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Colombia, 10/22/2023



Excmo. Sr. Presidente Gustavo Petro Urrego

President of the Republic of Colombia

Sr. Fiscal Francisco Barbosa Delgado

Attorney General of Colombia 


October 22, 2023


Dear Sirs:

We are writing to demand urgent protections for residents in Caquetá, where there are territorial disputes among two dissident groups: the FARC dissident group Central General Staff (EMC) and the Teófilo Forero Column of the Second Marquetalia. We are especially concerned for the safety of these social leaders who have been declared military targets: Javier Güependo, Javier Sotto, Darwin Manchola

Peasant farmers have been caught in repeated crossfire between the EMC and the Second Marquetalia.  Additionally, ex-combatants living in the Miravalle village were declared military objectives of the EMC.  And now, new intimidations are directed at farmers, who represent the region as signatories of the Peace Agreement.

On Saturday, October 7, the Central General Staff of the FARC-EP named three social leaders as military targets: Javier Güependo, legal representative of the Municipal Association of Colonos del Pato (Amcop); Javier Sotto, prosecutor of Amcop and manager of the COOPABI cooperative; and Darwin Manchola, signatory of the Final Peace Agreement, president of the Guayabal Community Action Board, and current candidate for the San Vicente del Caguán Council.  Two unidentified men on a blue Yamaha motorcycle delivered the letter between 5:30 and 6:00pm at Guayabal village. The letter with the official insignia of the EMC stated: “we remind you that as an organization we have regulations to comply with, anyone who disobeys will be declared a military objective.”

The residents of the Campesino Reserve Zone (ZRC) El Pato-Balsillas (municipality of San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá Department)  are at risk from the escalating conflict and struggle for dominance between the armed groups EMC and the Second Marquetalia. In late August, the EMC increased control over the zone by requiring that residents show identification for entry and exit from the territory. While the government has negotiated with EMC to begin a three-month ceasefire, which began on October 16, agreements have been broken in the past, and the community continues to hold increasing fear of being attacked by the dissident groups present in the region. The Office of the Ombudsman warned that the EMC has entrenched itself in territories between Huila and Caquetá with “exemplary murders, threats, imposition of charges and forced displacement.” 

We strongly urge that you:

  • implement state protections for the people of the El Pato-Balsillas Peasant Reserve Zone (ZRC), in accordance with the community's requests
  • investigate the delivery of the death threat against  Javier Güependo, Javier Sotto, and Darwin Manchola
  • devise protection mechanisms for Javier Güependo, Javier Sotto, and Darwin Manchola, and other leaders of Amcop, in accordance with their requests.


Brian J. Stefan Szittai  and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez



copies:         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

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

US Embassy: Francisco Palmieri (Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim); Adam Levy (Human Rights Unit Chief)  ~ via email

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

US Senators from Ohio: Brown & Vance

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

12 OCT 2023_ElEspectador_Colombia