PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/018/2009
24 June 2009
UA 166/09 Fear for safety
COLOMBIA José Goyes Santacruz (m)
Marta Lucía Cucuñame (f)
Leaders of Indigenous communities in the north of Cauca Department
The family of an Indigenous leader, campaigning for land rights in the south-western Department of Cauca,
has received a death threat. Other Indigenous leaders in the region are in grave danger; several have already
Marta Lucía Cucuñame received a threatening phone call on 16 June, from a man who warned her to "take
very good care of your children because they are going to harm them" (cuide muy bien a sus hijos que les van
a hacer daño). Her partner is José Goyes Santacruz, an Indigenous leader representing Indigenous groups in
the Honduras Indigenous reservation, in the north of Cauca Department. He is a member of an Indigenous
rights organization, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC).
The 16 June phone call is the latest in a series of threats against José Goyes Santacruz, and his family.
In 2007, José Goyes Santacruz was threatened by armed men at his home in Morales municipality, Cauca.
On 5 June 2008, José Goyes Santacruz was shot and wounded by gunmen as he was going into his house.
After this, his family sought refuge with a human rights organization in another city.
On 17 April 2009, in the city where the family were hiding, two men on a motorcycle fired shots as Marta
Lucía Cucuñame was returning from picking her son up from school. On 20 April, a note was found in the
entrance of the building where they were staying, which read, "Be grateful son of a bitch snitches that
everything went wrong on Friday 17
but we frightened you, next time it will be real." (Agradescan sapos
ifueputas que todo nos salio mal el viernes 17 pero los asustamos la prosima se ara realidad [sic]).
José Goyes Santacruz represents Indigenous groups in the north of Cauca. In 1999, Decree 982 was
introduced to assist these communities to assert their land rights and other rights. José Goyes Santacruz has
been one of the regional spokespeople for the negotiations on Decree 982.
On 18 May 2009, Indigenous leader Robert de Jesús Guacheta was killed in the municipality of Morales. He
had also been campaigning for the land rights of Indigenous communities in the north of Cauca.
In Colombia, many Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities seeking to secure ownership of land on
which their communities have lived for many years have suffered repeated death threats and killings carried
out by paramilitaries, acting either alone or in collusion with the security forces. Guerrilla forces have also
killed many Indigenous leaders they have criticised for trying to ensure armed groups respect the right of their
communities to remain outside the conflict. Despite legislation passed to assist these communities in
claiming their rights, their lands have often been occupied by paramilitary or guerrilla groups during