How much pain, dispossession, how many tears, disappearances, political prisoners and torture are needed for the world to stop its conspiratorial indulgence of the Colombian regime? The figures of those who have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and disappeared, as well as the impunity laws for paramilitaries, the submission to multinational corporations and continuous plunder clearly show the government's genocidal nature.
More than a year since the current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos took office, we offer this brief commentary about the dramatic situation of Human Rights in Colombia under his government. The Human Rights violations continue to grow and systematic aggression via legal instruments (public police forces) and illegal ones (paramilitaries) of the State and multinationals continue against the population.
Since the 7th of August, 36 Human Rights defenders have been killed, along with 18 agrarian leaders who demanded the restitution of violently seized lands to those who had been working them, along with 28 union members (1); thousands more have received death threats. Also, scores of political opponents who were either members of leftist parties or part of communitarian organizations of social, housing or students have been killed or disappeared.
Both the Communist Party and the Polo Democrático are suffering the murder of their militants: the PDA denounced that the first 90 days of Santos´s government 50 political opponents were killed, and the extermination continues (2).
12 theatre companies from Bogota have been threatened with death unless they put an end to social theatre: the threats come from a paramilitary force which claims that it will “finish them off one by one”, because, according to this tool of State terror which operates illegally from the shadows with total consent from the public police force, the artists “want to proclaim themselves Human Rights defenders and oppose the policies of our government” (3).
"In Locolombia [= Crazy Colombia]
even puppets are considered terrorists."
The persecution of students is growing, and after the enormous demonstrations by the students against privatization, the universities have found themselves plastered with death threats against the students, where the paramilitary force claims that it will kill the students (4): “list in hand, one by one”. These threats have been painted right under the noses of university deans and other authorities. The repression against the students has already caused the death of several students since Santos became president.
The forced displacement of people is growing, and the communities which live in areas coveted by the multinationals are under risk of being displaced, like the Marmato community, whose parish priest was killed on September 1st, 2011 for leading the opposition to the Medoro gold mining multinational. The community has been under pressure from Medoro since 2009. The Canadian multinational Medoro Resources, merged with the Gran Colombia Gold, has been pushing a megaproject to exploit open air gold mining which implies that the Marmato village must disappear and all its population be displaced. A few days before his assassination, the Marmato priest denounced the pressure he had received from the multinational to leave his parish: “A few days before his killing, he had denounced the fact that his fight to avoid the megaproject in his parish could cost him his life” (5).
The forced disappearance of people grows. The practice of civilians killed by soldiers continues, in the euphemistic term “false positives" with at least 29 new documented cases in the last year. The imprisonment of opponents and Human Rights defenders grows, who have been judicially set up by the State. The situation in the prisons is dramatic, where literally thousands of political prisoners pile up, suffering aberrant conditions of reclusion and continuous torture, even as the OMCT denounces it. Since the beginning of 2011, seven political prisoners have suffered torture and denial of medical assistance. (6)
The report of August 2011 by the Coalición Contra la Tortura (Coalition Against Torture) claims that torture has spread to the entire population of Colombia and that the State is responsible for 91% of the torture cases; sexually violent torture is a common practice that is dramatically increasing, even against little boys and girls: “In the 107 cases in which the author of the crime of sexual violence could be established, it was found that State agents are responsible for 98,14%.” (7)
There are more than 7,500 political prisoners in the Colombian prisons, a record number for Colombia: 90% of the political prisoners are civilians. Some recent reports show that the scandalous figure of 7,500 political prisoners is itself an underestimate, since due to the increase in arbitrary imprisonments during these last few years, the figures should be closer to 500 political prisoners, completely invisible.
The human rights drama is further accentuated with the perpetuation of the paramilitary strategy of the State and multinationals: it is the narco-paramilitary groups whose existence is denied before the cameras by the government, by changing their name to “emerging criminal gangs” (BACRIM in Spanish), while they continue their criminal actions together with the public police force throughout the whole country, enjoying new impunity laws recently promulgated by the Santos government.
Some figures for state terrorism in Colombia
The government of Colombia has the most armed military in the world next to the US, along with Israel and Egypt: it is a genocidal army, the same one whose Omega Force within Plan Colombia, holds the record for the biggest communal grave on the continent: with 2000 corpses of disappeared people.(8)
The Colombian army murders civilians to justify its enormous budgets: Colombian soldiers kill civilians and then present their corpses as “guerrilla soldiers killed in combat” in macabre military-media stagings. They usually choose their victims from the rural population or the poorest population of the peripheral neighborhoods, although they also practice these wrongly called “false positive” murders against trade unionists and opponents. There are at least 3,200 documented cases of these civilian murders: 99% of the murderers and 100% of the masterminds behind this practice go unpunished (9).
60% of all trade unionists killed worldwide are killed in Colombia, either by the public police forces or the paramilitary forces working for the multinationals and the State (see 1).
Colombia holds the ´record´ for political prisoners: more than 7,500 men and women, mostly civilians imprisoned under blatant judicial set-ups.
The criminal actions of the State in forced disappearances are another horrendous ´record´: the Colombian “democracy” exceed the amounts of torture and forced disappearance during the South American dictatorships: the UNO acknowledges at least 57,200 disappeared people, the Search Commission claims 62,000 disappeared (August 2011), the victims claim 250,000 disappeared: in just three years the repressive tools of the Colombian government were responsible for the disappearances of 38,255 people (Legal Medicine report). (11).
Colombia is the country with the most displaced people in the world : 5.2 million people were forcibly displaced by the paramilitaries through their massacres. (Asentamiento Jardín Oasis, Medellin, Manrique Oriental, Colombia, 1999).
Colombia is the country with the most displaced people in the world, along with Sudan: 5.2 million people were forcibly displaced (12) by the paramilitaries through their massacres, in order to offer looted land to the big landowners and multinationals: the mining multinationals have asked for concessions on 40% of Colombian territory. (13)
While extermination of the opposition increases against criticism, the impunity for the repressive and genocidal tools go beyond the imaginable: recently, the government of Juan Manuel Santos voted for a law which would pardon more than 31,000 paramilitary soldiers (Law 1424) (14).
Colombia, the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Already 27 trade union members have been killed duringthe Santos presidency: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=133818&titular=el-pa%EDs-m%E1s-peligroso-del-mundo-para-los-sindicalistas-
Moreover, on September the 3rd, 2011 Jorge Alberto Durante was killed in Carepa, Antioquia. Durante was a trade union leader and member of the opposition party PDA.
PDA denounced the murder of 50 political opponents during the first 90 days of Santos' government and it also denounced extermination.(2).
12 theatre companies from Bogota have received death threats; the threats come from a paramilitary force which claims that it will “finish off with them one by one” because they “oppose the policies of our government.”
Threatened and killed students:
People who live in places coveted by the multinationals, like the community of Marmato, whose parish priest was killed on the 1st of September 2011 for leading the opposition of the multinational Medoro's gold mining megaproject, are in high risk of being displaced.
Documentary video ‘Marmato, the golden trough that cries out"
VIDEO News UNO Assassination of priest causes commotion
The situation in the prisons where literally thousands of political prisoners pile up, who suffer aberrant conditions of reclusion and continuous torture, is a dramatic one, even as the OMCT denounces it. Since the beginning of 2011, seven political prisoners have suffered torture and denial of medical assistance.
The report of August 2011 of the Coalición Contra la Tortura (Coalition Against Torture): sexually violent torture is a common practice that is dramatically increasing, even against little boys and girls: “In the 107 cases in which the author of the crime of sexual violence could be established, it was found that State agents are responsible for 98,14%.”
Communal grave with 2000 corpses behind the military Batallion in la Macarena, Meta:http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=99507
In May 2011 the CINEP published a report which shows that the killings of civilians by soldiers, far from diminishing, have increased under Santos’ presidency.
El Cinep afirma que aumentaron las víctimas de asesinatos de civiles a manos de militares
Political prisoners: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=129835
Forced disappearance, state crime in Colombia of Dantesque dimensions:
Forced desplacement CODHES numbers in 5,2 millions the displaced people report November 2010.
The Government grants benefits to mining multinationals, to the detriment of the environment and communities http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=132682
Documentary Colombia's gold rush:
part of the VIDEO by Al Jazeera translated into Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsU7QubxDDM&feature=player_embedded
From the 35,000 demobilized paramilitary soldiers, only 4 have been punished: Reforms to the “Justice and Law” reforms appear, after 6 years of terrifying impunity.