Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Confirmed: Legal Medicine determined that social leader Carlos Pedraza was killed by a shot in the neck

26 January 2015

Simply update 3:02 pm] The opinion of Legal Medicine establishes that the death of the Peoples Congress leader, Carlos Pedraza, was produced by "projectile gun [causing] a lesion located at the skull with a travel from back to the forth (...) with a low speed gun". This evidence confirms the hypothesis that the murder is a political crime in a context in which social leaders, among whom are his closets companions- were threatened with death. The government was alerted about the risk for citizens on which is supposed to ensure their integrity, but chose to ignore the admonitions and instead enable with their silence an accomplice context that extends to this day. The lack of official reaction enables the prosecution and the upsurge of violence against the popular movement. Thus, this crime becomes the most serious risk crossing peace processes.
 

Details about the fact

Part of the story is known: Carlos was heading from his home in southern Bogota to Teusaquillo (a district of the city), where he had to organize the work of an agricultural distributor. But he never came to that appointment and instead his body was found 60 km in northern the city.

Beyond that information there are clues confirm that his murder is a political message being conducted by the insurgency that is part of a strategy of sabotaging peace negotiations and above all, the support those processes collected in the social movement.

Why his body appears in Gachancipá. Carlos had no relatives, friends or acquaintances in this Cundinamarca municipality located in the province of Sabana Centro. Moreover, neither the distributor where he worked, nor the Mass Political Movement Center East in which he participated, were presence at the destination, or even step into a nearby region. The appearance of his body should be interpreted as part of an unmistakable message: those who murdered him tried to manifest the impunity of having retained, transferred to a remote location and dumped his body there.

What is political special about Gachancipá that can serve to give context to the fact? There survives a gangster and paramilitary tissue, for more than a decade, maintains a territorial control which was not challenged either by the presence of other irregular forces or by the State itself. In recent times, the assassination of liberal councilman Germán Cruz for trying to cancel a license to operate a quarry in the hands of an administrator supposedly relating to the local paramilitaries, is just a sample of the mafia network that also controls levers of economic power-political region.

The threats that touched him closely. Carlos was one of those responsible for the Zonal Bogotá of the Mass Social and Popular Political Movement Center East of Colombia, a strong sector of the Congress of Peoples. In recent meetings they had assessed the threats received involving with full name, three of the members of his closest political space. "We established safety routines for those who were mentioned in the pamphlets of the Águilas Negra, but not define that Carlos, despite being a very noticeable companion politically, should alter his routine. Thinking about it now we conclude that the accusations and his murder are part of the same strategy, threats distracting to see how moves everyone and finish beating a member of the group that is exposed”, reflects one of the people of his political group, threatened with death in recent weeks, which for obvious security reasons requested anonymity.

Hitting where it hurts: the social support to the peace processes. "Carlos was a human rights defender," says the same person who was active with him. "He came from the victims movement, his social work was widely recognized," she adds. His social and political space, the Congress of Peoples, expressed a wide variety of peasant, indigenous, student and urban movements that manifest (like much of the progressive and left sectors) a support in the negotiations with insurgencies although not unconditional: while demanding the role of society in the search for a peace that addresses the social agenda. So the murder of Carlos does not correspond to a logical pursuit of insurgencies: it is a blow to the social fabric, democratic and popular sectors able to amplify-and complement- peace efforts that advance the guerrillas, for retract them role of supporting a process of change in Colombia. Breaking this wide and diverse confluence of armed, political and social actors to peace is one of the strategic lines of the warmongering right in Colombia. For that, they stick -kill- where it hurts: in the leadership of the social fabric.
 

Political accountability in the highest levels of state power

The President Juan Manuel Santos, the vice president and his Interior Minister formally received last January 17, a few days before the appearance lifeless body of Carlos, the requirement of the Peoples Congress to be taken “the necessary measures to guarantee the right to life” of its members, after a series of death threats in recent weeks.

"The Águilas Negras paramilitary groups have launched a nationwide crackdown processes, leaders and social organizations that fight for human rights, democracy, dignity of victims and peace in Colombia”, explained the note submitted by the Congress of the People at the Office of the President, the Vice President and Ministry of Interior fit-and also spread massively. There are listed the risks faced by social, community and political leaders, threatened with death between October 2014 and January this year, in many cases even with full names and details of their movements both in Bogota and in Barrancabermeja, Arauca and the Caribbean Coast.

But President disregarded the request: no institutional response before the murder of Carlos. There was no official impact within 5 days and since that fact was known and widely denounced nationally and internationally.

President Santos knows what it is about. Although deaf ears to the warnings when come from the social movement, he attends, with a high dose of media speculation, recognized figures when they are targets of threats, as happened weeks ago with Piedad Cordoba and Ivan Cepeda. Through these political leaders committed the president is notified the severity of the situation, but once completed the encounters (and off the camera flashes) does nothing, nothing changes. It is read only one way for those who plan such deadly blows to the social movement: as a sign of impunity. It was only a matter of time before the government indolence and indulgence became a crime that, by dint of disinterest, the President can not avoid being identified as politically responsible.


A possible inflection point can reverse the troubled progress towards peace

The seriousness of the situation is growing and, if not operate substantial changes from state power, will degenerate until get out of control. If the crime of Carlos awakens no official reaction (not exist until now, despite the many expressions of solidarity and complaints to the government from the broader social and political sectors, nationally and internationally) the conflict in Colombia, rather of decelerate will grow. A dynamic in recent years acquired the social struggle can join political instability, including the resurgence of armed conflict. While there are expectations to conclude an overall agreement between the government and the FARC, in light of the assassination of the leader of the Peoples Congress, this guerrilla gave a clear demonstration of solidarity and made a strong warning about the possibility that this fact endangers the ceasefire. "We are running out of patience," were the exact words with which Pastor Alape, on behalf of the FARC, addressed the implications that impunity in this case may bring.

Facing threats, brutality and criminality expressing in the pamphlets with death sentences dozens of left sectors social and political leaders usually look at sectors of the right as enemies of peace. That is necessary: in these sectors exudes a strategy of permanent confrontation that has the social movement and insurgencies as enemies alike. But the Santos government has a central responsibility: to stop being passive, indifferent and therefore complicit with these attacks. Otherwise, he will lose the main flow of legitimacy that sustains in power, such as progress in the peace process. But even worse: Colombia will run the risk of losing once again, the opportunity to overcome the armed confrontation and build a dignified peace based on the popular role.

Author: 
Colombia Informa