The Standing Committee of the Peasants of Catatumbo

(Translated by Steve Fake, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN’s Volunteer Editor.)

Written by the Standing Committee of the Catatumbo Region Humanitarian Displaced Camp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Standing Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp denounces the serious injuries caused by the Anti-riot Mobile Police Squadron (ESMAD) to two young peasants, one of whom lost an eye, while the other may lose his fingers.

As reported in the press conference on the morning of Monday, November 8, 2010 by the Standing Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp, yesterday, November 7, 2010, between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., ESMAD, in a joint operation with the SIJIN (Local Branch of the Judicial and Investigative Police), burst violently onto the premises of the municipal government of Teorama and Convention where a peaceful protest of some 100 peasants was taking place, leading to serious violations of the protesters' fundamental rights.

It is the responsibility of ESMAD and the authorities that gave the order for the onslaught, the unscrupulous and cruel infliction of personal injuries to the young men, both 23-year-olds. According to the medical report, one of the youths lost his left eye as a result of a would inflicted by a rubber bullet, and the other lost some fingers on his right hand because of the shrapnel from one of the devices released by ESMAD.

Meanwhile, the peasants of Catatumbo reiterate our decision to remain in the Municipal Peasants Council until the national government meets with a high-level commission. We call for a first meeting with our policy commission, leading to a concerted agenda to address the major humanitarian crisis currently existing in the region. We have presented solutions, such as the creation of peasant reservations, conducting popular hearings, establishing the Forum for Dialogue and Agreement (MIA), and implementing our own development plan and the seven criteria for the pilot plan for crop substitution, among others. To these solutions we have not received any statement from the national government to move forward.

Under the Municipal Peasants Council, today we begin a peaceful picket outside of the government headquarters in the city of Cúcuta. The protest focused on rejecting the violent actions of ESMAD, while in the municipalities of Teorama and Convention meetings were held with the authorities in order to seek the solidarity of the mayors and councilors in organizing a meeting between the national government and the Committee of the Humanitarian Displaced Camp.

Also, the Mayor and the Representative of the Convention helped to locate people who participate in the Houses for the Peasants movement in the municipality and committed to ensuring that the police respect the integrity of our farmers. Additionally, the Representative committed to pressing for the return of the community's belongings lost in the government headquarters after their violent eviction.

In Teorama, the meeting went ahead with the Mayor, the Representative and almost all of the Municipal Cabinet. Finally, the Mayor permitted the municipal gymnasium to be used for lodging for the protesters and agreed to return a video recorder that ESMAD seized from a group of peasants. For its part, the protest continued with a march through the main streets of Teorama.

Finally, the peasants who peacefully protest in El Tarra, vacated the seat of the municipality voluntarily and are currently in the gymnasium developing the Municipal Peasants Council.

San José de Cúcuta, November 8, 2010

Standing Committee of the Catatumbo Region Humanitarian Displaced Camp


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