Renowned peasant leader threatened
/ Thursday 12 February 2015
British NGO that campaigns for human rights, workers’ rights and the search for peace with social justice in Colombia.
César Jerez, a peasant leader from Catatumbo is one of several to have recently received a death threat. Jerez, who has been a leader for 17 years, and is currently involved in a variety of peasant associations struggling for the recognition of a Peasant Reserve Zone in Catatumbo, received the threat on 29th January.
Mr Jerez was one of several leaders named in the threat which came from an organisation calling itself ‘Colombians for Pacification’. The threat read:
“In conformity to universal values, principles and good manners [sic], we invite the relatives and loved ones of those mentioned below to enjoy their company for the last days before we cleanse the fatherland of people of this ilk who ignore our civilised warnings.”
There then followed the names of several peasant leaders, including César Jerez. Cesar Jerez and other leaders have been involved in campaigning for the recognition of a Peasant Reserve Zone in the north eastern region of Catatumbo. Mr Jerez was a key organiser of the summer 2013 peasant mobilisations, and is also a representative for ANZORC, the National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones, and a negotiator representing peasant farmers in talks with the government in Catatumbo.
Mr Jerez met with a Workers’ Uniting delegation to Colombia in 2013, including amongst others, Jimmy Kelly from Unite Ireland and Ken Neumman from the USW in Canada.
The threat follows various intimidating incidents targeting peasant leaders in the region. In November 2014 Carmena Gomez received several threats, and on the 20th a group of men forced their way into her home, stealing simcards, phones, USBs and other equipment. Ms Gomez has been forcibly displaced twice and threatened many times.
Another leader, Martha Gladys, also received threats in November. She was followed and men tried to break into her home one night. Other ANZORC (National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones) leaders have reported being trailed and photographed by intelligence agents and unidentified men.