Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes (Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado)

Bogotá D.C., Colombia, February 1, 2007. The Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes (Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado) denounces the murder of Ms. YOLANDA IZQUIERDO in the city of Montería on January 31, 2007. She is yet another victim of paramilitary violence in the department of Córdoba and had been attending the preliminary hearings of Salvatore Mancuso, chief of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Ms. IZQUIERDO had been receiving threats since last December, when she attended the first of the hearings on Mancuso. El Tiempo, Colombia s principal daily newspaper, reported this situation on January 31, 2007. The District Attorney s Office had also been informed, when requests were made to protect her life.

Yolanda Izquierdo represented at least 700 peasants, who were demanding the return of their land, which they had been forced to sell to paramilitary groups. These plots of land had been given to them in 1990 by Funpazcor (an organization created by the paramilitary leaders Carlos and Fidel Castaño Gil) as a response to the disarmament of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL).

The murder of this leader of internally displaced persons is not an isolated act. Over the last two weeks, FREDDY ABEL ESPITIA, president of the Internally Displaced Persons Committee of Córdoba, was murdered and the headquarters for the League of Internally Displaced Women of Turbaco (Department of Bolívar) was burned down. These acts conclusively demonstrate that the negotiation process has not led to the dismantlement of paramilitaries, and that the Colombian State is not only an accomplice, but is also responsible for the extermination of grass roots organizing efforts.

The poorly named Justice and Peace Law does not bring about the rights of the victims as far as truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence for crimes against humanity, which we have already widely denounced. The victims of state-sponsored terrorism are suffering again from the concealment and dispossession of their rights. As has been shown, they are not even offered minimum guarantees to personal safety during the process of visibilization, organization and demand of their rights.