Carta al Embajador P. Michael McKinley

Ambassador P. Michael McKinley

Embassy of the United States of America

Bogota, Colombia

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I am writing to you today regarding my grave concern for human, labor and indigenous activists in the Colombia.
Specifically, I have just learned that, on September 24, Walter Agredo Munoz, a member of the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Valle del Cauca received a death threat, directed towards himself and others, via text message. The same message was received by prominent indigenous leader Ayda Quilcue of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC). This message threatened the lives of Walter and Ayda, as well as Diego Escobar from the trade union CUT Valle; Yon Poso, Martha Giraldo, Milena and Diana — all members of the National Victims Movement (MOVICE) in Valle del Cauca; Aida Quilcue and Feliciano Valencia, indigenous leaders from the area; Berenice Celeyta, a Robert F. Kennedy prize winner for Colombia and the head of the organization NOMADESC based in Cali; and an individual named Olga, most likely referring to another member of NOMADESC.

This death threat, which NOMADESC is in process of denouncing to the authorities, follows a series of threats received in recent years.

In addition, on September 17, Afro-Colombian leader Rosalba Cordoba of the community of Cacarica in the Choco was threatened by paramilitaries while in Tumarado. Paramilitaries are angry with Rosalba because she has denounced abuses committed by the 17th Brigade and paramilitaries before, during and after Operation Genesis.

Rosalba, the mother of five, has advocated for the rights of Afro-Colombians since 1997 and has provided multiple testimonies against these structures and their links to the Colombian wood company Maderas del Darien Pizano S.A. She has also participated in the National Victims Movement (MOVICE) and efforts by Colombianos/as por la Paz. She forms part of the El Limo Community Council and the directive of CAVIDA. Given that members of this community will be testifying at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica on the “Operation Genesis” case in February 2013, we strongly urge you to ask the Colombian government that it guarantee the safety of Rosalba and members of the Cacarica communities.

With regards to all of these threats, we urge you to take action with Colombian authorities asking that they guarantee the safety of all the individuals and organizations involved, that effective investigations into these threats are made and the perpetrators brought to justice.

In terms of the threats against the CUT in Valle, we remind you that a central piece of the US-Colombia Labor Action Plan is to reduce violence against trade unionists and to guarantee their safety. We also note that US human rights conditions for Colombia’s receipt of military aid include conditions on the protection of human rights defenders, labor activists and indigenous leaders. In the case of Choco, we find it particularly problematic that paramilitaries continue to operate in areas where the military is present.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel M. Kovalik

Senior Associate General Counsel

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