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 C贸rdoba, sought refuge in Monter铆a, the department’s capital, on July 22 after being threatened by a paramilitary group. According to Domingo Ayala Espitia, president of the C贸rdoba 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鈥攚hich the government and the media now call “bacrim,” short for “bandas criminales”鈥攁re 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 脕lvaro 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 Montel铆bano municipality. Four teachers have been killed in C贸rdoba 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.