This past weekend, a pamphlet signed by “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” a known paramilitary organization that has already committed attacks and murders of social and political leaders in Colombia, threatened a series of social leaders of Barrancabermeja as well as offered money to whoever kills the people on the list.
On social media, social and political organizations as well as democratic figures have denounced these threats that are not isolated events but rather linked to the context of growing attacks and murders of peasant leaders throughout the country, mostly in the southern and western regions of Cauca, Nariño and Caquetá.
ANZORC (Spanish acronym for National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones) stated in a public denunciation that the pamphlet expressed that the paramilitary organization would “patrol the city´s neighborhoods to ensure security and that they would carry out acts of “social cleansing”, declaring “communists”, “marijuana smokers”, “thieves” and “corrupt politicians” as their military objective”.
Specific activists of the region and social organizations such as the ACVC (Spanish acronym for Peasant Association of the Cimitarra River Valley) where listed and pointed to as militias of the FARC-EP. For 20 years this organization has worked for the community´s and for the defense of human rights of the peasantry in an area historically struck by the social and armed conflict, reason for which the association has been indicated to be a political apparatus, collaborator of the FARC-EP.
ANZORC stated that “it is necessary for the National Government to immediately implement the Peace Agreement with regard to security guarantees and the fight against paramilitary successor organizations, not only as an effective guarantee of their will to peace, but also in fulfillment of their obligation in matters International Law regarding the take of action on part of the State against Human Right violations”
Likewise, ANZORC also called for “the Tripartite Mechanism for Monitoring and Verification of the Ceasefire and of Hostilities to investigate these threats in Barrancabermeja, as well as attacks on the lives and integrity of other leaders throughout the country as a threat to the peace process”.
The following is a picture of the pamphlet:
Prensa Rural: “Paramilitares ofrecen dinero para quien asesine líderes sociales”
Translated by FARC-EP
New threats against Marcha Patriótica in Valle del Cauca
November 28 a menacing message was received in the inbox of the communications commission of the Valle del Cauca branch of the movement Marcha Patriótica. In the text, four members of Marcha were threatened with death and the entire movement was stigmatized as “the party of the FARC”.
Marcha Patriótica’s public report highlights the social leadership of the threatened members:
Andersson Ospina: coordinator of the organization commission of Marcha Patriótica – Valle del Cauca.
James Larrea: regional spokesman of Marcha Patriótica.
Rodrigo Vargas: member of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPDH) and of the human rights commission of Marcha Patriótica – Valle del Cauca.
Diana Rengifo: member of the Collective “Rompiendo el Cerco” and coordinator of the communications commission of Marcha Patriótica – Valle del Cauca.
This is happening amidst a systematic persecution of social movements in the whole country by paramilitary groups and death squads. Since the signing of the new Final Agreement last November 24, more than ten social leaders were murdered in different regions of Colombia. Within this scenario, Marcha Patriótica – a political and social movement founded in 2010 – has been the preferred target of paramilitarism, with more than hundred of its militants killed since its foundation.
Finally, Marcha Patriótica – Valle del Cauca calls for international solidarity denouncing the humanitarian crisis in Colombia.
Translated by FARC-EP
Colombia Paramilitaries Threaten Piedad Cordoba, Other Leaders
The Marcha Patriotica movement has warned of a “new political genocide” against its members after a wave of assassinations and attacks.
A major Colombian social movement reported Sunday a new wave of death threats against its leaders, including iconic human rights defender and former Senator Piedad Cordoba, by a paramilitary group that has put a price on the activists’ heads amid a surge in political violence in the country struggling to turn over a page in its history toward peace.
The Marcha Patriotica, a broad-based left-wing political movement founded in 2012 in the name of building Colombia’s “second and definitive independence,” circulated a chilling piece of paramilitary propaganda on its social media accounts Sunday to warn of the imminent danger facing its members.
The one-page open letter circulated in the northern department of Santander — one of the areas hardest-hit by the armed conflict — is signed by the Urban Command of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia paramilitary group in the city of Barrancabermeja. Addressed to the population at large, the letter reads as a warning for impending social cleansing, complete with a hit list of prominent leftist activists.
The paramilitary group, which is also known as Usaga Clan and Los Urabeños, singles out as targets Piedad Cordoba and six other social leaders: Miguel Cifuentes Ardila, Melkin Hernán Castrillón, Iván Madero Vergel, Lilia Peña, Himat Abdalá and Eladio Antonio Morales, members of various campesino and human rights organizations who have also suffered threats of violence in the past.
The paramilitary pamphlet identified the activists as “military targets,” accusing them of ties to the FARC, the guerrilla army that just signed a revised peace agreement with the government last Thursday, and offers 2 million Colombian pesos — about US$630 — to “whoever manages to bring down these characters.”
The threatening letter warns that paramilitary forces “will be patrolling the neighborhoods” and calls for “collaboration” from residents to ensure that other family members and children are not “surprised” by the “cleansing” carried out by the paramilitary troops.
The Marcha Patriotica circulated the letter, claiming that the activists were being targeted for “having participated in Havana” as part of the peace negotiations process between the Colombian government and the FARC. The social movement called for protection of its members.
The death threats come after the Marcha Patriotica has warned of a resurgence of paramilitary groups in areas most affected by the armed conflict that is fueling a “new political genocide” against its members. A slew of murders of rural and social activists in recent weeks has sparked alarm over systematic violence against human rights defenders, left-wing political activists, and supporters of the peace process.
Rights defenders have drawn parallels between the barrage of attacks on the Marcha Patriotica and the systematic extermination of the left-wing political party Union Patriotica beginning in the 1980s. Paramilitary forces in complicity or concert with state forces, assassinated at least 5,000 members of the Union Patriotica, including two presidential candidates and dozens of other lawmakers.
The Marcha Patriotica reports that at least 124 of its members have been murdered since the movement was founded in 2012, the same year that the peace process between the FARC and the government launched in Havana, Cuba.
The Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia is one of the offspring of the infamous right-wing paramilitary group the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, also known by its Spanish acronym AUC. The AUC demobilized as part of a peace process with the government of far-right former President Alvaro Uribe in the mid-2000s, but the group’s violent legacy lives on in a number of narco-paramilitary successor groups.
The 52-year civil war has claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people. Paramilitaries are estimated to be responsible for at least 80 percent of civilian deaths.