(Translated by Anne Schoeneborn, CSN volunteer translator)
November 18, 2014
We, the undersigned organizations, declare the following in response to the current situation that threatens the public order—caused by the detention of General Rubén Darío Alzate, Petty Officer Jorge Rodríguez Contreras, and Attorney Gloria Urrego on November 16th by FARC guerrillas in the Mercedes district of Quibdó municipality:
Neither the ethnic authorities, led by COCOMACIA, representing the Local Community Council of Mercedes, nor the general community, knew anything about General Alzate’s visit to the district.
We reject the speculations and allegations about the facts that have been made on certain social media sites without any clarity or certainty about what actually happened. This has irresponsibly implicated the community and created a situation that greatly threatens the security of the people living there. We insist that the lack of precautions taken to safeguard the security of General Alzate can in no way be attributed to the community of Mercedes.
We stress that any action seeking to free General Alzate and his companions should be taken using the avenue of humanitarian dialogue rather than that of military action, which only serves to put the entire civilian population of the Atrato region in grave danger.
We call on the national and international community, the People’s Defense office, agencies of international cooperation, the United Nations, the National Protection Unit, the Unit for Integrated Assistance and Reparation for Victims, and all other institutions dedicated to protecting the security, well-being, and human rights of communities to join forces with the goal of preventing the imminent massive displacement and/or confinement of afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.
We reiterate our rejection of social investment projects carried out by security forces within our communities, in the context of the Strategic Plan Chocó 2038. According to the Constitution and the Law, these projects are the specific responsibility of local bodies, ministries, and decentralized institutions.
We ask the security forces that they protect communities as they carry out their duties and that, at this critical juncture, no operation endanger the lives or property of the population of Atrato region.
Of the FARC and other insurgent groups present in our territories, we once again demand that they leave the civilian population out of their military actions, that they respect the autonomy of communities, and that they comply with international humanitarian law.
As local ethnic organizations and the Diocese of Quibdó, we continue to advocate for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict through dialogue. We call on the FARC to immediately release General Alzate and all others kidnap victims currently under their control. Similarly, we call on the national government to exercise utmost caution as they manage this crisis so that the peace talks in Havana can continue.
– El Consejo Comunitario Mayor de la Asociación Campesina Integral del Atrato (COCOMACIA)
– El Consejo Comunitario Mayor de la Organización Popular Campesina del Alto Atrato (COCOMOPOCA)
-La Mesa de Diálogos de Concertación de los Pueblos Indígenas del Chocó
-El Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó (FISCH)
-La Diócesis de Quibdó