All 44 teachers at the public high school in Las Delicias, a village in Tierralta municipality in the northern Colombian department of Córdoba, sought refuge in Montería, the department’s capital, on July 22 after being threatened by a paramilitary group. According to Domingo Ayala Espitia, president of the Córdoba 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 Montelíbano municipality. Four teachers have been killed in Córdoba 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.