Displaced Leaderís Bodyguard Assassinated

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 30 April 2012

A bodyguard seconded to guard the life of Alfonso Castillo, the President of ANDAS, the National Association of Displaced Persons, was killed in Bogota on Friday. Mao Enrique Rodriguez was gunned down by two men riding a motorbike at 8.30pm on Friday April 27th. Mr Rodriguez was being seconded to ANDAS from the escort of Dr Carlos Lozano, the editor of opposition newspaper, Voz, whose chief of security he had been for over 8 years.

Many prominent members of the Colombian opposition, trade unions and human rights activists have small protection teams. Some of these are provided by the government, others are funded by the government but are made up of people trusted by those being protected. This is important since in the past the protection teams provided by the government worked for the DAS, which had proven links to paramilitary groups. Many of the government’s guards are former members of the DAS. Mr Rodriguez and his team were assigned to the Ministry of Interior’s National Protection Unit, which has stated that the killing was the result of a robbery. However, nothing was taken from the body, and the style of the assassination fits with the pattern of many political assassinations.

The number of threats and the level of violence against the Colombian opposition have increased since last Monday, when over 80,000 people gathered in Bogota for the Patriotic March. This demonstration was called by over 1700 social organisations committed to seeking peace with social justice in Colombia. Last week Hernan Henry Diaz, a social activist from Putumayo, was disappeared shortly before the Patriotic March, after having organised a delegation of some 200 peasants to attend the march in Bogota.

In a statement after the Patriotic March, President Santos insinuated that the Patriotic March is somehow linked to the guerrillas, as have recent media stories in Colombia, alleging some form of ‘political plan’ by the FARC. As usual, these accusations stigmatise the political opposition, and put the lives of those involved at risk.

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