Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP – Unidad de Protección Nacional) is consistently NOT providing the necessary vehicles and other tools for the protection of human rights defenders, social leaders, and signers of the peace accords. This has resulted in unnecessary casualties such as the death of Ronald Rojas, ex combatant, peace accord signer, and a leader of the Autonomous Table for Reincorporation. A target of multiple threats, he was killed without a working vehicle and other necessary tools available for his security guards, members of the Memoria Viva union.
Send an email to the National Protection Unit in support of Colombia’s Memoria Viva Union and the Labor Network for Peace
According to Victor Osorio, President of Memoria Viva,
“Ronald Rojas had expressed to our colleagues that he had received concerning information regarding being following with the objective of assassination. Still, when the assassination happened, he was unable to depend on the security measures that should have been given to him…. The issue is that the renting car company, which has a million dollar contract with the state to rent those vehicles and provide security and mobility for the signers of the Peace Accords, also has the capacity to pick and choose the jobs they want to take…. We have colleagues who have to ride public transportation because they weren’t guaranteed a vehicle. This puts them in very unsafe conditions. These rental companies earn a lot of money renting those vehicles to us, and they don’t follow through on upholding security protocols. Furthermore, the rental companies often supply old, dingy cars that spend more time in the shop being repaired than actually protecting anyone…. What happened to Ronald was very painful for our community. All the deaths of the signers of the Peace Accords are painful, of course, but Ronald was someone who was very close to us, who had helped us assume the defense for a colleague who was assassinated. He was a leader in the protection of our friends.”
The Total Peace Plan proposed by Colombia’s Gustavo Petro is a good idea and a very nice phrase, and it deserves support. But that plan will not succeed unless the government moves beyond words and ideas and takes concrete steps. A good place to begin will be:
· To require the UNP to provide adequate vehicles and tools to the Memoria Viva union and all its peace workers to protect activists and peace advocates who live in daily danger;
· For the Petro administration to include members of Memoria Viva and the Labor Network for Peace (REDSIPAZ) in the committees of consultation for the Total Peace Plan.