancabermeja by agents of the Cuerpo Técnico de Investigación de la Fiscalía (CTI), He was then driven under heavy guard by the police and agents of the CTI to the airport of Barrancabermeja, Santander to be taken to the Picota Prison in Bogotá. 

David Rabelo Crespo is a member of the Junta Directiva de la Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS) and is a member of the Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE) Capítulo Magdalena Medio. David Rabelo was twice a town councilor of the city of Barrancabermeja representing the Unión Patriótica Party, he participated as a delegate for the Human Rights Organizations of Magdalena Medio before the Mesa Nacional de Garantías, and he is also a member of the Polo Democrático Alternativo and the Central Committee of the Colombian Communist Party.  


David Rabelo is currently being charged with criminal conspiracy and aggravated homicide, under the order of the Prosecutor 22 of the Unidad Nacional de Antiterrorismo based on voluntary statements given by the paramilitary Mario Jaimes Mejía, alias "El Panadero." This paramilitary, a member of the Autodefensas Unidas de Santander y Cesar (AUSAC), was detained in March 1999 and condemned by the normal justice system as being the main person behind the massacres of the 16th May 1998 and the 28th February 1999. Under Law 975 of 2005, looking for judicial benefits to shorten the 40 year sentence to a maximum of 8 years, David Rabelo Crespo was accused of being the instigator of the assassination of the Secretario de Obras Públicas de Barrancabermeja David Nuñez Cala.  
During the judicial process, David Rabelo's lawyers demonstrated that the times and dates were false and the declarations were a judicial fakery against the human rights defender, and the case was another WITHOUT FOUNDATION highlighted in our campaign as one of the mechanisms used to damage the reputations of the human rights defenders in Colombia. This case was similar to others highlighted by the campaign such as those of Winston Gallego and Carmelo Agamez Berrio.  
David Rabelo has been a victim of systematic persecution for his activities in the defense of human rights in the municipalities of Colombian Magdalena Medio. In the 90s he was accused of rebellion and was declared INNOCENT. In the last few months David Rabelo has been the victim of repeated harassments and threats against his life and the lives of his family:  
- On the June 3, 2010, his son received a mobile phone call from an unknown person informing him that his father had just been assassinated.  
- On May 28, 2010 the human rights defender's mother-in-law received a phone call stating that the assassination of David Rabelo Crespo had been ordered.  
- On May 7, 2010, the son of David Rabelo Crespo received a phone call in which he was told he should be prepared to attend the funeral of his father. These proven aggressions summarize the threats that arrived by email and pamphlets against human rights defenders, social leaders and organizations of Madgalena Medio in February, April, May and June of 2010, accusing them of backing the guerrillas.  
Before this difficult panorama of aggressions and threats against human rights defenders in Magdalena Medio, international human rights defense organizations such as Front Line and the International Peace Brigade (PBI) sent out information at the time about the case of David Rabelos, transmitting the denouncements to the Colombian Government and internationally. Also it must be pointed out that David Rabelo, as director of CREDHOS, counts upon PREVENTIVE MEASURES OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS since 2000, measures which continue in vigor.  
For the reasons given before, we ask that the State of Colombia and the competent authorities : 
-        To guarantee the psychological and physical safety of David Rabelo Crespo, of the members of his family and the members of CREDHOS 
-         To solicit full guarantees for the judicial defense of Mr. David Rabelo Crespo, such as protection measures instead of imprisonment, as the reason for his persecution is because of his international and national recognized position as a human rights defender, and as a survivor of genocide against the Unión Patriótica and for being a member of the board of directors of CREDHOS, protected by prevention methods of the CIDH.  
-         To initiate an impartial and exhaustive investigation immediately, into the death threats to David Rabelo Crespo with the end being the identification of those responsible, bringing them before a competent and impartial tribunal and applying the sanctions necessary by law.  
-         To take the necessary steps to widen protection methods and guarantee their effectiveness, including the protection of the family of David Rabelo Crespo. 
-         PWE equally ask that the countries of the European Union, insist that the Colombian National Government voluntarily offer the necessary guarantees and pay special attention to following though this process to assure full guarantees of judicial defense. It is of great importance that members of the Diplomatic Corps are present throughout the trial.


He has worked for 35 years in the defense of human rights. In the first decade, he worked in defense of social, economic and cultural rights, fighting as a student, by suggesting and leading proposals for the direction of education being for the common good, where the poorest people of Barrancabermeja and the region would have equal access and opportunities. He has also worked in the claiming of worker's rights from social and syndicate mobilization to recognizing our people for their capacity for political fight.  
He has worked for civil and political rights in Barrancabermeja and Magdalena Medio, for the defense of public services and resources: in recent years defending lives although he risked his own, in one or other neighbourhood stigmatized by armed incidents where open wounds remain from an internal armed conflict that continues to take victims.   
This is David Rabelo Crespo, member of the Junta Directiva de la Corporación Regional para la defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS); member of the Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE) Capítulo Magdalena Medio; ex -counciller of the city of Barrancabermeja for the Unión Patriótica Party and survivor of the genocide of the UP. He is also a member of the Comité Central del Partido Comunista Colombiano and the Polo Democrático Alternativo. 
He is a man who is involved in the defense of human rights in all its dimensions, a defender recognized by the most important human rights organizations which recognize his dedication to his work and the importance this man for Magdalena Medio. On September 9, 2009, Rabelo received the distinction San Pedro Claver, given by the Dioceses of Barrancabermeja for his work for over 30 years in the defense of human rights in Magdalena Medio and its communities.   
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Por el Derecho a Defender los Derechos Humanos en Colombia

Cuerpo Técnico de Investigación de la Fiscalía (CTI) - Technical Investigation Unit of the Prosecutor (CTI)

Junta Directiva de la Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS) - Board of Directors of the Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS)

Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE) Capítulo Magdalena Medio - the Movement for Victims of Crimes of the Middle Magdalena Mesa

Mesa Nacional de Garantías - State Chapter National Guarantee

Unidad Nacional de Antiterrorismo -  National Counterterrorism Unit

Autodefensas Unidas de Santander y Cesar (AUSAC) - Defense Forces of Santander and Cesar (AUSAC)


This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited. 


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Madison, WI  53701-1505
Phone:  (608) 257-8753
Fax:  (608) 255-6621
E-mail:  csn@igc.org

The first national association for the reclaiming of lands is born


(Translated by Diana Méndez, a CSN Volunteer Editor. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


Medellin, Dec 02 (IPC). The objectives of the recently created National Association of Victims for the Restitution and Access to Lands is to make known the calamity that the dispossession of thousands of Colombian peasants' lands by illegal armed groups has been. As well as to bring forth a project of deliberation and to have an effect on public policy that will allow for the effective restitution of goods and land to the victims of this calamity.


The Association brings together the work that different peasant organzations are carrying forth in departments such as Bolívar, Antioquia, Santander, Valle del Cauca, Magdalena, Córdoba, Caldas and Quindío, who now will not only work with their own rights to access to land but will also count with the support of the Popular Training Institute (IPC), Redepaz; Forging Futures Foundation and the New Rainbow Corporation- all NGOs.


With the association's creation,  it is hoped that the restitution of lands and the discussion of the agrarian problem will not be a pipe dream or an unimportant agenda theme, but rather that it gain vital importance to the future of the country. That it count with ample and profound debates in which the peasantry would participate with recognized social force.


The initiative surged precisely at the same time when the process for the law of victim reparation and restitution of lands  is in congress. It is emphasized that it is considered "a priority and essential" for the development of the country by president Juan Miguel Santos. Also,  the first debate was already approved in the Comisión Primera (one of the commissions of the Colombian Senate) of the House of Representatives.


According to the third National Survey of Verification of the Rights of The Displaced Population, which was compiled by the Comission for the Monitoring of Public Policy on Forced Displacement between 1980 and 2010 some 6.65 million hectares of land were dispossed or abandoned by force due to the massive expulsion of peasants which was caused by illegal armed groups in their locales of conflict.



The study also revealed that the departments most affected by the onslaught of displacement are: Antioquia, Chocó, Nariño, Cauca, Caquetá and Putumayo. If, on the one hand, the members of the commision which includes the economist Luis Jorge Garay, the ex-magistrate Eduardo Cifuentes and Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, celebrate the fact that the country is discussing the subject, they also warn about the threats that hover over the initiatives on restitution of lands, beginning with the issue of the victims' security.


Human Rights organizations point out that in the last three years some 47 peasant claimants have been killed throughout the country;   out of these 8 of the killings took place in Urabá in the department of Antioquia.  Just in 2010 the violent deaths of Albeiro Valdez (May); Hernando Pérez (September) and Oscar Mausa- this last one took place on November 24. Also,  an attempt was made against the life of Fernando Enamorado in November, but fortunately it failed to take his life.



Because of this one of the first actions that the new National Association will undertake will be to negotiate with the government so that security for farmworkers in the midst of land reclamation processeses improves. "We don't count on any support, we don't have institucional backing; this is why we want to unite, to see if together we can have a bigger impact. There are critical departments such as Valle del Cauca. There is no recognition of the victims there. There is a constant threat to the integrity and rights of the victims," says Carmen Palancia, president of the association.



In agreement with Palencia, the aforementioned is fundamental if the regional organizations are to be strengthened and united with others that are working in the departments of Cauca, Nariño, los Llanos Orientales and others. "for the work of strengthening, we are working towards getting a nacional congress together, this would take place in February," adds the president of the association.



For the nongovernmental organizations which will accompany the process, the creation of the association will help contain the so called "legal and illegal enemies" of land restitution in Colombia.



"The eventual restitution of lands to the displaced has many very powerful enemies working against it which makes very great the need to decidedly back your organization. If we don't, the promises of land restitution will be be nothing but a pipe dream and add a new chapter to the structural impunity which has surrounded the subject throughout the country," Martha Lucía Peña Duque,  president of the IPC one of the organizations that will accompany the Association, points out.



IPC Press Agency

Medellín, Colombia

(57 4) 284 90 35



This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.




Please be generous - Support our work! Click "Make a donation" from our home page: http://www.colombiasupport.net

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

We Want Light for Our Homes, Too! About Christmas Lights in Medellin

 (Translated by Buddy Bell, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


Press Release:



Medellin, Dec. 13, 2010

Last Friday, Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, those of us from various neighborhoods and communities who were disconnected from public services decided to again take to the streets and public spaces in order to denounce our situation of vulnerability and of violations to our fundamental human rights. Afforded to our basic dignity, we have the right of access to potable water and electricity.

As of today, Medellin has disconnected 30,000 households from water and 42,000 from energy. Another 35,000 have had to use prepaid energy, but they keep getting disconnected all the same. That's why we took to the streets in order to make ourselves visible and to tell of our situation to the rest of the city.

With this nonviolent direct action we wanted to show the injustice of spending more than 8 billion pesos [roughly $4 million U.S.] on Christmas lights, while in our homes we can't light even one bulb, because we are disconnected. Therefore we demand the money to be invested in the remittance of our bills as we don't have money to pay them.

We started out on our march at 7:30 p.m. outside the Pablo Tobon Uribe Theater, where all of us met up--- the residents of neighborhoods like Bello Oriente, La Cruz, La Honda, Altos de la Torre, Esfuerzos de Paz, Villa Turbay and Las Independencias, all of us affected by the hiked up utility rates and the disconnection of what used to be our public services.

We marched down the entire length of La Playa Avenue accompanied all the way by the sound of an oboe playing; it raised the spirit of the Resistance. This night, we wanted to carry a symbol, a Christmas tree completely dark and without lights, consistent with our situation of darkness. Besides that, we used a Christmas carol to narrate our problem: "Christmas, Christmas, Sad Christmas, Medellín Most Be Lighted and the Most Disconnected". On the other hand, we wanted to re-gift a few items for the city on its birthday; these were carried by the children: we gave Medellín poverty, misery, hunger, disconnection, and the high utility rates that have drowned us in a dilemma--- do we pay to eat or pay to have light and running water?

The Youth Artists Network also joined us. They brought with them a representation of the community's reality, with personages like Mr. Candle, Mrs. Light, darkness, disconnected child, and a plug that can't connect to an outlet. Everyone yelled slogans such as "no more misery, no more disconnections, no more high fees, stop privatization."

At the end of the march, we struggled to blockade Oriental Avenue for a period of 15 minutes, where we made a circle with the darkened tree in the middle of the street, with candles burning, and right there the proclamation of the Inter-Neighborhood Board was read out loud. We wanted all of this to happen at that spot, as that is where the city's lighted Christmas tree stands: this was the place that would best display the sharp contrast to our reality of dark trees back at home.

This action didn't come out of the blue. The community that came together to articulate the sentiments of the Inter-Neighborhood Board had previously decided to march on La Playa Avenue, one of the streets with the most Christmas lights that the EPM corporation claims to have given to Medellin as a gift. The board made a united stand to demand a municipal accord which would cancel the money owed by households that were disconnected from service.

At the same time it demands that the government apply a policy of "Cubic Meters and Kilowatts of Dignity," which would guarantee a critical minimum threshold for potable water and electric energy for the first and second strata in the city, and a system of water pipes and sewers for the population living in settlements along Medellin's periphery.

Finally we condemn the city's failure to live up to the UN-HABITAT prize, which was presented to Medellin's mayor's office, for being one of "the most habitable cities." We must wonder how it can be true--- looking at the physical conditions of the people, we can't see what motives there are to award such a prize. We still find 25,000 families in high-risk (high-cost) zones with not much social investment, living without adequate water and sewer systems. A great many people live on remote ranches without decent roads or in settlements that are unrecognized because they are considered illegal; such places lack urban resources such as health centers, schools, and parks.




English Transcript of Video


Opening chant:

Bystander friends, bring your passion together. The prepaid card is no solution.


Children reading:



1st Woman with Microphone:

[inaudible]…we are here in the plaza to say that in our houses, there is not even one light bulb that can be lit... [inaudible]


Man reading paper:

[inaudible]…has been increasing?



No, that they don't have it to pay it.



That they don't have it to pay? [inaudible]


2nd Woman with Microphone:

All of us, people of Medellin, let's disconnect this Christmas tree. We want to clean up the injustice that is represented by thousands of millions of pesos being spent on Christmas lights while in our houses we can't light a single bulb. We demand that the money be allocated to settle our debts from the privatization of public services. We don't have money to pay. In this and every following year we want our electric service to not be cut off. Medellin Unstoppable! [electric company advertising slogan] In disconnection and unemployment!


Text of Leaflet:

We want light for our homes, too!

The people disconnected from electric and water want to show the injustice of spending millions of pesos on Christmas lights, while in our homes we can't light even one bulb, because we are disconnected. Therefore we demand the money to be invested in the remittance of our bills as we don't have money to pay them.

Medellin Ynstoppable… in disconnection and unemployment.

We want to see Medellin lit up from the river to the neighborhoods.

EPM [electric corporation]: "it's right there" [another EPM slogan]… to disconnect and rob you.


Children singing:

Christmas has arrived.

My electric isn't running anymore.

EPM is here

But they don't know how to connect.

Christmas has arrived.

Happiness is no longer with us.

EPM you're here

But you don't know how to connect.

Christmas, Christmas, Sad Christmas

Medellin… [inaudible] …disconnected.

Christmas, Christmas, Sad Christmas


Christmas, Christmas, Sad Christmas



Woman wearing bandanna:







You're disconnected?


Woman with Candle:

Yes I'm disconnected. And now I'll have to prepay.



And what are you here to say? What do you think…?


Woman with Candle:

So that just…stop disconnecting all the people that don't have money to pay, please, because it's not fair to tell them they must prepay.


Man with Microphone:

Today on International Human Rights Day, we who are from various neighborhoods and communities in Medellin who were disconnected from public services are here to take to the streets and public spaces in order to illustrate our situation of vulnerability and of violations to our fundamental human rights. Afforded to our basic dignity, we have the right of access to potable water and electricity. EPM and the municipal administration know the costs are too high for us, but they prefer their own agreement where they cut our public services in order to start raking in huge profits. They order all of us cut off, they let us go hungry if we pay these high rates. We want to see Medellin serviced with electric from the river to the communities. Just like they're lighting up La Playa Avenue they have to light up our homes, too. Energy is for everyone. It's unjust, that in a country, in a region using so much energy, to then cut it off in people's homes in city neighborhoods and the surrounding settlements and all around the state. EPM needs to provide as much for human beings. We demand reconnection for everyone disconnected. We begged the politicians too long; there's no one among them that will help our families. We will be the unstoppable Medellin--- everyone out here in the streets and the commons.

Medellin unstoppable in disconnections! Medellin unstoppable in poverty! Medellin unstoppable in unemployment! Medellin unstoppable in hunger! Medellin unstoppable in disconnections! Medellin unstoppable in hunger! Medellin unstoppable in unemployment!  Medellin unstoppable in poverty…those are all the presents we are giving back to the city! Don't give us any of it this Christmas!

First things first, we have rights. We will keep our homes! Full employment for everyone such as we will all live in dignity!

Unite and Fight for Dignity!

Unite and Fight for Dignity!


Closing caption:

Neighborhoods: unite with the struggle for life and dignity







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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fifth Colombian Senate commission asks MinMinas not to negotiate contracts with mining corporations

MOIR, the Independent Revolutionary Workers' Party

(Translated by Buddy Bell, a CSN volunteer. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)

From the Press Office of Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, Bogota, Dec. 17, 2010.


The President of the Fifth Senate Commission, Daira Galvis, sent a request to the Mines and Energy Minister, Carlos Rodado Noriega, that he abstain from negotiating contracts with transnational mining companies without first reporting the contents and scope of any agreement to the Legislature.


The President designated a sub-commission to follow up on the renegotiations in progress, even during a legislative recess. The Senators Jorge Enrique Robledo, Lidio Arturo Garcia, Manuel Guillermo Mora, Felix Valera, Luis Emilio Sierra, Milton Rodriguez, and Commission President Daira Galvis sit on this sub-commission.

The text below is a letter sent to the Energy Minister signed by the members of the sub-commission:


Bogota, Dec. 14, 2010



Minister of Mines and Energy



Countless citizens have come before this Fifth Constitutional Commission to argue that there is a necessity for a renegotiation of the contracts previously conceded to big mining, and it has become suitable to arrange a sub-commission for this task. Its goal will be to establish conditions which will complement or will work out these new contracts. To take care of these suggestions, and in virtue of political duty, the president of the Commission designated a sub-commission made up of Senators Jorge Enrique Robledo Castillo, Lidio Arturo Garcia Turbay, Manuel Guillermo Mora Jaramillo, Felix Jose Valera Ibanez, Luis Emilio Sierra Grajales, Daira de Jesus Galvis Mendez and Milton Rodriguez Sarmiento to follow through on the renegotiations, even while the legislature is not in session.


Importantly, we make suggestion to you, Mr. Minister: that before any particular determination is made, you submit an extensive report of what changes will transpire for any future contract. Equally, we request that you abstain from signing the renegotiations already in progress until you produce a report detailing their content and scope to the Commission members.


We thank you in advance for giving this your due attention.


Daira Galvis, Jorge Enrique Robledo, Lidio Arturo Garcia, Manuel Guillermo Mora, Felix Valera, Luis Emilio Sierra, Milton Rodriguez.


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(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)



Municipality of Tame, Departament of Arauca


On October 14, 2010, in the center of the town of Flor Amarrillo [sic], municipality of Tame, Department of Arauca, more than a thousand people from rural and urban areas took part in the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a special homage to the memory of Jenni, Jefferson, and Jimi Torres Jaimes. Active participants included delegates of social organizations--human rights, women's, youth, peasant, indigenous, Afro-descent, and union advocates--and a significant presence of international and national delegates. Also present was Mr. José Alvaro Torres Jaimes. The siblings—14, 9, and 6 years old respectively—were massacred on October 14, 2010 by members of the national Army Mobile Brigade #5, in the neighborhood of Caño Temblador, municipality of Tame.


The event was meant as a gesture to all the victims of the conflict in the region, an affectionate greeting of solidarity and accompaniment, a renewal of the firm decision to continue building proposals of peace, reconciliation, and peaceful living together, all with the goal of reducing the intensity of the conflict, respecting human rights, international humanitarian rights, and, in the future, ongoing dialogues that would lead to true peace with social justice. Also, the serious social and humanitarian crisis evident in the Department should concern and draw the attention of all civil, military, and church authorities; political and economic sectors; and the community in general.


This is a true humanitarian drama in such a militarized region: in 2010, there have been more than 20 cases in which children and adolescents were victims of sexual violence and other attacks, 187 violent deaths, more than 16 kidnappings, 25 victims of anti-personnel mines, as well as continual attempts against people and property protected by international humanitarian law. In addition to this drama, there are the more than 35,000

displaced persons and hundreds of innocent people imprisoned and suffering inhumane conditions without their legal status being dealt with. Because of the serious situation, the Department of Arauca has become one of the most violent in the country. This spiral of perverse violence against Araucan youth culminated in the horrific assassination and rape of the girl Jenni, 14 years old, and her younger brothers, Jefferson, 9 years old, and Jimi Torres Jaimes, 6 years old, by the National Army Mobile Brigade #5—in addition to the rape of another girl on October 2, near the neighborhood where the massacre occurred.


For peasant and human rights organizations, these crimes against humanity are not isolated incidents, as Castro's regime would like us to believe. Rather, they are part and parcel of a war tactic and systematic policy implemented in the regions, in order to intimidate and spread terror among the population. Because of this, we categorically deny the statements by high officials of the National Army, according to whom "peasants from the area may be involved in the assassination of the children."


Because of the above, we demand:

1. Truth, justice, full reparation, and guarantees that these acts will not be repeated. We reject all attempts to derail the investigation, to cover up those responsible, because it is clear that besides under-Lt. Raúl Muñoz, other army officials are involved.

2. The federal Attorney General's office immediately conduct an investigation to determine the perpetrators who actually assassinated the children, as well as those who ordered them to carry out this horrendous crime against all of society.

3. Punishment of the members of Brigade # 5 for this crime; the dismantling and immediate departure of the brigade from the Department. Aside from these rapes and the assassination of children, this brigade has been involved in many more atrocities, such as extrajudicial executions or false positives, in which they have assassinated peasants, calling them guerrilleros who have been killed in combat.

4. We demand that all infractions, hostilities, persecution, registrations, and occupation of peasants' houses and ranches by public forces cease, and that, instead of repressing, they fulfill their constitutional duty to protect the life, honor, good name, and freedom of all inhabitants of the Department.

5. After such a terrible tragedy, full attention should be paid to Mr. José Alvaro Torres and his family, not the cheap aid offered by several agencies with the constitutional responsibility to resolve their work and housing situation, and basic services for their dignified subsistence.

6. To national and international human rights organizations, and especially the Office of the High Commission of the United Nations for Human Rights in Colombia, maintain a vigilant attitude regarding this crime against humanity, as its Director, Christian Salazar, announced.


Flor Amarillo, Tame, December, 2010.






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Hooded Men Cause Terror in the Town of the Mining District of La Toma

Hooded Men Cause Terror in the Town of the Mining District of La Toma, Township of Suárez, Department of Cauca

(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)


Once more we express our concern about the mining communities of the La Toma district, township of Suárez, Department of Cauca: the constant threats against and lack of guarantees for exercising community representation by Afro-Colombian leaders, miners, peasants, members of the Council of Community Action, and the Community Council of this place in the Northwestern part of Cauca.


Headed by President Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian government has reaffirmed to the nation and the international community its commitment to respect and ensure respect of the human rights of all its citizens. Nevertheless, these public statements are contradicted by the systematic violation of basic rights that continue against the Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and peasant communities in the southwestern part of the country, especially in the Departments of Cauca, Nariño, Huila, and Valle de Cauca. There, they deal with the permanent presence of armed groups that control the territory and flagrantly violate the basic rights of all inhabitants. These groups called themselves New Generation, Black Eagles, Remains, and/or Emergent Bands or Criminal Bands. Throughout the region, they continue to threaten inhabitants and perpetrate horrendous crimes.

The inhabitants of Northwest Cauca declare that the presence of these armed groups is evident in the region; they have assassinated several people, causing panic in the community. The people of the region add that these facts merit immediate action by the government, because of its responsibility to guarantee the human rights of the populace, among which are: remaining in the area, prevention of forced displacement, and guarantees of the right to association and representation.

The Facts

1. The people of the La Toma community in the township of Suárez, Deaprtment of Cauca, declared that they are afraid because of the presence of four armed unidentified men, who were seen behind the community center of this town on the night of Thursday December 23, 2010. According to witnesses, three of the men were hooded and the other looked more like a mestizo. All four carried 9 millimeter guns.


2. According to testimony, community members heard sounds behind the community center, so they decided to look. When they turned the light on, they found the four armed men. One asked them, in an upset tone, "What are you looking for, sons of bitches?" Faced with this aggressive behavior, one member of the community answered that when they heard noises, they had come to see who was there.

3. Faced with this aggressive stance, the members of the community backed off. They still do not know where the four men are, but they are very worried that they are still in the area.


4. In addition, members of the community declare that those armed men of unknown origin arrived on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 22, 2010, and remained hidden Wednesday night and Thursday during the daytime in an unoccupied house on the right side of the street just before the market plaza.

Persecution of the black, indigenous, and peasant communities, as well as human rights and social organizations that work toward respecting regional, environmental, and collective rights in the district, has intensified since October 22, 2010. On that day, a death threat arrived by fax, against all the persons and organizations that have denounced the irregularities carried out in the granting of mining titles to multinational companies and private individuals who do not live in the region and who are not part of the communities. During the year, ten more threats were received, simultaneously sent to all the organizations as text messages.

We emphasize that the communities of Toma, Suarez have repeatedly called for investigation by federal agencies such as the Attorney General's office and the federal Prosecutor's office. They have met numerous times with both Department and national government officials, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Vice-Presidency of the Republic, in hopes that they would obtain guarantees of remaining in the area, with no positive results.



Threats of Loss of Residence and Displacement: Two Strategies Against Community Rights


In this area, INGEOMINAS has expedited 39 titles to mines given to multinational companies and persons not from the communities. One of these titles is under the name of Mr. Héctor Jesús Sarria, who has the license to mine gold, BFC-021. This concession is located in the territory where the community of La Toma has always lived. Three times, governmental agencies have ordered the removal of the legitimate owners of these lands; the first and second time, under Resolution 2864-3-30, from April 30, 2010. These removals were suspended on May 21 and June 15, the former because of a petition by an interested party and the latter by a police petition that alleged that they had their hands full because of the presidential elections.

The third removal, based on Resolution 647/07 of July 31, 2010, due to be implemented on August 18, was suspended with Resolution 648/8 on August 17, 2010, by order of the regional defender of the people Víctor Javier Meléndez Guevara, who declared that under rule 2663 D. of the P.R. of the Civil Code 5006, Mr. Héctor de Jesús Sarria has not fulfilled the legal requirements of previous consultation with the black and indigenous communties—a law based on Agreement 169 of the OIT. He states that: 

"Mr. Héctor Sarria, through his representative, instead of fulfilling the omitted requirement, insists that there is no black community in his project, or in the area of the project. Stubbornly, he insists that the nearest black community is 18 kilometers distant. If that were true, whom do they wish to remove from their homes? And in addition: based on what has previously been declared and with the intent of protecting basic collective rights integral to the affected Afro-Colombian population, I request with special courtesy that the removal scheduled for tomorrow be suspended indefinitely, until such time as Mr. Sarria proves that he is duly authorized to receive the help of the authorities of the Republic… "

Aside from the validity of 39 titles to mines, two resolutions by the government of the Cauca and the Ministry of the Interior published on June 24, 2009 testify to the imminent danger of forced displacement in the townships of Suárez,  Morales, Cajibío, Piendamo, and Argelia. To this day, neither of the two government initiatives has given a satisfactory response to the rights of petition demanding substantive information about the motives that led the Cauca government and the Ministry of the Interior to approve these resolutions.


Because of the preceding, we request that you demand that the Colombian government preserve and defend the psychological and physical wellbeing of leaders who are threatened for defending the territorial, environmental, and collective rights of the communities of the northwestern part of Cauca. As well, [we demand that the government] carry out all necessary acts to judge those responsible for the violations of the individual and collective rights of those of the northwestern Cauca region affected by medium-sized and large mining projects. 



Your statements may be sent to:

Presidente de la República
Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño Bogotá
Fax. 5662071


Vicepresidente de la República
Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.


Ministro de la Defensa 
Avenida El dorado con carrera 52 CAN Bogotá D.C.


Ministro del Interior y de Justicia
Avenida El dorado con carrera 52 CAN Bogotá D.C.
Fax. 2221874

Fiscal General de la Nación
Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 Bogotá D.C.
Fax. 570 20 00


Defensor del Pueblo
Calle 55 No. 10 – 32 Bogotá D.C.
Fax. 640 04 91


Procurador General de la Nación
Cra. 5 No.15 – 80F Bogotá D.C.


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