Death threat against activists in Buenaventura

We are writing to express our deepest concern regarding the recent death threats against the members of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Zone and the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace.

On Thursday, May 1, paramilitaries threated to dismember (picar) a member of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Zone in Buenaventura, Colombia. The information was delivered by an “official source” to a National Protection Unit escort who is assigned to protect members of the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (CIJP). Human rights defenders in the area connect this threat to the arrest of a paramilitary named “Fifi,” who is charged with the murder of Carlos Angarita on April 13. “Fifi” is the same paramilitary who threatened CIJP director Danilo Rueda with a machete in mid-April. Ezequiel Aragon, a resident of Puente Nayero, also received a threat that his 12-year-old son-who was rescued by CIJP following a forced recruitment-would be murdered if he tried to return.

The residents of this humanitarian zone have been at high risk of attack after they decided to peaceably expel the paramilitaries residing their community one month ago. Despite the arrest of “Fifi,” the paramilitary structures operating in the area continue to attempt to retake control of Puente Nayero.

We hope that you all can take action with the Colombian authorities to encourage them to guarantee the safety and security of human rights defenders and Afro-Colombian communities in Buenaventura. We are especially concerned for Danilo Rueda’s safety since he has been a constant target of threats and security incidents and the later have intensified over the past six months.

We thank you in advance for your efforts on this matter.

Gimena Sanchez