( Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN volunteer translator)
Cristina Isabel Guzmán Martínez Arrested
I am Isabel Martínez Navarrete, mother of Cristina Isabel Guzmán Martínez, a student of film and television at the National University. She was arrested on Thursday, November 13, at 10 am, as she left our home, located in the Belén neighborhood, in the area of La Candelaria in Bogotá.
I want to declare that Cristina has no connections to any illegal organization whatsoever; she spends all her time studying and taking care of her young daughter, since she is a mother and head of household. Nevertheless, I don’t oppose her being investigated. What I cannot condone in any way are the illegal form, methods, and means being used to arbitrarily surveille and arrest people like Cristina.
For several days, we had noticed movements of private cars and a taxi in the area, but we didn’t think it important enough to report, because we weren’t absolutely sure of being followed. On Wednesday November 12, at approximately 6:45 am, as Cristina left our home, she noticed a van parked on 6th Street at the intersection of highway 2 A, facing the entranceway to the house. She saw that they were filming her from the van, which has a blue cabin and the license plate BVA 399. Then on the cell phone she told me: “They’re following me.” And so they continued following until the moment when she got on a bus to go to the University, where she filed her first report. Then we made an appointment with a lawyer for Thursday at 10 am, to meet in order to fill out our respective complaints at the district attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s office, and other governmental agencies.
At 10 am on Thursday, we left precisely to inform the authorities about the anomalies we had witnessed. We were surprised when, coming to 6th Street at the intersection of highway 2 A, we saw a parked taxi cab with two people watching us. We continued walking, but when we opened the grating in order to go out onto the street, the two people who had been in the taxi cab got out and prevented us from continuing, saying that they had come to arrest my daughter. I was horrified because they were not an official patrol and they were two people (a man and a woman) dressed in civilian clothing, without identification and without a warrant for her arrest. Cristina told them that she would go with them but they would have to let her make a phone call. Meanwhile, I called a councilman on my cell phone. He answered and I asked for his help, because these were two people in civilian clothing with no warrant, in a taxi cab with license plate VHI 435. (During these moments, I remembered the disappeared young people of Soacha who appeared dead in Ocaña, and the disappearance and execution of the union leader Guillermo Rivera, who was arrested by uniformed police.) I began to shout at them that I did not agree with this arrest because this is how the young people of Soacha, who were tortured and killed in Ocaña, were taken and they would do the same thing to my daughter. The woman took out military identification and let me see her name–Magda Jazmín Pérez Tunjuano–but I still thought that in this country anybody can obtain a false document and I continued insisting in a loud voice and calling my neighbors, saying that they were civilians, that this was not legal, and that they were going to disappear Cristina. I think that this is what really saved her, because when I entered my house I called an official from the Traffic Secretariat for the District. I gave him the license plate number of the taxi cab, and he answered that that car was not a taxi cab in Bogotá. Then I really became terrified that they had finally taken away my daughter, and I was told to ask for her in the SIJIN or police detention center of the Modelia neighborhood. I was only able to calm down when the lawyers found her in that place and it was established that the woman is a sargeant and the man who accompanied her has the last name of Jiménez.
Colombia is the only country in Latin America that does not need a military dictatorship to put in practice different illegal methods of arresting, torturing, disappearing, or executing its victims. This is, sadly, the “most stable and long-established democracy of Latin America.”
Bogotá D. C. November 15, 2008
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621