Colombia Solidarity Campaign

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Open Letter from Violeta Arango Ramirez Print
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Media - Press
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 10:02

OPEN LETTER FROM VIOLETA ARANGO RAMIREZ to the PUBLIC 13 July 2017

(Hello friends, I am sending you a letter by one of the girls who has been imprisoned in the case of the bombing in the Andino Shopping Centre, Bogota. It explains well the whole case and the absurd show surrounding her and her peers.)

My name is Violeta Arango Ramirez, I am a sociologist, graduate of the National University of Colombia. On Saturday 24th June my life changed dramatically with a warrant for my arrest and a raid. Agents from the police intelligence department (SIJIN) and the police arrived at my house in the Chapinero district. Without understanding what had happened, in the anxiety and stress of the moment, my parents asked what was it about: I was wanted in relation to the terrible attack on the Andino shopping mall, accused of terrorism, homicide, conspiracy to commit a crime.

I wasn’t home that day and unaware of what was happening until the next day. Nobody answered me at home; something had happened and now I was worried. Without understanding properly what was happening, on Friday 30 June matters got worse, when the public scandal started. I was all over the news channels, all kinds of things were said about me, things I didn’t even know about myself, they lied and changed my image, said I was tied to a movement I didn’t even know existed, that I was a lawyer, that my partner was this person and that person and so on. Worst of all was saying that my alias was XXX when this really is my name, and yes, it may seem strange, but that’s my name. A smear campaign has been started to taint my good name, put at risk my integrity, violate my rights and to incriminate me without even a trial. This legal persecution which I and my family are being subjected to is nothing more than an attempt by the National Police and the Fiscalía (Office of the Attorney General), to maintain their good image - of which nobody is convinced- and they have decided to set up and scapegoat a good group of people.

Now that some days have passed, though nothing has changed in reality, I want to ask Fiscal Martínez (the Attorney General), the commander of the General Police, Caracol and RCN (TV channels), El Tiempo, El Espectador, Semana, CM& etc (newspapers and magazines) : why? Why am I being accused of these crimes I have never committed? Why am I being accused and harassed in this way? To say that 12 people imprisoned today who, along with myself, are those who have initiated a state of terror and made the nation afraid, and that above that we are the people attacking life and democracy is the worst fallacy that could have been invented.

It seems that the dominant classes in Colombia would like to take us back to the past, bringing back martial law, where the violation of basic civil and fundamental human rights is commonplace, as long as they can keep steering the country the way they want. This intention is clear with the instigation of the self-titled Public Opinion and the new anti-terrorism laws, where for example it is possible to detain a suspect without any legal grounding, without proof and this has already happened and could be the end of the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, right to a defence and so on, and we have established that in Colombia there is not the right to think, to express oneself, to intimacy. That the State will be who decides how we behave and how we should be but in reality, does not guarantee any of our rights, as is its mandate.

In our country, we have created laws to privatize public space and fundamental rights, so that certain castes and historical families embedded in power can get richer while the majority of us, Colombian men and women, continue to live in misery. The institutions which would like to demonstrate their strength only serve for those who continue to be master of all and continue to persecute those who oppose. We only need to look at the clear example of the anticorruption minister arrested for corruption! Or even a president who played a major part in the extrajudicial killings of thousands of people and at the same time a senator (ex-president) with links to the paramilitaries, an Attorney General who has a lot to answer for in the case of Odebrecht. But of course, it is preferable to divert the attention to other areas. And therefore the façade of the investigation of the brutal attack on the Andino Shopping Mall which is based on rigged implications, imprecise data and information taken out of context, information lifted from google or invented by the ‘investigators’. I would like to continue to ask why they do not have an alias. Why the media don’t refer to Néstor Humberto Martínez, alias "el fiscal", or alias "Néstor" implicated in the Odebrecht scandal. Or otherwise alias Alvarito, key player in the formation of paramilitary groups. Or much more so, alias Juan Ma, responsible for false positives, or Alias Ernestico, involved in the 8000 process. They continue to be eminent men, against them there is no arrest order or need to go into hiding, in fact they continue to run Colombia as if absolutely nothing has happened.

In Colombia, at their hands, everything has been privatized: health, education, transport, pavements. The poor are at the mercy of the goodwill of the rich, that they show some charity to pay the debt of the health care insurance provider (EPS) to the hospital so as not to die on the steps. That someone could give them something to create a transport system that would finally work a little, just a little, say the people who use the TransMilenio. That teachers should be paid a decent wage so that our children can be educated. But it seems that we protest and receive the same answer: ‘There’s no money’. Another fallacy because there is money, the problem is that it stays to line their pockets. How sweet it would be if one of these people who got rich on the budgets of health, education or transport actually had to use one of those services that they offer. But no, they receive private treatment, they have cars, the police make way for them so they don’t have to sit in queues of traffic and they go to universities abroad. And the people, well they can get screwed. They are so bold that during the strikes in Buenaventura they announced, ‘Now the losses are up to 100,000 million pesos for the business-owners of the port.’, the wealthy of Colombia. What they didn’t say is that the people of Buenaventura live in poverty thanks to this big business.

That is why it is so cynical that these people say they are worried about hunger, they are worried about education, they are worried about the health of the Colombian people, because in reality, they have generated these conditions that mean people do not have enough to eat, they cannot be treated in hospital and they simply cannot get an education, because they are poor. But moreover, people are criminalized because they protest, because they steal a mobile phone, they are sent to a prison where not one single person more could be squeezed in, and all the while they keep really stealing. What our dominant classes do, is to keep the people in a state of fear and terror (the very definition of terrorism) so they can keep doing business, to have money to go and spend it in Miami.

Now we can count on our rigorous media whose business is to maintain the Colombian public misinformed. Listening to the news, it’s interesting to watch the coverage of Venezuela. One day, RCN says ‘these are the arms of repression’ and show three little tanks that would be knee-height in comparison to those of the riot police (ESMAD). They continue with ‘these tear gas bombs of the regime try to crush the opposition’ but in the Colombian case ‘with tear gas’ (because in spite of being the same as the Venezuelans’, here in Colombia, they are not bombs). Or ‘ESMAD has dispersed a group of protestors who threatened the calm of the city’. It seems that on one hand, these are the weapons used by a dictator or on the other hand they protect democracy, always showing ESMAD as patriotic heroes, a squadron created to repress and to ensure that in this country the right to protest is not permitted, but that’s OK because they are protecting our institutions to continue serving the powerful.

@page { margin: 0.79in } p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; line-height: 120%; text-align: left; orphans: 2; widows: 2 }

@page { margin: 0.79in } p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; line-height: 120%; text-align: left; orphans: 2; widows: 2 }

The big media vehicles continue to create a very disfigured image of reality, I remember well when Luis Carlos Velez interviewed Romeo Langlois and asked him, “What do you have to say to people who say that you are a guerrillero?” and the Frenchman replied with certainty, “Who says that? Just you , the official media?” The self styled public opinion that is judge and party, issues verdicts, creates stigma and conviction regardless of absolutely anything.

And now much the same in the same in the case of the Andino Shopping Mall, those men who call themselves journalists say they are convinced ‘She is alias xxx. She is 24 years old and is called xxx’, the press pack continue, and I would like to remind them: that is my name, not my alias. But that’s not it. They continue with ‘Here is the proof, some photos in Mocoa’ and now people can’t even go on a trip because they are conspiring, nevertheless they say it as if they believed the whole montage were true. In reality, this means of communication, the media, is part of the chain that a select few govern and that is why they do not broadcast the disarmament of the FARC, the most important day in Colombia in recent years - RCN went even further by showing a soap- and instead show something else to cover it up: a group of young people, unfairly incarcerated. Of course, in this beautiful country there is no room for alternative media, which is in Colombia is stigmatized and threatened, hundreds of journalists have been killed in recent years. Nevertheless we continue to criticize other countries where press freedom is violated.

Right now, with a pending order for arrest, victim of a public smear campaign on behalf of the news channels and printed press, my life will not be the same again. I have been separated from those I love, I have been condemned and I believe that I cannot do anything about it for the rest of my life, which I hope will be long, although in reality I don’t know. I have been persecuted unjustly, I never imagined that this could happen to me, I have always been convinced that one must fight for freedom of thought, education, expression, that you should fight for life, but now I am literally fighting for my life and to stay alive to hug the ones I love and I have clearly understood that in this country one is not allowed to live. This situation has forced me to take an immensely difficult decision, but I must do it to protect my life and my integrity. Now I am one more exile, one condemned to exile, like our only Nobel winner Gabriel García Márquez, who today is so celebrated but to was only offered the same as I am now. I left the country I most love without losing the conviction that this country deserves something better, which is what I want, and is where I want to live.

I am innocent and I am grateful for all those who believe me, who do not believe the false accusations of the police. This support is all I have, because everything else has been taken away from me but it looks like this was not enough for them. I take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to my brothers, my uncle and my cousins, I love you all very much and I hope this injustice will soon pass so I can see you and hug you. Without fear, resisting this unjust persecution, with all the hope and love in the world.

From nowhere, Violeta Arango, 13 July 2017

 

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