Senator For Valle De Cauca And His Family Receive Serious Death Threat Forcing Them To Take Emergency Exile In The US
Interview 21 May 2021
[Translated and abridged by Colombia Solidarity Campaign]
Gustavo Bolívar: We are joined by Senator Alexander López, who is a presidential candidate for the political party Polo Democrático.
Alexander López: Hello Gustavo, good evening. I want to express my solidarity with Colombian people, for the very complex crisis we are living. Not only for the pandemic, but also because of the social crisis and the generalised protest extended throughout the country, which is being violently repressed.
The level of aggression that Colombian people live and obviously the regime that today governs our country has generated, not only towards Colombian people who today peacefully protest on the streets asking for rights, liberties, asking democracies, but also has directed all its forces against social and political leaders. During the government of Iván Duque – almost 400 social leaders have been murdered in the country. In fact, this year there have been almost 35 massacres, and most of them in Valle del Cauca, which is today the epicentre of one of the worst sceneries of military confrontation and empowerment of criminal gangs and illicit groups – one could say almost with state’s complacency and state’s participation in many of the cases.
I am from Cali, I am the son of peasants parents from the ‘coffee axis’. We arrived in Cali at the end of the 60s. However my origin is from a marginal neighbourhood, in the west of Cali. In a neighbourhood of more than 10,000 people, there was no health care centre, no school for the children and we had to improvise, not only to have education. In the morning it was primary education for the children, and in the afternoon it worked as a health care centre with some volunteer nurses. I grew up in that environment and then at a later date participated in the student protests and in the union protests.
The Death Threat Phone Call
Unfortunately, this week, my wife was called on her mobile phone, and she was notified of a decision that had been taken by paramilitary groups. They knew where we lived, where my children studied, where she went and where we went in our everyday family routine. They said that I had caused a lot of damage to Valle del Cauca and to the country and that the decision had been taken. The decision was to make me pay for all the damage that I had supposedly caused and … well … my days were numbered, and of course, my family’s as well. This was a direct threat, because they gave very concrete, very precise details which are strictly personal. Obviously I moved my family, well I had to get them out. We are now analysing which decisions to make …
Once again there is a paramilitary group in Valle… They put out a Communiqué and a declaration …naming Wilson Arias, Senator of the Republic, Alfredo Mondragon, Union Director of Sindesena (an organisation/small NGO). And an important group of social leaders that accompany the pacific protest in Valle del Cauca, in the southwest of Colombia as well as the Minga Indigena (Indigenous Organisation)
We saw that Valle in the past was taken over by paramilitary groups, supported by powerful business sectors. In the 2000s they started the Bloque Calima (Calima Block) that inflicted a paramilitary operation in the territory, causing the deaths of more than 700 social and union leaders.
These are the cases that are with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but the cases do not progress. In the Justice and the Peace (recent Peace Process), the paramilitaries gave the names of the businesspeople who had founded and funded the paramilitaries in the Calima Block … but unfortunately until now, absolutely nothing has happened.
Tomorrow, I have a meeting with various representatives in Washington. We are also setting up a meeting on Wednesday with various representatives of the State Department and important human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and we are going to file a case with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
We are hoping from the solidarity of the international community so that these threats do not come to pass and we can dismantle them, from the international community and obviously from the official distance that Colombia should apply to itself in these very serious circumstances.
Alexander Lopez Maya