‘Week of Indignation’ Begins in Colombia After the Tumaco Massacre / ELN Statement in Reaction to the Massacre

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / October 9, 2017

Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano

Between October 9 and 13, a Week of Indignation will be held, with activities that seek to mobilize citizens around different social causes. Big mobilizations are expected to occur in cities like Medellin, Cali, and Bogota next October 12, to protest the ongoing murder of social leaders and human rights defenders and the recent massacre of Tumaco in which 9 peasants were killed by the Anti-narcotics police.

The week begins with the rally in solidarity with the Avianca pilot strike, which will take place since 4 pm in the El Dorado airport and other airports of the country. On the same day, at 7 pm, a sit-down will be held rejecting the massacre of 9 peasants in Tumaco, Nariño.

In Cali, Colombians will meet at the La Herminta station at 6 pm to protest the Tumaco massacre, violence by the public forces and the persecution of social leaders and human rights defenders.

On Tuesday 10 at 8 am, a press conference will be held in the National CUT Headquarters by the Unified National Command and the Coordination of Social Organizations to announce activities in the context of the Week of Indignation to be held from October 9 to 13, and a National Mobilization to be held on October 12 in all capital cities of the country.

The National Mobilization is convened by the Movement of Unions and Social, Popular and Alternative Political Sectors.


The Colombian Government Rejects the Mission of Verification Intended to Shed Light on the Tumaco Massacre

Source: Colombia Informa / The Dawn News / October 9, 2017

After the massacre that killed 9 peasants and wounded over 50 last Thursday in Tumaco, several political leaders and social organizations (including the National Coordination of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Farmers—COCCAM) protested demanding the creation of a mission of verification to shed light on the facts. However, the National Government rejected it. However, the National Governmetn rejected it.

Although the social leaders and peasants who were in Tumaco last Thursday affirm that the Police and the Army opened fire against civilians who were holding a peaceful protest, the government considers that a mission of verification is “unnecesary”, because they are already taking care of it.

Luis Ernesto Gómez, Vice Minister for the Participation and Equality of Rights replied to the Subcommission of Guarantees and Human Rights that demanded the mission of verification that such a thing is not necessary, because the investigation is being carried out by a commission made up of officials from the National Director of the Prosecutors’ Office and the Vice Ombudsman.

“One of the roles of the Subcommission of Guarantees and Human Rights is to carry out verification missions about potential human rights violations and submit them to competent authorities to be used in investigations. In this case, the entities in charge of the investigations are already in the scene carrying out the pertinent investigations”, the Vice Minister said.


Statement by the ELN in Reaction to the Massacre

Source: ELN Central Committee / The Dawn News / October 9, 2017

Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano

The massacre perpetrated by the police last October 5 in the Puerto Rico vereda of the Tumaco municipality left an aftermath of 9 deceased peasants and over 50 wounded. This is a serious affront to the ceasefire agreed with the government, which is intended above all to “improve the humanitarian situation of the population”.

This tragedy is the opposite of that, as it violates the letter and the spirit of the agreement. Therefore, we demand with urgency the action and the pronouncement of the Mechanism of Oversight and Verification made up of the UN, the Church and the parties involved.

The Tumaco Massacre and the lies with which the government is trying to cover it up contradict the mission of peace, and therefore we need the people of the nation unite in a big national mobilization to confront the ongoing criminalization of social protest.

This tragedy is yet another proof that the arms of the state are at the service of the dominant classes. As long as those in power use violence to perpetuate themselves in their positions, we won’t be able to move forwards and create a better situation for the country, and a political solution to the conflict—which is the wish of the National Liberation Army and the majority of Colombians.

One of the truths they want to hide, besides the authorship and the responsibility of the police in the massacre, is that peasant communities are demanding the government to comply with the agreements of voluntary eradication of illicit crops and create alternative sources of income. This had been agreed upon years ago.

Some believe that the order to shoot was given by generals Salamanca (commander of the Nariño Regional Police) and Tafur (Commander of the Pegasus Taskforce of the Army). No, no, no…. The order to shoot was given in the capital of the United States.

The warcry came out of Donald Trump on September 13, when he threatened to include Colombia in the list of “failed states” if there weren’t any “significative progresses” in eradicating coca crops. A not-so-minor detail is that he confessed he hadn’t included the South-American country in that list before because the Police and the Armed Forces of Colombia are “close partners of the US in maintaining the security of the hemisphere” and because they “have reinitiated the eradication” of illicit crops, a process that had been “significatively reduced since 2013”.

Last July 3, K. Whitaker, US ambassador to Bogota, attributed the expansion of coca crops to “the 2013 social protests, which affected eradication”.

Meanwhile, W. Bronfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, warned that if the expansion of crops in Colombia doesn’t cease, “soon there will be bilateral problems”. For its part, the Republican caucus of the US Senate read a memorandum by former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe, in which he accuses Santo’s government of “abandoning the struggle against illicit crops to favor the negotiation with the FARC”. While spokespeople of the Democrat party have qualified the increase in coca crops as “the failure of the Colombia Plan”.

A DEA report published in early September states that coca crops grew from 78 thousand hectares in 2012 to 188 thousand in 2017. This growth is attributed to the suspension of air fumigation since October 2015, to the cut of two thirds of the budget for manual eradication, to Chapter Four of the FARC agreement that encouraged plantation and to the reduction of eradication operatives in FARC areas during the negotiation to avoid military clashes.

On September 24 Whitaker announced that in the next months there would be “dramatic results” in the struggle against illicit crops. Eleven days after that announcement, the US obtained its first “dramatic result”: the Tumaco Massacre.

This reminds us of December 6, 1928, when the Browning machine guns installed in the four corners of the Ciénega Square, in Magdalena, shot down banana workers of the United Fruit Company by order of the United States. Today, the tragedy repeats itself with the same characteristics that Gaitán enounced when he spoke about that massacre: “oligarchs point their machine guns at the people and bend their knee to Yankee gold”, and described their solution as “fixing social issues with revolvers”.

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