Colombia: Miners Assassinated

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On 10 February 2010, paramilitaries assassinated two miners from FEDEAGROMISBOL (The Southern Bolivar Agricultural- Mining Federation) – a coalition of peasant farming and mining communities in Southern Bolivar province.  CPT-Colombia has accompanied FEDEAGROMISBOL since the murder of one of its leaders, Alejandro Uribe, in 2006.  These communities continue to struggle nonviolently for their dignity and their rights to their land. 

A collection of 20 civil society groups and non-governmental organizations issued the following report and denouncement of the murders (excerpts):

“Around 7:00am, Omar Alonso Restrepo and Jose de Jesús Restrepo left the municipality of Montecristo for Caucasia, Antioquia in order to buy some parts for their car.  The brothers, ages 26 and 40 respectively, were artisan miners and members of FEDEAGROMISBOL.  Omar Alonso was the President of El Dorado’s Community Action Board and the fiscal watchdog for El Dorado’s agricultural-mining association.  They arrived in Nechi at about 10:00am on the same day and continued their trip to Caucasia. “According to reports from the local population, the brothers were approached by an armed group about 20 minutes from the township of Nechi and taken to an unknown destination.  Some say members of paramilitary forces in the region were responsible.

“During the night of 12 February, the dead body of Omar Alonsa Restrepo was found in the Cauca River close to the town of Achi.  The following morning, the dead body of Jose de Jesús Restrepo also surfaced in the Cauca River near the municipality of Guaranda.  Both bodies showed visible signs of torture.”

The denouncement continues, “These killings are part of a long chain of aggression against the people of Southern Bolívar.  In the current context, these acts represent a comprehensive strategy to plunder the territory by a macabre alliance between the national government and multinationals who want to seize the natural resources in Southern Bolívar province.

“We hold Colombian government authorities responsible for these events in that they have refused ongoing dialogue with the communities in Southern Bolívar and have continued to militarize the region and  allow paramilitary groups to function openly.

“We firmly reject these murders and all actions aimed at depriving the people of Southern Bolívar of their territory.  We call on the government to investigate these crimes and punish those responsible.”

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