The Violence of the Paramilitaries

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 14 November 2014

Translation of article by Gustavo Gallon published in El Espectador titled "Black Eagles and other deadly creatures".

Does the Colombian State have the capacity to uncover the identity of the perpetrators of the many and constant threats made by neoparamilitary groups? Or does it lack the will to do so?

Over the last three weeks several of these threats have been released in a disturbing way: First, on the 8 and 9 September, threats were sent to 84 human rights activists by email from the following email addresses: and Hard copies of another death threat, signed by the armed group "Los Rastrojos-Comandos Urbanos", were handed to eight trade union, human rights and peace movement leaders on the 22 September. Similarly, this death threat was sent to another 20 activists and the political leaders Claudia Lopez, Piedad Cordoba and Ivan Cepeda on the 24 September, in the region of Cordoba.

It is not the first time this has happened: Since the theoretical demobilisation of paramilitary groups in 2006, the Black Eagles made an appearance when they sent intimidating messages to social activists and human rights leaders. Strangely, the authorities were unable to find anyone linked to the email address which has repeatedly been used over the last eight years. The ‘Somos Defensores’ project recorded 260 threats attributed to the Black Eagles between January 2010 and June 2014, of which 101 had been sent from that email address.

49 of the 101 threats ascribed to the Rastrojos since 2010 have been sent by email. And other paramilitary groups have claimed to be behind 174 other threats during the same period, 44 of which were sent electronically, by email. Perhaps, among this abundant material, it might incidentally be possible to identify the person who allegedly hacked the emails of the government’s head of negotiations in Havana, Humberto de la Calle, 17 times.

Some authorities insist that the Black Eagles don’t exist but this goes against the evidence: The assassinations of Julio César Mosquera from Riosucio (Chocó) and Charly Cuero Bedoya from Olaya Herrera (Nariño), in 2012, are among the many serious crimes which demonstrate their ongoing existence. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that there might be a link between the Black Eagles and the Rastrojos. What should we make of the Urabeños who threatened journalists in Cali and Buenaventura on the 29 September after the arrest of the person with the pseudonym La Chili?

Both for the peace process and for the safety of all people in Colombia, we need to expose and break up these sinister networks of assassins. Every six days, on average, another human rights activist loses their life in Colombia. Almost half of them have previously received threats from paramilitary groups. Of the 108 assassinations of human rights activists recorded by Somos Defensores between January 2013 and June 2014, 44 had reported receiving death threats. What more will it take to stop this scandal once and for all?

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