Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pink dolphins, palo de sangre and caipirinhas, oh my!

Having spent a year living in one part of the Colombian campo, I can't help but make comparisons when I visit other parts of rural Colombia, even when those parts are in the Amazon, where I was just on a little vacation.

As we trudged through muddy jungle paths, I mentally checked off the trees I recognized (plantain, lulo, chontaduro) and those I didn't (açaí, palo de sangre). The mud was still pretty much the same as in the northern Colombian campo, as was the resulting need to wear knee-high rubber boots when traipsing through it. They eat a lot of friend food here as well, especially patacones (friend plaintains), but I was not used to, and happily devoured, the multitudes of fish that abound. Words for some things are also different. Here they refer to as peruches the homemade popsicles that in the "interior" (read: every other part of Colombia) they call bolis.

One principal difference is the strong indigenous presence. A big chunk of this section of the Amazonas department is part of resguardos, which are much like Native American reservations in the U.S. Such a strong indigenous influence is not typical in most parts of Colombia, but here it is quite evident: in the faces of the people, or in the Ticuna and Yegua words one sees on school walls.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Human rights lawyer under threat

Jorge is a friend who, as the lawyer representing victims of massacres such as the 2005 Peace Community massacre, works tirelessly to end the impunity of human rights abuses by the Colombian army. He has had to take his children out of the country due to fears for their safety, and in recent days he and his partner have been the subject of vigilance by suspicious characters. Not only is the recent surveillance concerning for the safety of Jorge and his family, but also puts into jeopardy the possibilities for justice in the 2005 massacre case and Jorge's other cases. The following is an urgent action alert that I translated. Please take action by writing to Colombian officials urging them to protect Jorge and his family! Letter writing instructions here


The organizations listed below urgently contact inter-governmental human rights organizations, international organizations and the general public in order to inform about the security situation of the human rights lawyer JORGE ELIECER MOLANO RODRIGUEZ, who during the last few days has experienced increased persecution, including the harassment of his family.

The lawyer Molano Rodriguez represents the family members of the victims of the Palace of Justice massacre; the February 21st, 2001 massacre against the Peace Community of San José de Apartado; espionage by the Administrative Security Department (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad – DAS) of organizations, human rights defenders and magistrates; the extrajudicial executions of Jhonny Silva Arangueren and Alejandro Uribe Chacón; Operation Dragón; false positives in San José del Guaviare, Sur de Bolívar and Sur del Cesar; and the legal proceedings against Fernando Londoño Hoyos, Germán Vargas Lleras and Francisco Santos Calderón. The following individuals, among others, are implicated in these cases: