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Colombia, 8/26/2023


Excmo. Sr. Presidente Gustavo Petro Urrego

President of the Republic of Colombia

Sr. Fiscal Francisco Barbosa Delgado

Attorney General of Colombia 


August 26, 2023

Dear Sirs:

We are deeply concerned for the safety of the Wounaan-Nonán people of the Cabildo Indígena of Puerto Pizario in Caquetá Department, and specifically for the Indigenous leader Alexis Chocho Chamapuro and for Geiler Lizalda of the Afro-descendant community of Palestina. Both were disappeared on August 2. The ELN (National Liberation Army) later admitted to kidnapping them.

At 6:30 am on August 2, Alexis Chocho Chamapuro from the Wounaan-Nonán Puerto Pizario reservation was traveling with another 25 passengers in the community boat that provides transportation service to the Port of Colonias in Calima. Six armed men in another motorboat intercepted them between Puerto Pizario and Palestina. The armed men were holding a list and some photographs. They also had with them Geiler Lizalda, member of the Community Council of Palestina, an Afro-descendant community, whom they had forcibly seized from his home.  They proceeded on the Río San Juan toward the town of Istmina.

This forced disappearance occurs at a time when disputes over territorial and social control between the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) ensue.  The Wounaan people and Afro-descendant communities in Calima, Bajo Calima, San Juan, Litoral San Juan, Novita, and Baudó are in greater confinement as a result of recent events.  In response, these communities, together with other Indigenous reservations and community councils of Bajo San Juan, Bajo Calima and Litoral del San Juan, have been working on strategic proposals to build peace in these territories by inviting all armed actors their existence as non-combatants. Organizations such as the Somos Génesis network and CIJP (Inter-Church Council for Justice and Peace) are actively working with these communities.

It is urgent to de-escalate this armed conflict to avoid further damage to the communities. The ELN entered into a ceasefire with the government one day after the kidnapping. As of August 25, there has been no word from the ELN whether the two men are still alive.

We urge that you:

  • investigate the kidnapping and continue searching for Alexis Chocho Chamapuro and for Geiler Lizalda
  • consult with the civilian populations to devise and implement protection measures
  • urge that the ELN adhere to the recently agreed-upon cease fire and apply the Directorate of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Dirección de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario)


Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez




Luis Gilberto Murillo, Ambassador of Colombia to the US ~ via email, US mail

Joel Hernández García, Rapporteur for Colombia ,  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ~ via email, US mail

Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ~ via email, US mail

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

UN: Juliette De Rivero, Representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ~ via email

Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (CIJP) ~ via email

Somos Génesis ~ via email

US Embassy: Francisco Palmieri (Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim); Sandra Lee (human rights), Mariel Chatman (vulnerable populations) ~ via email

US State Department: Christine Russell, Desk Officer for Colombia ~ via email

US Senators from Ohio: Brown & Vance ~ via email

US Representatives from Ohio: Beatty, Brown, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Miller, Sykes ~ via email

03 AUG 2023_CIJP_Colombia