(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN’s Program Assistant)
Popayan, January 25, 2010
In the first part of 2010, The Human Rights Observatory of the Network for Life and Human Rights in Cauca registered the assassination of 17 people, with the most common method being the use of a hired hit man. These statistics make Popayan the city most affected by this kind of violence. Similarly, four threats against leaders of social organizations, principally of the indigenous and Afro movements, have been registered. Three Afro organization and union leaders have been assassinated in acts that have been concentrated in the Northern Pacific zone.
Paradoxically, these acts occurred after the transfer of the III Division of the National Army to the department of Cauca in December of 2009, and after the development of various security councils and innumerable discussions about the first head of state of the Department on the 10 of December. These acts and discussions coincided with the Day of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when it was declared, “Human Rights is one of the most important agendas that cannot be ignored and must be reviewed.”
On the 1st of November Melba Guetio, the Indigenous Governor of the town of Cerro Tijeras, received multiple death threat telephone calls. During the afternoon hours of the 5th of January Jarley Muelas Vivas and Milton Cruces Sanches, Governors of the towns of Agua Negra and Chimborazo, received a death threat text message. These threats, that the leaders of this area have been receiving since October 2009, were precursors to the assassinations of Robert Guachet, Marly Carolina Huila, Renaldo Bomba, Nilson Campo, and Egidio Obando Huila during 2009.
On the 18th of January in the district of El Caramelo, municipality of Caloto, teacher Jaime Bazante Guzman, 48 years old, was assassinated. Guzman stood out as a professional union leader and participated actively in activities demanding rights.
COCOCAUCA, the Coordination of Communal Councils and Organizations based in the Black towns of the Caucano Pacific was also a direct victim of violence this year; at 7p.m. on the 21st of January community leader Jose Feliz Orejuela was assassinated as he passed by the basketball court in the community of Noamito. Orejuela was a teacher of the Educational Institute in the locality of the Community Council of Manglares, municipality of Lopez de Micay. The victim was the President of the Communal Action Group of Noamito and supported COCOCAUCA’s ethnoeducation strategy.
Then, on the 22nd of January, Milton Grueso Torres was assassinated in the same community. Torres was a well-known leader in the Regional COCOCAUCA and the Treasurer of the Community Council of Manglares of Black communities. This organization has additionally denounced the reception of anonymous calls to one of its leaders in the Unified Territory, and the continued Glyphosate fumigations in the area during 2009.
The member organizations of the Network for Life and Human Rights in Cauca have announced their solidarity with the CRIC (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, the ACIN (Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca), COCOCAUCA and the Teachers of Cauca, and are calling to the Governmental Institutions of National and International Control that protect human rights, and the international humanitarian right, so that they can demand that the Colombian state investigates the denounced acts. We are similarly calling to the non-governmental organizations, and sister social organizations to announce their solidarity, denounce the acts, and to monitor the acts registered here, and others that have occurred in the department so that we can insure that they do not remain with impunity.
NETWORK FOR LIFE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN CAUCA