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(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)

“That was definitely the crime scene. It happened there,” the Assistant Director of Forensic Medicine, Dr. Pedro Morales, confirmed this morning. That and other details were provided in a press conference where spokesmen from the Congress of the Peoples (Congreso de los Pueblos), an organization that the murdered social leader was a part of, emphasized their concern about “the government’s silence about this political crime”.

“The forensic report establishes that the body is that of a young man, in good condition, well-dressed, with a single bullet wound and without any other signs of physical abuse or associated injuries,” explained the Assistant Director of the Forensic Medicine Institute. After a series of questions from reporters, the official added important information to establish the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and later discovery of the lifeless body of the social leader Carlos Alberto Pedraza.

Dr. Morales explained that the autopsy was done on Thursday, January 22, one day after the body was discovered. He said that there were no signs of torture and that the conclusions of ballistics tests to determine the caliber and type of weapon used would be released in the next few days, along with the reports of toxicology experts which could determine whether Carlos had been affected by any kind of substance used by his killers to facilitate his kidnapping. As part of the investigation, Morales stated that the body had been discovered on Tuesday, January 20, the day before the announcement of his death, by an individual who did not report it to the authorities because he thought it was just a person who had got drunk and fell down.

Even with this explanation, there is a lack of information as to what happened to Carlos Pedraza between Monday afternoon, January 19, the last time he had been heard from, and the following Tuesday, when Forensic Medicine was first informed that his body had been found.

Other important information is found in the forensic report: it confirms that the social leader’s murder took place at the site where his body was found, a deserted area in the town of San Bartolomé, in the municipality of Gachancipá, 60 kilometers north of Bogotá. That is a region where a network of paramilitaries has existed for more than a decade. They maintain control of the territory where they have not been challenged, not by the presence of other illegal forces or even by the government, as was published in Colombia Informa a few days ago (

It is not yet known what happened to Carlos during the more than 24 hours after he disappeared, but this official report confirms that whoever committed the crime kidnapped him somewhere between his home in the southern part of Bogotá and the place in Teusaquillo where he was headed, seized him and transported him to Gachancipá and killed him there with “a bullet aimed from behind that caused a wound in the skull”, as established by the forensic report.

“We don’t want to keep on being the cannon fodder in this war”

“The Congress of the Peoples (Congreso de los Pueblos) supports the dialogs between the government and the insurgents,” explained Alexandra Bermúdez Osorio, a spokeswoman for the organization. “The search for peace has bitter enemies. There is a national offensive against the social movement,” she added, before reading the threats that have put social leaders on the alert for the last few months, through communications media and through politicians. The majority have been signed by the paramilitary group “Aguilas Negras” (“Black Eagles”). “We don’t want to keep on being the cannon fodder in this war,” she concluded.

For his part, Alberto Castilla, the Senator from the Democratic Alternative (Polo) Party, (PDA is the Spanish acronym.) redoubled his complaints about the threats and referred to another attack suffered by a leader of the Laborers Union (USO is the Spanish acronym.). “Oscar Garcia, a labor leader from Arauca, who had already been assaulted last year, was attacked last January 6 when three shots were fired at the vehicle in which he was traveling.” Castilla called attention to the fact that between July and December of 2014 there were 186 cases of attacks on members of the social, labor and political movement in Colombia. To deal with this situation, he said, “we are calling on all of the systems and organizations: on the Patriotic March, on the Agricultural Summit of the Campesinos and the People, on the Movement of Victims of Government Crimes, and on the Congress of the Peoples, so that we can keep on working to build the peace.”

Leonardo Luna, spokesman for the Mass Political Movement; Center East, of which Carlos Pedraza was one of the leaders, demanded that “the government speak out about these events” and explained that they would request that the case be transferred to the Attorney General’s Office in Zepaquirá, where the judicial proceedings are now going on, so that the Attorney General’s Human Rights Unit can take over and the investigation can be in the hands of the CTI, the Technical Investigation Corps, since, according to his statement, “the motive for Carlos’ murder is obviously political.”

In the social movement, people believe that the lack of official reaction to the murder supports impunity. “Do you think this crime was committed by the government?” he asked at the press conference. The spokeswoman for the Congress of the Peoples (Congreso de los Pueblos), Alexandra Bermúdez Osorio answered: “We are concerned about the silence of the government with respect to this crime. We demand that the government make a statement.”

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