( Translated by Deryn Collins, a CSN volunteer translator)
Once again the State, through its armed arm, silences the sensitive voice of a young student and fatally wounds another. Flowers cut down in full springtime. The pain affects the rebel happiness. The National Army of Colombia assassinated Catherine Soto Ospina (Natural Sciences Student) and gravely wounded Rolando Quintero (Philosophy Student) both students at the University of Valle, Cali.
When will the assassin’s bullets stop?
In the early hours of Friday 3 August 2007 at approximately 3.30am, in the rural zone of the municipality of Buenaventura, a hamlet of San Cipriano, a very popular rural tourist area in the department of the Valley del Cauca, Catherine Soto Ospina and Rolando Quintero were treacherously attacked and shot at by Army units, without warning and with no consideration of their civilian state ( desarmados and indefensible) whist they were walking as normal in a zone for tourists and local inhabitants in general.
Our companions, like common and wild beings….our companions in flight, Catherine and Rolando, walking along the railroad track towards the hanging bridge, and just as they were crossing (Catherine was walking in front of Rolando) were surprised by a stray but officially marked bullet. She fell mortally wounded, a victim of the Army assassin’s bullets and immediately after Rolando was hit three times by another burst of fire, causing him to fall into the river gravely injured, where the current took him took the bank where he hid, hoping that the light of day would save him from the hoard of assassins. With the first rays of the sun, Rolando decided to come out of hiding to find help and who should find him but precisely the Army that hours earlier had shot him. They were travelling on a vehicle with guns that uses the train track – a typical vehicle in this zone). Sadly, very sadly, because not only was he injured but he was placed by the body of his walking companion Catherine. And this with the absolute order that he must not look at her or touch her. Don’t touch, don’t look, don’t talk but minutes earlier they had shot Catherine four times and him three accurate bullets in the leg. Heroes exist, that is clear and like prison dogs hunt their victims. Our friend, travelled now, his leg covered in mud, ‘travelled’ with his attackers (victimarios), towards Buenaventura, his head next to her head, even though hers was destroyed by a bullet that entered the left maxillary.
Once in Buenaventura, Catherine was taken to the morgue and Rolando moved to the regional hospital in the custody of the army, where due to the gravity of his injuries the medical corps decided to move him to Cali. But said move was not immediate and it was only made possible when a commission of the University arrived from Cali, thanks to a communication from Rolando to a companion of his. Meanwhile, the military authorities in Buenaventura,help was offered by the Navy and the Army in transporting Roland and Catherine’s body, including a helicopter offered by Captain Edwin Moreno, but in the end no help at all was given, not even with the medical costs that were caused those attending for a another dishonour of a institution stained by some officials, sub-officials and soldiers that along with the State have to respond to the community of the university of the valley and Colombian society on account of such cowardly and savage acts that for at least four times in two years put in mourning the university student body that unto this day the national government with its already known exhaustive investigations punish those guilty of these crimes.
This is not an error of intrigue by the mass media, when in the mass media media the declarations of the army general LEONARDO GÓMEZ HURTADO, affirm that it was an "error" in a military operation, justifying it on account of the suspicions the unit had about the movements of the students, Catherine and Rolando, who were on the only and obligatory path used habitually by tourists and locals in general. According to him Catherine had gone forward, then returned to where Roland was and then she went ahead again; this is nothing more than an example of the level of devaluation of human life that the units of the Colombian army have reached in their paranoia of guerrillas, where after spying on uanarmed civilians they fire and then investigate. Can it be right that today he simply says it was an error? Can it be right that to the friends and family of Catherine, a general of the Colombian Army, threatens those who do not know how to make with silly things such as demands that the army will pay for everything , while a lawyer asks what they will do with this money? According to this general the problem can be resolved with money and because of this State will pay, as someone said, the life of Catherine and many more does not interest them. Today with the pain that the Colombian Army has caused with the assassination of CATHERINE SOTO OSPINA, of just twenty two years of age and the grave injuries of Rolando, and the even more grave injuries to his soul, we ask for the punishment of the units of the Army who participated in this cowardly act, we ask for no more ‘exhaustive inquiries’ ,while those responsible are free to carry on committing crimes through the length and breadth of the country, because the surest thing is that they will be order to move while being exonerated of any responsibility, in the traditional ‘solidarity of the corps’, institutional, for impunity is the response that is given to Colombian society.
The memory of Catherine, we ask the Colombian State and its government, with respect, to punish the cowardly criminals. Colombian society deserves that the Colombian Army be an institution that respects human life, and metes out ordinary justice and not penal military justice sooner rather than later, applying the new penal norms that make justice to the damage caused by the army billeted in San Cipriano on August 3rd 2007.
We ask that the national and international communities make their respective pronouncements, to the President of the Republic Alvaro Uribe Vélez, the Minister of National Defence Juan Manuel Santos, the Minister of the Interior Carlos Holguin Sardi, the Procurator General of the Republic Eduardo Maya Villazon, the National Defender of the People Volmar Pérez, so that the effective military billeted in San Cipriano who are responsible for the death of KATERINE SOTO OSPINA and who left ROLANDO QUINTERO gravely injured, students of Valle University and those who, over the last two years at least have assassinated four other students with absolute impunity to date.
ORGANISATIONS THAT SIGN:
ORGANIZACONES Y GRUPOS DE TRABAJO ESTUDIANTILES DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL VALLE, SINDICATO DE TRABAJADORES DE UNIVALLE, ORGANIZACIONES DEFENSORAS DE DERECHOS HUMANOS.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE VICTIMARIOS:
The Commander of the Third Brigade regrets to inform that public that military operations carried out in operation Cisneros with the objective of neutralising terrorist acts – at around 3.30 a.m today on the railway track Buga-Buenaventura, in the rural area in the rural neighborhood of San Cipriano, in the municipality of Buenaventura, resulted in the death of the young Caterine Soto Ospina and the wounding of Señor Rolando Quintero. At the place of the incident were Commandants of the Third Division and the Third Brigade, accompanied by functionaries of the Penal Military Justice system, the CTI and LA FICALIA, with the object being to progress the respective investigations tendientes the clarification of the event . The Commander of the Third Brigade expresses his condolences to the Soto Ospina family and wishes for the prompt recovery of Señor Rolando Quintero.
BRIGADIER GENERAL LEONARDO GÓMEZ VERGARA
COMMANDER III BRIGADE