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Colombia: "disappearance": Wilson Jose Caceres Gonzalez, peasant leader, candidate in mayoral elections

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 23/015/1995

AI is concerned for the safety of Wilson Jose Caceres Gonzalez, who was last seen on 6 April 1995. He is mayoral candidate for the Movimiento Campesino Obrero y Popular in the municipal elections in Sabana de Torres, Santander department. His name is reported to be on a death list circulated towards the end of March 1995, signed by the ACC, a paramilitary group.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/15/95
Distr: UA/SC
UA 89/95 "Disappearance" 11 April 1995
COLOMBIAWilson José CÁCERES GONZÁLEZ, aged 44, peasant leader, candidate in
mayoral elections
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Wilson José Cáceres
González who was last seen travelling by motorcycle on 6 April 1995. Wilson
José Cáceres is mayoral candidate for the Movimiento Campesino Obrero y Popular,
Worker and Popular Peasant Farmer Movement in municipal elections in Sabana
de Torres, Department of Santander. He is well-known as a civic and peasant
leader and is a founding member of the Movimiento Cívico de Sabana de Torres,
Civic Movement of Sabana de Torres.
According to reports, Wilson José Cáceres' name appears on a death list which
began to circulate towards the end of March 1995. The death list is signed
by the Autodefensas Campesinas de Colombia (ACC), Peasant Farmer Self-Defence
Groups of Colombia, and it includes the names of other peasant farmers living
in the villages of Las Lajas, Caño Peruetano, Birmania, La Bahía, La Magdalena
and Rosa Blanca.
According to information received by Amnesty International, Wilson José Cáceres
González left his home in the municipality of Sabana de Torres at
5.00 am on 6 April 1995 on his white motorcycle travelling in the direction
of Alegría farm in the village of Villa de Leiva, 15 minutes' drive from Sabana
de Torres.
Wilson José ceres González stayed at the farm until 11.00 am, when he went
to "El Nariño" farm which belongs to his family and where he works as an
administrator, and is 40 minutes away from the Alegría farm. At approximately
5.00 pm, Wilson José Cáceres began his journey home.
According to investigations undertaken by the Personero Municipal, Municipal
Ombudsman and the Grupo de Derechos Humanos de Sabana de Torres, Human Rights
Group of Sabana de Torres, Wilson José Cáceres was seen at 5.30pm, travelling
towards Sabana de Torres on the Panamerican Highway, opposite Villa Nueva farm
in the village of Mata de Platano.
In the course of investigations into his "disappearance", the red cap which
Wilson José ceres had been wearing when he left home was found in the place
where he was last seen.
The "disappearance" comes shortly after the ACC, on 3 April 1995, set up a
road block between the villages of Las Lajas and Caño Peruetano, approximately
45 minutes' drive away from Sabana de Torres and 35 minutes from La mez Military
Base. It was set up by a group of approximately 15 men, two of them hooded,
wearing American-style military uniforms and red and black armed bands with
the letters ACC printed on them. The group stopped and comandeered a bus, leaving
the passengers at the checkpoint.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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In the last few months Amnesty International has received several reports of
death threats against civilian inhabitants in the Sabana de Torres region
carried out by members of the security forces (see follow-up to UA 324/94,
AMR 23/06/95); according to reports received, members of the Batallón
Contraguerrilla Los Guanes, Los Guanes Counter-insurgency Battalion,
particularly are involved in these incidents. There is also intense paramilitary
activity in the region and the civilian population has lodged numerous official
complaints regarding this. Many of these denunciations refer to the close
links between paramilitary groups and the armed forces. Given the tense
situation in the municipality of Sabana de Torres, there is much concern for
the safety of Wilson JoCáceres and the other peasant farmers named on the
list.
Despite repeated government pledges to protect human rights, members of the
Colombian security and armed forces and their paramilitary allies continue
to commit serious abuses with virtual impunity. Many paramilitary groups have
their origins in the civilian "self-defence" squads which the army created
in the 1980s to act as auxiliaries during counter-insurgency operations. Over
the past five years, several thousand civilians have been killed by paramilitary
groups. Although in 1989 the Colombian government suspended the legal base
for the formation of paramilitary organizations and issued directives to the
Colombian armed forces to combat and disband such groups, paramilitary forces
have continued to kill and "disappear" perceived opponents, including civic
and popular leaders, in many areas of the country and continue to work with
the support of the security forces. Illegal paramilitary activity is
principally centred on rural areas of guerrilla influence and peasant farmers
have often been the target of human rights violations. President Ernesto Samper
Pizano has made repeated promises, both during his election campaign and since
taking office in August 1994, to improve the human rights situation, including
a commitment to dismantle paramilitary forces.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Wilson José Cáceres González and urging
an immediate and thorough investigation to establish his whereabouts;
- urging that if he is in detention, that he be humanely treated and llowed
access to relatives and to a lawyer; asking that he be immediately charged
with a recognizable criminal offence or released;
- expressing concern for the safety of other peasant farmers in the municipality
of Sabana de Torres reportedly named on a death list;
- calling for full and impartial investigations into the alleged death list,
for the results to be made public and for those responsible to be brought to
justice;
- urging the government to immediately fulfil its commitment to disband
paramilitary forces presently operating as auxiliaries of, or with the
complicity of, the armed forces; members of such forces responsible for human
rights violations should be brought to justice and links between these forces
and the security forces should be thoroughly investigated.
APPEALS TO
1) President
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
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Telegrams: President Samper Pizano, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7434/287 7939
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente / Dear President Samper
2) Minister of Defence
Dr. Fernando Botero Zea
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa Botero, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 288 4906 / 228 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
3) Minister of the Interior
Dr. Horacio Serpa Uribe
Ministro de Gobierno
Ministerio de Gobierno
Carrera 8a, No.8-09, Piso 7
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Ministro de Gobierno Serpa, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:45406 MINGO CO
Salutation:Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
4) Commander of the Armed Forces
General Ramón Emilio Gil Bermúdez
Comandante de las Fuerzas Militares
Avenida El Dorado - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Comandante Fuerzas Militares, Bogota, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 222 2096
Salutation:Sr. Comandante / Dear Commander
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Alternative Legal Association
MINGA
AA 40303
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or with your section office, if sending appeals after 23 May 1995.

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