Sr. Juan Manuel Santos
President of Colombia
Sr. Juan Fernando Cristo
Minister of the Interior of Colombia
We are saddened and angered at the murder of peasant farmer leader Cecilia Coicue, age 62, in the village of Cominera, municipality of Corinto in Cauca Department. On September 7 she was found dead of multiple stab wounds on her farm, which is in an area designated by the peace agreement as a transitory zone in which a UN mission will oversee the demobilization of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
Cecilia Coicue, a prominent activist, was a member of the National Unitary Federation of Agricultural Workers Unions (FENSUAGRO), the Marcha Política (Patriotic March, a social and political movement), the Association of Rural Workers of the Rural Reserve Zone of Corinto (ANZORC), and the Process for Popular Unity of Southwest Colombia (PUPSOC). She was last seen going to the local water source the day before her death.
Her murder is particularly troubling because it occurred only a week after the bilateral cease-fire between the two sides of the country’s five-decade armed conflict. While we believe the beginning of the cease-fire marked a historic step toward peace in Colombia, we are deeply concerned that rural leaders are still being assassinated. This is an important reminder of the difficulties being faced in truly ending the violence and impunity that have been such permanent occurrences in the five decades-long civil war.
Therefore we strongly urge you to
immediately and thoroughly investigate the murder of Cecilia Coicue, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
honor the commitments made as part of the peace accords;
take definitive actions to especially protect the rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities from those who threaten them with paramilitary terrorism.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez