Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia
April 24, 2019
We are horrified at the murder of trade unionist and rural peasant rights defender, Nixon Willington Valencia in San Miguel, in Putamayo Department.
On April 22 two men went to his home, asking to meet with him. He was not home at the time; instead he was visiting family who lived nearby. As he was walking home, they intercepted him and shot him several times. His six-year-old daughter who was with him witnessed everything and survived the attack.
Nixon belonged to the National Federation of United Agricultural Workers (FENSUAGRO) and was also a member of the Patriotic March social movement. His murder follows that of four other members of FENSUAGRO killed this year including Policarpo Guzmán Mage, Wilmer Antonio Mirando, and Dilio Corpus Guetio (cf our letter of April 23). These deaths highlight the danger for organized labor in Colombia where over half of all global murders of trade unionists occur.
FENSUAGRO is a union-based organization that centers on comprehensive agrarian reform, the implementation of the “Buen Vivir” vision in rural communities, and the rights of Colombian peasant farmers through advocacy strategies and political formation at the national level. Organizations like FENSUAGRO are strongly opposed by pro-government and pro-business actors who wish to stifle peasant and workers rights’ movements.
Putumayo, the region in which the murder occurred, is one marked with tremendous hostility and violence on the part of multiple armed groups due mainly to the fact that there is little state intervention in violence and that it is a strategic border region with Ecuador.
We strongly urge that you
- carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Nixon Willington Valencia, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- investigate reports of death threats and other forms of intimidation against human rights defenders and adopt immediate measures to ensure their protection.
- increase efforts to implement a security plan that will guarantee that the provisions of the 2016 peace agreement are carried out.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai
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, US mail
US Senators Brown & Portman ~via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Gonzalez, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Ryan ~ via email