Mr. German Vargas Lleras
Minister of the Interior and Justice
Avenida El dorado con carrera 52 CAN
Bogotá D.C., Colombia
January 7, 2010
Dear Minister Vargas Lleras,
The Washington Office on Latin America, is a US non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights, social justice and democracy in Latin America. Our Colombia program has worked in close partnership with various human rights organizations in your country to promote changes in US foreign policy towards Colombia that strengthen human rights.
We write to you today to express our deep concern about the recent threats and security incidents involving several groups with whom we work with closely in the Valle del Cauca and Cauca region. Yesterday, the NGO NOMADESC received a death threat on their Cali office land line. The person stated: “Sapos hijueputas, los tenemos ubicados, vamos por ustedes.” Also on January 6, the human rights defender Martha Giraldo from the Valle Chapter of MOVICE (movement of victims of state crimes) was followed by an unknown man. Ms. Giraldo is the recipient of protective measures and as such this incident was reported to the DAS.
The threat received by NOMADESC on Thursday was the twelfth threat received by our partner human rights organizations in Valle del Cauca and Cauca in the past year. On December 30, 2010 Martha Giraldo of MOVICE and indigenous leader Ayda Quilque of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), both received another death threat via text from the Black Eagles paramilitary group. Both women are the immediate relatives of civilians who were killed by the Colombian military. Ms. Giraldo’s father was the victim of an extrajudicial execution and Ms. Quilque’s husband, Edwin Legarda, was killed by the military in 2008. Both women are prominent defenders of the rights of Colombian victims to truth and justice and an inspiration to many in Colombia and around the world.
We kindly ask that you please take immediate steps to guarantee the safety of Martha Giraldo, Ayda Quilque and the members of NOMADESC, CRIC and Movice-Valle del Cauca by investigating and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the threats and security incidents experienced by these organizations. We also encourage you to act in order to dismantle the operational structures of paramilitary organizations operating in Valle del Cauca and Cauca.
We thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. We look forward to learning about the progress of the investigations and actions taken by your office. We can be reached at (202) 797-2171 or [email protected]
WashingtonOffice on Latin America (WOLA)
Cc: Claudia Cuevas, Embassy of Colombia in Washington, DC