Colombia: teachers flee paramilitary threat

All 44 teachers at the public high school in Las Delicias, a village in Tierralta municipality in the northern Colombian department of CĂłrdoba, sought refuge in MonterĂ­a, the department’s capital, on July 22 after being threatened by a paramilitary group. According to Domingo Ayala Espitia, president of the CĂłrdoba Teachers Association (Ademacor), the paramilitaries sent the teachers text messages demanding 15 million pesos (about $8,535). More than 1,100 students attended the abandoned school.

The threats reportedly came from members of the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, said to be a group of drug traffickers. Various armed groups—which the government and the media now call “bacrim,” short for “bandas criminales”—are described as successors to the far-right United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group whose members were demobilized from 2003 to 2006, during the administration of former president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

The Las Delicias displacement is the second such incident in the department; last year 12 teachers fled a rural high school in MontelĂ­bano municipality. Four teachers have been killed in CĂłrdoba so far this year, and at least 197, including the Las Delicias teachers, have received threats. (EFE, July 23, via Univision; InfoBAE, Argentina, July 24)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 24.

See our last post on the labor struggle in Colombia and the paramilitary terror.