(en)Colombian Army wants Gloria Cuartas Web Page Shut Down

alvaro andres reyes (aa-reyes@students.uiuc.edu)
Fri, 28 Mar 1997 20:32:24 -0500


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======================START ALERT =================== =====COLOMBIA: HUMAN RIGHTS LOST IN THE SMOKE====== Original Posting 3/25/97

Colombia: The Hemisphere's Invisible Human Rights Disaster

Today the Colombian Military wants to Shut Down a Web Page in the U.S. that distributes news about a Colombian sister community.

What is one of the hemisphere's strongest military machines afraid of?

Background:

-- Of 264 trade unionists assassinated worldwide from January 1990 to March 1991, over half were Colombian, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. In 1994, the number rose to 176 Colombian unionists murdered.

-- The Patriotic Union, a legal, peaceful leftist opposition political party created as an alternative to violent insurgency, has lost over 4000 leaders and members to assassinations since it was formed in 1985. In 1986 it was winning local and regional offices. In each Presidential election, All of its Presidential candidates have been murdered.

--Out of 80 daily murders in Colombia, close to a third (~24) are very likely political, with ~11 officially documented as political repression, social cleansing, or insurgent-army related (the climate of fear plus dismemberment of bodies prevents much documentation). Of these 11 murders, the Colombian State and its unofficially sanctioned paramilitary death squads are responsible for 70-75%, with less than 2% drug-related and guerrillas responsible for the balance.

-- Colombia has, historically and today, the largest number of soldiers in the infamous School of the Americas.

--The U.S. government has given the Colombian military and police ~1 billion dollars in assistance since the late 1980s, under the guise of the "War on Drugs".

--The Colombian military uses this aid in a war on the peasantry, creating 'freefire zones' (like Vietnam), driving the people off the land which then is taken over by druglords who launder their profits by setting up cattle ranches and other 'legitimate' businesses. Their paramilitary squads make sure labor organizers and community activists get a bullet in the back of the head.

THE CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA

The Colombia Support Network (PO Box 1505, Madison WI 53701; 608-257-8753; csn@igc.apc.org; http://www.igc.apc.org/csn/) has been actively building a movement for human rights in Colombia. Central to this is a sister community project between Dane County Wisconsin and Apartado, in the Uraba region of Antioquia in northwest Colombia, near Panama.

This area has been historically the frontier, colonized by people who fled the violence in other parts of Colombia in the 1940s-50s. Guerrillas have been active here for quite a while. In recent times, the violence has escalated as paramilitary units, funded by a regional druglord and given assistance by Army commanders, have embarked upon a campaign of terror of the civilian population. The Colombian Army, trained and armed by the U.S. counterinsurgency experts from the 1950s on, is clearly using paramilitary violence as an attempt at plausible deniability of its responsibility.

Uraba, close to Panama and astride the Darien Gap, is rich in human and natural resources, which is clearly one reason for the major escalation of repression and destabilization there. "Plan Pacifico" is in the works. Three ~billion dollar development projects by multi-national corporations are slated there, which will wreck havoc on the indigenous (Native, Afro-Colombian and other) people as well as impact tremendously the fragile environment (Darien Rain Forest).

These include a new trans-oceanic canal (alternative to the Panama Canal), the completion of the final portion of the Pan American Highway between Central and South America through the Darien Gap, and a high speed railroad linking a deep sea (and "Free Trade") port of Turbo with the interior of Colombia. The poor peasants on their patches of land stand in the way of this "progress" and will be killed if need-be. This is Neo Liberalism with a vengeance!

And a "damn web page" is making this project hard to complete. At the end of February 1997, a commander of the Colombian Army flew to Apartado to meet with the brave mayor of Apartado, Gloria Cuartas, and called for shutting down of CSN's Madison Wisconsin web page. Ms Cuartas has been mayor for over 2 years, and has refused to let the military and paramilitary and urban militias (guerrillas, ex-guerrillas) take over Apartado.

Gloria Cuartas' life is constantly in danger; in April 1996 three hitmen had a contract for her -- when CSN put out a global urgent call on the Internet and web page for letters and faxes to the Colombian government to protect her, plus to the US Embassy demanding refusal of visas to Colombian military officers. It worked as the message that THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING APARTADO really happened. But we must increase the support. In September 1996, during a "Week of Peace" activities, paramilitaries invaded a classroom in which Ms. Cuartas was talking with students, seized a youngster and cut off his head! This gross inhumanity, unfortunately, is standard operating procedure in this war on the civilian population.

Today, more than ever, the support for brave peacemakers in Colombia like Gloria Cuartas needs to increase, to provide space for efforts at peace, reconciliation and negotiations. "If peace is possible in Apartado, then there is a chance it will succeed elsewhere in Colombia," says a leading Colombian human rights leader.

ACTION REQUESTED

1. Add a copy or Link your home page to CSN Gloria Cuartas page (http://www.igc.apc.org/csn/gloria.html) 2. Get your friends, your peace and justice group, your local Amnesty chapter, to link to CSN's Gloria Cuartas page. REPOST THIS ALERT. 3. Write to U.S. Secretary of State Albright and President Clinton stating NO BLACKHAWK HELICOPTERS and NO MILITARY/POLICE AID TO COLOMBIA. They currently are planning to bypass Congress and send millions of dollars to Colombia's warmakers, which Congress had frozen! 4. Write to your Congressperson and Senators calling for hearings on Colombia and on the use of U.S. military aid against civilians and on the spraying of civilians with "Drug War" chemicals ("Roundup"). 5. Learn the facts. Write/email CSN for a free copy of the new 48-page magazine, Colombia Bulletin. Read the February 1997 issue of The Progressive magazine. Read the book "Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy" by Javier Giraldo, published by Common Courage Press in 1996. 6. If you read this in time, come to the steps of the Capital in Washington DC the week of April 21, to join the actions to close the School of the Americas. April 23 will be a focus on Colombia. April 24 there will be a demonstration at the Colombian Ambassador's residence to commemorate the Trujillo Massacre, one of the worst in Colombian history.

DON'T LET THE SILENCE CONTINUE ABOUT THE HEMISPHERE'S WORST HUMAN RIGHTS TRAGEDY

Distributed by: Colombia Support Network P.O. Box 1505 Madison WI 53701 csn@igc.apc.org (608) 257-8753 fax 255-6621 http://www.igc.apc.org/csn/

========PLEASE POST WHERE APPROPRIATE============ ===================END ALERT======================

Colombia Support Network P.O. Box 1505 Madison, WI 53701 (608) 257-8753 fax (608) 255-6621 csn@igc.apc.org http://www.igc.apc.org/csn/

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