(Translated by Micheal Ó Tuathail, a volunteer CSN translator)

Patricia Buritica, a member of the National Reconciliation Commission which
is overseeing the implementation of the paramilitary demobilization, sent
this letter after Carmen Cecilia Santana was murdered.

Bogotá, February 8, 2007



Still shaken in my reason and heart by the news of the murder that
occurred yesterday afternoon, 7 February 2007, of Carmen Cecilia
Santana Romaña, in the municipality of Apartadó, Antioquia, I want to
express not only my sadness but also the general repudiation that we
must all feel in view of this wave of crimes against the victims of
violence and conflict in this country.

Carmen Cecilia was 28 years old and leaves as orphans her sons Andrés
and Sebastián (who had already lost their father, Marco Tulio
Hernández, a banana worker killed in 1995) and her daughter, Camila,
all under the legal age.

This past November, Carmen Cecilia visited my office in Bogotá,
seeking legal advice to denounce the murder of the father of her
children and the intimidation and fear that had forced her to leave
the region, finding herself displaced in the city of Villavicencio.
During our chat, she felt secure, having not previously found the
opportunity to denounce or talk about the events with anyone other
than her own family. In my position as Commissioner of the National
Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (Spanish acronym CNRR), I
gave her a sense of confidence. I explained to her the legal tools and
mechanisms that, as an indirect victim, she could use: the protection
available for her and her immediate family, humanitarian aid that
could minimize economic distress, and perhaps most important of all,
her obligation to speak out, so that those responsible pay for the
damage they caused. She asked me for time to think about it, and I
obliged. Toward the end of December she told me that, thinking about
her children, she had decided to speak out and had returned to the
region. The fear had not let go of her, but she was conscious of what
she ought to do. Although she did not want to approach the region’s
authorities with the issue, I suggested she do it through the
Colombian Women for Peace Initiative, the organization which I direct
and which is dedicated basically to attending to and advising victims.
Sadly, Carmen Cecilia was not able to speak out.

Given this wave of generalized terror across the country, of
hopelessness and fear, victims are being murdered and revictimized. In
this situation, the conduct of the authorities is innocuous. Force is
insufficient when human life is involved.

I call for the attention of the national government, the Civil Rights
Office, the Attorney General, the departmental and municipal
authorities, the international organizations that work with these
vulnerable populations, and especially the CNRR, so that each and
every victim in this country enjoy special protection, that impending
mechanisms be activated, and that this daily extermination of victims
be averted.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621

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