COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Further intervention on behalf of the Las Pavas families needed

29 July 2009
COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Further intervention on behalf of the Las Pavas families needed

Last week those of us working on the Colombia team sent an urgent action request regarding the families of Las Pavas who were displaced from their land.  Thank you for your swift response.  Within four days, we received fifty letters, which we shared with the community of Las Pavas.  The community leaders, grateful for this expression of international solidarity, said that these letters “fortify us more than eating a lunch” (and lunch is the principal meal of the day here).  We have also shared your letters with the Human Rights representatives of the U.S. and Canadian embassies, who expressed their concern and a commitment to follow up on the situation.  Please continue to send letters of concern about this displacement; updated details about how to do so are below.


23-25 July 2009, CPTers Sarah MacDonald and Pierre Shantz traveled to the region, accompanying two leaders of the Las Pavas community and representatives of the Development and Peace Program of the Magdalena Medio (Programa), to see how the situation is developing.  The 123 families displaced from Las Pavas are now living under plastic tarps near the Buenos Aires township school, which many of the children attend.  The people of Buenos Aires (the township to which Las Pavas belongs) have been supportive to the families.

Because of legal proceedings underway, three women have been permitted to stay on their land in Las Pavas.  On Friday, 24 July, a commission from the regional Human Rights Ombudsperson’s office (Defensoría) and other accompanying organizations visited these three women.  The commission reported that the police are present, surrounding the women’s houses and prohibiting the women from accessing their land to harvest corn, squash, and yucca crops.  Meanwhile, the judge who ordered the displacement at the request of two palm oil companies, Aportes San Isidro S.A. and C.I. Tequendama, has given these companies permission to enter the area and work the land.  Company workers have damaged fences, allowing cattle to roam freely and eat the women’s crops.  When the women asked why they are doing this, the workers replied that the land is theirs and they can do whatever they want.

On Saturday, 25 July, Shantz and MacDonald accompanied a commission of community leaders and a Programa representative to meet with the mayor of El Peñon, the municipality that includes Las Pavas.  The mayor said the situation was unfortunate, but he felt powerless to do anything.  He encouraged us as organizations accompanying the process to apply pressure on regional and national levels, urging that the community’s rights be respected.  Because the mayor has not taken a clear public position in this situation, the palm oil companies feel free to continue violating the community’s rights.

The judge will soon give a ruling as to whether the three women have the right to the land they are living on now.  Please show your ongoing support for these women, and other members of the Las Pavas community, who hope to return to the land they legally own and have worked during the past decade.


We believe that the email addresses given in our previous action alert for President Uribe and the national office of the Defensoría may be getting blocked, since our original messages went through and only later did the email messages begin to bounce.  We have found alternative ways you can send your letter to the offices of the President and the Defensoría.

To contact President Uribe, click this link to go to his online email form.

All information fields are mandatory, so here are our suggestions for filling them in:

Nombres:  *your first name

Apellidos: * your surname

Correo electrónico:  *your email address

Confirmación de correo:  *the same email address again

Departamento:  BOLIVAR

Municipio:  EL PEÑON

Teléfono de contacto:  *your telephone number

Asunto:  “violaciones derechos humanos contra Las Pavas”



Mensaje:  insert the sample letter below or a personalized one

Click on “Enviar mensaje.”  After a few minutes, the site should send you a confirmation email saying they have received your message.  After a couple of days the secretary should send you a message confirming that your letter has been delivered to the appropriate office.

Please continue to send letters to the following officials (note the new Defensor address):

Vice Presidente de Colombia, Francisco Santos


Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural, Andrés Fernandez Acosta <>

Defensor del pueblo regional, Marco Antonio Garcia Hernandez


Alcaldía del Peñón Bolívar, Catalino Meza Ruidiaz

For your convenience, here are the addresses to cut and paste into the “To” line; it is best to send one letter to all the officials at once:,,,

Please continue to copy your messages to the Colombia team at

Here is a sample letter you may use in your communications:


Soy ciudadana [“ciudadano” if you are male] de [ENTER YOUR COUNTRY] y he escuchado las noticias del desalojo de 123 familias campesinas de la comunidad de Las Pavas, en el Sur de Bolívar.  Sé que en este momento estas familias se encuentran desplazadas en el municipio del Peñón.  También entiendo que el Inspector de Policía, Omaldo García  Capataz, ordenó de forma arbitraria este desalojo, a pesar de que representantes de la Defensoría del Pueblo y la Personería Municipal se opusieron a la diligencia y solicitaron la suspensión de la misma.

En frente de esa vulneración de los derechos fundamentales de las familias de Las Pavas, le exijo al gobierno de Colombia:

* que garantice su retorno inmediato de la población desplazada a su predio

* que se repare económicamente a la comunidad de Las Pavas por los daños causados por la fuerza pública en aras del cumplimiento de la orden de desalojo.

* que se brinde la asistencia humanitaria a la población desplazada y se atienda de forma especial a la población infantil, mujeres embarazadas y adultos mayores

* que se inste al  INCODER para que agilice los trámites correspondientes a la solicitud de la comunidad sobre la extinción de dominio que se encuentra en curso

Gracias por su atención; espero los resultados de su acción.






I am a citizen of [ENTER YOUR COUNTRY] and I have heard the news of the displacement of 123 campesino families of the community of Las Pavas, in South Bolivar province.  I know these families currently find themselves displaced in the municipality of Peñón.  I also understand that the Police Inspector, Omaldo García Capataz, ordered this displacement in an irregular fashion, despite the fact that representatives of the National Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office and the Municipal Human Rights Defender’s Office opposed the order and requested its suspension.

In the face of this violation of the fundamental rights of the families of Las Pavas, I demand that the government of Colombia:

* guarantee the immediate return of the displaced families to their lands

* ensure financial reparations to the families of Las Pavas for the damage caused by members of the police while carrying out the displacement order

* offer humanitarian aid to the displaced families, with special attention to infants, pregnant women, and the elderly

* press INCODER [ Colombian Institute for Rural Development] to expedite their process of claiming the land by eminent domain, a process solicited by the community and already underway [so that the people may secure titles to their farms]

Thank you for your attention; I await the results of your action.