Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sr. Fiscal General Francisco Barbosa Delgado, Attorney General of Colombia
March 12, 2021
We are deeply concerned about a threat to indigenous leader Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia in Cabildo Wounan Phobur, in the Córdoba district of Buenaventura in Valle de Cauca Department. He is a director of the Association of Communities Building Peace in Colombia (CONPAZCOL) and belongs to the Association of Indigenous Cabildos del Valle del Cauca-Pacific Region (ACIVA-RP).
At approximately 7pm on February 26, a person called Ricardo González Chirimia on his mobile phone asking, “Are you Ricardo?” When he answered in the affirmative, a second voice told him, "Tomorrow at 3:30am you should go to the main road, since we have been looking for you for a long time, and you must leave."
In 2003 paramilitaries forcibly displaced Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia and his community from Bajo Calima village. In order to preserve their cultural identity, he and many of his indigenous community members temporarily settled in a small area designated by the Community Council del Bajo Calima. Since then they have been waiting for the national government’s Territory Renewal Agency (ART) to designate another site for definitive relocation.
It is worth noting that Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia received the threatening phone call after having participated in the seventh anniversary commemoration of the Marcha para Enterrear la Violencia (March to Bury the Violence) in Buenaventura. He was accompanied by representatives of international organizations and foreign embassies as they toured the area.
We strongly urge that
- authorities investigate the threat received by Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
- the National Protection Unit activate preventative protection measures, in consultation with Ricardo Gonzáles Chirimia, and according to his wishes
- the Territory Renewal Agency (ART) guarantee the definitive relocation of the Wounan Phobur indigenous community as soon as possible.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez