by James Patrick Jordan
“James, we are here. There are many wounded, many captured, many bullets, just everything. This is horrible.” The message is from Darnelly Rodriguez, her voice shaking with emotion. Darne is a spokesperson for the Francisco Isaias Cifuentes Human Rights Network (REDDHFIC), and acting coordinator for the Centro Pazífico (Human Rights Center of the Pacific).
Earlier this morning, I received a message from a ten year old child from a community we have visited different times over the years. She often sends me pictures of her cats and little greetings just to brighten my day. But this message is not a happy one. She writes: “Please help us with an SOS because they are killing the people!”
Right now, a massacre is being perpetrated by the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron-ESMAD. Between 6am on April 28 and 10am onMay 4, 2021, ESMAD and Colombian Armed Forces killed at least 26 protesters, committed 1181 cases of police violence, sexually violated nine women, shot 17 people in the eyes, committed 988 arbitrary detentions, and 56 persons had been reported missing.
The violence by the state continues unabated. Only last night, three more young persons were killed by police in Cali, where almost half of the victims nationwide have been concentrated. Unfortunately, the violent repression seems far from over. Reports indicate the arrival of several Hercules military planes at the Marco Fidel Súarez air base in Cali. The information gathered indicates that a large number of police and military from all over the country were mobilized to Cali to continue the repression this day.
I have received a steady stream of video footage, audio recordings, and photos documenting the fact that the entire country of Colombia is under a brutal siege by its own armed troops, and at the center of it all is the hated ESMAD, the US funded unit that specializes in repression of popular movements. Many of you will remember that we reported about a one-day massacre perpetrated on Colombia’s national Human Rights Day (September 9, 2020) against people protesting police brutality, leaving 13 dead in Bogotá. The current repression is even worse.
We have received reports that even official human rights monitors and international observers are not being respected. Various contacts have told us that police are not refraining from assaulting Red Cross personnel, and that the police directly threatened human rights monitors from the office of Colombia’s Ombudsman.
The United States government is deeply complicit in this outrageous situation. The U.S., with bipartisan support, has raised military and police aid at a time that popular movement leaders are being killed at a rate of more than one victim per day. ESMAD, itself, was an initiative of Plan Colombia, begun under the presidency of Bill Clinton.
The Alliance for Global Justice will continue to inform about the situation on the ground, and we will mobilize actions our followers can take to call for an end to this assault. At this particular moment, our partners in the Centro Pazífico, CPDH, and REDDHFIC are asking for our solidarity and donations so they can keep street medics supplied, and that we contact the Colombian and U.S. governments to demand an end to this assault against the people.
Since the U.S. is arming and advising repression in Colombia, it is our responsibility as U.S. citizens and taxpayers to recognize that this repression is done in our names, that our own hands are stained with blood. Your solidarity can help wash those stains clean.