Paramilitary Conspiracy throughout Colombia

( Translated by David Brown, a CSN volunteer translator)

Resent:  Colombian Senate Human Rights Commission
Public Testimony
Plenary Session of the Senate of the Republic (Colombian)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Today, I would like to denounce to the Plenary session of this Corporation and in front of national and international public opinion, in my condition as a citizen and as President of the Human Rights Commission of the Senate of the Republic, the existence in Colombia of a national conspiracy carried out via simultaneous actions by clandestine groups and paramilitaries at the service of large blocks of power, tied to the interests of the trans-nationals, large land owners and legal and illegal entrepreneurs, that in this last period have dared to gravely threaten the communities of indigenous, peasant, miners and of women’s, human rights and workers organizations and their member associations and unions throughout the national territory in a reckless and criminal manner.
On Monday, August 11th, 2008, while the Joint Commissions for Human Rights of the House and Senate in the Municipality of Barrancabermeja were in session, a cowardly threat was made against the Regional Indigenous Council of the Cauca (CRIC) and the Association of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Cauca (ACIN) that represent all the traditional authorities of the Nasa peoples in the northern zone of the department of Cauca.  This unofficial communication was signed only as  “Campesinos Embejucaos de Colombia” (A old song named meaning Angry Peasants) planting an open threat of death, desolation and terror against the indigenous communities in the departments of Cauca, Valle, Tolima, Putumayo and Huila utilizing tortuous and traitorous language that is produced and legitimized in declarations by the commandant of the 3rd Brigade of the National Army, General Jaime Esguerra Santos and that appears in the context in which the President of the Republic and spokespersons from his wing in the Colombian Congress  who have referred to the indigenous communities in the department of Cauca and their traditional authorities, who exercise their jurisdiction with constitutional authority in their territories, as “invaders”    This open threat against these communities and their traditional authorities in the Department of Cauca reveals a conspiracy by clandestine sectors, land owners and paramilitaries in the Department of Cauca that shield themselves with this strange anti-indigenous discourse that springs out of official government declarations and that only serve to cover for the most dangerous and criminal of their intentions.
In this same sense, yesterday the Public Audience session of the joint commissions of Human Rights of the house and senate in the municipality of Barrancabermeja  denounced a new takeover by three advance paramilitary and drug trafficking groups of the municipality of Barrancabermeja. These groups have threatened and intimidated the social, trade union, peasant, human rights and women’s groups in this petroleum port.  This occurs in the midst of a growing climate of violence, during which the number of violent deaths in the petroleum port have doubled in comparison to those that occurred last year.  During this wave of violence, serious threats have been delivered from paramilitary groups that use the name “Aguilas Negras¨ (Black Eagles),  “Heroes de Castano” (Castano´s Heroes)  and the self named “Comandantes Paramilitares¨  (Paramilitary Comandants) against the Agro-Mining Federation of Southern Bolivar, the Association of Families of the Victims of May 16, 1998.  Equally, the presence, during the last 60 days, of operations by paramilitary groups in the popular barrios of Barrancabermeja have been denounced before the senate.  These groups carry out irregular operations and intimidate, in a permanent manner, the communities and victims of these sectors.
All this joins with an asphyxiating climate of impunity in the cases of numerous assassinations against citizens in the region of the South of Bolivar, perpetrated on many occasions by members of the public armed forces.  During the public hearing in Barrancabermeja very serous acts were condemned that presumptively compromise the responsibilities of units attached to the Nueva Granada, Narino, and Calibio battalions as well as the 15th and 4th brigades of the National Army.  These acts were presented to the Fiscal General of the Nation for his investigation and clarification.  These denouncements have been presented during a period and in a region in which 200,0000 hectares have been granted to the trans-national, Anglo Gold Mine Ashanti, for the exploitation of the most important gold reserves  in Latin America.  This is a long standing conflict with the small miners and the peasant communities of this region that are fighting to survive in their territories, surrounded by drug traffickers, mega projects of coal, oil and bio fuels and the resurgence of paramilitary groups.  All this occurs without a security policy on behalf of the State that could contain and guarantee the rights of the local population in the midst of the conflict.  
At the same time, in the municipality of San Onofre, Sucre activists from the victims movement, Aida Melendez and Adriana Porras, have been seriously threatened.  These two have been active in the defense of the process of resistance by the population of this municipality in order to obtain an effective response from the National Government in terms of reparations of materials integral to the grave crimes committed in this municipality by paramilitary groups.  These two persons have been threatened by paramilitaries that today confront investigations under the jurisdiction of Justice and Pease, for grave crimes committed ruing the years of 2002 to 2005 in this locality.  In the same way, these threats against the population occur in a period in which the National Reparations Commission advances its work to develop a pilot reparations program in this zone in the department of Sucre.
In addition to this, in the municipality of Palmira, in the department of the Cauca Valley, this past August 4th, 2008 a grave harassment was carried out by armed men that were mobilized on two motorcycles in a sector of the Zamorano barrio against my aid and member of my Legislative Technical Team, Juan Pablo Ochoa during the moments when he tried to complete a meeting with a group of  sugar cane workers that were carrying out a process of a presentation of special charges on behalf of sugar cane workers before the confederations of this sector.  This act, that has now been brought to the attention of the authorities, is not only a serious provocation against the sugar cane workers that struggle to vindicate their claims in the Cauca Valley but is also a serious aggression against the functions of the Colombian Congress and its functionaries.
Finally, I would like to indicate that the sociologist, recorder and columnist ALFREDO MOLANO might end up being a scapegoat in the process that is being carried out in the district 4 penal district of Bogota by the Araujo family.  What has happened with journalist, ALFREDO MOLANO is a serious attack on freedom of expression in Colombia.  The adjudication of his column Araujos (EL Espectador, Bogota, Feb 25, 2007, could end up costing Alfredo Molano his freedom to write in Colombia.   The demand for slander and insult against Molano seeks to reestablish a jurisprudence that acts against the ¨crime of opinion¨ in Colombia.
I call on the National Government to act to protect the indigenous communities throughout all the national territory and, in particular, that it take measures that guarantee the integrity of the indigenous councils and the population in the northern part of the department of Cauca.  That it achieve the prevention of the actions that have been threatened against the indigenous councils their spokespeople and the communities, with especial emphasis in the northern zone in the Department of Cauca
(I call on them) in the same manner, to take measures that will allow us to guarantee the protection of the social and human rights as well as victims movements in Barrancabermeja, Santander, San Onfre, sucre and in Palmira in the Cauca Valley; that in the same manner they guarantee the integrity of the peasant and mining communities in throughout the southern region of Bolivar.
I also make a public call to the Fiscal General of the Nation that the threats against the indigenous organizations, social and human rights organizations and the victims movement of the South of Bolivar, as well as those in the locality of San Onofre in Sucre, be investigated.
I also call on the international community, the United Nations human rights protection system and the Organization of American States delegation in Colombia so that they make a declaration before the Colombian Government, demanding that they take efficient actions against the continued presence of under cover groups and actions of paramilitary origins that today threaten the communities and social movements in all of Colombia.
Alexander López Maya
Human Rights Commission, Senate of the Republic
Sent by : Network for Humanity and Solidarity – Colombia

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