‘Dear Colleague’ letter by US Congressman cites JFC website

Justice For Colombia News | on: Sunday, 3 February 2008

US Congressman Raul Grijalva (Democrat, Arizona), has written to his colleagues in the US Congress drawing attention to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's "silence and denial" about paramilitary crimes. In his letter, the Congressman includes a link to a translated piece that appears on the Justice for Colombia website.

To follow is a copy of the Congressman's letter:

January 29th, 2008

Dear Colleague,

I would like to share with you the following open letter to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/news/article/125/] from a leading Colombian human rights advocate, Ivan Cepeda, published in the newspaper El Espectador.

Dr. Cepeda is the founder and director of the National Movement of Victims, a group that pursues justice for atrocities committed by the Colombian state and/or their paramilitary allies. Ivan's own father was assassinated while serving as a senator in Colombia's national assembly, and Dr. Cepeda was himself was the target of a sham prosecution by Colombian authorities for supposed "slander and libel." Dr. Cepeda's alleged crime consisted of calling for the resignation of a politician accused of paramilitary ties. Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and a number of human rights NGO's found the harassment of Dr. Cepeda to be part of a larger pattern of specious legal actions taken by Colombian authorities against human rights defenders.

Dr. Cepeda notes recent, continuing acts of terror (12 assassinations, 9 forced "disappearances," and 120 displacements in the past 2 weeks) by "demobilized" right-wing paramilitaries and asks President Uribe,

What can we expect from these functionaries and institutions when the Government's attitude is marked by silence and denial? Instead of condemning these atrocities, you, Mr President, try to convince the country and the world that the paramilitary groups don't exist in Colombia anymore; a statement which denies absolutely the facts. When will you speak about the crimes against humanity that the paramilitaries continue to commit?

These seem to me to be fair and very urgent questions for President Uribe, and ones we should expect an answer to before even considering any proposed "Free Trade" agreement with Colombia. I hope you will read Dr. Cepeda's very moving letter, consider the questions he poses and perhaps ask yourself why the Colombian government finds it so hard to give him a straight answer.



Raúl M. Grijalva

Member of Congress

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