THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND UNIONS IN VALLE DEL CAUCA NEWLY THREATENED BY PARAMILITARY GROUPS
The Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners denounces to the national and international community the new threats which they have received, as well as other members of unions and social movements. These threats have been constant and repeated, highlighting and stigmatizing the work of human rights defenders, unions and social movements generally. These threats, current and past, have been reported to the relevant authorities so far, without any responsibility having been found.
On 17 July of this year, at approximately 2.15pm, WALTER AGREDO MUÑOZ, coordinator of the committee of solidarity with political prisoners of Valle de Cauca, received a text message on his mobile phone, threatening him and other members of the social movement and other unions and human rights groups. This threat came from the number 312 381 55 52.
In the text sent by a paramilitary group, the following people are also threatened: Walter Agredo, Hernán Arciniegas, Yelby Ramírez, Diego Escobar, Otoniel Ramírez, Enrique Guetio, Meraldino Cabiche, Francia Márquez, Adelina Vázquez, Licifreddi Ararat and other people from the indigenous rights organization ACIN. Also threatened are members of the workers’ union CUT, the town congress, the patriotic march, ASONAL judicial, SINTRAMUNICIPIO Yumbo, SINALTRAINAL, SINALTRACAMPO, SUTIMAC, ACIN Serro Tijeras (other unions and social organizations).
We report that this new threat is characterized by the continued attack on social movements, unions and human rights defenders of the region who are working towards peace with social justice, working for respect and the guarantee of workers’ rights, political rights and the rights of victims of crimes of the State in the Valle del Cauca.
In the threat, it is noted that the new action follows a national strategy of not only intimidating through intimidation but also assassinating leaders of social movements in Colombia and promoting intimidating actions across different regions of the country, reiterating that the whereabouts of people and organizations are known and that the order is to kill them.
We remind you that between January and March 2017 on the program Somos Defensores / We are Defenders, 193 defenders of human rights, social and union leaders were victims of some type of aggression, risking their lives, and this constitutes a real obstacle to the legitimate and legal work of defending human rights.
Of the 193 acts registered, 136 people were threatened, 20 were assassinated, 19 were attacked, 13 were arbitrary detentions and 5 case of arbitrary use of the penal system.
In the threatening text message, the following was expressed:
“We know your whereabouts all over the country, we have ordered our forces to give it to you all those sons of bitches Diego Escobar who has been all over the country getting training from those guerrilla commanders so that he can supposedly try to reach a peace agreement nobody believes this bullshit, bastard
Our intelligence structures have intercepted messages from guerrilleros from the FARC and ELN disguised as social and union leaders who share their Castro Chavista ideas and confuse workers and communities with communist slogans
Walther Agredo from human rights with those imprisoned thieves yelbi ramirez now supposedly crazy hernan Arciniegas human rights CUT Otoniel Ramirez commander enrique guetio meraldino cabiche Francia marquez and licifreddi of the pcn geovani and Jorge from acin death to all those sons of bitches
Cut valle congress of the towns patriotic march asonal sintramunicipio yumbo sutimac acin cerro tiejeras (lists of social groups)
Colombia free from guerrilla”
Paramilitarism in the Valle del Cauca region, the same as in the whole country, has maintained a strategy of calling itself different names: Black Eagles, Rastrojos, The Company, The United Autodefences of Valle, Machos, Urabeños (people from Uraba) New Urabeños, among others. The restructuring or reengineering of paramilitarism has therefore permitted it to capture different sectors of large cities, all over the country. Valle del Cauca was no different, and there has been bloodshed and gunfire in the streets and marketplaces, unleashing a war for the control of drugs, racketeering and assassination, which is becoming part of our daily lives.
For the human rights organizations of the region, this situation is alarming, more so now that the presence of paramilitary groups in the city of Santiago de Cali is growing, and it is becoming one of the most violent cities in the country. To us, the presence of paramilitary structures in the city is clear. They are fighting over the control of the microtrafficking of drugs in the local neighbourhoods, committing extortion in the market squares and other activities. This lead us to conclude that Santiago de Cali, like many other cities in the country, is controlled by paramilitarism.
In the 1990s, social organizations, unions and human rights defenders in Valle del Cauca warned of the advance of paramilitarism in the region during the supposed disarming of the Calima Block y Pacífico of the AUC (Paramilitary organizations) however even the self-same groups warned that the demobilization was not real and that the groups were still present in various communities, whocontinued to live in fear and intimidation of their presence.
To the Colombian State, to the Head of State, President of the Republic JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERON
To put in place all the relevant actions to protect the life of the people threatened and to follow up the instances thereof, opening investigations leading to concrete results about those responsible for making the threats
That the Colombian State recognizes the continuing paramilitarism in our country, and equally, that it robustly addresses it with mechanisms which will lead to the true dismantling of its structures and financing.
That the defenders of human rights threatened have their own human rights respected, as per the Political Constitution of Colombia, especially the right to life and the right to exercise the defense of human rights.
That the framework of the dialogues regarding the Colombian insurgence, as led by the Colombian State, is established to guarantees to exercise real and meaningful political participation; as well as the defense of human rights, as is necessary for real and lasting peace.
TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY:
We ask you to maintain a continued dialogue with the Colombian state, in which there is monitoring of the situation and the risks to people belonging to social movements, trade unions, and human rights organizations and the threats from the different paramilitary groups that exist in the country.
Please demand the Colombian state to show the political will to dismantle paramilitarism in Colombia as a requisite to lasting peace.
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS
Presidente de la República de Colombia / PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
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Vicepresidente De La República De Colombia / VICEPRESIDENT
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ENRIQUE GIL BOTERO
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Unidad Nacional de Protección (National Security Agency)
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