On 19 January of this year in a reunion in which members of the local police and army were present the Mayor of Curumaní, HENRY ALFONSO CHACON AMAYA, warned that there were “strange persons” visiting the town of Santa Isabel to meet with inhabitants. Furthermore, the mayor stated that the inhabitants should take care because these persons had “links with the Guerrilla”. The mayor advised that he should be informed of each meeting and provided them with his mobile phone number so he could monitor each meeting closely. This information was transmitted by community members in Southern and Central Cesar, who are being accompanied by the Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and the Foundation solidarity with Political Prisoners.

As is commonly known by the mayor and the local police, the meetings that he stigmatises form part of our work as human rights defenders. We seek, amongst other things, the reconstruction of historical memory for a community that has been victimised by the political violence in Colombia and that has had to suffer horrific massacres perpetrated by paramilitary structures which possibly involved civil authorities at the time.

In relation to these acts, on 26 January of this year members of the army, under the command of a lieutenant, were present during a women´s workshop with the community of Santa Isabel. They stated that the army must be present during every workshop. This represents undue interference in our work as human rights defenders.

The stigimatisation of the mission that we are undertaking at the request of these communities that seek truth, justice, full reparation and guarantees of non repetition, creates a risk not only for those who accompany these communities, but also for the inhabitants that attend these workshops.

It should be remembered that similar expressions were made by the burgomaster some months ago that resulted in our team meeting with the mayor. In this meeting the objective of our presence was supposedly clarified. For this reason, we view these new statements as concerning.

These comments cause greater concern, when one considers that in this region, there have been a series of paramilitary pamphlets in which these groups warn that they will continue their criminal activity and rumours about a list of social leaders that will be murdered by these same groups. In addition to these acts, the inactivity of the police should be mentioned. As we have already denounced, the police act negligently in their duty to protect social activists.

4 February 2013



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