Defending David Rabelo for his human rights work

Public Communiqué

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


The Luis Carlos Pérez Legal Collective asserts:


1. Its support for and recognition of the work that David Ravelo Crespo has developed for decades as a defender of human rights, a social, community and political leader in Barrancabermeja. He has done nothing else but work tirelessly for respect for life, for liberty and to win human rights in the area of Magdalena Medio, as well as in the struggle against impunity for the serious crimes committed against campesinos/as and workers, perpetrated by the very people who today point them out and unjustly accuse them—groups of the extreme right, paramilitaries.


2. We are worried when we see how in recent months the work of the organizations that defend human rights and of the people who are their members has been seriously affected by what is clearly a systematic practice by groups of the extreme right and the current regime to affect, to point out, to threaten, to interfere with and stigmatize the work of prestigious human rights organizations. An example is the case of CREDHOS, "Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, [Regional Human Rights Defense Firm—SC] which has been the victim of multiple attacks, aggressive acts and security incidents. We offer them all our respect and admiration for persisting and resisting in the defense of human rights in a region that has suffered social-political violence, and for remaining firm despite this difficult situation of confronting risks in their work.


3. Let us recognize in this criminal trial a vile judicial machination designed to affect the liberty, honor, personal integrity and good name of our co-worker David Ravelo Crespo and that of the organization CREDHOS, of which he has been a leader for many years. This case, like many others, will disappear like a house of cards (as happened with the cases of Julio Avella de ANDAS and of the Communist Party in Bucaramanga in 2003 and many other organizations that defend human rights in the region; or like the case of the ACVC that was also a victim of this kind of judicial machination since the year 2005; and like what happened with the CPDH [Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, The Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights—SC] of Arauca since 2008 and 2009; and like what happened to the Campesino Association of Catatumbo in 2010). The State, through its intelligence organizations and the pubic safety forces, and with the open and cynical participation of structures of the extreme right, has designed and carried out this program of judicial persecution and criminalization of social protest, because they believe that this way they assume the lowest political cost or that their participation will not be seen. They pretend to defend the principles of judicial independence, saying they are impartial investigations in which they cannot intervene, when we know that they do so from fabricating intelligence reports, to buying and bribing witnesses, to paying informers, and—why not say it—to the pernicious offer of judicial and economic benefits for the supposed “collaborating with Justice.”


4. We reiterate our indignation and our rejection of the judicial machination that affects the liberty, personal integrity, honor and life of our coworker David Ravelo Crespo, since as has been openly publicized they are sustained [only by the statement] of a criminal, supposed “demobilized paramilitary,” Mario Jaime Mejía, known as “El Panadero” [“the baker” or “the bread man,”—SC]


5. We reject the measures taken by the Prosecutor General’s office that move this investigation forward. We consider them to be outside the realm of justice, of due process and of the dignified treatment that people should receive. Since in fact David Ravelo Crespo is a person known and renowned socially and publicly in the region, a person who was always inclined to collaborate with the justice system; and since there were no serious points against him; and considering all the times he was able to testify every time he was summoned by the Attorney General’s office; by any measure it was an arbitrary and disproportionate action to have issued an arrest warrant for him.


6. We reiterate and we insist that we are ready to join all the efforts that are aimed at gaining effective freedom for our coworker David Ravelo Crespo, from support to guarantee a technical and material defense (contributing applications, with evidence supplied, giving our declarations in support of David Ravelo Crespo, everything that is needed in this sense, and that his lawyers (The José Alvear Crespo Legal Collective) may consider necessary, opportune or important. The same for the actions or activities that are proposed by the campaign for “Freedom for David Ravelo Crespo,” from this point forward we offer them the spaces and dialogue settings that we are going to have during the European tour that we will be carrying out during the months of October and November to denounce political judicial persecution of the organizations of the northeast, especially against David Ravelo Crespo and CREDHOS.


7. We say finally that we continue to be hopeful about the work and the solidarity of the organizations, and that in this as in other cases the truth will come to light and with it David Ravelo Crespo’s freedom will be won, and that we have to advance all relevant actions to denounce and stop these attempts to criminalize [human rights defenders] and punish them in the courts.


Liberty for David Ravelo Crespo, Respect for the Defenders of Human Rights, Guarantees for the Organizations that Defend Human Rights


Luis Carlos Pérez Legal Collective

Calle 10 No. 23-14

Bucaramanga, Colombia


Fax: (7) 645-5528


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