Colombia Project

About CPT Colombia

Magdalena Medio Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Colombia works together on grassroots initiatives to expose and transform structures of domination and oppression through active nonviolence in order to make possible the reign of God -a world grounded in respect, justice and love, even of enemies.

The Team is based in and has a long history of working in the Magdalena Medio region, although in recent years we have also begun to do occasional accompaniment in other parts of the country.

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Latest Update: 

Las Pavas Wins the National Peace Prize 2013

 

 

Most recent CPTnet story: 

COLOMBIA: Because she is a woman!

Gloria, a leader and organizer from the Popular Women’s Organization (OFP), and I responded to an emergency accompaniment request. Minutes before calling CPT, Gloria had received a call from a friend at social services asking for support for a young woman who was attempting to flee from a situation of sexual slavery.

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 10, 2012

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 10, 2012

Pray for the subsistence farmers of Las Pavas, Colombia. Armed palm oil company agents have threatened and assaulted them and destroyed their ranch houses. Pray that government land authorities visiting the site Oct. 10-19 will give a just resolution to land claims.

COLOMBIA: Las Pavas farmers suffer threats, assaults after small victory

Just days after Colombia’s rural land agency announced that farm families formerly displaced and evicted from the Las Pavas estate should be given titles to some of its plots, palm oil company employees threatened and assaulted some of them.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Abundance

Far greater than the threat of forty accusing soldiers camped on your land is God's abounding goodness and the communion of neighbors.

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 19, 2012

Pray with CPT for Colombia’s Las Pavas community as it continues to receive threats and attacks from the palm oil company and little more than lip service from the Colombian Government. May God send them a spirit of protection.

event_view: 
Title Start: End:
Colombia Delegation Sat, 05/17/2014 Sat, 05/31/2014
Colombia Delegation Tue, 06/24/2014 Tue, 07/08/2014
Colombia Delegation Fri, 08/01/2014 Fri, 08/15/2014

About CPT Colombia

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Colombia works together on grassroots initiatives to expose and transform structures of domination and oppression through active nonviolence in order to make possible the reign of God - a world grounded in respect, justice and love, even of enemies.

Christian Peacemaker Team in Colombia :

A combination of full-time and reservist trained volunteers staff the team. Four to eight Spanish-speaking members are serving in Colombia at any given time. A half-time Support Coordinator works in conjunction with CPT's international offices, and oversees participation in the Canadian Council for International Cooperation’s Americas Policy Group in Canada and the Colombia Steering Committee of the Latin America Working Group in the United States. We are here because we feel called to put our faith into action. We live, worship and work in community.   

At the invitation of the Mennonite Church of Colombia CPT began its work in Colombia in 2001 accompanying threatened communities in the Opon, organizations, and their leadership. As of today, CPT Colombia accompanies rural communities and human rights organizations on a regular basis in the Magdalena Medio region.  

The Team is based in and has a long history of working in the Magdalena Medio region (click here to see maps), although in recent years we have also begun to do occasional accompaniment in other parts of the country. Our home and office is located in Barrancabermeja, the unofficial capital of the region.  Many local nonviolent social and human rights organizations are active in the region.  We work to support these local peacemakers in building peace with justice. However, there are also Paramilitaries, the guerrilla, and  the state forces are present in this strategic area of Colombia and  many of the citizens of the region are the victims of violence perpetrated by right-wing armed actors (both paramilitary and military), and to a lesser extent, by the left-wing guerrilla groups. The Magdalena Medio region is typical of most of the country in that it is resource-rich while many of its citizens struggle against cycles of violence and poverty.

Much of the economic and physical violence benefits powerful national and international elites in their efforts to gain and retain control over valuable resources. Civilians are caught in the crossfire between the military and paramilitaries and their guerrilla opponents and civilians are also often directly targeted. These forces are most likely to target civilians if they are politically active and/or occupy land coveted by powerful legal and illegal business interests. For example, multinational corporations are using physical and economic violence to displace peasant farmers to take land to plant palm oil to sell to the Global North.  As of May 2009, more than four million Colombians have displaced from their lands, homes and livelihoods due to violence and threats of further violence.

Barrancabermeja and the Magdalena Medio Region:

Barrancabermeja is a city of approximately 300,000 inhabitants, and home of the state-owned Ecopetrol refinery - Colombia's largest oil refinery. The oil and large-scale cattle industries are the largest enterprises in the city. Barrancabermeja is also a major port on the Magdalena River, several hundred kilometres from its mouth in the Caribbean sea, and is the unofficial capital of the Magdalena Medio region.  

Paramilitaries took control of Barrancabermeja in 2000 with the tacit support of local security forces, after many years of guerrilla military dominance and control over significant areas of the city –a control maintained by violence, open combat with police and other state security forces, and the extrajudicial killing of civilians thought to be collaborating with the state. (Colombia’s right-wing paramilitaries have their origins in US-supported, state-trained, state-sanctioned counter-insurgency militias during the cold war, but have since then evolved to become, first the autonomous private armies of large land-holders, businessmen and drug lords, and later these private armies united under the banner of the United Self-defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), no longer under the direct control of the Colombian military but nevertheless close collaboration continued. For detailed information on the formation and activities of paramilitaries in Colombia see Wikipedia: Paramilitarism in Colombia).  The paramilitaries entered the city of Barrancabermeja committing massacres, selective extrajudicial killings, forcing many civilians to displace. (For a detailed account of the Paramilitary takeover of Barrancabermeja and the Magdalena Region, see the Center for International Policy report: “The New Masters of Barranca ") Despite the "official" demobilization of paramilitary organizations in 2005 under the Peace and Justice Law, new and reformed paramilitary groups continue to use these same tactics in an effort to terrorize and silence their opponents. In February 2010, Human Rights watched released a new report entitled, Paramilitaries' Heirs: The New Face of Violence in Colombia and their multimedia presentation, Deadly Threats, Successors to the Paramilitary in Colombia  (For more information on the Peace and Justice Law see Amnesty International report for Colombia: Justice and Peace Law will guarantee impunity for human rights abusers.)

 The Magdalena Medio takes its name from the Magdalena River - Río Magdalena, and refers to the territory along the middle part of the river, including the river flats and parts of the mountain ranges on either side of the river. It is a resource-rich and fertile area, with large cattle ranches, palm plantations, oil and gas wells, and goldmines in south Bolivar. Coca is also cultivated in various parts of the region, and processed into paste before going to laboratories where the paste is further processed into cocaine. The guerrilla, the military and the paramilitary have focussed much of their attention on rural communities surrounding Barrancabermeja, in their struggle for control over those resource-rich territories. Rather than engage the guerrilla directly, a common tactic of the two latter groups is to try to eliminate the support-base of the guerrilla by depopulating the area of civilians - to drain the pool so the fish have nowhere to swim. This tactic also serves to open up territory formerly controlled by the guerrilla to national and international investors

Threatened Communities, Organizations and Their Leadership:

As stated above, much of the work of CPT Colombia is to accompany threatened communities, organizations and their leadership. But what exactly do we mean by accompaniment?

Communities we accompany:

  • Community Process of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza
  • Constituent Assembly of Micoahumado
  • Community Process of Tiquisio
  • Community of Las Pavas

Organizations we accompany:

  • Federation of AGROMISBOL
  • Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia  (CAHUCOPANA)
  • Human Rights Workers’ Forum of Barrancabermeja  (ESPACIO)
  • Womyn’s Social movement against War and for Peace

  Related Organizations:

  • Campesino Association of the Cimitarra Valley ACVC
  • Woman Popular Organization (OFP)
  • Human Rights Workers’ Forum of Barrancabermeja  (ESPACIO)
  • “Programa” PDPMM– Program of Development and Peace of the Magdalena Medio

By accompaniment we mean both: 1) having a physical presence in the communities and with the organizations we accompany, and 2) doing advocacy work on their behalf.

1)      Our physical presence in communities/organizations demonstrates to both members and leaders of organizations as well as armed actors that they are not alone; members of an international organization are present to witnesses and report on whatever is happening, and will non-violently intervene when armed actors abuse the rights of civilians. We ask violators to cease and desist from any behaviour that places civilians at risk or abuses their rights, and make it known that we will report all abuses to local authorities, local, national and North American government representatives, the media, and our international support base. We also publish an annual Human Rights Report and occasionally call for Urgent Action on the part of our support base and government representatives. These actions and interventions on the part of the team also intended to deter violence and humans rights abuses on the part armed actors.

 

2)      Advocacy work for the organizations and communities we accompany is based on the understanding that justice must prevail before peace can be attained. It seeks to support our partners’ initiatives in their struggles to end violence and impunity, and to have their rights to life with dignity and territory respected. It also raises the profiles, not only of community/organization leaders, but also of their struggle for justice. Raising their profiles increases the political cost of doing them harm, and thereby diminishes the ability to oppress them with impunity. It also helps brings their experiences of injustice and their demands for justice to the national and international level, thereby increasing their chances of getting a fair trial in judicial and governmental procedures. Advocacy work takes many forms, all of which address the imbalance of power that allows decision makers to disregard the needs and rights of the communities and organizations most affected by oppression and violence.   

 Advocacy work includes:

  • 1) Doing public actions and participating in demonstrations that promote justice and seek to end violence and impunity in the communities accompanied by CPT.
  • 2) Posting information and photos on our Web Page that will raise the profile of our partner communities and organizations and their struggle for justice and peace.
  • 3) Writing releases for subscribers to our list-serves that put a human face on the most adversely affected Colombians and their struggles.
  • 4) Presentations in our countries of origin (mostly North America and Colombia) that increase support for our Colombian partners and promote justice.
  • 5) Hosting national and international delegations who will become advocates for the communities CPT accompanies in the home communities and countries.
  • 6) Working with local, national and international media to draw attention to the oppression and struggles of our Colombian partner communities and organizations.
  • 7) Campaigns to end military aid to Colombia, end aerial spraying of food crops and people, block Free Trade Deals, and hold foreign corporations accountable for their actions here in Colombia, and close the SOA (School of the Americas), etc.
  • 8) Increasing and mobilizing our support bases nationally and internationally to take action on behalf of our Colombian partners.
  • 9) Lobbying government representatives to change policies that perpetuate injustice and violence to ones that will help create the conditions for peace with justice in Colombia.
  • 10) Public education about the national and international context and root causes of military, economic, social and political violence and oppression in Colombia.
  • Communities

    Communities we are accompanying:
    Community Process of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza
    Constituent Assembly of Micoahumado
    Community Process of Tiquisio
    Community of Las Pavas

     

     

    Community Process of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza

    (Simití, South Bolívar) 

    Garzal and its neighbouring community Nueva Esperanza belong to the rural municipality of Simití, south Bolívar. The communities have asked us to accompany their struggle to retain possession and gain title to the lands. They have occupied and cultivated for generations. Title of the land was granted to a drug lord, who operated a cocaine processing laboratory on until his operation was closed down in the 1980s. He disappeared for about twelve years, but later returned with paramilitaries threatening the lives of anyone who did not vacate “his” land. He has since died, and his heirs are trying to sell the property to agro-businesses that want the land to mono-crop palm oil. Despite death threats, the community is remaining on the land.  The community is currently embroiled in a legal struggle to have their right of possession recognized and titles granted to community members.

    Links to additional information:


    Constituent Assembly of Micoahumado

    (Rural communities of Morales, south Bolívar)

    Micoahumado, a county in the south of Bolivar, is made up of nine communities.  Micoahumado started to be populated in the 60s and 70s by refugees displaced by the conflict between large landholders and workers that resulted from the right to tenancy on the land of the departments Antioquia, Santander, and Cesar.  TheCPTer Pierre Shantz visiting the Micoahumado Coffee Cooperative wood industry strongly motivated the populating of this area and the people continue to live from that trade and also from agriculture.  Those who arrived built their homes in a single area that became the population center known as La Plaza

    Throughout its history the communities of Micoahumado have displaced for short periods of time due to massacres and other violence.   They have been the victims of landmines, US sponsored aerial spraying which ruins their food crops, and extortion. In 2003, the community formed The Constituents’ Popular Assembly, where the communities come together to seek the right to life, justice, and peace. 

    At the beginning of the process, the community said, “We are tired and we know that weapons have never brought good results; we have decided to start a process of dialogue and create a space where we can harvest peace, development, life, and culture without exclusion or weapons.”   Since , then they have successfully dialogued with the military, paramilitary and guerrilla and negotiated an end to armed conflict within their towns and villages. They have also negotiated a commitment with the guerrilla to de-mine the zone closest to the communities. Though there have been many successes, the community leaders continue to receive death threats and their lands continued to be threatened by multi-national interests.  

    Displaced Community of Las Pavas

    (El Peñon, Sur de Bolivar) 

    In 1997 one hundred twenty-three families (more than 500 people) organized themselves as the Buenos Aires Farmers Association (ASOCAB) and began working communally on the Las Pavas farm.  The farm, located two miles from the community of Buenos Aires, had been abandoned by the previous owner, Emilio Escobar.  Colombian law enables people to take possession of abandoned land; after five years, they are entitled to legal ownership of that land.  The government agency responsible for that process, the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER), visited Las Pavas in June 2006 and verified that the families met the conditions to begin the process of transferring the ownership of the land from Escobar to the ASOCAB families.

    After the INCODER visit, Escobar came to Las Pavas with a group of armed men and threatened the farmers.  A paramilitary group also went to the farm in late 2006 and issued a threat: if the people didn't leave, they could be killed.  The farmers abandoned Las Pavas. A few months later a land contract was signed between Escobar and a subsidiary of Daabon.

    In January of 2009, the families felt that the threat of violence had diminished and they returned to Las Pavas and planted their food crops.  Daabon sought a court order to have them evicted and riot police carried out that order on July 14, 2009.

    Riot police prohibited the people from returning to their fields and Daabon workers destroyed their entire 60 hectares of food crops.  Fourteen houses that belonged to the community were demolished.  Daabon cut down a communal forest and is drying up wetlands in order to plant palm.  CPT Colombia began accompanying the people of Las Pavas in April 2009 and is part of a coalition of human rights organizations that are working to enable for the community to return to the farm.   

    Daabon, the main palm oil supplier to The Body Shop, The Body Shop and Daabon both claim to maintain high standards for human rights and environmental protection, and they receive a premium price for their products as a result of their public image.  Daabon is also a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and has committed to upholding the principles of that association.  Daabon's acquisition of Las Pavas, the eviction of the families from the land, and the destruction of trees and the alteration of waterways on that land, violate the stated values of the Body Shop and Daabon


    Organizations

    Organizations we are accompanying:
    Federation of AGROMISBOL
    Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia  (CAHUCOPANA)

    Womyn’s Social movement against War and for Peace

    Southern Bolivar Agricultural-Mining Federation (AGROMISBOL)

    AGROMISBOL (Southern Bolivar Agricultural-Mining Federation) is a federation of primarily subsistence small-scale miners and peasant farmers throughout the entire Sierra de San Lucas mountain range in South Bolívar. Although their peasant economy is supporting hundreds of thousands of people, their very presence in a resource-rich part of the country is considered to be a barrier to economic development. The livelihoods and life-styles of these miners and farmers is in jeopardy because of military and paramilitary efforts to clear the land in order to provide international corporate mining and large-scale mono-crop agricultural projects with unfettered access to resources. Their subsistence lifestyles are seen as unproductive by global capitalism.

           At present, they have been abandoned by the state and there is little to no state infrastructure or services in the area. The communities of the area have organized under the umbrella of AGROMISBOL to defend their right to life and territory. Furthermore, the communities have attempted to dialogue with the government the La Mesa de Interlocucion and/or Southern Bolivar Roundtable for Dialogue. These discussions have failed because the government has failed to show to meeting and refused to continue dialogue.

    On the contrary, the government has continue to militarize the region and persecute the leaders of AGROMISBOL. The leaders have been assassinated by both paramilitary and military. Most recently, there were the murders of Alejandro Uribe Chacón on 19 September 2006, Edgar Martinez April 22, 2009, OMAR ALONSO OSPINA RESTREPO and JOSE DE JESUS RESTREPO nn February 10, 2010.

    Links to additional information:

    For more information about the beginning of CPT accompaniment see

    CPT Colombia release: Santa Rosa: Gold miners call for support to stop killings

    CPT Colombia Translation of Announcement : Two Miners of FEDEAGROMISBOL Assassinated

    Excellent background videos to the oppression and struggle of the small miners of the Sierra de San Lucas

    Crown to the Crona Goldfileds: the golden curse”.

  • Crown to the Crona Goldfileds: the golden curse Part 1 of 4
  • Crown to the Crona Goldfileds: the golden curse Part 2 of 4
  • Crown to the Crona Goldfileds: the golden curse Part 3 of 4
  • Crown to the Crona Goldfileds: the golden curse Part 4 of 4
  •  

    CAHUCOPANA (Corporation for Humanitarian Action and Peaceful Coexistence in Northeast Antioquia

    This peasant organization started in 2004 after years of repression from Colombian Armed Forces and Paramilitaries. Isolated from the rest of the province of Antioquia by a mountain range and historically abandoned by the government, the north-eastern region of the Antioquia province has had a strong presence of rebel guerilla groups FARC and ELN. As in most armed conflict the civilian population suffers the worst consequences. Labeling all civilians as guerilla fighters or as sympathizers, the Colombian Armed Forces and Right Wing Paramilitary groups prevented food and medical supplies from entering the region accusing the community of passing of the food and medical supplies to guerrilla forces. The Army and paramilitary groups set up checkpoints to monitor the movement of goods and forced people to pay illegal taxes for the right to enter goods into the area.

    Community leaders who spoke up against this gross violation of International Humanitarian Law (laws which dictate rules of war and treatment of civilian population) received threats or were assassinated. Assassinated leaders were often dressed as guerrilla fighter killed in combat but the community has been able to show that they were civilian leaders killed by the army and have brought army officials to trial. The blockade and assassinations led to the population of the region organizing themselves and demanding respect.  They seek to stop the humanitarian crisis (serious lack of food, medical supplies and basic freedom of moving in and out of region) and the violations of human rights in their communities.  Every year they organize a caravan of different organizations called a Humanitarian Action to a community to visualize the continued human rights abuses and bring in much needed supplies that the armed groups have restricted entry. Furthermore, they host trainings in rural communities to educate remote communities on defending their basic human rights and s the struggle for a more dignified life.

    Womyn’s Social movement against War and for Peace

    To participate and/or more information: http://www.mujerescontralaguerra.com/

     

    “Womyn will not bear nor raise children for war”  

    The Women’s Movement against War and For Peace consists of 40 organizations, including CPT Colombia, that are constructing a women’s agenda that starts for the perspective of base communities. They work to develop a common agenda that enables them to collect experiences and proposals of womyn. With these proposals they develop a collective strategy that contributes to the construction of peace at a local, regional, national, and international level. In 2009, they help conversations around three topics. 1) Womyn Land and Development, 2) Womyn, War, Peace, and democracy, 3) Womyn and Social Movements.  For 2010, they are hosting the Womyn's and People's summit of the Amercias against militarization and in 2011, they will be hosting Womyn courts for the Truth, justice, and Reperations.

    Related Organizations

    Related  Organizations:

    • Popular Womyn's Organization (OFP)
    • Peasant Association of the Cimitarra Valley (ACVC)
    • “Programa” PDPMM– Program of Development and Peace of the Magdalena Medio

    Popular Womyn's Organization (OFP)

    Women will not give birth nor raise our sons and daughters for war

     The Women Popular Organization started in 1972 to defend life and human rights by empowering women to transform their social reality and reconstruct their own social fabric and that of civil society.  They seek to train and mobilize grassroots women to build projects of life while resisting all forms of violence (economic, social, cultural, civil, and political) 

    Currently, there are more than 1200 women in the Middle Magdalena River Region that are part of OFP.  Individuals look to the OFP as one of the possibilities to transform their reality -- a reality where the state denies a great majority of its citizens any possibility of existing with integrity (access health, food, clothes, work, education, liberty, dignity, gender equality, recreation).”

    The OFP offers medical and legal attention, professional training, parenting support and other kinds of support to women and families. They also offer community kitchens that provide inexpensive yet healthy meals to the communities. The OFP has classes in leadership training for women in rural communities.  They work with the women to build women’s community action groups in their villages.

    The Two principles of the organization are:

    Civil Society: We defend civil society as a political process that allows us to construct proposals of life for everyone, in which the rules that govern us are inspired by democratic process that are not authoritarian nor militaristic.

    Autonomy:  This principle is the foundation of our ethics and organization. We do not accept pressure from the state or illegal armed actors. We are not subordinate to authority. We defend our autonomy as women with rights.

    For more information in Spanish, check out their website:   www.ofp.org.co

     

    Peasant Association of the Cimitarra Valley (ACVC):

    The peasant farmers association of the Rio Cimitarra Valley is a non-governmental organization of peasant farmers that organizes people into community action groups, cooperatives, and committees to defend human rights and the struggle for land.

    ACVC started as a result of a massive peasant mobilization in 1998, where the government signed agreements with the peasant sector of Colombia to pursue and punish paramilitary groups, military, and government agents that preformed human rights abuses by omission and or direct action. They also agreed to invest the resources to implement a development plan and to protect human rights in the region.  These agreements have been systematic and intentional ignored by the government. Since 1998, over 100 community leaders have been killed and 20,000 displaced.

    ACVC works to strengthen the unity and solidarity between rural organizations, communities, and student works. Furthermore, they continue to organize and resist against the social, civil, and political authoritarian development – a fascist project that continues to violently expropriate and displace thousands of Colombians.  

    “Programa” PDPMM– Program of Development and Peace of the Magdalena Medio

    Programa started in 1995 by people of the Magdalena Medio region with the purpose of building a region that focuses on life, peace, sustainable development, and Respect for human rights.  With the slogan “Life first,” program has grown to work most areas of the region. They are building this process with two fixed objectives:  1) sustainable human development, with all participating fully and fairly. 2) Construction of a civilian culture, a shared public space, where rights and obligations are guaranteed and demanded by  handling diverse interests in a democratic way.”

    http://www.pdpmm.org.co

    Other Colombian Organizations

    ASODESAMUBA (Barrancabermeja association of People Displaced)

    This Organization is focus on advocating for rights of displaced families in the Magdelena Medio Region.  They work in poor in communities of displaced families.  All of the leaders have been displaced themselves.  

    ASORVIM – Victims movement of Magdelena Medio.

    This is an organization comprised completely of victims of the civil war here in Colombia.  Their objective is to advocate for “truth, justice, and reparations” recognizing that the crimes against many of its members can never be repaired, looking for truth and justice will alleviate the suffering a little.  Part of a nation wide movement (the local movement was formed in 2005).

    Corporación Nación

    Corporacion Nacion seeks to contribute to building a democratic society by promoting thel defence of human rights, dignity of men and women without discrimination, peace and sustainable development. They participate in the process of accompanying autonomous communities, coordination with other organizations and strengthening the rule of law. They seek to to build a state that recognizes multiculturalism and social justice.  They begin their work at the level of family, working up to community, city, region, nation, and finally the entirety of the social fabric, both territorial and cultural. Corporación Nación focuses on building representative democracy through sustainable human development projects..

    http://www.etpbarranca.org/corporacionnacion/

    JustaPaz – Christian Center for Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Action
    A  program of the Colombian Mennonite Church founded in 1990.  Mission:  “Based on the example and calling of Jesus Christ, we search to encourage the action of individuals, churches, and communities in the practice of nonviolence for the constructive transformation of the conflicts and the formation of structures and life-styles that lead to a just and sustainable peace.” Three main projects: Training for Peace and Conscientious Objection, Analysis and Transformation of Conflicts, Construction of Peace at the Local, Regional, and National Level.

    http://www.justapaz.org/

    ONIC: National Organization of Indigenous from Colombia is an organization that works towards human rights and self determination for the Indigenous of Colombia.  It represents more than 90% of the indigenous groups within Colombia and divides its work into 5 sub regions.  Its focus is four fold; 1) Unity as a mechanism of strengthening the defense of indigenous communities; 2) Land as the essential element for life and development of indigenous peoples; 4) Culture to reclaim and strengthen the identity of indigenous peoples; and 4) Self Determination, for the freedom to apply the above principles, to exercise the communities own power and authority.

    http://www.onic.org.co/

    Photo Albums

    Archive: Human Rights Reports

    Archive of human rights reports produced by the Colombia project.

    Colombia Human Rights Report 2006

    You can download the Colombia Human Rights Report 2006 in PDF format. Or read it in Spanish.

    Introduction

    In 2006 Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), based in Barrancabermeja, Santander, the principal city in the Middle Magdalena region continued a permanent presence in the Ciénaga del Opón with a group of displaced communities that returned to their homes in 2001. Due to CPT's strategic location close to five departments, CPT's work also included participation in verification commissions to various rural communities. The commissions, composed of representatives from human rights organizations, human rights lawyers, officials from various United Nations agencies and the local government, documented human rights violations. Additionally, mobile teams visited other regions of the country in response to specific community invitations.

    CPT participated in meetings with governmental organizations and institutions, national and international NGO's, civilian and military authorities and diplomatic representatives in Colombia. At the international level, CPT shared experience and analysis of the Colombian context with Colombian solidarity coalitions including Americas Policy Group (Canada) and Latin America Working Group (USA), as well as with churches and ecumenical initiatives for Colombia. CPT's work in Colombia has led us to report the human rights violations we witness. A summary of those violations in 2006 follows.

    In addition to Barrancabermeja and its surrounding areas, CPT visited diverse regions in Colombia: Montes de Maria (Sucre, Bolivar), Nariño (Ricaurte y Barbacoas), Bolivar (San Pablo, Santa Rosa del Sur, Simití, Morales, Arenal, Rio Viejo, Regidor, Barranco de Loba, Tiquisio, and Montecristo), Santander (Landazuri), and Antioquia (Remedios). Communities and social organizations in all these regions largely viewed the demobilization of paramilitary groups that proceeded in 2006 as unsuccessful. We heard and witnessed violations of Human Rights law and International Humanitarian Law by paramilitary groups, the FARC, ELN, and several branches of the Colombian Military. The experience of CPT highlighted the continued activity of paramilitary groups, some anonymously and others identified with new names, including the creation of Las Aguilas or Aguilas Negras -Eagles or Black Eagles- in February and La Mano Negra -The Black Hand- in April. These groups recruited demobilized paramilitaries and continued past paramilitary activity when they began to threaten leaders of the social and human rights organizations and selectively assassinate and promote "social cleansing" in Barrancabermeja. Ex-paramilitaries also began to work as private "security guards," charging "taxes" for this "work." Furthermore, the gasoline cartel continued to operate in the Ciénaga del Opón with armed accompaniment.

    Report

    Statistics

    CPT accompanies the Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (Espacio de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de Derechos Humanos) in Barrancabermeja. This coalition gathered the following statistics in 2006:

    1. More than eighty-seven homicides have been committed in the region; seventy-one of these occurred in Barrancabermeja.

    2. Sixty-seven of these homicides were committed with firearms.

    3. More than 270 families (or 980 people) have been forced to displace from Barrancabermeja due to violence or threats.

    4. Inhabitants registered more than 120 complaints of threats with the Regional Human Rights Ombudsman.

    Events

    CPT either witnessed or heard first-hand testimony of the following incidents:

    SANTANDER

    March 3, Barrancabermeja. Association of Displaced People of the Municipality of Barrancabermeja (ASODESAMUBA)[1] and the Popular Women's Organization[2] (OFP) denounced persecution against their members by the reorganized paramilitary groups.

    March 24, Barrancabermeja. An unknown man shot Henry Murillo several times while he participated in a workshop for teachers. Henry survived, but is paralyzed from the waist down; he and his family displaced from their home as a result of the attempt on his life.

    June, Barrancabermeja. The "Black Hand" targeted people who identify as gay or transgender, young people and people who use drugs. An activist for an LGTB group shared with CPT that two people killed in June were part of the LGTB community and others were forced to displace.

    August 17-21, Miralindo, Landazuri. Community leaders spoke of death threats they and their families received, based on rumors that they signed a document requesting that the office of the president eradicate coca in the area.

    August 5, Barrancabermeja. Paramilitaries kidnapped, tortured and threatened ASODESAMUBA1 member Vilma Cecilia Salgado Benavides for three days. After releasing her, they continued to send telephone threats until she displaced from the city.

    Corregimiento Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja. Throughout the year, the CPT team observed activity of three armed groups in the region-the Colombian army[3], the guerrilla (FARC)[4] and paramilitaries[5]. The Colombian army conducted intrusive patrols, where the soldiers occupied civilian homes and patios, stole property, used kitchens and cut fences between pastures (April). The gasoline cartel was present in the communities throughout the year with paramilitary accompaniment. The same group set up illegal checkpoints where they stopped and searched the community motor canoe. The FARC guerrilla maintained presence all year and pressured people for food and collaboration.

    June 27, La Colorada and La Florida, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja. Armed paramilitaries killed Orlando Manuel Navarro while he was working on his farm. This assassination together with increasing threats against other members of the community led to the temporary displacement of four families and the permanent displacement of another.

    December 24, Los Ñeques, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja. Members of the Calibio Batallion detained two young men of the community, pressured them for use of their canoe, and harassed them to give information about the guerrilla location in the zone. The soldiers took pictures of them and fingerprints of a twelve-year-old boy.

    BOLIVAR

    February 18, Micoahumado, Morales. Members of CPT were stopped by a group of unidentified paramilitaries on their trip to Micoahumado while they were using a European Union car. The armed men asked for money in exchange for the use of the road.

    May 18. Pueblito Mejía, Barranco de Loba. Townspeople reported that some demobilized paramilitaries continued to commit crimes together with active paramilitaries. A group of demobilized and active paramilitaries kidnapped four members of the community. The group later released the four due to the community's strong response to this act. The paramilitaries threatened the communities with violence if they continued asking for support and protection from different national and international organizations and government institutions. The CPT team visited one of several mass graves dug by the paramilitaries. Despite the presence of the government representative and a member of the MAPP-OEA[6] on this commission, the mass graves have yet to be excavated.

    June 7-17, Micoahumado, Morales. Soldiers of the Batallón de Artillería de Defensa Aérea No.2 "Nueva Granada" - V Brigada (BAGRA) used schools for shelter, stole coca paste and accused members of the community of being guerrillas.

    August 9-10, Olivares, Río Viejo. Community members reported a series of threats, forced displacements, and house burnings in the area. CPTers saw the burnt homes and death threats written in charcoal on walls. There is no clarity as to the group responsible.

    August 26, Honda Alta, Corcovado, Morales. Soldiers of the BAGRA killed two unarmed and out-of-uniform guerrilla combatants-killing one as he fled and executing the other after he surrendered. In addition, the soldiers shot a child in the leg when they fired indiscriminately on the community. As both killings occurred outside combat, they constitute violations of international humanitarian law, as does firing on a civilian population.

    September 19, Mina Gallo, Santa Rosa. Soldiers of the BAGRA assassinated community leader Alejandro Uribe. In response to the killing, 1300 miners from sixteen communities, their families and other residents converged on the regional seat of government, Santa Rosa. They demanded that the government investigate Uribe's death and respond to ongoing military abuses against civilians in the area. The authorities refused to honor the community's request to meet with them with no military personnel present, so the two groups did not meet. Community members reported to CPT that members of the BAGRA threatened them: "This will not be the only death that you will have, there will be more deaths of leaders."

    December 3, Corcovado, Morales. CPT documented damaged legal crops due to aerial fumigations to eradicate coca plantations. Community members told CPT about a terrible odor during the fumigations and that many people became ill in the days afterward with headaches, stomach problems and "the flu".

    ANTIOQUIA

    April 3-11, Lejanias, Remedios. Community members testified during an assembly. Their testimony included seventy denouncements against people previously identified as paramilitaries but who had supposedly "demobilized." Twenty-five families had received death threats and at least two assassinations had occurred and one person had been disappeared. In addition, people had been arbitrarily detained; they often were hooded and tortured.

    SUCRE AND BOLIVAR

    February 24-28, Montes de Maria. CPT witnessed the situation of several families displaced by armed groups.

    July 21-26, Montes de Maria. Rural communities complained of military[7] blockades of roads that prevent free movement and transport of food and medical supplies, massive and arbitrary detentions of community members without due process, fumigations of avocado trees, the main agricultural product of the region, and the lack of basic services such as electricity, clean water, health clinics, schools and road repair. Civic and military officials denied the allegations.

    NARIÑO

    June and July, Rural areas of Ricaurte. CPT received testimony of communities who displaced as a result of indiscriminant bombing by the military, including a school.

    November 27, Ricaurte. CPT heard about fumigations in the area and illnesses that Awá Community members have suffered since the fumigations started. The nurse there described birth defects, bad skin rashes, breathing problems, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

    December 10, Altaquer. The army[8] executed a young man already in their custody. Ten minutes before he was killed, the eyewitness saw him dressed in a white tee shirt and jeans and unarmed. The article in the December 17th edition of "El Diario del Sur" reported that he was killed in armed combat.

    December 15 and 17, Altaquer, Ricaurte. An Awá Community leader told CPT that she was tense and fearful for her life because of threats. Hers was the 6th name on the death list of an Aug 9th massacre. CPT visited the site of the massacre. The five victims were all taken from their homes and executed in the same place at the same time. The army was based less than 500 meters away.[9]

     


    Footnotes

    [1] Asociación de Desplazados del Municipio de Barrancabermeja; Association of Displaced Persons of the Municipality of Barrancabermeja

    [2] Organización Femenina Popular; Popular Women's Organization

    [3] Batallón Plan Energético y Vial No. 7 "Rodrigo Antonio Arango Quintero" - (V Brigada), and Batallón de Ingenieros No 14 "Batalla de Calibío" (XIV Brigada)

    [4] Compañía "Rafael Rangel", Frente 24, Bloque Magdalena Medio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia

    [5] Paramilitary groups unidentified with a specific name.

    [6] Mission in Support of the Peace Process/Organization of American States

    [7] Segunda Brigada del Ejercito, Fuerza Naval del Caribe -Primera Brigada de Infantería de Marina-, Policía de Sucre

    [8] Grupo de Caballería Mecanizado No. 3 Gr. José Maria Cabal. Brigada No. 29 de Tercera División del Ejército de Colombia

    [9] Grupo de Caballería Mecanizado No. 3 Gr. José Maria Cabal. Brigada No. 29 de Tercera División del Ejército de Colombia

    AttachmentSize
    CPT_Colombia_Human_Rights_Report_2006.pdf157.52 KB

    Colombia Human Rights Report 2007

    You can download the Colombia Human Rights Report 2007 in PDF format. Or read it in Spanish.

    Introduction

    During 2007 Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), based in Barrancabermeja, Santander, the principal city in the Middle Magdalena region, continued a permanent presence in the Ciénaga del Opón with displaced communities who returned to their homes in 2001. CPT also maintained a long-term accompaniment of the communities of Micoahumado, Morales, Bolivar. The Federation of Agro-Miners of the South of Bolivar (FEDEAGROMISBOL) and the communities that compose this organization became a new focus of accompaniment, increasing CPT presence in the municipalities of Santa Rosa del Sur and Tiquisio, Bolivar. CPT participated as well in various verification commissions to rural communities in the Magdalena Medio. Composed of representatives from human rights organizations, human rights lawyers, officials from various United Nations agencies and the local government, these commissions documented human rights violations. Additionally, two CPT mobile teams visited Ricaurte, Nariño in response to invitations from the indigenous Awá people in that municipality represented by the Council of Elders of the Awá People of Ricaurte.

    Alongside the accompaniment of communities, CPT worked closely with other organizations to promote respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law through political advocacy. In Barrancabermeja, CPT continued to form part of the Human Rights Workers' Space, a regional coalition of human rights, social and ecclesiastical organizations. On a national level, the team participated in meetings with governmental organizations and institutions, national and international NGO's, civilian and military authorities and diplomatic representatives in Colombia. At the international level, CPT shared experience and analysis of the Colombian context with Colombian solidarity coalitions including the Americas Policy Group (APG) in Canada and the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) in the USA, as well as with churches and ecumenical initiatives for Colombia. CPT's work in Colombia has led us to report the human rights violations we witness. A summary of those violations in 2007 follows.

    CPT visited the following departments and municipalities of Colombia: Antioquia (Remedios, Yondó), Bolivar (Arenal, Cantagallo, Morales, Regidor, Rio Viejo, San Pablo, Santa Rosa del Sur, Simití, Tiquisio), Cesár (La Gloria), Nariño (Ricaurte, Cumbal) and Santander (Barrancabermeja).

    In the Middle Magdalena region, CPT continued to witness all armed groups ignoring the principle of distinction between civilians and armed actors, a distinction fundamental to International Humanitarian Law. Despite the demobilization of the paramilitary groups operating in the region, paramilitaries, demobilized and stillactive, persisted in threatening and harming the civilian population; they acted both unidentified and under various names including: Aguilas Negras, or Black Eagles; el Bloque Central de Bolívar de las Aguilas Negras, or the Central Bolivar Block of the Black Eagles; Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia-Bloque Central de Bolívar, or United Self-defense Forces of Colombia-Central Bolivar Block (AUC-BCB); and la Mano Negra, or the Black Hand. The army batallions Artilleriada Defensa Aerea No.2 "Nueva Granada" (Nueva Granada), Especial Energético y Vial No. 7 "Rodrigo Antonio Arayo Quintero" (BAEEV7), Infantería No. 4 "Antonio Nariño" (Nariño), and Ingenieros No. 14 "Batalla De Calibío" (Calibío), as well as the navy battalion Fluvial repeatedly and excessively used civilian spaces, heightening the already great risk to the civilian population. Furthermore, their use of unverified information as a basis for intelligence reports is cause for concern, as these reports are used in turn as the basis for issuing arrest warrants. Two guerrilla groups continued to violate civilian spaces as they operated in the region: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP); and Ejército de Liberación Nacional, or National Liberation Army (ELN).

    In Nariño, there has been heavy combat between the Battalion José María Cabal and the FARC throughout the year. The Battalion Cabal aerially bombed rural areas of Ricaurte, which caused massive displacement and continues to threaten further displacement. The FARC and other groups have used landmines and assassinations to intimidate the civilian population. Great numbers of displaced civilians are seeking refuge within both rural and urban Ricaurte but continue to live at risk of further violence.

    Throughout Colombia, populations identified as at-risk-Afro-descended, indigenous, women and children-suffer from the armed conflict at a disproportionately high rate. The abuses cited in the following report demonstrate this pattern in the Middle Magdalena region, where Afro-descended Colombians make up perhaps as high as 75% of the population. Likewise, the population of Ricaurte is 80% indigenous, and the majority of the indigenous population lives in rural areas, where the events reported in this document took place. Both in Nariño and the Middle Magdalena, levels of physical and sexual violence against women and children are extremely high, frequently due to the generalized violence of the armed conflict. Violence against women and children, like violence against indigenous and Afro-descended Colombians is often hidden or considered of lesser importance and therefore tends to pass below the radar of formal documentation processes.

    Report

    Statistics

    CPT works closely with the Observatorio de Paz Integral, or Holistic Peace Observatory (OPI), an organization that compiles statistics and information about the armed conflict in the Magdalena Medio. OPI's statistics for the first two thirds of 2007 are included here to give an overall picture of the civilian experience of the armed conflict.

    Table 1. Actions against the civilian population of the Magdalena Medio region in the framework of the armed conflict, January to August, 2007

    CATEGORY

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    Jun

    Jul

    Aug





    Total

    Individual Threat

    2

    7

    3

    5

    1

     

     

    3

     

     

     

     

    21

    Collective Threat

    5

    8

    1

     

    2

    3

    2

    4

     

     

     

     

    25

    Attack on Civilian Goods*

     

    3

    2

     

    1

     

    2

     

     

     

     

     

    8

    Attack on Goods Indispenable for survival*

     

    1

     

     

     

    1

     

     

     


     

     

    2

    Attempted Homicide

     

    1

     

    1

     

    1

     

     

     

     

     

     

    3

    Civilian injured in bellum actions

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    5

     


     

     

    5

    Civilian killed in bellum actions

     

    1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

    1

    Forced Displacement

    1

     

     

    3

    3

     

     

     

     


     

     

    7

    Massive Forced Displacement*

    2

    1

     

     

     

    1

    1

     

     

     

     

     

    5

    Arbitrary Detention

     

    11

    16

    1

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

    28

    Injury

    2

    1

    3

    1

    3

    5

    1

    8

     

     

     

     

    24

    Extrajudicial Excecution

    14

    10

    7

    10

    3

    20

    6

    5

     

     

     

     

    75

    Assassination

     

    4

    2

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

    6

    Intencional Homicide

     

     

     

     

     

     

    2

     

     


     

     

    2

    Pillaging*

     

    1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

    1

    Kidnapping

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     


    Torture

     

    2

    2

     

     

    1

    2

     

     

     

     

     

    7

    Use of Antipersonal Mines

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     


    Sheilding

    1

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    1






    5

    Sexual Violence

     

     

     

     

     

     

     







    Source: Political Violence Database, OPI.

    * In these categories, the number refers to the number of events, rather than the number of victims.

    Events

    CPT witnessed or heard first-hand testimony of the following incidents:

    SANTANDER

    Corregimiento Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja. Throughout the year, CPT observed activity of three armed groups in the region-the Colombian army, the guerrilla and paramilitaries. The Colombian army conducted intrusive patrols, where the soldiers occupied civilian homes and patios, stole property, used kitchens and cut fences between pastures. Known paramilitaries accompanied the gasoline cartel, an organized crime ring which steals gasoline from a pipeline that passes near the Ciénaga del Opón. This cartel began to store and transport gasoline in large plastic bags covered by feedbags that float in the river, a severe risk to the environment. The same paramilitaries also set up illegal checkpoints in which they stopped and searched the community motor canoe. Meanwhile, the FARC guerrilla maintained presence in the area all year and pressured people for food and collaboration.

    January 31, La Colorada, La Ciénaga del Opon, Barrancabermeja: Soldiers from the Navy Battalion Fluvial under the command of Sergeant Alemán occupied a civilian home. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    February, La Ciénaga del Opon, Barrancabermeja: Troops of the Battalion BAEEV7 occupied many civilian homes and shot a hole in a home. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    March 16, Los Ñeques and La Florida, La Ciénaga del Opon, Barrancabermeja: Paramilitaries, self-identifying as members of the AUC-BCB, an officially demobilized group, patrolled through the two communities and occupied civilian homes. Members of the Battalion BAEEV 7 marched intermixed with this group. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    March 31, La Ciénaga del Opon, Barrancabermeja: Seven men arrived at the Campo Alegre farm, four of them armed, wearing uniforms of a private security firm called "Aeroparque" and self-identifying as bodyguards of the others. Of the remaining three, one man identified himself as the son of the owner, and another as the owner's lawyer. These seven men destroyed the house of a resident with chainsaws, and sawed up logs that residents had harvested, rendering the logs commercially valueless. The men said they came "in peace" this time, but that the next time they would not. (Destruction of civilian goods, Threats)

    May 24, 4:00 am, Barrancabermeja: Personnel of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) attacked a group of displaced people who had settled on a piece of municipal land a few days earlier, claiming it as land for housing. ESMAD fired tear gas upon the people, who were sitting in their plots of land, singing. The tear gas affected a two-month-old baby in a nearby home. A young man experienced convulsions due to the tear gas and a beating by the police. Both the baby and the young man required hospitalization. (Excessive use of force)

    July 16, La Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja: Soldiers from the Navy Batallion Fluvial occupied a community celebration, carrying arms as they mixed into the civilian space. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    August 1, Barrancabermeja: The Central Block of the Black Eagles of Colombia sent an email threat entitled "Warning" to the Organización Femenina Popular, or Popular Women's Organization (OFP) and to the Comité Regional de Derechos Humanos, or Regional Committee on Human Rights (CREDHOS). In translation the threat reads, "BLACK EAGLES OF COLOMBIA, FOR OUR COUNTRY/ Social Organizations, unions, political parties, political leaders and human rights defenders...The decision in our bloc´s last meeting is to name as military targets in our area of control a group of people and organizations that we know in one way or another belong to groups of the extreme left... For this reason we warn organizations like: uso, ofp, asodesamuba, andas, PDA, acvc, and others that we will reveal soon. Also people such as david ravelo, gamboa, mario, claudia lines, kike, imat adala, lilia, William, johan, and many others that in our next communiqué we will make known...so we warn you to leave or abandon immediately your leftist activities or the well-named guerrilla proselytism, or we will enter in immediate action..." (Threat)

    November 4, Barrancabermeja: Two armed and hooded men forced their way into the apartment of YOLANDA BECERRA, president of the Popular Women's Organization, ransacked the apartment, pushed Becerra, held a gun to her head and threatened to kill Becerra and her family if they did not leave the city within 48 hours. (Violation of the principle of distinction, Breaking and entering, Threat)

    ANTIOQUIA

    January 24, San Franciso, Yondó: Soldiers under Sergeant Rubén Ruiz from the Battalion Nueva Granada built and occupied trenches within two meters of civilian homes. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    March 25, Ojos Claros, Remedios: Soldiers from the Battalion Calibío asked two male youth who were cutting lumber, including 21-year-old Carlos Mario García, to ferry them across the Tamar river in the youths' canoe. After crossing, the soldiers separated the two boys and began to interrogate them individually. Seven soldiers took the 16-year-old youth down a path, put on rubber gloves and told him they were going to kill him; he escaped by swimming across the river. Later the body of Carlos, dressed in a uniform and with a rifle and munitions, was presented by the Battalion as a guerrilla killed in combat. The community then displaced because of fears of further violence to another town in the area. Since they displaced within the same area, the state does not recognize them as displaced people and therefore does not give them benefits. (Extrajudicial killing, Displacement)

    May 9, Yondó: A demobilized paramilitary known as "Arturo" spoke in the city park to a young man who had gone to a meeting of victims of crimes of the state in Barrancabermeja several months earlier. "Arturo" said, "We know everyone who went to the meeting; we have a list from Ramon Isaza [demobilized paramilitary leader] of the people we are going to disappear." (Threat)

    May 28, San Franciso, Yondó: Soldiers from the Batallion Nueva Grenada barracaded homes with sand bags and occupied them with other army gear, effectively using civilian homes as guard posts. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    BOLIVAR

    December 8, 2006 (from testimony taken in May 2007), La Posa, Cantagallo: Army troops detained a woman in her house for hours, accusing her of being a guerrilla, and refusing her a drink of water. They then took her to a house 300 meters away, where a guerrilla deserter was present. She reported, "They said terrible things to me." The troops later released her. (Arbitrary detention, Inhumane treatment, Threat)

    January 6, 2007, El Diamante, Paraíso, Simití: Paramilitaries stole 13 heads of cattle from the community. (Theft)

    March 10, Mina Caribe, Santa Rosa del Sur: A group of soldiers under the command of Sergeant Segundo Vargas of the Nueva Grenada Battalion entered the town while the community was holding an Assembly. A civilian dressed in an army uniform and carrying a weapon patrolled with the soldiers and indicated individuals who were then questioned by the army. The army left only after the sergeant's commanding officer ordered the sergeant to leave as a result of a call from the local Human Rights Ombudsperson. In addition to violating International Humanitarian Law, this occupation of civilian space also violates an agreement signed between the government on October 30, 2006. (Violation of the principle of distinction, Use of illegal civilian informants in a military patrol)

    April 14-15, La Posa, Cantagallo: Troops from the Battalion Calibío broke down the doors of the community center, broke locks, and ransacked the center. (Destruction of civilian property)

    April 26, Santa Rosa del Sur: Troops of the Nueva Granada Battalion arrested Teófilo Acuña, the president of the Southern Bolívar Agricultural Miners' Federation at the Federation office. The arrest warrant was not signed by a district attorney, and was based on a military intelligence report using unverified information provided by guerrilla soldiers who had demobilized. The arrest order was overturned 10 days later by the judge reviewing the case, and Acuña was released. (Arbitrary detention)

    Late April/May, La Posa, Cantagallo: A squadron of 300 soldiers with two demobilized guerrillas, entered the village. The soldiers obscured their identifying badges, both personal and battalion, but were most likely from the Battalion Calibío or the Battalion Nueva Granada, the two battalions that have regular presence in the zone. The soldiers said they were from Bucaramanga and uttered the following threats:

    • To three or four people whom they called together: "It is better that you go, we are telling you as friends." One family displaced as a result of this threat; others named the fear it caused them.
    • From several soldiers: "Don't be scared of us, but rather of the ‘Black Eagles' [a new paramilitary group] that is coming after us."
    • From other soldiers: "Don't believe these stories about the ‘Black Eagles'; we are the ‘Black Eagles.'"
    • From one of the demobilized guerrillas to a resident: "Don't walk alone, I am walking among the lions, I know why I say this."

    (Threats, Forced displacement, Patrol without clear identification, Use of illegal informants)

    May 3-5, La Posa, Cantagallo: Soldiers of the Battalion Calibío occupied a civilian house, and did not permit the woman of the house to cook during the day. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    May 9, Mina Proyecto, Arenal: Soldiers under Sergeant Reyes of the Nueva Granada Battalion stopped a member of the community of Mina Proyecto and told him, without giving a reason, that he could not travel out of the community. (Arbitrary detention, Restriction of free movement)

    May 29, Micoahumado, Morales: Soldiers belonging to the insurgent group, the ELN, mined the road from Micoahumado to the village of La Guásima, in violation of accords signed with the community in 2005. (Violation of the principle of distinction, Use of unconventional weapons)

    June, La Guasima, Micoahumado, Morales: Soldiers from the Nueva Grenada Battalion arrived at the home of a young mother, beat her and threatened to burn her 8-month-old baby. (Violation of the principle of distinction, Unnecessary use of Force, Threat)

    June, La Garita, Arenal: A local resident reported that a demobilized guerrilla soldier had told him that troops of the Nariño Battalion were going to detain him. The resident claimed that the testimony against him was unfounded and provided by a demobilized guerrilla as a way to gain favor with the army. The resident said he feared leaving his home. (Threat)

    Mid-June, Progreso Alto, Micoahumado, Morales: Soldiers of the Nueva Granada Battalion asked the drivers of three trucks to transport them from Progreso Alto to Micoahumado. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    June 22, La Plaza, Micoahumado, Morales: Under the command of Sergeant Monsate, soldiers fully uniformed and heavily armed occupied homes and camped in the community's cemetery, less than 100 meters from civilian homes. Despite petitions from CPT and community leaders, the soldiers did not leave the community. Additionally, soldiers demanded gasoline from one resident of the community, who refused to supply it, and they obliged a man to drive to pick up their supplies. On June 24, they moved camp to the opposite end of the community, surrounding a civilian home. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    July 6, La Plaza, Micoahumado, Morales: In the middle of the night, members of the ELN attacked troops from the Nueva Granada Battalion camped around a civilian house, which is home to five residents, including three children. During the several hours long battle, numerous bullets passed through the house, and several bombs exploded around it. None of the residents were injured, but bullets damaged their belongings and home. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    July 25, Puerto Coca, Tiquisio: Soldiers from Nariño Battalion occupied homes. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    July 26, La Plaza, Micoahumado, Morales: At least 30 armed and uniformed members of the ELN occupied civilian spaces, including civilian homes. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    September 18, Torero (La Punta), Santa Rosa del Sur: Along the highway on the way to the Punta from Santa Rosa, three heavily armed guerrilla soldiers, out of uniform, set up a check point. Later, in the Punta, a group of soldiers from the ELN arrived and did not allow anyone to leave the area for an hour. (Illegal checkpoint)

    June to end of year, Garzal and Nueva Esperanza, Simití: Employees of the Barreto family returned to the township with the intention of removing legally titled residents from land they have farmed for decades. The family currently has title to the land in question due to irregular procedures at the municipal level. The employees are working the land and now occupy, amongst other places, the school of Nuevo Esperanza. Accompanied by known active paramilitaries, a member of the Barreto family has shown up in the communities. (Implicit threat, Appropriation of land)

    November 29, Tiquisio, Bolívar: Troops of the Battalion Nariño camped within the limits of the village of Puerto Coca and watched television in a civilian home. Troops of the same battalion have been camped all year long on a hill in the middle of the town of Tiquisio Nuevo. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    CESAR

    February 15, La Gloria: Three members of the Aguilas Negras forced two boat drivers to take them down the river. After arriving partway down the river, the paramilitaries allowed one of the boat drivers to return. They forced the other to take them to a stream, where they encountered the army. The two groups exchanged gunfire and the army killed the three members of the Aguilas Negras and the civilian boat driver. (Violation of the principle of distinction)

    NARIÑO

    March 21, Pasto, Ricaurte, and Tumaco: A group named "Nueva Generación," or "New Generation," sent an email threat to the Permanent Committee on Human Rights, the Corporation AVRE, the Council of Elders of the Awá People of Ricaurte (CAMAWARI), The Indigenous Unity of the Awá People (UNIPA), The Foundation for Peace and the Social Office of the Catholic Church of Tumaco. In translation the threat reads as follows: "NGOs of Nariño / Defenders of Narco-terrorists / R.I.P / We are not going to permit that the oppressive yolk of the guerrilla returns to the region. / We will not lose the conquered liberty because patriotic honor should be defended and respected. / All of those that work for narco-terrorist NGOs are duly warned. / Long live liberty, no to old terrorist oppression in the guise of human rights." (Threat)

    April 25, Tallambi, Cumbal: Two women, Bertha Marín Hernández, and Zoraida Serafina Ortíz Gualpaz and a young girl, Jhoana Yuliza Muñoz Ortíz were killed by antipersonnel mines with unknown authors. (Use of illegal arms)

    April 30, Cuaiquer Integrado la Milagrosa, Ricaurte: Members of the FARC-EP assassinated Ramiro Patiño, an indigeous man, and left his body surrounded by anti-personnel mines. (Extrajudicial killing, Use of illegal arms)

    May 1, La Esperanza, Cuaiquer Integrado la Milagrosa, Ricaurte: Members of the FARC-EP assassinated Antonio Mauricio Guango Pai, an indigenous man. (Extrajudicial killing)

    November 20, Ricaurte: In a meeting with members of CPT, Coronel Óscar Robayo, the commander of the Battalion José María Cabal in Ipiales, advocated the concentration of the Awá people of eleven extensive reserves of Ricaurte in a few population centers along the highway. When CPT asked if this "concentration" would be the equivalent of a massive displacement from ancestral lands of the Awá, Robayo did not deny it but argued that this would allow the army to clean out the guerrilla in the area. Robayo did not have a plan to protect the rights of the Awá people in their territory throughout the municipality. Additionally, Robayo said that if the Awá do not displace, the national army would not support them with any school or community projects. (Implicit threat)

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    Colombia Human Rights Report 2008

    You can download the Colombia Human Rights Report 2008 in PDF format. Or read it in Spanish.

    Violations of International Humanitarian Law in Colombia

    December 2007 to November 2008

    Report prepared by Julián Gutiérrez Castaño, Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteer.

    For a summary of International Humanitarian Law, see www.icrc.org/Eng/ihl.

    Introduction

    This report outlines violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)1 observed by Christian Peacemaker Teams in Colombia's Magdalena Medio region (Bolivar and Santander provinces) and Nariño province from December 2007 through November 2008. CPT had a presence in other Colombian provinces, but the cases that appear in this report are only in the three provinces mentioned.

    This report documents only violations of IHL - cases related directly to Colombia's armed conflict. Human Rights violations are omitted. To include violations that took place outside the context of war would carry a totally different meaning beyond the scope of our work. This is not meant to ignore the ongoing problem of government inattention to violations of Colombians' most fundamental rights.

    The IHL violations covered in this report were committed by the three principle actors in the Colombia's armed conflict: the Armed Forces (National Army, National Police, the Navy and other State institutions), paramilitary groups (Aguilas Negras, Autodefensas Gaitanistas, Autodefensas Bolivarenses, etc.) and guerrilla groups (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army and the National Liberation Army). In practice, ongoing alliances and infractions of the Principle of Neutrality committed by the Armed Forces when they associate with paramilitaries to combat guerrillas or to attack civilian populations lend credence the recurring argument that there are really only two groups of armed actors in Colombia's armed conflict.

    This report includes only cases of which CPT has direct knowledge, either by having witnessed the violation or by taking information directly from victims or witnesses. In some cases, victims' names are omitted for their safety. Because CPT's work is limited to certain areas within the provinces mentioned, and is concentrated particularly in the Magdalena Medio region, other sources should be consulted in order to complete the pictures of IHL violations within these departments. The Observatory of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination Group (CCEEU) recently published the Final Report of the International Mission of Observation of Extrajudicial Executions and Impunity in Colombia; the Center for Research and Education in the Public interest (Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP) publishes a semiannual report, Noche y Niebla, one of the most complete sources of national statistics. In the Magdalena Medio region, the Holistic Peace Observatory (Observatorio de Paz Integral, OPI) of the Magdalena Medio Development and Peace Program (Programa de Desarrollo y Paz en el Magdalena Medio, PDPMM), Corporación Sembrar, the Cimitarra Valley Peasants' Association (Asociación Campesina del Valle del Río Cimitarra) and the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CREDHOS), constitute the most reliable centers for the collection and dissemination of Human Rights and IHL violation reports.

    Statistics

    The following statistics provided by Holistic Peace Observatory (OPI) are documented violations of IHL committed in the Magdalena Medio region by the three armed actors identified earlier.

    CATEGORY

    TOTALS

    Individual Threats

    24

    Collective Threats

    5

    Attack on Civilian Goods

    1

    Attack on Goods Indispensable for Survival

     

    Attempted Homicide

    1

    Civilian Injured in Bellum Actions

     

    Civilian Killed in Bellum Actions

     

    Forced Disappearance

    5

    Massive Forced Displacement

    2

    Arbitrary Detention

     

    Injury

    20

    Extrajudicial Execution

    102

    Assassination

    32

    Intentional Homicide

    4

    Pillaging

    1

    Kidnapping

    2

    Torture

    4

    Use of antipersonnel mines

    2

    Shielding

    1

    Sexual Violence

     

    TOTAL

    206

    Accounts

    BOLIVAR

    San Luis, Simití, Bolívar. December 1, 2007

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Execution of prisoners of war. Soldiers of the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion assassinated four paramilitaries of the Aguilas Negras, who had surrendered after engaging in combat in an inhabited rural area of San Luis, Simití. The executed paramilitaries' bodies were subsequently presented as if they had been killed in combat.

     

    La Posa, San Pablo, Bolívar. December 28, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Intentional Homicide of Protected Persons. Soldiers of the Batalla de Calibío Battalion apprehended Parmenio Manuel Hernandez Anaya, a member of the Cimitarra River Valley Campesino Association, shot him in the back, dressed him as a guerrilla and presented him as having been killed in combat. The soldiers were accompanied by an informant.

     

    Micoahumado, Morales, Bolívar. January 12, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries, National Army.

    Description: Intentional Homicide of Protected Persons. An ex-guerrilla paramilitary known as "El Flaco Miguel," working as an informant for the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion, shot and killed David Salazar Laguna and wounded his son while the two were traveling on a motorcycle near the soccer field in Micoahumado. The assassination occurred while "El Flaco Miguel" was patrolling with soldiers. Later, Mr. Salazar was presented as a guerrilla killed in combat by the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion.

     

    La Cooperativa, San Pablo, Bolívar. January 27, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army.

    Description: Intentional Homicide of a Protected Person. Soldiers of the Batalla de Calibío Battalion killed Miguel Angel González Gutiérrez, a 23 year-old member of the Cimitarra Valley Peasants' Association. The soldiers placed him in camouflaged clothing and presented him as a guerrilla killed in combat. Mr. González's father had been arrested a week before on charges of rebellion.

     

    Puerto Rico, Tiquisio, Bolívar. February 3, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army (FARC-EP)

    Description: Kidnapped for Political Persecution, collective occupation. The FARC-EP kidnapped a leader of Puerto Rico and took his automobile, which served public transportation needs of the community. The leader and vehicle were freed following intervention by the community.

     

    San Pablo, Bolívar. February 18 or 19, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Intentional Homicide of Protected Persons. Paramilitaries of the Autodefensas Bolivarenses set up a checkpoint on the road between San Pablo and Santa Rosa and assassinated Miguel Eugenio Daza, leader of the Association of Small Cacao Producers of Southern Bolivar (Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Cacao del Sur de Bolívar, APROCASUR), and his driver, Jhon Martínez. They also killed community leader Wilmar Tabarez, who was traveling separately by motorcycle. (APROCASUR had helped 192 familias to switch from illicit crop cultivation to cacao.)

     

    Alto Cañabraval, San Pablo, Bolívar. March 12, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrators: National Army and Paramilitaries

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction, Collective Threats. Citizens of the communities of Bajo Cañabraval, La Florida and El Retorno denounced the presence of the paramilitary group Aguilas Negras. Denouncements against the National Army included occupation of civilian spaces over a period of several days by soldiers, attempts to recruit some members of the community as informants and making unsubstantiated accusations that others are guerrillas. Members of the community also denounced Army threats to send the Aguilas Negras to punish them.

     

    El Paraíso, Simití, Bolívar. March 13, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Attack on Civilian Goods. National Army Soldiers burned several homes in the community of El Paraiso during illicit crop eradication operations under Plan Colombia.

     

    Bolívar. April 10, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective and Individual Threats. The Northern Colombia Block of the Aguilas Negras sent an email threat naming as military targets members of the Farmers and Miners Federation of Southern Bolivar (Federación de Agromineros del Sur de Bolívar, FEDEAGROMISBOL), Sembrar, the Magdalena Medio Development and Peace Program, the Tiquisio Citizens Process, and the priests of Tiquisio, Arenal and Rioviejo. The threat accused the social and religious leaders of being guerrillas, called them people undesirable to the Colombian government "who should be eliminated" and warned that they will kill a leader for each meeting or action they undertake in their social processes. The threat arose only one week after the same leaders met with the Government, which committed itself to taking protective measures for their labor. The Constituent Assembly of Micoahumado, one of those threatened, had to cancel a planned visit from journalists headed by Alfredo Molano. The threats resulted in the flight from the zone of Catholic Parish Priest Rafael Gallego and church workers Said Echavez and Martha Lucia Torres on April 27.

     

    Puerto Rico, Tiquisio, Bolívar. April 25, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective threats, Pillaging. Delia Castro and Jorge Tafur, leaders of the Tiquisio Citizens Process and the Farmers and Miners Federation of Southern Bolivar, were threatened with death by paramilitaries in Puerto Rico.

     

    Mina Proyecto, Micoahumado, Morales, Bolívar. May 26, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army, Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Threats, Pillaging. "El Flaco Miguel" organized a paramilitary group of at least 47 men with whom he began to threaten and extort the Mina Proyecto community. "El Flaco Miguel" is an ex-guerrilla paramilitary who works as an informant for the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion. The Paramilitary commander established his authority in his knowledge of the zone and its leaders from the time when he was a guerrilla. Residents also testified that he extorts while patrolling with and working for the National Army.

     

    Puerto Rico, Tiquisio, Bolívar. June 18, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries, National Army

    Description: Collective Threats. Two men on a motorcycle, one of them recognized a paramilitary named Alfredo Atehortua ("El Gato"), sought Delia Castro and Jorge Tafur, leaders of the Tiquisio Citizens Process and the Farmers and Miners Federation of Southern Bolivar, stating publicly that they "had signed their death sentences" by what had been said in a meeting in San Pablo. The two paramilitaries had been pursuing the two leaders while also being seen talking with soldiers of the Nariño Batallion.

     

    Puerto Matilde. San Pablo. Bolívar. July 10, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Nacional Army

    Description: Intentional Homicide of a protected person. Calibio Batallion soldiers assassinated campesino Aicardo Antonio Ortiz, a member of Cimitarra Valley Peasants' Association, in his home. They took his body, dressed it in camouflage, added weapons and accessories of the type used by guerrillas and presented him as a guerrilla killed in combat. Mr. Ortiz belonged to the Seniors Club and was anticipating an operation on a hernia he suffered. He was a member of the City Council and participated in the Buffalo Project, financed by the European Union.

     

    La Y. San Pedro Frío. Santa Rosa. Bolívar. July 17, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Lack of identification of combatant status. A platoon of soldiers from the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion was patrolling in the zone together with individuals armed and uniformed like soldiers but whose faces were covered with black scarves. Platoon members acknowledged that this is a common practice in the zone.

     

    San Pedro Frío. Santa Rosa del Sur. Bolívar. July 23, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Looting, no identification of combatant status. Soldiers from the Luciano D'Lhuyar Batallion were present in the town center during a community assembly with the Farmers and Miners Federation of Southern Bolivar (FEDEAGROMISBOL) and CPT. The troops eventually left, but the commander refused to identify himself, even taking the step of covering his nameplate and the insignias on his uniform. The same Army platoon had recently confiscated some explosives that the miners were transporting for mine excavation. The miners had obtained the explosives through an agreement between FEDEAGROMISBOL and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

     

    La Conformidad, Micoahumado, Morales, Bolívar. August 8, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction. Soldiers from the Luciano D'Lhuyar Battalion used civilian property as an encampment. When CPT members present took photos of the illegal occupation of the home, the Army attempted, without success, to take the camera from them.

     

    Puerto Coca, Tiquisio. Bolívar. August 24, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: the State

    Description: Collective threats of displacement. A group of campesinos from Puerto Coca that occupied a barren plot of land since 1988, faced a possible mass displacement provoked by State action in favor of a landowner who wanted the land back after having left it abandoned for more than 20 years. During this time the campesinos had occupied and made improvements on it.

     

    Cantagallo, Bolívar. August 25, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Intentional Homicide of protected persons. The paramilitary group Aguilas Negras assassinated 27-year-old Alexander Rodríguez, a resident of the village of Bajopatico, Catagallo, while he was traveling in a public bus in the town center of Cantagallo. An attempt to assassinate him two weeks earlier had been unsuccessful.

     

    Puerto Matilde, San Pablo, Bolívar. September 30, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Fiscalía General (Federal Prosecutors), National Army

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Neutrality. In the formation of a task force to investigate the death of a member of the Cimitarra Valley Campesino Association (ACVC), Federal Prosecutors excluded the participation of organizations that accompany the ACVC. The Prosecutors based the request on the need to carry out a neutral and impartial investigation. Ironically, participating in the commission was the Batalla de Calibio Battalion, whose soldiers are believed to have committed the assassination to be investigated.

     

    Santa Rosa del Sur, Bolívar. October 17, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Threats of death to protected persons. Fernando Lopez Henao, a recognized paramilitary from Santa Rosa del Sur, arrived at Residencia (hotel) Los Pinos inquiring about Teofilo Acuña, President of the Farmers and Miners Federation of Southern Bolivar, and saying "the time has come." Paramilitaries have made multiple threats on Mr. Acuña's life and he has been subjected to political and judicial persecution by the Colombian government.

     

    NARIÑO

    Ospino Pérez, Nariño. December 2, 2007

    Presumed Perpetrator: Nacional Army, Guerrilla

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction. The National Army maintains a constant presence in the urban center of the municipality. Guerrillas have made numerous attacks on Army positions, and the Army has responded to the attacks, generating combat situations that put civilians' lives at great risk. Civilian leaders have urged the Army to change its positions to places that do not imperil the population. The Army has responded by accusing the civilian leaders of being guerrillas.

     

    Pasto, Nariño. April 30, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective threat. The Third Skinhead Force of Bogota (3ª Fuerza Skinhead Bogotá) of the Aguilas Negras sent a death threat against the Organization of Indigenous Unity for the Awa People (UNIPA). In the threat they accused them of being communists, guerrillas, Jews, unnatural enemies of God and used other expressions that do not bear repeating.

     

    Pasto, Nariño. May 7, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective threat. The Black Eagles paramilitary group threatened a group of students of Nariño University (Universidad de Nariño) with death. The threats coincided with a scheduled visit from Senator Piedad Córdoba, who canceled her visit due to the threats and to the withdrawal by Pasto's Chamber of Commerce of its commitment to provide an auditorium for the event when it became aware of the Senator's plan to be present.

     

    El Verde, Barbacoas, Nariño. May 10, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Infraction of the Principle of Distinction. The National Army was camping in civil-ian homes located near the Pasto-Tumaco highway near El Verde, Barbacoas. In addition, they had parked four military tanks adjacent to the homes. The Army occupation of the residences put at risk the lives of the indigenous, since the FARC-EP is very active in the area.

     

    Tumaco, Nariño. May 22, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army (FARC-EP)

    Description: Collective threats. The FARC-EP issued death threats to leaders of collectively held Afro-Colombian territories near Nariño's Pacific coast. In the threat they gave until the end of May to abandon their leadership positions, or in June they would begin to kill them.

     

    Ipiales, Nariño. May 23, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction. An official of the Mecanizado Cabal Battalion accused the indigenous population of the Awa, displaced in the municipality of Ricaurte, of belonging to the guerrillas, although he stated that "even though they know who the displaced really are, they're not going to take any action against them."

     

    Samaniego, Nariño. May 23 or 24, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army (FARC-EP)

    Description: Kidnapping for political persecution. A medical worker of the Ricaurte City Council was kidnapped by the FARC-EP in the municipality of Samaniego. Psychologist Dora Liliana Alvarez was serving the indigenous population of the Awa in Nariño municipality.

     

    SANTANDER

    Los Ñeques, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja, Santander. December 27, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army (FARC-EP)

    Description: Violation of the fundamental guaranties. Members of FARC-EP accosted an adolescent woman of the community, took her to an isolated place and questioned her about a denouncement for sexual abuse against a family member that she had authorized to be registered with the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing. They warned her against taking action against the accused man.

     

    Los Ñeques, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja, Santander. January 4, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction, Lack of identification of combatant status. Seven soldiers from the Rafael Reyes Battalion occupied a property near the school of Los Ñeques. In the group was an armed and uniformed person with no symbols that would identify him as a soldier of the National Army.

     

    Los Ñeques, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja, Santander. January 18, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Unknown

    Description: Intentional homicide of protected persons. A hired worker at a ranch along the Opón River arrived at 2:30 am to a neighboring ranch, saying that he had heard shots in a neighboring room in the house where he was sleeping. The following day, the worker and the neighbor returned to the house where the worker had heard the shots, and they found Orlando "El Cura" another worker, dead with several gunshot wounds to the head.

     

    La Florida, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja, Santander. January 20, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Navy

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction. Members of the Navy's Advanced River Post No. 31 (Puesto Fluvial Avanzado No. 31) camped in the school at La Florida. Additionally, they ignored community members' requests to investigate the January 18 assassination in Los Ñeques.

     

    Ciénaga San Silvestre, Barrancabermeja, Santander. February 3, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of Fundamental Guarantees by Forced Recruitment. Soldiers of the Nueva Granada Battalion, under the command of Jaime Jaimes, were recruiting young people that did not have their identification cards with them in the area of the Ciénaga San Silvestre. The commander stated that he did not need to confirm whether or not the young people were students because "students should be studying," even though this illegal recruitment he was being carried out on a Sunday.

     

    Puerto Wilches, Santander. February 18, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Police

    Description: Civilians injured in Bellum Actions. The National Police Riot Squad attacked striking employees of palm oil companies in Puerto Wilches using batons and tear gas.

    Los Ñeques, Ciénaga del Opón, Barrancabermeja, Santander. March 5, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of the Principle of Distinction, Collective and Individual Threats. Soldiers of the Batalla de Calibio Battalion were camping in the yard of a private home. They intimidated the community with a presumed list of guerrilla collaborators. They took a photo of a minor and accused him of being an informant to the guerrillas. Paramilitaries had assassinated the boy's father a number of years earlier.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. March 17, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: the State, Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Death threats. The Aguilas Negras paramilitary group sent written death threats to social organizations that led a nationwide march on March 6. In spite of the civil character of the march, high-ranking National Government officials had referred to it as a guerrilla march, putting at risk the lives of its organizers.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. May 8, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Army

    Description: Violation of fundamental guaranties by forced recruitment. Soldiers of the National Army's 5th Brigade recruited young people in the streets and a gymnasium in the city's northeast sector.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. June 1, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Death Threats. A group of hooded Aguilas Negras paramilitaries in a small truck threatened to kill seven young persons in southeastern Barrancabermeja. The paramilitaries also fired their weapons into the air. They later threatened five other young people in the Boston neighborhood in the city's northeastern quadrant.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. June 18, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Attempted homicide. Two paramilitaries attempted to assassinate a demobilized paramilitary in the Versailles neighborhood, wounding him with a bullet. During the shootout a neighborhood youth was injured.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. July 12, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Civilian Injured in Bellum Actions. A member of the Women's Popular Organization was attacked by a group of demobilized paramilitaries after an automobile accident. The group struck her head and chest, until other civilians came to intervene. Later, members of the same group began to patrol around the woman's home.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. July 21, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Threats. Members of the paramilitary group Heroes of Castaño patrolled the city in motorcycles and distributed death threats against leftist social organizations and union members of the city.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. July 30, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Intentional Homicide, collective threats. The Presidents of the administrative subdivisions (comunas) of the City of Barrancabermeja warned that they would resign their positions if City Hall did not take effective action to protect them. The day before, Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, President of the Barrio (neighborhood) Ciudadela Pipaton, had been assassinated. The assassination occurred amid political tensions between the various City Council members and death threats against various comuna presidents.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. August 15, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Unknown

    Description: Collective threats. Three men from an unnamed armed group carried out surveillance of a community vigil in Barrio La Liga. The vigil was held as a denouncement of an August 12 attempted murder that injured a psychologist, a passerby and two demobilized paramilitaries. The surveilling group was in a 4X4 vehicle with tinted windows and Bogotá license plate number OBF-304. Their presence intimidated many people at the vigil as well as others who decided not to attend to avoid the risk.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. August 22, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective threats. The Aguilas Negras paramilitary group threatened the life of members of the youth organization La Legion del Afecto. In the threat they accuse the youth of impeding planned executions of drug addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes, and guerrillas. In addition they accused the members, by name, of belonging to these vulnerable groups as though it were a reason to assassinate them.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. August 28, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: National Police

    Description: Violations of fundamental rights. In Barrancabermeja's Port area, agents of the Police Intelligence Department took people's photos, fingerprints and identification numbers for no apparent reason.

     

    Puerto Wilches, Santander; Cantagallo y San Pablo, Bolívar. September 8, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Threat. A list of people threatened with death was distributed in the urban centers of the three above-mentioned municipalities. All of the persons named in the list belonged to vulnerable populations (street people, prostitutes, drug addicts, etc. and the list referred to them as disposables.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. September 17, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Individual Threat. Two men arrived on a motorcycle at the house of a member of the Women's Popular Organization. When they informed that she was not found, they began to ring the bell excessively, hitting the door, threatening the women that answered and demonstrating that they knew where to find the social leader.

     

    Barrancabermeja, Santander. October 30, 2008

    Presumed Perpetrator: Paramilitaries

    Description: Collective Threat. The paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas Gaitanistas threatened death to members of the SINALTRAINAL food industry workers union in Barrancabermeja, as well as other civilian groups.

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