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Colombia, 6/25/2018

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

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


June 25, 2018

Dear Sirs:

We are deeply distressed about the current displacement of more than 200 indigenous Nasa Embera Chamí people from La Delfina reservation in Buenaventura (West), Valle de Cauca Department, following an armed attack on a member of their community.

In the early morning of June 8,unknown men fired two bullets at the home of Gonzalo Hilamo Mesa, an  indigenous teacher and community leader. Fortunately, he was unharmed, but the attack generated fear and terror among the community who moved away from the area en masse. They are currently confined in a nearby school, the Technical-Husbandry Educational Institution (NACHASIN). The National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) reports that 80 women (5 pregnant), 90 men, and 80 (children?) are overcrowding the school. They are in need of food, clothing, medicine, basic shelter items (tents, blankets), and access to health services.  

The attack on Gonzalo Hilamo Mesa followed recent attacks by illegal armed groups into the Nasa Embera Chamí territory. On May 27 ONIC reported that indigenous community members Pablo Emilio Dagua and Adriana Montero were found dead after their disappearance on May 26. The causes of their death and the possible perpetrators are still unknown. ONIC indicated that their bodies had signs of torture.

To escape violence in their territories, indigenous people began moving from the north of Cauca to Buenaventura in 1952; the official reserve (Resguardo Indigenous Nasa Embera Chami La Delfina / Indigenous Cabildo of the Community Nasa Kiwe) was legally constituted in 2007. Displaced indigenous Nasa Kiwe and Embera Chamí peoples from all over the Pacific have settled there.

Because of our concern about the special consequences for displaced indigenous peoples and the lack of institutional response to their needs, we strongly urge that you

  • conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of the attack on Gonzalo Hilamo Mesa and the killings of Pablo Emilia Dagua and Adriana Montero, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
  • provide comprehensive assistance with cultural relevance to guarantee the right to life, health, food, and shelter of Nasa Embera Chamí reservation in La Delfina, Buenaventura;
  • provide effective collective protection measures to this displaced indigenous community, in consultation with them, in compliance with Constitutional Court Resolution 004/2009.


Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez




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

Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email

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