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RRN Letters Summary - JUL 2023

Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month


21 JUL 2023


assassinated: social leaders César Tapias and Ludis Ester Jaramillo  ¡presente!

Of the recorded 86 killings of social leaders this year, twelve have occurred in Antioquia Department. Residents suffer constant threats due to the confrontations between armed groups vying for control of the area, such as the Román Ruiz Front and the Clan del Golfo. Many social leaders are declared military targets by the armed groups.

In the span of two days, two social leaders were assassinated in Ituango, Antioquia.

July 4: César Tapias, the former president of the Junta de Acción Comunal (JAC, or Community Action Board) in the village of Quebrada del Medio village. He was shot and killed

July 5: Ludis Ester Jaramillo, a member of the JAC in the village of El Capote in the corregimiento of La Granja. She died by hanging from a tree

We are urging the government to fulfill the commitment it made when signing the 2016 Peace Accords to end violence against social leaders.

You can read the full letter at .



22 JUL 2023


threatened: CAHUCOPANA rural association

In northeastern Antioquia Department, amidst massacres, bombings, and economic blockades by illegally armed actors that caused a food and medicine crisis, campesinos organized CAHUCOPANA (Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia) in 2004. In the context of systemic violence and a constant humanitarian crisis, its 150 members organize to benefit around 3,000 people in rural areas. Conflicts over land and waterways have been volatile because of the government’s support of large-scale extraction companies. Armed actors (both the government’s military and illegal armed groups) try to seize control. Starting in 2019, the National Victims Unit granted CAHUCOPANA with Comprehensive Collective Reparation Plan (PIRC) because of the many years its members have endured threats, assassinations, sexual violence, forced displacement, torture and more.

The leadership of CAHUCOPANA is suffering particular persecution at this time. The office in Barrancabermeja was broken into and materials stolen. Then its legal representative, Carlos Morales, was detained without warrant by police.

You can read the full letter at .




23 JUL 2023


assassinated: social leaders Temístocles Beltrán and Pablo Enrique Rodríguez ¡presente!

Since the November 2016 signing of the Peace Agreement, 1,500 social leaders have been assassinated and many more endure severe safety threats against them and their families. Documented in this letter are the murders of two social leaders killed in the second half of June 2023, bringing the total to more than 80 this year.

June 19: farmer, human rights defender, and community leader Temístocles Beltrán, age 56, was murdered when an armed assailant dressed in military clothing entered his home in the village of Caracolicito, El Copey municpality, and shot him with a firearm.

June 30: Pablo Enrique Rodríguez, president of the Community Action Board of the Anacleto García corregimiento in Tello municipality, Huila Department, was shot to death while traveling with campesino farmer Cielo Ramírez Tovar, who was also killed in the attack.

We are urging that authorities in Colombia enforce demilitarization zones and hold criminal groups accountable for the violence inflicted on non-combatants.

You can read the full letter at  .



24 JUL  2023


criminalized: Maya Poqomchi' leader Sofía Tot Ac

Sofía Tot Ac, age 53, is a representative of the Maya Poqomchi' people before the Departmental Development Council of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz. She is a coordinator with the Mayan Peoples’ Council of the Achi’, Q’eqchi’, Poqomchi, and Kaqchikel communities. She is the founder of the Motherhood Home in Salama, Baja Verapaz. She is also the coordinator of social outreach for the Catholic church in Purulhá.

She is falsely charged with ursurpation for aiding the campesino families of San Juan de las Tres Cascadas, a communal farm located on a larger tract of land that is claimed by private owners. A warrant for her arrest was issued in 2021. She was arrested in 2022. Released on bond, she is scheduled to appear before a judge to face the charge of usurpation later this month.

We are urging that authorities 1) initiate a registry investigation of the Finca Chiquiwital to determine whether the farm has historically belonged to local campesino families as communal land, 2) create a Special Prosecutor's Office against Usurpation, and 3) drop the false charge of usurpation against Sofía Tot Ac and terminate all criminal proceedings.

You can read the full letter at   .




25 JUL 2023


assassinated: signers of the Peace Accords -  Hover Hernán Esquivel Tapicero and Ángel Miguel Ariza Rojas. ¡presente!

More than 360 ex-combatant signatories enrolled in the formal reincorporation process have been killed since the signing of the Peace Accords in 2016. Hover Hernán Esquivel Tapicero and Ángel Miguel Ariza Rojas became the 17th and 18th signatories to be killed in 2023.

June 17: Hover Hernán Esquivel Tapicero, age 42, was killed by gunmen in a restaurant in La Plata, Huila Department.

June 28: Ángel Miguel Ariza Rojas was murdered when gunmen entered his home in Tame, Arauca Department, and led him to a farmhouse where they killed him.

We are urging that authorities in Colombia provide sufficient resources to the UNP (National Protection Unit) to guarantee protection for vulnerable social leaders who are under threat and have been granted security measures.

You can read the full letter at .


26 JUL 2023


electoral interference: US Congress, State Department need to speak out

We wrote to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging them to speak out against the unconstitutional proceedings regarding the upcoming presidential runoff election in Guatemala. We asked them to amplify and echo the statements of Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols who, over the past two days (July 24-25), has said that the runoff election scheduled for August 20 should be allowed to take place "without interference or harassment of the candidates or political parties.”

Instead of going into detail about the Guatemalan government’s efforts to disqualify the center-left candidate (because it has been well reported in the news), we want to remind our RRN members about the broader context of chronic corruption in Guatemala. At great risk, news reporters, staff at non-governmental organizations, and now-exiled or imprisoned prosecutors have documented corrupt actions by hundreds of Guatemalan officials, criminal organizations, and business people. This corruption includes misappropriating state assets, bribery, corruption in government contracts and the extraction of natural resources. In addition, public officials working for the most powerful government officials have persecuted, falsely imprisoned, and exiled prosecutors, judges, human rights activists, and journalists who have tried to expose illegal activity by high-level government officials.

We are thereby urging our elected members of Congress to support the Guatemalan people and their struggle for democracy and rule of law by

1) issuing a statement that it is vital for the runoff election to be held without interference or harassment by officials of the Guatemalan government

2) suspending US funding of the Guatemalan military and police, including International Military Education and Training funds, as the military and police are the enforcers of this increasingly corrupt state of Guatemala.

3) withholding Development Finance Corporation funding for projects in Guatemala, and voting against loans to Guatemala in multilateral lending institutions.

4) applying targeted Global Magnitsky Act financial sanctions to individuals placed on the Engel list for misappropriating state assets and engaging in significant corruption

5) expanding visa and financial sanctions on corrupt economic elites who are profiting from government corruption

6) strengthening regional collaboration to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking, which now operate with state support and collusion from private businesses, undermining well-being and social peace in Central America.

You can read the full letter at