By Humberto de la Calle, EL ESPECTADOR, June 7, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Cristina Bautista Taquinás, Governor of the Tacueyó Reservation, a few days before she died, said this: “If we remain silent, they kill us, and if we speak, the same . . . So we will speak.” It is a moving message of almost superhuman courage that she was sending. But now we can’t just shudder at the bravery of a leader who endured a destiny that she felt was a duty owed to her people.She was marked as a defender of the rights of her community, especially the rights of women.

Now this is infuriating, because she and so many others are added to the chain of annihilation that community leaders are being subjected to because of their struggle for a better life.

Because the cry now cannot be limited to one of grief, but must also be a cry of rebellion against a situation that demonstrates an impotent State.

On October 29, 2019, the fatal projectiles flew from out of a black pickup.

On August 1 of the same year, Gersaín Yatacué Escué, indigenous coordinator in the town (vereda) of San Julián, a well-known leader of productive projects for his people, was accosted in Pajarito, Toribío. Just as with Cristina, everything indicates that a column of FARC dissidents is responsible.

On September 13, 2019, José Manuel Pana Epieyú, a member of the Palabreros Superior Autonomous Commission for Human Rights, was dragged from a vehicle and murdered in a repugnant manner. Who did the killing? The official reports, with aberrant monotony, only say: “Killer unknown”. But no. All around Maicao, everybody knows that he died because of what he said. His words of conciliation. The language of peaceful solution to conflicts.

A number of us columnists have wanted to raise our voices to proclaim the need for a real crusade, so that the anticipated lamentations do not become the order of the day for so many people in the interior of this country whose death they are carrying written on their foreheads.

The impotent State is not the one we deserve.

I am cautious with words. I have referred to the State because I don’t want to fall into the simple litany of spilling all of the complaints onto the current administration. It is true that there are roots in the past. But I cannot refrain from saying that a phenomenon that had been dying down has surged back with the fury of a violence that we wanted and still want to do away with.

I know, not being naíve, that the dissidents of the FARC are moved by different motives. And that the criminal profits of drug trafficking are part of the scenario. But I also have to say, with all due respect, that the insistence on ignoring what has been agreed upon with that guerrilla group has contributed as a catalyst to this situation.

Along with this proposal by the columnists, we want to share this text:

In spite of the Agreement signed at the Teatro Colón, the violence against social leaders has increased. Between 2017 and 2019, 339 leaders were murdered, according to figures confirmed by the United Nations. In 2020, according to the Public Defender’s Office, 56 more. Michel Forst, the United Nations rapporteur, states that Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the defense of human rights.

That’s enough! We will be making a new march of silence, like the one by Gaitán in his time, in every one of the plazas of the more than a thousand municipalities. A cry by all of us, with no exceptions.

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