Colombia: Under the Grip of Violence



Magdalena Medio RegionIn mid-August, Colombia hosted the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) U-20 World Cup.  International mass media portrayed Colombia as a nation at peace during the games.

However, facts on the ground in the Magdalena Medio region tell another story.  A wave of human rights violations, assassinations, and massacres shook the region the same week, belying the mass media image and pointing to a country under the grip of organized armed violence.

In Barrancabermeja, where CPT is based, human rights groups documented two assassinations (Fernando Peña Betancourt and a 15-year-old boy), two forced disappearances (including 23-year-old motorcycle-taxi driver, Jarlinson Andrés Guzmán), five attempted assassinations (including a 56-year-old man and a teenage boy), and the kidnapping of three contract workers from 13-18 August. 

In rural Santander, members allegedly belonging to the ELN guerilla group massacred four men on 14 August.  The victims were found shot to death on a road 40 minutes outside the town of San Pablo.

In the mining zone of Sur de Bolivar, a group of 20 armed men who identified themselves as belonging to the paramilitary group Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) entered the village of Casa Zinc on 17 August.  They gathered the community together and assassinated subsistence farmer Pedro Sierra.  They then tortured and cut out the tongues of Ivan Serrano, a local shop owner, and Luis Albeiro Ropero, a young miner, before killing them.   The Colombian Army stood idly by just twenty minutes away.

The U.S. government, eager to pass a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), helps to promote the false media image of a peaceful Colombia, glossing over the human rights concerns that have followed in the wake of such agreements since 2006.

Contact U.S. Legislators (see and say “No” to the proposedU.S.-Colombia FTA!

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