"Chocó is in a condition of subhumanity," said Efe Dilon Martínez, executive secretary of the Departmental Civic Committee for the Salvation and Dignity of Chocó, an organization leading since last Wednesday an indefinite strike to demand that the government complies with the commitments it made in August last year. After eight months, the government "has only met 5%" of the agreement, and this has again brought out to the streets the people of Chocó, a department which by the end of 2015 registered an extreme poverty index of 37.1%, and poverty of 62.8% compared to 7.9 and 27.8% for the country as a whole, according to official figures. Martinez also lamented that the department faces "more conflict" than it had before the beginnings of the peace process. El Pilón
In its most recent report, the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINCEP) and the Program for Peace was titled: "Paramilitarism DOES exist (El paramilitarismo SI existe)." It's a clear response to denials by the Government and the Public Force [Army], which, in the face of allegations of murders, threats and attacks on political leaders and human rights defenders, have maintained that they are not systematic cases but isolated events, repeating that paramilitarism is extinct. According to the data gathered by investigators, during 2016 paramilitary groups threatened 395 people, carried out 83 extrajudical executions, wounded 44, disappeared 9 and tortured 12. El Espectador
US photographer Robert Pennington is showing some of his images of Colombia's nearly 7 million internally displaced people at the Universidad Externado de Colombia through April 28. (Colombia, according to United Nations Agency for Refugees, has the largest population of internally displaced persons -- nearly 7 million. It is followed by Syria, with 6.6 million and Irak, 4.4.)Pennington has lived with displaced Colombian families in Cundinamarca, Chocó and Valle del Cauca. Pacifista!
From June 2014 until mid-March 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman has filed 27 reports to the Government, the Armed Forces and local authorities warning the inroads being made by this criminal gang in Chocó. Each one of the reports details the crimes that are being committed and shows how this new incarnation of the paramilitaries has deployed a strategy of conquering territories formerly controlled by FARC, specifically the Frente 57, and are facing a war against ELN. Today - in face of the apparent passivity of the Government, the Armed Forces, the Government and the respective mayors - AGG has intimidated the populations of 15 of the 30 municipalities of Chocó, including Quibdó. La Silla Pacífico
A Colombian army chief relieved of duties following a scathing report on the summary killing of almost 3,000 peasants has spent the last 18 months working at his nation’s embassy in the United States, to the ire of human rights groups. Army Commander Gen. Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar has been serving as Colombia’s defense attaché in Washington since soon after he and other top brass in the military command were removed from their posts after a damning report from Human Rights Watch in June 2015. The Colombian government at the time called it a reorganization of the armed forces. Miami Herald
The truth as a right of the victims and as a decisive element for the reconciliation of society has been one of the most important factors in peace processes around the world, which have left great lessons for overcoming the violence.Tatiana Dangod, El Heraldo
The Colombian government should redouble its efforts to protect rights defenders and community activists and to investigate killings of activists in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. “The peace process poses an invaluable opportunity to reinstate the rule of law in areas long battered by violence and abuses,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “But peace and rights are unlikely to flourish if abuses dissuade rights defenders from playing their indispensable role.” Human Rights Watch
“The killing of Gerson Acosta is a clear example of the ineffectiveness of the measures implemented by the Colombian authorities to safeguard the life and safety of leaders and members of Indigenous communities. It is time that the Colombian authorities keep their promises and provide adequate protection for the victims of the conflict.” Amnesty International
In reporting the latest two murders of social activists in Colombia, adding up to 31 since December last year, Mario Zamudio Palma writes in PACIFISTA! Mario Zamudio Palma that, "Every four days a social leader is killed in Colombia. Despite the efforts of the institutions, the 'enemies of the peace process', as High Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo says, continue to score: they have killed members of indigenous councils in the Cauca, trade union leaders In Antioquia, trade unionists in Putumayo and even communal leaders in Bogota. For now, no one answers." PACIFISTA
[...] over 50 representatives of Colombia's society have sent an open letter to President Santos, the Attorney General and Vice President Óscar Naranjo voicing their concern, "over the pressing lack of guarantees for political participation and the exercise of rights, especially by human rights defenders and social activists." Confronted by this violence, members of the State have nonetheless insisted that it is not systematic [...] and that, "the State has an obligation to ensure adequate protection of that leadership, failure to do so constitutes a crime of omission and refusal to abide by the guiding principles of the Constitution." PACIFISTA!