from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On Aug. 17, hooded assailants armed with assault rifles arrived at the home of an indigenous Embera Chami family in the community of Ubarba, in the Nuestra Senora Candelaria de la Montana indigenous reservation in the central Colombian department of Caldas. The assailants shot to death Rosalba Morales and Evelio de Jesus Morales at their home, and severely wounded Jose Abelino Morales, who died on the way to a hospital in Riosucio. An hour after the attack, unidentified assailants murdered William Andres Taborda at his home in the community of Limon, on the same indigenous reservation. (National Indigenous Organization of Colombia–ONIC statement posted Aug. 19 on Colombia Indymedia)

On Aug. 19, the Attorney General’s office ordered the arrest of 11 soldiers in connection with the Oct. 4, 2004 murder of indigenous Kankuamo leader Victor Hugo Maestre Rodriguez in northeastern Colombia. In a communique, the office said people in camouflage uniforms had taken Maestre from his home in the Atanquez community in Valledupar municipality, Cesar department. Soldiers from the Colombian army’s La Popa battalion later brought Maestre’s body to the morgue in Valledupar, claiming he was a rebel from the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) who was killed in a battle with government forces. (AP, Aug. 19)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 21


Between July 23 and 29, rightwing paramilitaries murdered at least 28 campesinos in rural areas of San Miguel municipality in the southern Colombian department of Putumayo near the Ecuadoran border. Another 13 families have disappeared from neighboring communities, including La Cabana and Tres Islas. Reports of the massacre came from local residents who survived; given the remote location and the current fragile security situation in Putumayo, most of the killings have yet to be officially confirmed. (Asociacion MINGA, Aug. 2)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been carrying out an armed strike in Putumayo since July 21, blocking roads and destroying vehicles and critical infrastructure. The strike has caused food and water shortages and a breakdown in communication and transport in the zone, and the resulting clashes between the FARC and the military have caused massive displacement as people flee the rural areas for the larger towns to find safety. (Asociacion MINGA, Aug. 2; El Tiempo, Bogota, Aug. 10; Drug War Chronicle, Aug. 12; El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Aug. 1)

The massacre began on July 23 when paramilitaries forced seven people from a canoe in the community of La Balastrera and killed them. The bodies of Colombians German Obando Recalde and Julian Eduardo Canticus and an unidentified Ecuadoran man were later found; the other four remain missing. The paramilitaries then went to the rural village of La Cabana, where they tied up and tortured a woman but finally released her under pressure from the community. On July 27 the paramilitaries went to the village of El Sabalo, bringing with them six unidentified people they had tied up. Four of the six were later found murdered on the road. In El Sabalo, the paramilitaries murdered two more people. In the community of San Carlos, residents said 11 people had been forcibly disappeared. (Asociacion MINGA, Aug. 2)

Putumayo governor Carlos Palacios confirmed on July 31 that two bodies had been found, and that families had reported 11 other people missing, though residents believe 28 people were killed in the massacre. “The rumors indicate that a guerrilla surrendered to the paramilitaries and is fingering alleged FARC collaborators,” said Palacios. “But the people don’t want to give details for fear of being murdered.” Palacios said local campesinos blame the massacre on paramilitaries from the Central Bolivar bloc of the rightwing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which is officially involved in a peace process with the government. (ENH, Aug. 1 from AFP)

Government forces are also engaging in abuses, according to a report from the MINGA Association, a human rights group based in Bogota. In the village of Verdeyaco in Mocoa municipality, the military and police are carrying out searches without warrants and conducting an illegal census of the population, including photographing all residents. The government forces warned residents to cooperate the good way, “or else the paramilitaries will make you collaborate the bad way.” (Asociacion MINGA, Aug. 2)

In the northern department of Antioquia, meanwhile, campesino Luis Sigifredo Castano was found murdered by the Colombian army on Aug. 7 in the village of Campo Bijao, Remedios municipality. Castano had been dressed in a camouflage guerrilla uniform, “even though everyone in the Northeast [of Antioquia] knew he was a rural worker and that he was disabled in one of his arms,” the Campesino Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC) reports. Soldiers from the Battalion Calibio, part of the Colombian Army’s 14th Brigade, had detained Castano on his farm in the village of Cano Tigre. Castano was a member of the Communal Action Board of Cano Tigre and had participated in two recent humanitarian protest actions exposing human rights violations in northeastern Antioquia. (ACVC, Aug. 14)


On July 29, in the village of Carmen, in the northern Colombian department of Bolivar, armed men in military uniforms abducted agrarian leader Jairo Gonzalez from the vehicle he was traveling in. They subsequently murdered him and buried him in a common grave. His body has not yet been recovered. Gonzalez was secretary general of the Union of Small Farmers of Bolivar (SINPABOL) and a member of the national board of the Only National Agricultural Union Federation (Fensuagro). He was also in charge of human rights for the Bolivar section of the Unitary Workers Federation (CUT). In April of this year, Gonzalez led a march of some 7,000 campesinos in Carmen to demand various public works, as well as respect for human rights, in the surrounding area. (Fensuagro-CUT Executive Committee, Aug. 5 via Colombia Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 7


In an Aug. 9 communique marking International Indigenous People’s Day, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) reported that so far in 2005, 66 members of Colombia’s indigenous communities have been murdered, 16 have disappeared, 111 were wounded, 124 arbitrarily detained, 9,250 threatened and 18,602 forcibly displaced. The food crops of at least 10 indigenous communities have been sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate, causing the death of two children. (The herbicide is used by the Colombian government in a US-sponsored campaign against drug cultivation.) Most of the abuses against indigenous people have been carried out by right-wing paramilitaries (37.9%); the rest are by government forces (24%), leftist rebels (15.2%) and unidentified criminal groups (22.7%). (ONIC, Aug. 9)

The same day ONIC issued its communique, Aug. 9, two Colombian soldiers from the Jose Hilario Lopez Battalion attacked 19-year old indigenous student Emerita Guauna in Coconuco, Purace municipality, in the southern department of Cauca. Wearing their uniforms and with their faces covered by ski-masks, the soldiers used their military weapons, along with physical force and threats, to overpower Guauna; one of them then sexually assaulted her, in the presence of an indigenous boy. The soldiers told Guauna: “We’re doing this to you because you’re a guerrilla.” The attack took place a short distance from a National Police outpost. On Aug. 11 members of Guauna’s community held a meeting with an officer named Velez, who admitted that a soldier was responsible for the assault on Guauna. Velez said the soldier had since fled, and that in any case such incidents happen; he said he wouldn’t apologize for the incident. Velez made no reference to the other soldier involved in the assault. (Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, Aug. 12 via Colombia Indymedia)

On Aug. 1, troops from the army’s San Mateo Battalion opened fire at three alleged subversives in the central park of the town of Villa Claret in Pueblo Rico municipality, Risaralda department. The army’s gunfire hit the wooden home where 20-year old Lucely Osorio Nequirucama lived with her parents and six younger siblings, killing Osorio and wounding her mother, Leticia Ogari Nequirucama. The family is part of the Embera Chami indigenous community of Pueblo Rico. (Comite Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Risaralda, Aug. 12 via Colombia Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 14

Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #112


Messages protesting the Colombian government’s involvement in and acceptance of human rights abuses against indigenous communities, campesinos and human rights activists can be directed to:

President Alvaro Uribe Velez (fax 571-566-2071;; Vice President Francisco Santos (; Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe (fax 571-222-1874;,,; Prosecutor General Edgardo Jose Maya Villazon (fax 571-342-9723;; Carlos Franco of the Presidential Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Program (fax 571-337-4667;; Attorney General Mario Iguaran (fax 571-570-2000;;; and Defender of the People (Ombudsperson) Volmar Antonio Perez Ortiz (fax 571-640-0491;


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Sept. 1, 2005

Reprinting permissible with attribution