(Translated by Amy Rose Pekol, a CSN volunteer translator)
The Association for Alternative Social Promotion, MINGA denounces and condemns before the Colombian and international community the vile murder of a community leader from Catatumbo (North Santander Department), ELADIO ORTEGA. Mr. Ortega was allegedly murdered by the FARC guerilla group last Sunday, August 3, 2008 in the San Juancito sub-division in the municipality of Teorama.
Eladio Ortega served as President of the local Community Action Council and he had just been reelected by his community on the same Sunday he was murdered. It’s worth noting that Mr. Ortega was also a prominent leader of the Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMAT in its Spanish acronym) and played an important role in mobilizing Board Associations in San Juancito, El Aserrío and La Cecilia in September of 2007 for ECOPETROL and the Colombian government to repair their roads.
The same guerilla group responsible for Eladio Ortega’s death murdered two regional leaders of the Social Integration Committee of Catatumbo: CISCA TRINIDAD TORRES in July of 2005 and JUAN GUERRA in September of 2006. The recent murder of a Río de Oro (Tibú) Community Action Council president was also attributed to the FARC.
Aside from violating the most precious right, the right to live, crimes such as these break down the social and organizational processes of the Catatumbo where community members have managed to develop life plans for the region while resisting paramilitary repression and military abuse. These life plans are in opposition to the neo-liberal model of social and economic control favored by the Center for Coordination and Integrated Action (CCAI), which favors transnational companies over the local communities.
Bogotá, August 5, 2008