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Colombia, 05/12/2018

Excmo. Sr. Presidente Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia

Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia


May 12, 2018

Dear Sirs:

We are extremely concerned about the ongoing human rights crisis affecting Afro-Colombian communities along the Naya River in southwest Colombia. On April 17, Obdulio Angulo Zamora, Hermes Angulo Zamora and Simeón Olave Angulo, all members of the Naya River Community Council, were disappeared. Another community leader, Iber Angulo Zamora, was kidnapped on May 3.

The Naya River Community Council represents the Afro-Colombian Naya River collective territory, which forms the boundary between the departments of Valle de Cauca (north) and Cauca (south).   On April 12, the Council had met with officials in Bogotá to discuss the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) in 2002 to protect communities on the Naya River. The discussion included the fact that the Colombian public forces, particularly the Navy, has failed to enforce these measures.

On May 2, armed men entered the community of Juan Santos in the Naya River collective territory to search for a particular community leader, the brother of one of the men who was disappeared on April 17. On May 3, the armed group displaced at least 50 people from the community. 

On May 3, the local Ombudsman’s office sent a delegation to investigate recent threats against local leaders. While returning from a meeting with representatives of surrounding communities along the Naya River, an armed group intercepted the delegation; they kidnapped one of the community leaders, Iber Angulo Zamora.  Iber Angulo Zamora had been in the process of relocating out of Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca Department, because of ongoing threats against him.

Afro-Colombian communities continue to be disproportionately affected by the ongoing violence in Colombia, including turf wars between illegal armed actors, such as drug traffickers along the Naya River.  Therefore, we strongly urge that you

  • promptly investigate the disappearances of Obdulio Angulo Zamora, Hermes Angulo Zamora and Simeón Olave, and the kidnapping of Iber Angulo Zamora;
  • ensure that the IACHR mandated precautionary measures are immediately enforced in consultation with communities along the Naya River, in a manner that does not further militarize the area;
  • support and help organize a meeting in Buenaventura or another location along the Naya River with the Follow-Up, Promotion and Verification Committee of the Implementation of the Peace Accords;
  • dismantle the criminal structures operating in the Naya River area.



Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez



Camilo Reyes, Ambassador of Colombia to the US ~ via fax and email 

Rebecca Daley, Human Rights Officer, US Embassy in Colombia ~ via email

Ryan Reid and Christine Russell, Desk Officers for Colombia, US State Dept ~ via email

Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur for Colombia, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons of African Descent, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

US Senators Brown & Portman

US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email