Statement by the Latin American Solidarity Centre
Dublin, 9 December 2013.
Latin American Solidarity Centre has learned of an escalation of violence against the community in Pitalito, Colombia, over its ongoing land dispute. On 3rd December, a human rights delegation that went to Pitalito to assess the damage inflicted against the crops planted by the community were intimidated by workers of the Agribusiness boss Juan Manuel Fernández de Castro. Shots were fired against members of the community and against the lawyer and human rights defender Rommel Durán. They were also fired at Italian journalist Bruno Federico and a member of the Platform of Human Rights in Colombia of Valencia (Spain).
This has happened a month and a half after the second displacement of this community on October 25th (the first took place in 2010). LASC have requested guarantees for the community as well as for the human rights organisations working closely with them.
This is a serious case and one which tests the capacity of the Colombian government to rein in local authorities, as well as their commitment to communities demanding land restitution.
LASC is demanding a full investigation of the incident and punishment for those responsible; real guarantees and protection for the communities, human rights defenders and reporters; international community to demand protection for the community and human rights defenders.