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Colombia 1/11/2019

Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez President of the Republic of Colombia

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

 January 11, 2019

 Dear Sirs:

We are deeply disturbed by the recent attack on indigenous leader Alejandro Pascal Pai and his wife. Alejandro Pascal Pai was recently elected Awá governor of the Pingullo Sardinero community in Barbacoas municipality, Nariño Department.

On December 29, Alejandro Pascal Pai and his wife were attacked and seriously injured in what appears to be an attempted assassination. Armed criminal groups are prevalent in Pingullo Sardinero, which is located about four hours away from Barbacoas, near the border of Ecuador. Because of the remoteness of the community and lack of communication, it was initially reported (incorrectly) that the indigenous governor had been killed.

Awa indigenous leaders have been under attack in Nariño for the past several months:

July 4, 2018: armed men forcibly entered the home of Awá governor Norberto Franklin Pai Ortiz, beat him, and stole his motorcycle and documents. They told him to resign from his post as governor. (Tumaco, Nariño Department)

August 22, 2018: Aura Melba López, Awá governor of the Nunalvi Altulbi Reservation, received a death threat directed at her and indigenous leader Ruber Dagoberto Palmo (Nariño Dept.)

December 8, 2018: Awá governor Lidia Gómez was attacked with a firearm in her home (territory of Santa Clara de Ricaurte, Nariño Department)

Awá leaders are also under attack in other areas of Colombia. On December 25, 2018, we wrote to you about the assassination of Awa leader Hector Ramiro García and his son, Arturo García, in Ricaurte, Cundinamarca Department, on December 2.

 We strongly urge that you

  • conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the December 29 attack on Alejandro Pascal Pai and his wife, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice
  • provide protection measures for the Awa indigenous communities in Nariño Department, in strict accordance with their wishes


Brian J. Stefan Szittai               

Christine Stonebraker-Martínez




Francisco Santos Calderón, Ambassador of Colombia to the US ~ via fax: 202.232.8643 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 and Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, 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

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


                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dec 30 2018_Telesur_Colombia