(Translated by Diana Mendez, a CSN volunteer translator)
We thank you for helping to disseminate news of what is happening in the region and the great threat that looms over the lives and dignity of the peasants and indigenous people, due to the paramilitary presence. Additionally, we suffer from the threat of fumigations to be announced by the government in the coming days.
We ask your solidarity and support.
The Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT) denounces, before the national and international community as well as the Colombian State, the worrisome situation that has developed during recent days in the Catatumbo region in the North of Santander.
According to reports from the rural community of Guamalito in the Carmen municipality, on March 10, several men were seen distributing a leaflet with a written message threatening the lives of community members found outside of their homes after 10:00pm. In the same leaflet, they threatened to kill drug users, thieves and prostitutes. They asked to be forgiven for any accidental deaths that might occur. This leaflet was also distributed to the youth and students of the area.
On March 11, these same leaflets threatening acts of social intolerance (or the poorly named “social cleansing”) were also distributed in different neighborhoods of the Ocana municipality. There are reports that this also took place in the neighborhoods of Polaco and Carmen, where people were gathered together in order to give them these threatening leaflets.
On the evening of March 12 several men who identified themselves as paramilitaries threatened and committed extortion against various residents and business owners in the municipality of Convencion.
We are spreading the word about these serious threats so that urgent measures may be taken in order to guarantee the safety of the region’s residents. After all, when such actions have been threatened in the past, they have often been carried out.
Catatumbo, March 19, 2009
Coordinacin Colombia Europa Estados Unidos- Nodo Nororiental
Nacional de Victimas Crimenes de Estado- Capitulo Norte de Santander
Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez
Corporación Jurídica Humanidad Vigente