COLOMBIA: Southern Bolivar community leader Edgar Martinez Ruiz assassinated

24 April 2009
COLOMBIA: Southern Bolivar community leader Edgar Martinez Ruiz assassinated

[Note: Mr. Martinez was a member of the Southern Bolivar Agricultural-Mining Federation, which CPT has accompanied for more than three years.  CPT joined the undersigned organizations in writing the following release as a response to the assassination of Martinez on Wednesday, 22 April 2009.  The murder is clearly another attempt to undermine local initiatives for peace and justice in the Middle Magdalena area.]

No more Victims in the Region
Statement to general public

Today at 10:00 a.m. in a place known as “Four” about two km from the urban center of San Pablo, Bolívar, hit-men assassinated thirty-six-year-old community leader Edgar Martinez Ruiz, shooting him five times in the head and killing him instantly.  Edgar is one more on a long list of assassination victims of the south Bolívar region.  [Authorities] have made no effort to control these actions that threaten peoples’ lives in the region.

Edgar Martinez Ruiz was an esteemed leader dedicated to the rights of the communities.  Therefore, he was attentive to forums and events that provided opportunities to defend the rights of rural and urban campesinos of South Bolívar and to draw attention to violations of domestic and international human rights.  He was an authentic human rights defender.

He was recognized as a leader that participated in various organizations and initiatives in the area, including
•    Representative of the “El Retorno” Community Action Council
•    Spokesperson for the Communities in the San Pablo Social Transformation Roundtable
•     President of the Association of the Integration of Agro-mining Communities of South Bolívar
•    Member of the Southern Bolívar Commission for Dialogue with the Government and
•     Southern Bolívar Roundtable for Dialogue.  

In these, he had the opportunity to confront state and national government institutions, not only about regional needs and problems, but also proposals for campesino development and protection of the civilian population.  He was currently participating actively in the planning stage of a civil exercise of a process for Municipal Administration Accountability.

The campesino communities, social organizations, and community in general condemn this assassination and all the violence that causes so much grief for civil society in San Pablo and the region.  [We] demand that these acts be investigated, brought to trial, and punished.  To guarantee human rights, end impunity.

We call on all people in solidarity regionally, nationally, and internationally to demand that the National Government take appropriate measures to guarantee the protection of the life and fundamental rights of the civilian population.

San Pablo, Bolívar, April 22, 2009


Holistic Development Zone

Southern Bolívar Association of Farmers’ and Miners’ Communities

Association of Community Action Councils

Association of Farmers and Miners of South Southern Bolívar

Association of Community Stores

Program for Development and Peace in the Middle Magdalena (PDPMM)

Women’s Popular Organization (OFP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)