archivos de los protestos globales

Massacres in Colombia: model letter


Several black communities in the pacific coast of Colombia are being killed and displaced by paramilitaries in this very moment, in an operation which will continue in the next days and weeks. This is happening in the same region where between 100 and 300 people were massacred last Easter, with the complicity and cooperation of the Colombian army, which is happening again this time. The objective is to make room for transnational investment in a region where black and indigenous communities have preserved the highest density in biodiversity of the world, strategic oil reserves and projected interoceanic transport megaprojects for international trade.

Below you will find an edited version of the letter that the Colombia-Canada Solidarity Campaign has sent to the Canadian minister of foreign affaires, already adapted to be used as model for European groups. There is also a letter to Pastrana(in Spanish only). Obviously, non-European groups are also strongly encouraged to write to your minister, you will have to get rid of the parts that are specific to Europe.

We know that this sort of lobbying is not the usual form of action discussed in these lists, but in this very urgent case it is a matter of life or death; there are no guarantees that it will work, but it is better than doing nothing. However, actions in (front of) Colombian embassies and/or companies involved in business with Colombia are surely more effective.

IMPORTANT: There are some words that STILL have to be inserted in the letter for it to make sense, referred to in the letter [IN SQUARE BRACKETS AND CAPITALS] - please look for them and replace them before sending the letter. It would be very good if you would make other changes in the letter, take it just as a suggestion.

The Process of Black Communities and the Colombia-Canada Solidarity Campaign are discussing about forming an international brigade to spend Christmas with the black communities, the preliminary call will be sent later.

On 17-18 May there will be a summit of heads of state from the EU and Latin America in Madrid (not just because Spain has the presidency of the EU in the first half of 2002, but also because Spanish TNCs are re-colonising Latin America at an amazing speed), and there will be mobilisations against it. Stay tuned.

If you are interested in the campaign against militarism and paramilitarism of People's Global Action (which is still taking shape), subscribe to the list by sending a message to with the word subscribe in the BODY of the text (not in the subject line).



Minister of Foreign Affairs Government of [YOUR COUNTRY]

Re: Call for action to halt the impending massacre in Pacific Coast region of Colombia.

Dear Minister

We are writing, as citizens of [YOUR COUNTRY], to express our grave concern about the intensifying violence that is being directed against grassroots social movements and their communities in Colombia. This letter is prompted by our sense of urgency concerning an impending massacre on Colombia's Pacific coast. This letter is also our concern about our governments' official position and consequent actions towards the Colombian government in a context where systematic terror has become a deliberate strategy used to silence legitimate civil social movements and organizations and their communities in Colombia. In the words of Alfredo Molano Bravo, Colombian sociologist and journalist living in exile, the model is simple: "all symptoms of inconformity are liquidated through terror and communities are submitted by the rule of obedience to the victor." We are aware of Europe's [AND/OR YOUR COUNTRY'S] significant and expanding trade interests in Colombia and feel it is imperative that [THE EUROPEAN UNION'S / YOUR COUNTRY'S] relationship with Colombia -expressed both through official government policy and private investment- pay careful attention to ethical and humanitarian demands, given that Colombia is a society afflicted by the worst human rights crisis in its continent. When crimes against humanity are being committed, extreme and exceptional measures need to be taken to avoid negligence or complicity with the perpetrators. "Business as usual" cannot be the assumption upon which [EUROPEAN / YOUR COUNTRY'S] policy towards Colombia is based.

Many international delegations visited Colombia during the year 2001. All of the civil Colombian movements meeting with diverse European and International delegations had the same message to share: there is a systematic dirty war - a campaign of extermination - directed against civil social movements and their communities in Colombia.

Their perspective has been tragically ratified by the events that have followed the international delegation's return to Europe and elsewhere:

The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention and request your prompt intervention, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to address the Colombian government and demand its immediate action to prevent the imminent massacre of communities and popular leaders on the Naya, Cajambre, Yurumanguí and Raposo rivers in Colombia's Pacific coast. The paramilitary groups present in the region have announced that they will 'celebrate Christmas' murdering the unarmed Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and peasant communities who live along those rivers, in order to take control of their biodiversity-rich lands.

We remind you that the Naya River was the sight of the infamous Easter Week Massacre of 2001 in which approximately 100 Indigenous, Afrocolombian and peasant inhabitants were killed. This massacre took place despite previous warning by the inhabitants to the Colombian government months before. There were warnings from the other side of the ocean too: the threats to the black communities in the Pacific coast of Colombia was discussed at the European Parliament on the 14th of December, resulting in a letter to the President of Colombian signed by 22 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and a written question by MEP Laura González which, according to the European Commission, was forwarded to the Colombian government. However, nothing was done to prevent the massacre, done 25 minutes away from troops of the Colombian Navy.

After carrying out this massacre, the paramilitaries belonging to the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) announced their incursion into the neighbouring Yurumanguí River, a threat denounced by the Yurumanguí inhabitants to the local and national authorities. Two weeks later the AUC entered the fishing village of El Firme on the Yurumanguí massacring 7 peasants and permanently displacing the entire community. This happened one day before the Table of Donors, meeting in Bruxelles, approved 300 million Euros in support of the Colombian Government. An action that makes our governments de facto responsible for the atrocities committed. The protest letters sent by several MEPs, including Joan Colom Naval, vicepresident of the European Parliament and Joaquim Miranda, president of the Development Commission have not let to any substantial change in the policy of slow but systematic displacement and extermination of indigenous, black and peasant communities of Colombia.

The civilian inhabitants of the municipalities of Timba, Suarez and Buenos Aires on the Naya River have reported that there now are about 300 paramilitaries in the area. This raises fears of a paramilitary incursion in these municipalities, especially in the areas of Alto and Bajo Naya and on the shores of the Yurumanguí. Paramilitaries in this region have been consistently alleged to have strong ties with the Colombian army, specifically the III Brigade. There are already preliminary reports of killings in the Naya river, still to be confirmed.

We expect our government to acknowledge the existing evidence, to challenge the Colombian government for its complicity and negligence and to develop the necessary international leadership and measures to effectively oppose the genocide being carried out to serve national and international legal and illegal interests. In consequence we request that the [YOUR COUNTRY'S] and other European Governments:

  1. Develop and implement the necessary mechanisms to closely monitor the comprehensive and systemic character of human rights abuses against popular movements and their leaders in Colombia and put appropriate and efficient pressure on the Colombian Government to protect popular movements in general, and the people of the Naya, Cajambre, Yurumanguí and Raposo rivers in particular, in the face of a very real and imminent threat of massacre;
  2. Take concrete action pressure the Colombian government to bring to justice the terrorist perpetrators of the above mentioned crimes along with those who fund and support them, in a way such that compliance carries real consequences for all those responsible;
  3. Openly and publicly scrutinize European investment in Colombia, particularly in sectors and areas affected by armed actors. The validity and efficiency of this process depends on the involvement of legitimate, objective and well-informed parties in Europe and Colombia, credible independent researchers, human rights organizations and affected communities and organizations.

Finally, beyond your written response to this letter, we would like to request the opportunity to meet with you and with your staff, at your earliest convenience, in order to present the issues and requests posed in this letter, listen to your perspective, exchange views and carry on with the implementation of measures to stop the extermination of rural communities in Colombia.


The Colombian Embassy in [YOUR COUNTRY]
The [YOUR COUNTRY'S] Embassy in Colombia

Plan Colombia | PGA