Sunday was a really rough day. I was thinking of how to share it with you all, when a coworker posted these photos. Please check them
out. While I have heard many difficult stories here, and seen the results of violence and fear, Sunday was the first time I felt so
intimately connected with the reality of violence here in Colombia. I spent the whole day with this woman, and her coworkers.
We (CPT Colombia) have an urgent action release ready, asking you to call and contact local officials to make sure that this woman who was threated Sunday will be taken care of, and the incident truly investigated. Colombia is different than the US, in that often when i
call elected officials in the US i feel like nothing will be done. In the case of Yolanda, the paramilitaries who are strongly believed to
be the men that broke into Yolanda's house, pushing her, holding a gun to her head and telling her "the story is over," are directly tied to
the government. Showing the government and elected officials that she would be missed and there would be international recognition is
essential to her safety. The organization she works for has done incredible work for 35 years, Organizacion Feminina Popular (The
Popular Women's Organization- check it out www.ofp.org.co). Please call, send an email or fax. All the information is included below in
the release CPT has sent. Feel free to email with any questions.
Thanks for your support! Sitting in the meeting of human rights workers in the city Sunday night after the threat and break-in I was
amazed how many times it was repeated that international presence and solidarity has been essential to protecting them and there work in a region where human rights workers are targets of violence.
7 November 2007
COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Ask Colombian government to investigate threats
against CPT partners in Barrancabermeja
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) asks for your help in demanding a full investigation into the threats made against Yolanda Becerra Vega and Jackeline Rojas, members of the leadership team of the Popular Women's Organization (OFP Organización Femenina Popular). The Popular Women's Organization is one of CPT's most important partners in Barrancabermeja.
On 4 November 2007, at approximately 7:30 a.m., two armed, masked men entered Yolanda Becerra Vega's apartment in the city of Barrancabermeja. Several minutes earlier, two women from the OFP had left Yolanda's home, so when the armed men knocked on the door she thought that the women had returned and opened the door. The men pushed open the door, pinning Yolanda against a wall. One of the men pointed his gun at her, called her an obscene name, and told her "Time is up. You have 48 hours to leave or else we will
finish off your family and you will not escape us."
During the next fifteen minutes, the two men ransacked Becerra's residence, destroying many items. As they left, they were going to take her computer but in the end left it in the entrance of the house. The guards at the front gate of the residential complex declared that they had not seen the two armed men enter the area. [see pictures: < http://www.cpt.org/gallery
That same morning, Jackeline Rojas Castañeda found that someone had jammed a foreign object in the lock of her third-floor apartment, preventing those inside from opening the door, and that the security gate on the second floor had been opened by unauthorized persons.
Before these incidents, OFP had sent a document to the national government--with a copy to the different government authorities and to the international community--detailing incidents that put Yolanda Becerra others of the OFP at risk. The OFP demanded immediate action from the Colombian government. These new events illustrate the gravity of the danger that Yolanda Becerra, her family, and the entire team of the OFP are facing.
Please write (Sample letter bellow) or call the different offices listed below, demanding:
1. Protection for Yolanda Becerra Vega, the members of her family and all the members of the Organización Femenina Popular including Jackeline Rojas.
2. An investigation into the above mentioned events leading to the prosecution of those involved. (One of these events includes the kidnapping of Katherine Gonzalez Torres, sister of an OFP member. See 15 March 2007 CPTnet release, "COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Call for full investigation into kidnapping of Katherine Gonzalez Torres.")
Addresses: Álvaro Uribe Velez, President of the Republic, Cra. 8 # 7-26,
Palacio de Narino, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Fax: 011-57-1-566-2071, E-mail:
* Sr. Francisco Santos, Vice President of the Republic, Tels:
011-57-1-334-4507, 011-57-1- 772-0130, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* Human Rights Program of the Vice Presidency:
* Dr. Volmar Antonio Perez Ortiz, Office of the National Human
Rights Ombudsman, Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá, Fax: 011-57.1.640.04.91,
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
* Doctor Mario Hernán Iguaran Arana, Attorney General,
22-B # 52-01, Bogotá, Fax: 011-57-1-570-2000; 011-57-1-414-9000,
Extensión:1113, E-mail: email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org
* Dr. Edgardo Jose Maya Villazon, Prosecutor General, Cra. 5#,
15-80, Bogotá, Tel: 011-57-1-284-7949, Fax:011-57-1-342-9723, E-mail:
* Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, Minister of Defense, Avenida
El Dorado con Cra. 52 CAN, Bogotá, Fax: 011-57-1-222-1874, E-mail :
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
* Dr. Carlos Franco, Director of the Presidential Programe for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Calle 7 N° 5-54 Bogotá,
D.C., Fax: 011-57-1-337-4667, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Dr. Carlos Holguin Sardi, Minister of Internal affairs and
Justice, Avenida El dorado con carrera 52 CAN Bogotá D.C., Fax:
011-57-1-222-1874, E-mail email@example.com
Please send copies of your messages to: Popular Women's Organization
(Organización Femenina Popular) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample letter in Spanish: Respetado Dr. ______________: Reciba un saludo cordial de ____(your name)____ de ___(your state or province and country)___ Escribo a usted con una gran preocupación por la situación de YOLANDA BECERRA VEGA, quien recibió amenazas en Barrancabermeja el 4 de noviembre de 2007. A través de mi apoyo a los Equipos Cristianos de Acción por la Paz, conozco algo del trabajo de la Organización Femenina Popular, y me preocupa la situación de seguridad de las mujeres de la OFP y de sus familias.
Muchas gracias por la atención prestada,
Send the letter in Spanish. But the letter's translation is as follows:
Cordial greetings from your name and state. I write to you with great concern for Yoland Becerra Vega´s situation, who recieved threats in Barrancabermeja the 4th of November at 2007. Through my support for Christian Peacemaker Teams I have become familiar with the work of the Popular Women´s Organization and I worry about the security of the
women who work at the Popular Women´s organizations and their families.
Thank you for your attention,
ADDENDUM: (Correction to urgent action)
Some of the e-mails provided by a Barrancabermeja human rights organization for the Urgent Action that posted on 7 November 2007 (Ask "Colombian government to investigate threats against CPT partners in Barrancabermeja) were outdated. The following contact information does work, and if you have been unsuccessful getting your letter to other addresses, CPT urges you to send it immediately to
Doctor Mario Hernán Iguarán Arana, (Attorney General)
Fiscal General de la Nación, Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá. Fax: +
57.1.570.20.00 ; +57.1.414.90.00 Extensión 1113, E-mail: