Universities Continue to be the Scene of Threats and Intimidation

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 18 March 2011

On the 3rd March 2011 the University of Cauca was littered by leaflets carrying threats against a long list of student organisations, trade unions and members of staff. The so-called ‘Rastrojos’ paramilitaries also posted the threat on the facebook page of the ‘Tuto Gonzalez Student Coordinator’. The threat began saying “the time of freedom for the university and its faculties has come. Guerrillas get out of the alma mater.”

The threat was directed at a long list of individuals and organisations, including the Association of Public Service Users of Popayan, the Popular Peasant Process of La Vega, SUTEC (the Union of Education Workers of Cauca) and ACEU (the National Union of Students). Many of the individuals threatened are students either working in social projects or on the Executive Council of the University. Some of the organisations, such as the trade unions, have been threatened before. Both the SUTEC President, Jaime Burbano, and the Vice-president, Oscar Gerardo Salazar, were on the list. Neither of these trade unionists has any protection measures, since the state withdrew their security in 2009.

The threat ends on a chilling note. “If you know these people, try to spend some time with them, to laugh with them, don’t let it be that when you want to hug them or smile at them it is too late. Get ready for the grave you whoreson guerrillas.”

The organisations listed place responsibility for these threats on the state, arguing that the paramilitaries are “irregular state forces”. They have also called for the state to provide adequate security measures for those threatened and to investigate the source of the threats.

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