[Translated by Micheal O Tuathail, a CSN volnteer translator, from La Chiva in Canada]

No one can escape the social, economic, educative, and political crisis faced by the department of Arauca for many years now. It is one of the most militarized regions in Colombia. This is difficult to overlook, especially since the arrival of the presidency of Álvaro Uribe Vélez and its ‘democratic security policy’. On 7 August of 2002, the department was declared a ‘Zone of Rehabilitation and Consolidation,’ making it the principal laboratory of war in Colombia.
As this policy’s epicenter, in the last few years, Arauca has seen how the armed conflict has been intensified and the systematic violation of human rights, civil liberties, and transgressions of international humanitarian law acutely heightened.
Notwithstanding this critical situation, invisiblized more and more by the mass media, many voices of resistance have found a solid voice. These include social, campesino, and indigenous organizations, unions, rural and urban communal action assemblies, cooperatives, and associations of youth, students, and women, who have been articulating an Alternative Plan of Regional Equilibrium, studied, designed, and approved by the communities in accordance with the region’s conditions, customs, and realities. Moreover, the plan is being formulated in a democratic and participatory way that represents the social expressions present in the region. In one way or another, this process has permitted these groups to promote a level of organization that resists the systematic and permanent violations of the rights of the communities.
As a result of this process of coordination, the department’s social organizations and regional victims’ associations, together with the political opposition in Congress, have organized for this Thursday, 27 September, a public hearing in the municipality of Saravena. The hearing will feature not only the presence of members of local communities but also that of the international observers who accompany them, the Ambassador of Argentina, and delegates from the Swiss Embassy, the United Nations, the UNHCR, and the OAS.
Beyond the search for truth, justice, and reparation for the crimes against humanity the Colombian people have suffered, this hearing’s principal objective is to document, denounce, and make visible the worryingly grave human rights situation faced by the department.
The voices of the Araucan people will rise up through the live transmission of this hearing via the internet, broadcasting next Thursday, 27 September at 2:30pm.
Hear the transmission here: http://sarayi.kariva.org:8000/arauca.mp3.m3u
Also available through Dachi Bedea (Our Voice): www.onic.org.co:8000/dachibedea.mp3
Comunicaciones ONIC
Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo
SILSA ARIAS, comunicaONIC: 312-6394123

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

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