V. GUERRILLA VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
The FARC calls it popular justice, but what they do is kill people without consulting with anyone.
May 5, 1997
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) had its beginnings in the civil conflict known as La Violencia, which began with the assassination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948. At first a loose association of peasant self-defense groups, this mostly rural movement came increasingly under the influence of the Communist Party and declared itself a revolutionary army in 1964.144
An early member, former highway inspector Manuel Marulanda Vélez, or Tirofijo (Sure Shot), remains in command. By 1997, reports estimated that Marulanda had at least 8,000 troops distributed among an estimated sixty-two rural fronts, three urban fronts, and nine elite units, modeled on the armys specialized counterinsurgency brigades.145 The FARC, which also calls itself the FARC-Peoples Army (Ejército del Pueblo, FARC-EP) is present throughout Colombia, and is considered strongest militarily in the southern Colombian departments of Caquetá, Putumayo, and Guaviare.146
By most accounts, the FARC has a highly centralized command that depends directly on Marulanda and his associates, known as the General Secretariat. As of this writing, the General Secretariat consists of seven individuals, each
responsible for specific regions or duties, like international outreach. In addition, the FARC has a General Staff (Estado Mayor) responsible for military operations and the blocks (bloques), which join several fronts as regional forces.147
Although the organization operates over a vast and rugged territory and field commanders can be out of touch with central command, the many sources consulted by Human Rights Watch agreed that Marulanda and his staff maintain tight control over their units and strategy. The FARC itself claims that its policies and actions are determined by its high command, not individual commanders.148
Throughout the 1990s, Colombias security forces have attempted to wrest legitimacy from the FARC by terming it a narcoguerrilla group dedicated not to political goals, but to the drug trade.149 Although it is clear that the FARC does collect revenue from the illegal narcotics trade, there is no evidence that the FARC actively exports narcotics from Colombia.150 The available evidence makes clear that the FARC uses a variety of illegal activities, including kidnapping for ransom, to fund its war. The FARCs relationship with drug traffickers is similar to its relationship with ranchers, businesspeople, and multinational corporationsthroughout Colombia. The FARC levies a fee, or war tax, on all commercial enterprises under threat of violence.151
The FARC and International Humanitarian Law
The FARC claims that it respects international humanitarian law. Writing to Human Rights Watch, the International Commission told us that there are regulations that punish FARC members who commit acts that harm the civilian population.152 However, when pressed in an interview, a FARC spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that guerrillas consider Protocol II and Common Article 3 open to interpretation.153
Indeed, Human Rights Watch has found little evidence that the FARC makes an attempt to conform its methods to international standards, which its members flagrantly violate in the field. Despite repeated requests, the FARC has not provided Human Rights Watch with a copy of its regulations, current combat manuals, trial procedures, or rules of engagement, nor has it responded to our submission of a list of detailed cases, some included in this report, of alleged violations committed by the FARC.
When the FARC perceives a political advantage, it emphasizes its respect for international humanitarian law, as in the case of sixty soldiers captured after an armed forces-FARC clash at the Las Delicias base in the department of Putumayo in 1996 and released ten months later. The laws of war applicable in Colombia give captured combatants no special status, but provide for their humane treatment and safe release, which the FARC respected.154
However, in dozens of other, less publicized cases, when no political advantage is apparent, the FARC makes little if any attempt to abide by international humanitarian law.
Investigators who have interviewed field commanders reported to us that the group remains inflexible on key questions, including an end to the executions of captured paramilitaries and hostage-taking.155 The FARC says that the civilian population has to be the objective in this type of war, a humanitarian aid worker in regular contact with the group told Human Rights Watch. The day the FARC fully accepts international humanitarian law, they believe, will be the day their war ends.156
In a FARC combat manual obtained independently by Human Rights Watch, there is no mention of international humanitarian law or any standing order to ensure that civilians are unharmed by FARC operations. In its single reference to captured prisoners, the manual states that it is not necessary to execute the enemy when he is defenseless, when he is wounded. However, in the same manual, commanders are told to execute criminals of the local security forces who have distinguished themselves for their bestial actions.157
A document supplied to us by the FARCs International Front cautions guerrillas to study and apply international humanitarian law according to the conditions of our revolutionary war. In the same document, however, combatants are authorized to carry out executions, restricted only by the need to obtain express authorization for each case from the leadership of the organization.158
Perhaps the most terrifying evidence of the FARCs disdain for international humanitarian law is its willingness to massacre.159 The FARC carried out at least twelve massacres in 1997.160
Investigators pinpoint 1991 as the year the FARC began to massacre perceived political rivals in the Esperanza political party formed by amnestied EPL guerrillas and their supporters. The FARC and its urban militias were believed responsible for 204 murders of Esperanza members and amnestied EPL guerrillas from 1991 to 1995.161
The FARC began to kill Esperanza members, because they believed that their political control of the area was in jeopardy, says Col. (ret.) Carlos Velásquez, at the time chief of staff of the armys Seventeenth Brigade, based in Carepa.162
The FARC also targeted people living in areas identified as under Esperanza influence.163 Among them was the neighborhood of La Chinita in Apartadó, Antioquia. On January 22, 1994, FARC guerrillas surrounded a school fund-raising party, killing thirty-five and wounding twelve. Among the dead were three children.164 Some victims were bound and shot execution-style, including aFARC militant who apparently refused to fire on civilians.165 Since, twenty-seven people have been convicted for their participation in the massacre.166
The FARC has denied its role in the La Chinita massacre.167 However, a mountain of evidence compiled by government investigators and corroborated by research done by other reliable groups points directly at the FARC.
In 1995, the FARC enemies list expanded to include people suspected of supporting or merely sympathizing with paramilitaries, who began a bloody advance to push guerrillas out of former strongholds like Urabá. In August and September 1995, the FARC and its urban militias carried out at least five massacres, often involving individuals known to be former EPL guerrillas, Esperanza party members, or suspected paramilitary supporters. However, many victims probably had nothing to do with politics or the conflict. Among them were the massacres of six people at La Heladería La Campesina, on August 12; Churidó, with four victims, and Mapaná, with five victims, both on August 19; Finca Los Cunas, with fifteen victims, on August 29; and Bajo el Oso, with twenty-four victims, on September 20. Often, victims were bound and beaten before being executed.168
Another common violation by the FARC is the killing of combatants hors de combat, expressly prohibited in Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions and Articles 4 of Protocol II. In practice, the FARC routinely executes captured security force officers, people it suspects of support for paramilitaries, and those suspected of treason or so-called revolutionary crimes within its own ranks. Inregions like Urabá, for instance, where such executions are common, it is vox populi that the FARC kills paramilitaries who have been captured and disarmed.169
To Human Rights Watch, a FARC spokesperson confirmed that these executions are carried out once they are approved by Marulanda and the General Secretariat.170 According to the armed forces, nine soldiers were killed hors de combat by the FARC in 1997.171
The FARC also holds so-called popular trials for civilians accused of misdeeds, like rape, spouse abuse, theft, or failing to pay a war tax. For minor crimes, the accused are warned twice. If they do not rectify their behavior, they can be summarily executed. The FARC calls a community meeting, and the guerrillas hear everyones testimony, one Guaviare farmer told us. There can be drastic punishment when they decide on guilt, like an execution.172
Another Guaviare resident commented: The FARC calls it popular justice, but what they do is kill people without consulting with anyone. He estimated that in the first five months of 1997, at least thirty people had been killed in popular trials because of alleged ties to paramilitary groups in and around his town. Its the law of the trigger, another resident commented.173
Human Rights Watch found no evidence to support the assertion made by the FARC that it only kills the accused after giving them a fair trial, required by Article 6 of Protocol II. Indeed, the FARC rarely if ever informs the accused of the charges against him or her or the trial procedure the FARC intends to follow. During the trial, the accused are not allowed a proper defense. Our evidence demonstrates that the accused are presumed guilty during the trial and are often tried in absentia. Finally, there is no appeals process. Therefore, all killings carriedout as a result of so-called popular trials by the FARC are serious violations of the laws of war.
Another frequent violation of the laws of war by the FARC is hostage-taking, commonly referred to in Colombia as kidnapping. In the past, the FARC promised to stop kidnapping. During the 1984 negotiations that led to the formation of the Patriotic Union Party, for instance, the FARC agreed that once again we will condemn and withdraw authorization from kidnapping, extortion, and terrorism in all of its forms and work to end these practices.174
Nevertheless, kidnapping by the FARC continued and increased notably in 1997. According to País Libre, an independent research group, the FARC carried out at least 408 kidnappings that year alone.175
Alfonso Cano, a member of the General Secretariat, told a Colombian journalist in May 1997 that while the leadership had prohibited kidnapping, some FARC units continued to kidnap for political and economic reasons, a freedom of action incongruent with the organizations otherwise strict command structure.176 Indeed, Human Rights Watch interprets the General Secretariats failure to enforce the ban on hostage-taking as tacit support for an egregious violation of the laws of war.
Both killings and kidnappings are used against civilians to spread terror, a violation of Article 13 (2), which prohibits acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population. In the months leading up to October 1997 municipal elections, FARC guerrillas killed, threatened, and kidnapped dozens of mayors, town council members, and candidates, who were told to resign or face death. Among the departments most pressured were Antioquia, Bolívar, Caquetá, Cundinamarca, Guaviare, Huila, Meta, Nariño, Putumayo, and Tolima.177
The FARC threat was so determined, in fact, that the group felt obliged to issue a confirmation via the Internet. The position of the FARC-EP in relation to the upcoming elections continues irrevocably to be the same: complete sabotage, which in practice consisted primarily of killing and threatening civilians who were candidates or outgoing officials.178
In a March 1998 letter to the daily El Tiempo, General Secretariat member Alfonso Cano gave a rationale for such violations: We order the mayors to modify their antisocial conduct... And we show the tricky ones how illegitimate they are... We are warning them that we will not permit more trickery... But this does not change the fact that some mayors who support paramilitary activity take an active role in the war. They are protagonists.179
But even when there are no elections, the FARC has frequently and openly advocated tactics that violate international humanitarian law. In an interview published in the FARC magazine Resistencia Internacional, for instance, FARC commander Marulanda recommends attacks on any civilian factories and trucks, claiming that such attacks destroy the source [of the governments] wealth, so that they will be unable to maintain this war over a long period.180
As we have noted, the laws of war demand that FARC make specific and careful decisions about potential military targets. If the destruction or neutralization of a factory makes no specific contribution to military action in the circumstances ruling at the time, the FARC is bound to refrain from attacking regardless of whether or not an attack would, over the long term, hamper the states ability to fight.
Repeatedly, the FARC announces its intent to violate the laws of war in advance. In one circular distributed in the Urabá region and via the Internet in September 1996, the FARC warned the residents of Urabá to travel between the towns of Santa Fe de Antioquia and Turbo only on Thursdays and Fridays betweenthe hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Travelers at all other hours, the circular warns, will be considered legitimate military targets.181
However, the laws of war do not give the FARC or any party to the conflict the power to declare who is and who is not a military target. In a similar vein, the FARC warned journalists who wrote what guerrillas deemed to be apology for militarism and radio and television stations that broadcast political advertisements that they would also be considered targets. One example of apology for militarism, a General Secretariat circular noted, was printing the statements of Armed Forces Commander Harold Bedoya.182
Those who violate these dictates have been captured and even killed, as the following cases demonstrate. But it is not only when its edicts are violated that the FARC attacks civilians; often, it is simply an opportunity presenting itself. For instance, in 1997, two days after four European tourists entered the Colombian nature reserve Los Katíos on foot from Panama, the FARCs Fifty-Seventh Front kidnapped them, demanding U.S. $15 million for their release.183
During an army operation to rescue the tourists, guerrillas apparently executed two of their captives; two others survived. Indeed, the execution of kidnap victims during rescue operations is not unusual. In the case of U.S. missionaries detailed below, evidence strongly suggests that the two were executed by the FARC before soldiers could reach them. In an interview with the daily El Tiempo, businessman Alejandro Vásquez Moreno said that his FARC captors had repeatedly warned him that in any clash, the first one to fall will be you. After thirty-one days in captivity, Vásquez managed to escape without paying the U.S. $5 million ransom demanded.184
In the Guaviare, the young men who harvest coca leaves can also be targeted for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Bishop Belarmino Correa told Human Rights Watch that he knew of the FARC executions of two young men from an area of the department of Boyacá where paramilitaries are active. The only crimethese boys committed was having identification cards from Muzo [an emerald-mining area controlled by paramilitary leader Víctor Carranza], which made guerrillas suspect that they belonged to a paramilitary group, Bishop Correa said. People may report on army abuses, but they will rarely mention guerrilla crimes, out of fear.185
There are other ways that the FARC forces civilians into the conflict. For instance, one well-known guerrilla tactic is the so-called laundering of cattle (lavado de ganado). Guerrillas will herd stolen cattle to an area of small farmers, then trade them for legal animals. Farmers cannot refuse to trade, for fear of reprisals, even though they know that ranchers and the paramilitaries they fund will inevitably come to search for their property. Guerrillas then sell the laundered cattle to slaughterhouses.
This involves the farmer in the conflict, often unwillingly, one humanitarian aid worker told us, referring to how paramilitaries then treat farmers who have accepted stolen cattle. Thats why weve seen the killings of so many butchers and truck drivers recently. Because they have slaughtered or transported the laundered cattle, they are seen as a party to the conflict, even though they may have had no choice in the matter.186
Finca Osaka: On February 14, 1996, a FARC militia stopped a bus carrying over forty workers to the banana farm known as Finca Osaka, near Carepa, Antioquia. The militia forced the bus to detour to a secluded spot and began checking identity cards. The seven FARC members singled out ten men and one woman and executed them with shots to the head at the side of the road. Some passengers managed to flee and hide in a nearby irrigation ditch, and one man survived by shielding himself with the bodies of the dead. Another managed to escape despite being wounded. Witnesses told government investigators that a FARC militia member called Papujo was in charge.187 Papujo and four others were laterarrested and charged with taking part in the massacre.188 In an interview, the FARC took responsibility for the killings, but claimed that the individuals were combatants and belonged to the popular commands run by former EPL members to kill FARC supporters.189 Even if some among the victims were popular command members, the killing is a violation of the ban against killing combatants hors de combat. Indeed, the FARCs definition of combatants often includes civilians, and we have received numerous, credible reports that the FARC killed former EPL members who had accepted a government amnesty and ceased taking part in hostilities, thereby regaining their protected status as civilians.
Alto Mulatos/Pueblo Bello: Located in Urabá, these towns were the site of a double massacre by the Fifth and Fifty-Ninth Fronts of the FARC on May 4 and 5, 1996. According to police, the FARC began the attack in Alto Mulatos, where they executed seven people after tying them up in front of family members and neighbors. Next, guerrillas set fire to seven civilian houses.190 Guerrillas left four of the bodies inside the burning houses, making identification almost impossible. The same group continued the same day to nearby Pueblo Bello, killing seven. Two of the bodies were also severely burned and only identified months later.191 Among the dead were Aura Castro, sixty-five, and Humberto Ramos, seventy, a married couple. Guerrillas forced Castro and Ramos to sit on an outdoor platform used to display a statue of the Virgin Mary, where they were summarily executed. Residents told government investigators that guerrillas seeking Gustavo Díaz captured his wife, two young daughters, and daughter-in-law, locked them inside their home, and burned them alive. Investigators believe the attack may have been in retaliation for an earlier paramilitary massacre since guerrillas considered AltoMulatos and Pueblo Bello to be paramilitary strongholds.192 Months later, Alto Mulatos was deserted, its residents among the ranks of the forcibly displaced.193 In these instances, the FARC committed multiple violations of the laws of war, among them the murder of civilians, torture, the mutilation of bodies, collective punishment, acts of perfidy, and indiscriminate attack against civilian homes. The act of burning people who were still alive and the bodies of the dead appears to have been a deliberate attempt to add an act of terror, also prohibited, and meant to provoke forced displacement.
Riosucio, Chocó: During intense combat between the FARC, the ACCU, and the army in this region, the FARC attacked the Riosucio police post on January 9, 1997, then retreated through the villages of Nueva Luz and Bajirá. On the Villa Ligia ranch outside Bajirá, guerrillas singled out four individuals they accused of collaborating with paramilitaries. Guerrillas bound, executed, and decapitated them. Continuing on to Nueva Luz, guerrillas killed resident Neir Manga Hernández, also accused of supporting paramilitaries.194 It is unclear what information guerrillas used to accuse these individuals. However, based on available evidence, Human Rights Watch believes that the individuals were civilians and therefore protected by the laws of war.
San José de Apartadó: To protest political violence, the 850 residents of this Urabá town declared themselves a peace community and neutral to the conflict on March 23, 1997. The declaration was in part a reaction to a wave of killings by the FARC and paramilitaries working with the army. For instance, on September 8, 1996, FARC members entered the village and with list in hand seized and executed Gustavo de Jesús Loaiza, president of a local Neighborhood Action Committee (Junta de Acción Comunal, JAC); Samuel Arias, president of a local cooperative; and local leaders Juan González and María Eugenia Usaga, who was pregnant. All four had been forced to flee their homes two months earlier, and had signed an agreement with the government accepting terms for their return. Days beforeguerrillas arrived, the four had accompanied government representatives who toured the region to report on political violence.195 On October 6, 1997, guerrillas from the Fifty-Eighth Front approached a group of twenty San José de Apartadó residents as they were repairing roads near the hamlet of La Cristalina. Guerrillas questioned them about the communitys decision not to sell the FARC food and pressed them on why the FARC had not been consulted about the peace community. Guerrillas complained that this decision favored paramilitaries. Ramiro Correa, a leader who had supported the peace community proposal, responded that the Fifth Front had been consulted and had approved. The guerrillas departed. When they returned later that afternoon, guerrillas chose Ramiro Correa, Luis Fernando Espinosa, and Fernando Aguirre, claiming that they would be reprimanded (llamada de atención). Three minutes later, members of the work party heard shots from an automatic weapon. The next day, a local priest, an ICRC representative, and two community members found the three, who had been executed.196
El Hobo, Huila: On June 21, 1997, an estimated fifteen FARC militants attacked ten police officers who were carrying out a routine search in the El Pato bar.197 According to witnesses interviewed by police, guerrillas began the attack by detonating a five-kilo bomb packed with screws, pieces of chain, staples, and nails at the bars entrance.198 Next, they opened fire on the bar from a nearby park. Killed by the bomb blast and bullets were Liliana Suárez, Mercedes Gutiérrez Arias, Martha Cecilia Arévalo, and María Lozada, all prostitutes who had been sitting outside the bar and in plain view. Photographs taken after the attack show the four women still seated in their chairs on either side of the entryway, the wallsbehind them pockmarked from the explosion and gunfire.199 Bartender Rigoberto Montealegre Andrade, inside at the time, died later of gunshot wounds. In their escape, guerrillas attempted to commandeer a local bus, firing on it when the driver refused to stop. Three passengers were seriously wounded. In their second attempt to secure a vehicle, guerrillas killed farmer Jack Róbinson, who happened to be driving by at the time, and seized his vehicle.200 Guerrillas failed to take into account the possible civilian casualties that would result from an attack on police under the circumstances ruling at the time. Their behavior after the attack was also a violation, since they fired on a civilian vehicle that did not qualify as a military target, injured civilian passengers, killed a civilian, and stole a vehicle.
Koreguaje Indians: On July 20, 1997, FARC guerrillas reportedly killed five Koreguaje Indians who lived near Milan, Caquetá. All five Jorge Camacho, Aliner Gutiérrez, Elias and Tirso Valencia, and Aristides Gasca had been previously threatened by the FARC. Five days later, guerrillas entered the nearby village of San Luis at 6:00 a.m., gathered up its residents, separated men from women and children, and compared the identity documents of the adults against written lists that they carried with them. After separating out seven men, guerrillas bound them, forced them down the path that leads to the cemetery, and executed them. Villagers found the bodies lying face down in a circle with the feet of the dead at its center.201
Murder and Torture
Missionaries: FARC militants seized New Tribes missionaries Steve Welsh and Timothy Van Dyke from a mission boarding school near Villavicencio, Meta, on January 16, 1994. Guerrillas prevented them from communicating with family members for over a year. In mid-1995, relatives managed to begin negotiations for their release. As members of the FARCs Fifty-Third Front were taking the missionaries to a release point near Medina, Cundinamarca, on June 16, they encountered a Seventh Brigade army unit. Fighting broke out. When soldiersreached the spot where guerrillas had been, they found the bodies of the two missionaries. According to autopsies carried out in the United States, both men were shot several times at point-blank range.202 Evidence, including eyewitness testimonies collected by the Attorney Generals Office, point to the FARC as their executioners. Thirteen FARC members, among them Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias Romaña, leader of the Fifty-Third Front, have outstanding arrest warrants for the killings.203 Guerrillas committed multiple violations in this case by taking hostages, then executing them.
Luis Hernán Zambrano Enríquez, Pedro Mauricio Valencia Alzate, and Salvador Becerra: These soldiers Second Sergeant Zambrano, Second Private Valencia, and enlisted man Becerra were captured by the FARC near Labranzagrande, Boyacá, on March 11, 1996, according to the army. Another soldier who guerrillas later released and who did not report torture told reporters that guerrillas had cut off the three mens fingers, beat them, burned them, then shot them in the back. Guerrillas released him, the soldier said, so that you could tell how [the FARC] bring[s] intelligence dogs to justice. Army photographs taken of the bodies of Zambrano and Valencia show several fingers missing and burns on their faces, arms, and legs. One of the bodies was missing large pieces of skin on the upper arms.204
Chalán, Sucre: The FARC opened an attack on the Chalán, Sucre police station by detonating a bomb strapped to a donkeys back on March 12, 1996. According to press reports, four officers Jhonny Buelvas, Deider José Díaz Paternina, José Ramírez Montes, and Dario Giraldo García were executed after surrendering. Guerrillas apparently doused the remains of some of the officers with gasoline andset them afire inside the station, leaving cadavers unrecognizable.205 The use of a donkey bomb also qualifies as perfidy, since it is disguised in such a way as to imitate a form of transportation commonly used by area peasants and invites the confidence of the security forces by pretending to be a civilian object protected by the laws of war.
Caquetá officials: In 1996 and 1997, at least six elected officials and government workers in the department of Caquetá were assassinated by the FARC. On June 20, 1996, governor Jesús Angel González Arias and his driver, Orlando García, were on their way to a meeting with members of the FARCs Fifteenth Front to negotiate the release of congressman Rodrigo Turbay Cote when guerrillas killed them near Paujil. Previously, González had criticized government measures that curtailed basic rights as well as guerrilla threats against Caquetá residents.206 Three days before his death, González had conditioned any possible political talks with the FARC on Turbays release.207 The same day that González was killed, guerrillas shot Solano mayor Demetrio Quintero Rentería in front of the local Caja Agraria. His replacement, Edilberto Hidalgo Anturi, was himself killed by the FARC on October 6 in San Antonio de Getuchá. A third mayor, Edilberto Murillo Ortega, and three associates Bernardo Uribe, director of a government agrarian service, Miguel Uribe Tobón and Nelson Trujillo Herrera, were also killed by the FARC in San Antonio de Getuchá on February 17, 1997, apparently because of Murillos support for CONVIVIR.208 Although Human Rights Watch has documented cases where some CONVIVIRs have crossed the line dividing civilians from combatants, the fact that a civilian may have spoken out in support of CONVIVIRs or supportedtheir formation does not rob that civilian of their protected status. We have no evidence suggesting that these mayors took an active role in hostilities. Therefore, their assassinations are serious violations of the laws of war.
Abelardo Tejada Durán: This peasant leader represented coca farmers in the department of Caquetá and helped negotiate an end to widespread protests against the governments forced eradication efforts in 1996. Reportedly, on January 4, 1997, he was in his home near San Vicente del Caguán when FARC guerrillas arrived and asked for water. Once they finished, they seized and executed Tejada. Apparently, they accused Tejada of supporting the government in talks to resolve peasant protests. FARC attacks against local leaders were increasingly common in 1997 as rumors spread of a paramilitary advance in the department.209 Support for a political point of view that guerrillas opposed would not, if true, turn Tejada from a civilian into a combatant so long as he took no active role in hostilities.
Frank Pescatore: An American geologist working in the department of La Guajira, Pescatore was kidnapped and held for ransom by the FARCs Fifty-Ninth Front on December 10, 1996. After the FARC notified authorities, Pescatores body was found shot to death on February 23, 1997. He had been killed with a shot through his left arm that reached into his chest. Left for five to six days in a remote area, his body had been eviscerated, packed with lime and clothing, and crudely sewn up and bound with rope, apparently to prevent animal depredation.210 The case is currently being investigated by the regional prosecutor in Barranquilla.211 Although guerrillas may have meant to preserve his body by eviscerating him, in other cases we are aware of, guerrillas have been able to deliver bodies without going to such extremes. We consider the mutilation a failure to decently dispose of the dead and refrain from despoiling them, as required by Article 8 of Protocol II.
Pedro León Agudelo: On April 14, 1997, Pedro Agudelo, seventeen, was killed when he opened an envelope containing a book bomb addressed to his father, Mario, a leader of the Esperanza political party. The package had been delivered to the fathers Medellín office, then forwarded to his home. There, Agudelo gave the book, titled Ethics for Medicine, to his son, an aspiring medical student. Pedro was killed instantly. Mario Agudelo believes the bomb was sent by the FARC and forms part of a pattern of attacks on Esperanza members.212 A year earlier, he told Human Rights Watch, the FARC attempted to kill him with a grenade. His leg remains deeply scarred by the attempt.213 Days after Pedros death another book bomb was sent to Esperanza member Teodoro Díaz, currently the mayor of Apartadó, Antioquia, but was discovered before it was detonated.214
Liliana Londoño Díaz: This young woman was seized at a FARC roadblock on May 4, 1997, apparently because she was the girlfriend of an army lieutenant based in the area. Several days later, her body was found near Caracolí, in Urabá.215 As a non-combatant, Londoño was protected by the laws of war regardless of any relationship she might have had with a combatant.
Félix Antonio Vélez White: This agronomist and cattle rancher was traveling near Cañas Gordas, Antioquia, when FARC guerrillas reportedly stopped his vehicle on August 6, 1997, and killed him. The FARC had repeatedly threatened the Vélez family in the past. Vélezs mother, Graciela White de Vélez, had been kidnapped and killed by the FARC in 1991, and Vélez himself had been kidnapped on twoprevious occasions. The guerrillas had also threatened to kidnap his sons.216 An investigation by forensic specialists showed that Vélez had been severely beaten and burned, with some fingernails torn out, before being assassinated with three shots to the head.217
John Jairo Cardona Patiño: This police officer was assassinated by members of the FARCs Thirty-Sixth Front after being taken from a public bus on August 10, 1997 near Sabanalarga, Antioquia. According to police, Cardona, on his way to a training workshop, was carrying his uniform and a police-issue revolver in his luggage. After the FARC stopped the bus and forced the passengers off, they found the uniform and gun and identified Cardona as a police officer.218 According to press reports, Cardona was bound before being led away.219 Guerrillas allowed the remaining passengers to continue their journey. Police say that Cardona was forced to kneel at the roadside and was executed with shots through the mouth.220
Emberá Katío leaders: With their lands in one of the most dangerous areas of Colombiain the Urabá foothills joining Antioquias banana region with the western spur of the Andesthis indigenous group has lost members to both paramilitaries and guerrillas. Since 1986, when the FARC first executed six Emberá Katío leaders, the Antioquia Indigenous Organization (Organización Indígena de Antioquia, OIA) has attempted to negotiate a neutrality agreement with guerrillas, which was finally formalized in 1989. However, on January 20, 1997, the FARC violated the agreement by assassinating Joaquín Domicó in Cañero. The following September 17, Ivan Dario and Jairo Domicó were killed near Surambaicito. Less than a month later, on October 13, the OIA reported that FARC guerrillas abducted Mario Domicó and his son, David, from a meeting they were attending in the village of El Porroso. Mario was a founder of OIA and a medicalworker. David was a bilingual teacher at El Porroso until being forced to resign after receiving threats. Witnesses told the OIA that the men were led away in different directions, then shots were fired. The bodies were discovered the next day.221 Subsequently, an estimated 400 Katíos fled to nearby Mutatá as internally displaced.222 Human Rights Watch believes these individuals were civilians and therefore protected by the laws of war.
Anzá, Antioquia: On November 14, 1997, guerrillas from the FARCs Thirty-Fourth Front killed Anzá mayor César Velásquez Montoya as he ate breakfast in his home. Hours later in nearby Guintar, guerrillas assassinated town councilman Juan Francisco Montoya Torres and a local resident, Antonio Abad Caro Ospina.223 Subsequently, residents told Human Rights Watch that guerrillas held a meeting in Guintar to claim responsibility for the killings and accuse their victims of supporting the ACCU. When Human Rights Watch visited Anzá and Guintar in December 1997, residents still lived in fear of an attack by either the FARC or the ACCU.224 Support for a party to the conflict would not by itself, if true, make these individuals into military targets.
Taking of hostages
Missionaries: New Tribes missionaries David Mankins, Richard Tenenoff, and Mark Rich were seized by FARC militants on January 31, 1993, from the Kuna Indian village in Panama where they worked. After maintaining intermittent radio contact throughout 1993, during which guerrillas demanded a ransom of U.S. $5 million, the FARC suspended contact.225 According to New Tribes, in February1997, the FARC contacted a Costa Rican diplomat who later informed them that Mankins, Tenenoff, and Rich were alive, in good condition, and in FARC custody.226 The FARC has publicly denied taking the men.227
Rodrigo Turbay Cote: This congressman was kidnapped by the FARCs Bloque Sur on June 16, 1995, as he campaigned in the department of Caquetá. Son of a local family that had long been politically powerful in the region, Turbay had been elected to Congress for the Liberal Party in 1994.228 After he was elected president of the House of Representatives, the FARC accused Turbay of having profited personally from a road built in Caquetá and claimed to have kidnapped him in order to investigate and collect a ransom.229 On May 4, 1997, the FARC released a statement saying that Turbay had drowned while being transported on the Caguán River in Caquetá. Residents found the body floating in the river. An autopsy carried out by government forensic experts confirmed that Turbay had drowned, possibly after falling and hitting his head.230 Subsequently, the Bloque Sur released a statement acknowledging the kidnapping, which they termed a prolonged retention, and accused the family of being responsible for its length, since they refused to pay the fine... we imposed.231
Alina Gautier de Ochoa: This retired professor of chemistry was kidnapped by the Thirty-Sixth Front of the FARC on August 3, 1996, from a family farm near San Pedro de Milagros, Antioquia.232 Apparently, guerrillas worked with known criminals from the area, who carried out the kidnapping and delivered their hostage to the FARC six days later in exchange for a fee. The guerrilla in charge, called Gustavo or El Viejo, demanded a ransom of U.S. $1 million from the family. During her three-month captivity, Gautier broke her hand, but did not receive medical care for it.233 After her release, Gautier reported that she had spent one night with other kidnap victims, awaiting news of their families and the payment of ransoms.234 In addition to violating the ban on hostage-taking, the FARC also violated the provision in Article 5 (2) (e), which requires that forces responsible for restricting the liberty of persons provide for their physical and medical well-being.
José Ignacio González: This seventy-three-year-old doctor was kidnapped by members of the FARCs Thirty-Fourth Front on August 14, 1997 from the clinic where he was providing free medical service to patients near Concordia, Antioquia.235 Moments later, he suffered a fatal heart attack and guerrillas abandoned his body outside town, where it was recovered later that day. At the time, González was also president of the Concordia town council.236
October 26 elections: In the months preceding Colombias 1997 elections, the FARC kidnapped dozens of mayors, town council members, municipal workers, and candidates from the departments of Antioquia, Bolívar, Caquetá, Cundinamarca, Guaviare, Huila, Meta, Nariño, Putumayo, and Tolima, openlyviolating the ban on hostage-taking.237 In the Guaviare, for example, candidates were told that they would be considered military objectives and killed if they continued to campaign after being released.238 In Caquetá, guerrillas reportedly told one candidate, We will disappear anyone who puts on a t-shirt that refers to a political candidacy.239 Upon his release after three days in captivity, Buriticá Mayor José Luis Vélez Hincapié passed to the press a FARC communique declaring all candidates legitimate military targets.240 Vélezs driver was killed when the mayor was seized.241 The FARC assassinated other candidates at roadblocks, including Ricardo Jiménez Zuluaga, running for mayor of San Carlos, Antioquia, killed on August 15, 1997.242 Candidates who defied threats and were elected received new threats from the FARC into 1998. The mayor of Puerto Rico, Caquetá, who had been taken hostage by the FARC, received a new threat in 1998, when the Bloque Sur sent a message to mayors in the departments of Huila, Caquetá, and Putumayo saying that whoever failed to follow their directives would be considered a military target and would suffer serious consequences.243 It is important to underscore that no force engaged in a conflict can arbitrarily declare a civilian or civilian object a military target. As we have noted, a military target makes, by its nature, location, purpose, or use, an effective contribution to military action. Its total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization in the circumstances ruling at the time must offer a definite military advantage. Support for a politicalpoint of view that guerrillas oppose would not make any of these individuals into combatants and therefore military targets so long as they took no active role in hostilities.
Attacks on medical workers, installations, and ambulances
ICRC vehicle: During a routine stop at a roadblock set up by the FARCs Tenth Front between Fortul and Saravena, Arauca, on June 2, 1996, guerrillas shot at a vehicle marked with the red cross belonging to the ICRC. According to reports, guerrillas aimed at the tires and fuel tank while the vehicle was stopped and with an ICRC delegate present. Subsequently, the guerrilla in charge forced the ICRC delegate to sign a document addressed to the Tenth Front commander promising not to report on the incident.244 This is a serious violation of the protection guaranteed vehicles marked with the red cross, the internationally recognized symbol of protection granted to medical and religious personnel, medical units, and medical transports, as laid out in Article 12 of Protocol II.
Ambulances: Protocol II prohibits not only attacks on vehicles properly identified with the red cross, but also their inappropriate use. Nevertheless, the FARC has repeatedly violated these protections by attacking marked vehicles or using them to transport troops and weapons. On April 4, 1997, for instance, during an attack on the town of Chámeza, Casanare, guerrillas from the FARCs Thirty-Eighth and Fifty-Sixth Fronts reportedly used an ambulance to transport armed fighters.245 On August 13, after combat between the FARC and units from the Seventeenth Brigade, the army reported that guerrillas stopped a vehicle carrying a wounded soldier, forced him out, and killed him.246 The following October 25, the FARC attacked an ambulance marked with a red cross near Puerto Rico, Caquetá, injuring physician Edinson Morales, who was attending a patient giving birth prematurely.247
Other acts that violate the laws of war
Arcua, Antioquia: Human Rights Watch has received numerous reports from reliable sources indicating that the Fifth Front of the FARC used unmarked land mines in civilian areas near this Urabá town throughout 1996. During that time, the area was highly contested by paramilitaries and guerrillas and many families fled. One explosives expert commented that the use of land mines in the area was notable since, as a rule, the FARC makes less use of them than other insurgent groups.248 The FARC confirmed to Human Rights Watch that it uses land mines.249
Fourth Brigade: On May 27, 1996, members of FARC militias operating in Medellín attacked the headquarters of the armys Fourth Brigade, located in a residential district. Launched from the summit of a hill known as El Volador, the attack caused little damage to the military installation, but did kill Francisco Sergio Castrillón Zapata, a watchman working nearby, and wounded three civilians, including a child.250 The attack also damaged two homes.251 While the Fourth Brigade is a military target, this attack clearly violated the rule of proportionality by doing more damage to civilians than any direct or strategically important damage to the army. Potential damage to protected structures was foreseeable, and the guerrilla commander in charge should have taken specific measures to prevent or minimize damage to them, ignored in this case.
Montería, Córdoba: At least five times, the FARC has placed bombs near or in front of an office associated with the ACCU in downtown Montería. Guerrillas detonated the first bomb, hidden in a street vendors cart, on October 21, 1996, near the offices of FUNPAZCOR. Four passersby were reported killed. The bombing followed repeated threats. FUNPAZCOR was founded in 1991 by the family of Carlos Castaño, the leader of the ACCU. Its funds were meant to assist in the demobilization of EPL guerrillas and have gone toward credits for land,housing, school-building, and community businesses.252 The FARC reportedly detonated more bombs in central Montería on December 17, 1996, and March 10, July 12, and July 23, 1997. The March bomb wounded seventeen, including a six-year-old girl.253 The fact that FUNPAZCOR was begun by the Castaño family does not turn it automatically into a military target. These attacks are serious violations of the ban on attacking civilians and civilian objects. In addition, since FUNPAZCOR is located in a busy urban area, any attack risks civilian casualties and therefore should be canceled. This attack also demonstrates the FARCs disregard for the rule of proportionality, which requires that those who plan or decide upon attack must take into account the effects of the attack on the civilian population in their pre-attack estimate. Just as the rules regarding objects that can have dual civilian-military functions demand that there be a direct military advantage evident in such deliberations, so too does the rule of proportionality require that the advantage be specific, not general, and perceptible to the senses. A remote advantage to be gained at some unknown time in the future is not be a proper consideration to weigh against civilian losses.
Atrato River blockade: Beginning in mid-December 1996 and lasting through the following January, the FARC blocked commercial traffic on the Atrato River, which divides the departments of Chocó and Antioquia. According to reports, guerrillas told boat captains who transport goods and passengers that the FARC would destroy their boats if they left port. Much of the areas food and medicine are transported by river.254 These threats of violence were meant to spread terror throughout the region in violation of Article 13 (2) of Protocol II. Human Rights Watch received credible reports that the FARC fired on boats that defied the threats.255 Similar acts by the FARC were not unusual at the time. A FARCcommuniqué distributed widely in the region warned truck drivers and passengers not to travel or risk attack, another violation of Article 13 (2) of Protocol II.0
Caloto, Cauca: On January 12, 1997, the FARCs Sixth Front launched an attack on Caloto, Cauca. Although their main target was the police station, the FARC struck indiscriminately, seriously damaging the fire department, the office of the Colombian Red Cross, a restaurant, court offices, twenty houses, a school, and the hospital. According to government investigators, guerrillas were fully aware that they were damaging a Red Cross office and threatened to do it again. In addition, watchman Héctor Fajardo, guarding the court offices, was reportedly summarily executed by a guerrilla.1
Apartadó, Antioquia: The FARC has also bombed hotels where security force personnel and paramilitaries are said to lodge. On February 27, 1997, a FARC bomb in a commandeered garbage truck exploded in front of the Hotel El Pescador, killing ten people.2 Among them was an eleven-year-old boy.3 Fifty-three people were reported injured, among them four police officers. In addition, eight buildings on the same block were reported damaged.4 Weeks later, authorities captured UC-ELN member Enrique de Jesús Vergara Pacheco, and accused him of having assisted the FARC in the bombing.5 Any attack against a hotel used to lodge combatants must be carefully planned to avoid civilian casualties, which theFARC clearly failed to do in this case. The attack was not carried out in a way that minimized civilian casualties as the rule of proportionality requires. The military advantage the FARC may have gained was clearly outweighed by the death toll.
Calamar mines: Repeatedly in 1997, the FARC placed Claymore mines within the city limits of Calamar, Guaviare, including on the grounds of a school, on the central plaza, and in front of the church. Guerrillas would attempt to detonate the mines when soldiers from the armys Joaquín París Battalion would pass by them.6 This tactic violates the laws of war, specifically the ban on attacks that endanger the civilian population and exclusively civilian objects, like schools. In Calamar, the 500 students who regularly occupy the school were repeatedly endangered by this tactic. Indeed, fear drove twenty teachers to abandon their posts in late 1997. Although residents complained to the FARC, guerrillas continued to use the school as an ambush point when Human Rights Watch visited Guaviare Department in May 1997.7
Cadavers: Human Rights Watch has received credible and consistent information about the FARCs use of bodies as booby traps, which qualifies as perfidy under the laws of war. When a booby trap is hidden inside the body of a slain combatant, the party responsible also violates Article 8 of Protocol II, which requires combatants to ensure that the bodies of the dead are treated decorously. After combat between the Colombian army and the FARC near Fomeque, Cundinamarca, on February 16, 1998, soldiers collected the bodies of three soldiers killed the next day. The bodies were flown by helicopter to an army base in Santafé de Bogotá. When the bodies were unloaded, the body of Capt. Luis Hernando Camacho exploded, apparently used by the FARC as a booby trap. Two soldiers were killed and five were wounded.8 Subsequently, the ICRC issued acommuniqué reminding the parties to the conflict that the dead are protected by Protocol II.9 The FARC denied it had used the body as a booby trap.10
Three families were told by the local ELN commander that they were under investigation for suspected paramilitary ties. They left rather than risk a guilty verdict, which would have meant an execution.
Middle Magdalena humanitarian aid worker
June 28, 1996
The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) began in the Middle Magdalena region in 1964, drawing from a pool of guerrillas active during La Violencia. The ELN was almost destroyed in an army offensive at Anorí, Antioquia, in 1973; in 1987, the group merged with a smaller leftist insurgency and added Camilista Union (Unión Camilista, UC) to its name. Twenty years later, analysts considered the UC-ELN to be stronger than ever, with an estimated 3,000 armed militants divided into thirty-five rural fronts, five urban fronts, and several urban militias.11
One of the ELNs early leaders, Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, known as Gabino, remains a member of the leadership, called the National Directorate (Dirección Nacional), along with Antonio García. Before his death in 1998, Spanish priest Manuel Pérez, known as Poliarco, was long credited with articulating the groups political philosophy while Rodríguez is believed to direct the groups military actions. Below the National Directorate is the Central Command (Comando Central, COCE), which assembles the commanders of the groups military units, often identified by the names of fallen combatants, battles, or Communist leaders. The UC-ELN is concentrated in the Middle Magdalena region, southern Bolívar, Nariño, Cauca, Valle, and the Colombian departments bordering Venezuela.12
Although political and military decisions are made by the UC-ELN leadership, commanders have a great deal more latitude than their counterparts in the FARC. For instance, the Domingo Laín front is known for being among the most radical groups as well as the wealthiest. Control is highly regional, and individual commanders often differ sharply in their tactics on issues like kidnapping, public executions, and extortion.13 Although the UC-ELN claims to carry out investigations prior to executing captives, to our knowledge these are usually closed procedures where those accused of supposed crimes can be unaware of them and unable to present any defense or appeal.14
Currently, the UC-ELN is represented publicly in Colombia by Gerardo Bermúdez Sánchez, known as Francisco Galán, and Carlos Arturo Velandia Jagua, known as Felipe Torres, both serving sentences in Antioquias Itagüí prison.
The UC-ELN and International Humanitarian Law
The UC-ELN was among the first insurgent groups in Colombia to begin an internal discussion of international humanitarian law. Soon after its organization, the ELN adopted a Guerrilla Code (Código Guerrillero) that regulated the behavior of militants in the field. Even as Colombia refused to adopt Protocol II, the UC-ELN called for negotiations aimed at humanizing political conflict in Colombia.15
A 1995 version of the Guerrilla Code prohibits UC-ELN militants from using civilians as shields during an attack; harming civilians used as shields by an enemy force; launching indiscriminate attacks; failing to advise civilians of the location of land mines; launching attacks aimed at terrorizing civilians; forcing the displacement of civilians; arming children under the age of sixteen; carrying out actions that severely damage the environment; looting; harming vehicles or structures marked with a red cross; and executing prisoners hors de combat.16
The COCE released more limited rules in 1996:
1. In times of war, [the ELN] will work to reduce to the maximum unnecessary human sacrifice and suffering by the enemy; this is because combatants will limit their actions to complete only the mission they have been entrusted with; and at all times, they will respect the combatants ethical code, specifically the rules of behavior of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
2. [The ELN] will give humanitarian treatment to enemies who have surrendered or been wounded in combat and will respect their dignity and provide them with the aid necessary for their condition.
3. Within our ranks, we will not permit or tolerate abuses against the population; they are our reason for being and our relationship with them should be above reproach.
4. Our revolutionary ethic obligates us to be rigorous in avoiding military actions that can harm civilians and our people. This is the essence of our ethics and behavior.
5. It is important to underscore that during armed conflict there are unforseen circumstances and critical situations that can overcome the best intentions. But we, the ELN, are willing to discuss attitudes that, after appropriate analysis, may be punishable if they merit such action, in accordance with our rules of conduct and internal regulations.17
Guerrillas accused of violating UC-ELN rules, Galán and Torres told Human Rights Watch, are investigated, sometimes by the community involved. If found guilty, they can be punished with sanctions ranging from reparations to victims, a drop in rank, suspension, or death.18
In a response to an 1994 Amnesty International report, the UC-ELN leadership promised to adopt the groups recommendations and added that anyone who has committed or ordered abuses, deliberate murder, hostage-taking, torture or bad treatment of prisoners will be relieved of their duty or any service that putsthem in contact with prisoners or others who may be subject to abuses.19 In a 1997 interview, representatives Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres told Human Rights Watch that the UC-ELN was preparing a legal manual that would allow them to better comply with international humanitarian law.20
The UC-ELN has also expressed regret for some violations. After a series of indiscriminate attacks in June and July 1997 in which children were killed, the UC-ELN recognized that some children have been killed or wounded as a result of our acts of war and we feel that it is an imperative to recognize these as serious errors of lack of foresight or crossfire in the midst of conflict... We will make an effort to avoid repeating this type of regrettable action.21
Currently, the UC-ELN claims that 90 percent of its armed militants have regular contact with ICRC representatives. Among Colombian guerrilla groups, the UC-ELN is the most responsive to a discussion of international humanitarian law as well as cases of alleged abuses.22
Nevertheless, this openness to discussion is not as yet reflected in changes in behavior in the field. Indeed, under the guise of calling for a humanization of war, the UC-ELN continues to dispute international humanitarian law instead of conforming their rules of engagement to it. Human Rights Watch has convincing evidence that the UC-ELN flouts the laws of war in the field by targeting and killing civilians and combatants hors de combat, taking hostages, and launching indiscriminate attacks. We are aware of no internal investigations of reported abuses or internal investigations of militants who violate the UC-ELNs own rules.
For instance, in a public statement broadcast on July 15, 1995, Manuel Pérez claimed that the UC-ELN accepted Protocol II though it disputed some terms and categories used in [Protocol II and Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions]. Among the terms he disputed were hostage-taking, attacks, acts of terrorism, sabotage, the definition of dangerous substances, and the distinctionbetween combatants and non-combatants in short, every precision contained within the language of both documents. In effect, this acceptance was a non-acceptance and charts the enormous gulf between what the UC-ELN says and its behavior in the field.23
The ELN says the army must respect international humanitarian law, because it gives [guerrillas] a tactical advantage, a humanitarian aid work familiar with the group told Human Rights Watch. Since they know that the army shouldnt launch rocket attacks against a village, they will send their militants to the homes of farm families to protect themselves.24
In an interview with Human Rights Watch, UC-ELN spokespersons Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres welcomed a discussion of international humanitarian law, but disputed attempts to apply the law to their practices. At one point, they suggested that the government intended to use international humanitarian law as a trap to weaken insurgencies. It is worth noting that this argument is frequently made by governments to elude responsibility for human rights crimes.
At another point in the interview, they claimed that international humanitarian law was an unattainable ideal and had to be Colombianized before it could be applied to them, another argument often heard from governments regarding their failure to abide by human rights treaties.
Ironically, the same argument is used by AUC leader Carlos Castaño, who has called for a creole version of the laws of war that would allow, among other things, the killing of combatants hors de combat and summary executions of suspected guerrilla collaborators.25
Echoing Manuel Pérezs efforts to question the definition of violations, Galán and Torres claimed that before applying international humanitarian law, itwas necessary to define what they claimed were vague terms.26 For instance, the UC-ELN routinely executes paramilitary combatants hors de combat. According to a statement by Pérez, they merit none of the guarantees of prisoners of war.27 Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres emphasized this exception to Human Rights Watch, adding that the UC-ELN also executes captured spies, including UC-ELN deserters and non-combatants who provide information to the security forces. Non-combatants, Galán and Torres noted, are permitted by the UC-ELN to tell their enemies that guerrillas have passed recently, but not how many, in what direction, or when. Such a blunder, they said, may be punished by forced expulsion or death.28
Indeed, the UC-ELN routinely executes soldiers and police officers taken hors de combat, often in front of dozens of witnesses. In 1997 alone, the UC-ELN killed at least seventy-one civilians and combatants hors de combat according to the Data Bank.29
These indefensible killings make a mockery of justice and demonstrate that the UC-ELN has made no attempt to provide a fair trial. Indeed, the UC-ELN rarely if ever informs the accused of the charges against him or her or the trial procedure the UC-ELN intends to follow. During the trial, the accused is not allowed a proper defense. Our evidence demonstrates that the accused is presumed guilty during the trial and is often tried in absentia. Finally, there is no appealsprocess. Therefore, all killings carried out as a result of so-called trials by the UC-ELN are serious violations of the laws of war.
In one case, María Elena Molina, the mayor of Tame, Arauca, was seized by the UC-ELN for a so-called political trial on November 23, 1996. During a sixteen-day interrogation by the UC-ELNs Simacota Company during which she was bound and blindfolded, Molina said that she had been questioned about municipal affairs without benefit of any defense counsel, any indication of the charges against her, or any explanations of trial procedures.
When they began, they made it clear that I would emerge from this political trial either alive or dead, she told reporters after her release. To be bound and blindfolded in the power of the Simacota Company is the worst test I can imagine.30
Others dont get the benefit of even summary proceedings. On April 28, 1997, Julio Acosta Bernal, vice-president of Colombias House of Representatives, narrowly escaped death when the UC-ELN detonated a car bomb as he passed on his way to the Arauca airport. His bodyguard, DAS agent Carlos León, was killed. The UC-ELNs Simacota Company later took responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to a local radio station.31
The UC-ELN also disputes the ban on hostage-taking, claiming that in addition to capturing enemy combatants, its forces engage only in so-called retention (retenciones) when civilians refuse to pay what the UC-ELN terms war or peace taxes (impuestos de guerra o paz). Unlike kidnapping, which results in personal gain for the criminals that carry them out, UC-ELN spokesperson Torres argues that the ransoms for so-called retention benefit society by funding the UC-ELNs war effort. Since the UC-ELN does not use captives as shields, he argues, the UC-ELN rejects the term hostage.32
Human Rights Watch rejects this argument, which ignores the clear language banning hostage-taking in the laws of war and seeks to justify an abhorrent tactic. The laws of war do not exist in order to justify or protect certain tactics, but rather to defend and protect the civilian population. According to País Libre, the UC-ELN carried out at least 412 kidnappings in 1997.33
Some hostage-takings end in lurid headlines. In 1996, Colombian authorities captured German national Werner Mauss, who with his wife and the support of the German government had negotiated the release for a reported US $1.5 million of Brigitte Schöene, the German wife of a former BASF Chemicals president based in Colombia.34 The UC-ELN denied that it had kidnapped Schöene, claiming its involvement was as an intermediary to secure her release at the request of the German government.35 However, interviewed after her release, Schöene was unequivocal in her identification of the UC-ELN as her captors.36
There are other glaring inconsistencies in UC-ELN rhetoric and practice. While the Guerrilla Code bans attacks on civilians, the UC-ELN consistently tries to deny civilians protection if they fail to support the UC-ELN, ignoring their protected status under the laws of war. For instance, in an interview with Human Rights Watch, Galán and Torres defended the civilians who provide the UC-ELN with information, food, and shelter, and claimed that the laws of war protect them. However, when asked if civilians who provide similar services to the UC-ELNs adversaries were also protected, Galán and Torres did not hesitate to call them legitimate military targets. Even former soldiers and their family members whotake no part in hostilities clearly protected under the laws of war remain military targets to the UC-ELN, according to Galán and Torres.37
This graphic accompanied a UC-ELN death threat against civilians suspected of providing information to the security forces or paramilitaries. In a pamphlet distributed in 1996 by the UC-ELNs Ramón Emilio Arcila Front, which operates in eastern Antioquia, civilians are encouraged to provide information to guerrillas. However, they are also warned that anyone who provides information to the security forces or paramilitaries will be executed on the spot.
This is a policy of violating Protocol II, not upholding it. The words are accompanied by a crude drawing of a mouse-human hanging from a gibbet in a cemetery.38
Giving information to the enemy makes you a legitimate military target, Felipe Torres emphasized in an interview with Human Rights Watch.39
Three families were told by the local ELN commander that they were under investigation for suspected paramilitary ties, one humanitarian aid workerfrom the Middle Magdalena region told us. They left rather than risk a guilty verdict, which would have meant an execution.40
Some UC-ELN fronts have a reputation for particular types of abuses. For instance, the Domingo Laín Front executes girls known as polacheras or tomberas, who flirt with or date local soldiers and police officers.41 In May 1995, the UC-ELN seized three children and a woman, apparently accused of being close to members of the army and police. The girls fourteen and fifteen-year-old sisters and a fourteen-year-old friend and the woman were tortured before being killed with shots to the head. The Domingo Laín Front and the Simacota Company later took responsibility for the massacre and announced that they would continue to kill girls and women who put the historical revolutionary process in danger.42
Such killings are not only abhorrent because they are carried out against children, but are glaring violations of the laws of war, since they punish an every day part of civilian life.
In the first seven months of 1998 alone, the UC-ELN reportedly bombed the 770-kilometers long pipeline linking Colombias eastern oil fields with the Caribbean port of Coveñas forty-three times.43 The UC-ELN targets the pipeline not to contribute directly to military action or to gain a specific military advantage in the circumstances ruling at the time, as is required by the laws of war, but to make a political point about its opposition to the way Colombia deals with the multinational corporations. In their words, these attacks sabotage... those whosupport the [neoliberal] opening and the financing of paramilitary groups.44 In an interview with Radio Caracol, COCE spokesman Pablo Beltrán said that the UC-ELN targets the pipeline so that all know that we must be more dignified and nationalistic in matters pertaining to petroleum.45 In addition, the UC-ELN has bombed the pipeline to extort money. Although analysis is necessary to determine the circumstances of each case, when these attacks serve no military purpose and are instead meant to push a political point or threaten the civilian employees of oil companies, they are a violation.
Highway robbers: A UC-ELN unit assassinated five people accused of belonging to a gang of highway thieves and posing as UC-ELN members on October 12, 1997, near Ricaurte, Nariño. Family members reportedly buried the victims without making formal complaints, out of fear of guerrilla reprisals. Afterwards, guerrillas stopped cars and trucks at roadblocks to inform travelers that they would continue to bring justice to (ajusticiar) those who abused their good name.46
Murder and Torture
Edgar Horacio Albarracín Camargo: Representing Chitagá, Norte de Santander, Albarracín was the first mayor killed in Colombia in 1996. Three men fired on the mayor outside his home on January 14. Previously, Albarracín had been accused by the UC-ELN of corruption. The act was later claimed by the UC-ELNs Efraín Pabón Front in a communiqué sent to the armys García Rovira Battalion in Pamplona, which accused the mayor of [authorizing] payments to his political allies, without consulting with the public, creating division within the political warthat the Chitagá region is going through.47 None of these acts, if true, made Albarracín into a combatant and therefore a legitimate military target.
Rodolfo Antonio Alonso Monsalve: The UC-ELN routinely threatens and kills civilians who refuse to honor an armed work stoppage, or paro armado. During such a stoppage in April 1996, Rodolfo Antonio Alonso Monsalve, a retired oil worker, was reportedly assassinated by the UC-ELN when he failed to stop at a road block outside Barrancabermeja, Santander.48
Manuel Clavijo: This director of a government-run humanitarian aid group was killed by the UC-ELN on April 2, 1996, as he arrived at a family farm near the city of Arauca.49 Family members who witnessed the killing told reporters that a guerrilla called Hilario killed Clavijo, apparently because he was identified as a supporter of increased army presence in Arauca. The family later received information indicating that Hilario and another guerrilla may have been paid to commit the murder by a third party, who remains unknown. After Clavijos death, other family members continued to receive telephone death threats from the UC-ELN. One reported that an anonymous caller said, the same thing that happened [to Clavijo] will happen to you.50 Support for an increased presence of one or another party to the conflict would not, if true, make Clavijo into a combatant and therefore a legitimate military target.
César Espejos Perdomo and Lázaro Barrera: These recruits were with the Counterguerrilla Battalion No. 49 near Arauquita, Arauca when they were attacked by the UC-ELN on April 14, 1996. The army reported that Espejos and Perdomohad been captured. Subsequently, the army found their bodies, and reported that they had been tortured and executed.51
Marco Díaz Figueroa and Robin Ríos Galindo: On leave from the Counterguerrilla Battalion No. 23, these soldiers were forced to leave a public bus by members of the Domingo Laín Front of the UC-ELN who had mounted a roadblock on a road near Hato Corozal on December 2, 1996. The army reported that the men were tortured before being executed.52
Luis Alfonso Ramírez: Two gunmen identified by residents as UC-ELN members shot this municipal personero in his office in Salazar de las Palmas, Norte de Santander, on April 16, 1997. In the same attack, town council member Pedro Julio Rodríguez was wounded. The UC-ELN left pamphlets rejecting the creation of local CONVIVIR groups, which they apparently blamed Ramírez for supporting.53
Oil workers: In May 1997, the José David Suárez Front of the UC-ELN announced over a Casanare radio station that it would consider the 1,300 workers at facilities belonging to British Petroleum military objectives.54 On May 15, approximately ten guerrillas stopped six buses carrying Colombians who worked for Techint, Petrocas, and Megaservicios, British Petroleum contractors. Four employees were wounded when guerrillas burned the buses. Techint employee Fredy Ariel SierraAlfonso was killed as he tried to evade the roadblock.55 Oil workers are civilians even though they may take part in an enterprise that contributes to the states ability to wage war through the use of oil or the revenues from its sale. This employment does not qualify as taking a direct part in hostilities.
Rigoberto Contreras Restrepo: According to police and witnesses interviewed by a credible source, members of the UC-ELNs Carlos Alirio Buitrago Front forced this police officer from a public bus near Cocorná, Antioquia, on August 6, 1997. Obesity prevented Contreras from wearing a uniform. After his capture was reported, both the Medellín personero and the ICRC attempted to intervene on his behalf, and the UC-ELN informed his family that he was alive. However, on August 22, his badly decomposed body was found near the spot where he had been taken captive. According to police, he had been executed with two shots to the head and his body showed signs of torture.56
Jorge Cristo Sahuin and Pedro Cogaria Reyes: Sahuin, a Norte de Santander senator, and Cogaria, his bodyguard, were killed by the UC-ELNs Carlos Germán Velasco Villamizar Front on August 8, 1997, while in Cúcuta. A guerrilla shot both at point-blank range. In a press statement, the UC-ELN took responsibility for the killings and promised to consider candidates belonging to Colombias traditional political parties as military targets.57 In September 1998, the Attorney Generals Office announced that it had issued indictments against five presumed members of the UC-ELN for their role in the killings.58
César Tulio Bonilla: This former president of the Antioquia Mining Union was a candidate for the mayors office of El Bagre when UC-ELN guerrillas appeared infront of his home on October 11, 1997. After calling him to the door, guerrillas killed him in front of his wife, Gloria Tobón, who was injured.59
Martín Emilio Ortiz Higuita: An army recruit, Ortiz began serving his obligatory two years in 1997 and was assigned to the Ayacucho Battalion in Manizales, Caldas. On October 19, he was given leave for family reasons. Out of uniform and unarmed, he boarded a public bus that was later stopped at a UC-ELN roadblock near Mistrato, Caldas. Guerrillas were reportedly exhorting passengers not to take part in municipal elections. Ortiz and two other passengers were forced to leave the bus and were summarily killed.60
Taking of hostages
Luz Adriana Jaramillo Rendón: On March 10, UC-ELN guerrillas seized the mayor of Guadalupe, Antioquia. The kidnapping was claimed by the Heroes de Anorí Front. In a statement later republished in a weekly UC-ELN newsletter, the group said that the kidnapping was carried out to protest the creation of CONVIVIRs. Jaramillo was later released.61
Organization of American States (OAS) observers: Chilean Raúl Martínez, Guatemalan Manfredo Marroquín, and Colombian Juan Diego Ardila were kidnapped by the UC-ELN near San Carlos, Antioquia, prior to October 1997 municipal elections and held for nine days. At the time, both Marroquín and Martínez were wearing shirts that clearly identified them as OAS observers.62 The UC-ELN took responsibility for this kidnapping both within Colombia and through its international newsletter, claiming that the OAS was being punished for forfeiting its civilian status by sending observers to Colombia only to [legitimate] the Samper regime. The kidnapping, they acknowledged, was meantto exert political pressure on Colombia and the OAS and gain a forum for their views.63 The three were released on November 1.64 This a violation of the ban on hostage-taking, since the definition relies on the hostages disempowerment in the hands of a party to the conflict and the possibility that the hostage will be exchanged for some concession made by a third party.
Bishop José de Jesús Quintero Díaz: The UC-ELNs Armando Cacua Guerrero Front took responsibility for the November 24, 1997 kidnapping of this Tibú, Norte de Santander bishop. The kidnapping, they claimed, was to exert political pressure and bring attention to political violence in the Catatumbo region, on the Colombia-Venezuela border. In a response to a protest by Pope John Paul II, UC-ELN spokesperson Francisco Galán claimed that Bishop Quintero had also been targeted for being complacent with abuses in his diocese. Quintero was released on December 10.65
October 26 municipal elections: In the months preceding Colombias 1997 elections, the UC-ELN kidnapped dozens of mayors, town council members, municipal workers, and candidates from the departments of Antioquia, Bolívar, Casanare, Cesar, Nariño, Norte de Santander, and Santander.66 Although the UC-ELN described some kidnapping as ways to evaluate what has been achieved by the authorities and express the populations desires to candidates, the captives were warned that they would be considered military objectives if they were perceived to support paramilitaries and would be subject to a popular trial andpossible execution.67 After kidnapping four mayors in the department of Nariño, the Comuneros del Sur Front announced that the group will not respect the presence of candidates from groups linked to political bosses of the traditional parties, the dirty war, paramilitaries, or those supported by CONVIVIR.68 In a similar communiqué, groups in Antioquia told the newspaper El Colombiano that any politician who failed to denounce CONVIVIR associations publicly would be considered a military target.69 But as one Antioquia councilman told journalists, If I speak publicly against paramilitaries and CONVIVIR, what I am actually doing is dictating the color and size of my own coffin, since others will then mark be as a guerrilla supporter.70After elections took place, the UC-ELN announced that those mayors inaugurated on the strength of a small number of votes would not be permitted to govern.71 This announcement was followed by continued kidnapping and summary proceedings, prolonging the threat to elected officials into 1998.72
Attacks on medical workers, installations, and ambulances
Sarare Regional Hospital: On at least four occasions in 1996 and 1997, the UC-ELN has violated the special protection given to medical units in Article 12 of Protocol II by entering this hospital in Saravena, Arauca, executing civilians protected by the laws of war or setting off explosives. On May 1, 1996, Octavio Giraldo Alzate, a farmer, was being treated for appendicitis when he was killed in his hospital bed by members of a UC-ELN militia. Apparently, the militia members had intended to kill another patient who had survived an assassination attemptearlier that day and mistook Giraldo for him.73 The following August, guerrillas reportedly seized a man who had attempted suicide after killing his wife and children and had been rushed to the hospital. Guerrillas dragged him from his bed and executed him nearby, apparently as a punishment for killing his family.74 On May 19, 1997, UC-ELN guerrillas attacked and wounded María Isabel Romero Ovalle, who owned a business that sold snacks and drinks in Saravena, apparently because she did business with members of the security forces. Taken to the hospital, Romero was being operated on when two guerrillas broke into the operating room and killed her.75 On September 27, 1997, police reported that the UC-ELN detonated a bomb at the hospital entrance, apparently an effort to ambush a police unit that was delivering a cadaver to the morgue.76
Bagadó, Chocó: While townspeople were engaged in a religious celebration, the UC-ELN attempted to seize this town of 13,000 on January 28, 1997.77 During the attack, the UC-ELN abducted Mario Hernández, a doctor, and Alejandro Noguera, a nurse, both of whom were engaged in medical duties, and stole medicine from the government medical clinic. They were later released. The UC-ELN took responsibility for this attack, claiming that it had destroyed the police barracks and killed six police officers. The abduction of medical personnel constitutes a violation by the UC-ELN of the special protections in Article 9 of Protocol II for individuals carrying out medical duties.
Other acts that violate the laws of war
Regidor: On May 11, 1996, the Navy reported that a unit from the UC-ELNs Héroes y Mártires de Santa Rosa Front attacked the Alfonso Mantilla, a vessel traveling the Magdalena River with ten navy personnel aboard, from positions set up within the hamlet of Regidor, Bolívar. Guerrillas apparently used the homes of civilians as a shield from attack. The navy officer on board ordered the vessel to reverse course; it passed Regidor unharmed later that morning. According to the navy, while attacks on commercial vessels by the UC-ELN are not unusual, the tactic of using a population as a shield was a novelty in this case.78 An independent source confirmed that in the Middle Magdalena region, the UC-ELN frequently mounts attacks on the security forces from civilian houses, using them as a shield.79 Using civilian dwellings as a shield violates Article 13 of Protocol II, which protects civilians against the dangers arising from military operations.
Car bombs: On the night of March 17, 1997, two car bombs placed in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, by the UC-ELN killed four people, among them eighteen-month-old Martha Liliana Riveros Rodríguez, and wounded seventeen. The first car bomb was detonated in the center of the city, damaging several banks and dozens of commercial establishments. The next car bomb exploded in the Juan Atalaya suburb, destroying a hardware store and damaging ten residences.80 The UC-ELN attacked again in April 19, and its Northeast War Front (Frente de Guerra del Nororiente) claimed responsibility for several car bombs that damaged the Bavaria brewery and the Cattlemens Bank and wounded four civilians.81 In Barrancabermeja, Santander, a UC-ELN car bomb detonated on June 8, 1997,wounded five civilians, including a two-year-old, and damaged dozens of residences.82 We have received similar, credible reports of car bombs attributed to the UC-ELN in Saravena, Arauca.83 We oppose these car bombings as a violation of the ban in Protocol II against indiscriminate attacks.
La Unión, Antioquia: For several weeks in June and July 1997, the UC-ELN attacked ranches near the town of La Unión, Antioquia, apparently because their owners were accused of supporting paramilitary groups and refused to pay a war tax.84 On July 1, guerrillas targeted the La Ponderosa ranch, owned by Mario López and his wife, Margarita Ortiz. Guerrillas first went to the house of the foreman, who was told to vacate the area with his family. Then guerrillas activated a bomb next to the area where the Lópezs twin twelve-year-old boys, Santiago Andrés and Mario Alejandro, were sleeping, killing them. Guerrillas also fired on Margarita Ortiz, wounding her in the arm.85 By the time the attacks subsided, ten ranches had been bombed, among them one belonging to the brother of Gov. Álvaro Uribe Vélez.86 Support for a party to the conflict or failure to pay guerrillas, if true, does not convert a civilian into a combatant unless they personally take direct role in hostilities. Therefore, we consider these attacks serious violations of Protocol II.
Simití, Bolívar: In this June 30, 1997 attack, the UC-ELN destroyed the local Agrarian Bank, robbing its safe, and seriously damaged the municipal building andthe towns central plaza.87 Police reported that guerrillas took family members of the police officers hostage, threatened their lives to try and force the officers to surrender, and used the family members as human shields to fire on the officers defending the police station. Among the family members was a two-year-old boy and two four-year-old girls.88 Reportedly, guerrillas also used the wife and daughter of one officer as shields to cover their escape after the attack.89 Days later, guerrillas returned and reportedly looted and burned the offices of the local prosecutor.90 The use of family members of combatants to try and force a surrender or as human shields is an egregious violation of the ban on putting civilians at risk from military operations. In addition, guerrillas demonstrated a clear lack of discrimination in choosing military targets. Neither the bank, municipal building, or town plaza qualified as military targets at the time of attack. Guerrillas also looted, violating Article 4 (2) (g) of Protocol II. A month later, the UC-ELN kidnapped town council members, a mayoral candidate, and the town treasurer and threatened mayor Ubaldo de Jesús López, who they accused of misusing funds. López fled the area after the June attack, fearing guerrilla reprisals. The effect on the town following the attack was dramatic, particularly for rural families who depend on its stores and the bank for food, supplies, and loans. Simití is finished, the economy is done for, the Agrarian Bank has no more money for fear of continued attacks, one resident told journalists.91 The UC-ELN took responsibility for the July attack in its newsletter.92
Scout bus: Returning from an eight-day jamboree in Medellín, Antioquia, 140 Boy Scouts between the ages of five and seventeen and their thirty adult escorts were stopped by the UC-ELN on July 5, 1997, near Yarumal. Guerrillas forced passengers to disembark, then set fire to their six buses, chartered from the Rápido Ochoa company. Most of their belongings, including clothing, were destroyed. As the flames lit the area, police approached and shots rang out as they engaged the guerrillas.93 The UC-ELN violated the ban on attacking civilian vehicles, in this case public buses that had no role in the armed conflict. In addition, guerrillas placed civilians in a situation of extreme risk, lighting a fire they could have predicted would alert the authorities and provoke an attack by the security forces.
Land mines: Human Rights Watch continues to receive frequent and consistent reports that the UC-ELN uses land mines in populated areas of Antioquia, Arauca, and Santander, among others, endangering the civilian population and causing casualties among farmers and children.94 The UC-ELN employs several types of mines, some available on the illegal arms market and others made by guerrillas.95 In one particularly egregious case, the UC-ELN detonated a mine on July 9, 1997 in Primero de Mayo, a heavily populated Barrancabermeja slum, in effect using the surrounding civilian houses to ambush a military convoy. The explosion forced the driver of one of the military trucks to lose control and smash into two flimsy homes, killing a seven-year-old girl and wounding two other children. We received no reports of military casualties.96 This attack violates the rule of proportionality, which holds that combatants must take precautions to minimize excessive harm to civilians and suspend an attack if the potential risk outweighs any direct militaryadvantage. Here, the risk was glaring. Guerrillas should have concluded that the attack under the circumstances ruling at the time was too risky, since it could be reasonably assumed that the detonation would harm civilian houses or cause the convoy to crash.
Mogotes, Santander: After guerrillas disguised as civilians entered the Mogotes municipal offices and acted in a suspicious manner, Mayor Doriam Rodríguez called police on December 11, 1997. By that time, guerrillas using, among other vehicles, a public bus, had surrounded the central square. In the ensuing firefight within the municipal building and a building housing the electoral registry, three registry employees were killed. Three police officers also died. The attack seriously damaged the municipal building, the telephone office, the electoral registry, the Agrarian Bank, and a credit cooperative, all civilian buildings. During combat, guerrillas seized Mayor Rodríguez and held him hostage under threat of death for several days.97 Neither the municipal offices nor the electoral registry qualify as legitimate military targets. Human Rights Watch has also received repeated, credible, and consistent reports about the burning of municipal and public vehicles by the UC-ELN in Barrancabermeja, Santander, a busy Magdalena River port. Public buses, road construction equipment, and private cars have been attacked during so-called armed strikes enforced by roadblocks and roving bands of guerrillas who attack civilians perceived to disobey the order to paralyze all movement.98 We received similar reports from Arauca, where in Saravena, rebels periodically burn civilian vehicles that travel during armed strikes.99 Civilian vehicles do not qualify as military targets unless they are being used in military operations. When they are dedicated to exclusively civilian use, they are protected under the laws of war.
The force and the pressure of the dissident group led by Francisco Caraballo is focused on finishing off those who were their comrades in armed struggle and who have now rejoined the countrys political life.
Jaime Córdoba Triviño, Colombias Public Advocate
The Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación, EPL) began armed insurrection in 1967. First active in northern Colombia, by the mid-1980s the EPL had units in six departments and the region known as Urabá, where it was strongest.100
By 1990, army attacks, often in coordination with paramilitaries, and internal divisions had severely weakened the EPL. More than 2,100 members agreed to accept a government amnesty and in 1991 turned in their weapons. Some chose to join a new political party called Hope, Peace and Liberty (Esperanza, Paz y Libertad). Other EPL members refused the amnesty. Although the EPL is sharply reduced in strength with fewer than 1,000 armed militants, it retains a presence in Córdoba and the Urabá and Middle Magdalena regions.101
EPL commander Francisco Caraballo is serving a sentence in Itagüí Prison, but continues to maintain radio contact with the remaining EPL members in the field.
EPL and International Humanitarian Law
The EPL told Human Rights Watch that it respects international humanitarian law, with certain exceptions. For instance, the EPL allows its forces to execute people for certain acts, like participation in paramilitary groups. Although Caraballo did not describe any investigative or trial procedure, he confirmed that guerrillas under his command are also allowed to kill for more vaguely defined infractions, like doing harm to others.102
In a letter to the non-governmental National Reconciliation Commission in 1995, the EPL noted that it adopts the humanitarian measures promulgated by the Colombian guerrilla movement, which protect the non-combatant population, enemies disarmed in combat, the sick, the wounded, and those whose duty it is to assist them. The document also states that the EPL has codified as crimes and misdemeanors transgression of these humanitarian concepts by our army.103
In an interview with Human Rights Watch, EPL commander Francisco Caraballo said that the EPL had taken several measures to conform to international humanitarian law. Among them, he noted, all militants receive training on the groups rules of engagement. Citing examples, Caraballo said that if an EPL member is accused of a crime, the village where the guerrilla operates is called on to hear the allegations and reach a verdict. If a militant is caught in flagrante, he is given a summary military trial.104 Despite repeated requests, the EPL did not provide Human Rights Watch with a copy of its rules of engagement.
However, Human Rights Watch has received abundant information showing that the EPL engages in persistent and egregious violations of international humanitarian law. Among the most evident was the campaign, begun in 1991, to murder former comrades now in the Esperanza party. An EPL circularsigned by Caraballo stated that Esperanza was targeted because it was a paramilitary group.105
While some Esperanza members did command or take part in popular commands to attack the EPL and individuals suspected of supporting the FARC, the group is a legal political party. While party leaders acknowledge that some former EPL guerrillas and Esperanza members may have joined paramilitary groups, the party claims that it does not support paramilitaries. According to Esperanza, 348 of its members and amnestied EPL guerrillas were murdered between 1991 and the end of 1995. Of that number, they believe sixty-one were killed by the EPL under Caraballos command.106
In one particularly brutal case, the EPL reportedly executed five Esperanza members Jaime Betin, Jorge Calle, Gregorio Flórez, Jorge San Martín, and Martha Cecilia Restrepo near Turbo, Antioquia, on January 10, 1995.107
The force and the pressure of the dissident group led by Francisco Caraballo, reported Colombias public advocate in 1992, is focused on finishing off those who were their comrades in armed struggle and who have now rejoined the countrys political life.108
In 1998, former EPL commander David Mesa Peña, known as Gonzalo, was arrested in connection with the murders of Esperanza members and others.109 Drastically reduced in size since 1991, the group currently operates onlysporadically in northern Colombia. In 1997, the EPL was linked to at least six political killings.110
Like the FARC and UC-ELN, the EPL also depends on hostage-taking to raise money and exert political influence. In 1997, the EPL was believed to have kidnapped at least thirty-two people.111
Rafael Angel Restrepo: This rancher was assassinated by members of the EPLs Bernardo Franco Front on January 5, 1996, near Turbo, Antioquia. Guerrillas also set his ranch on fire, apparently in retaliation for his refusal to pay war taxes.112 We have no evidence suggesting that Restrepo was a combatant. Instead, he was apparently targeted for refusing to give guerrillas money.
José Tarciso, Juan Climaco, and Moisés Emiro Bacca Bacca: According to human rights groups, members of the EPLs Libardo Mora Toro Front seized these brothers on March 2, 1996 on the Santa Rita farm near Ocaña, Norte de Santander. After binding them, guerrillas took them away. Residents found their bodies the next day, with a sign that read Heroes of America Campaign, considered part of the EPL. Their mother later told investigators that she believed they had been killed because the night before they were taken, they had given shelter to army soldiers.113 As we noted at the beginning of this report, merely feeding a combatant, serving as a messenger, providing information, disseminating propaganda, or engaging in political activities in support of an armed group does not convert a civilian into a combatant.
Germán Ramírez Mejía and Heriberto Orejarena Olago. These men were part of a group accompanying candidates and siblings María Constanza and Juan Carlos Morales Ballesteros during a campaign tour prior to October elections when they were seized by the EPL at a roadblock in Santander on May 19, 1997. Guerrillas took the Morales Ballesteros siblings and six others hostage. Ramírez was executedhours later.114 Orejarena, a student and friend of Juan Carlos, was found on May 22, executed with a single shot to the head.115 The executions were later claimed by a spokesperson for the EPLs Ramón Gilberto Barbosa Front. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, EPL leader Francisco Caraballo took responsibility for the double execution and claimed that the men were paramilitaries.116 The Morales family denied that the men were paramilitaries. Even if they had been, as combatants hors de combat, they were protected by the laws of war and should not have been summarily killed.
Three soldiers: Jorge López Cárdenas, Germán Granados Gutiérrez, and Carlos Julio Acevedo, army soldiers assigned to the Fifth Brigade, were traveling from Aguachica, Cesar, to Bucaramanga, Santander, when they were stopped at an EPL roadblock on August 3, 1997. As passengers on an interdepartmental bus, the three were forced to disembark and taken by guerrillas into the weeds, where they were killed near El Playón, Santander. Authorities believe that EPL commander Ramón Gilberto Barbosa ordered the execution.117
Purificación Lugo: Purificación Lugo was the mother of a former EPL guerrilla nicknamed El Chonto. El Chonto helped hostages María Constanza and Juan Carlos Morales Ballesteros escape the EPL, then deserted. In apparent retaliation, the EPL seized Lugo and her two other sons on November 18, 1997 in their Barrancabermeja, Santander home. After forcing them to the street, guerrillas executed Lugo and her fourteen-year-old, Orlando. Lugos other son, Miguel, wasseriously wounded, but survived.118 Francisco Caraballo claimed that the EPL was investigating the killing, but has not provided Human Rights Watch with any results as of this writing.119 Simply being a family member of a combatant does not covert a civilian into a combatant. Similarly, civilian family members cannot be made to suffer the consequences for the actions of relatives.
Taking of hostages
Adolfo Bula: This parliamentarian was kidnapped by the EPL near Hacarí, Norte de Santander, on April 25, 1997. With him was Aníbal López, a local political leader. Bula is a member of a political party known as the Socialist Renovation Current (Corriente de Renovación Socialista, CRS), made up in part of amnestied UC-ELN guerrillas.120 In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Francisco Caraballo took responsibility for the kidnapping, and claimed that Bula had been investigated for alleged crimes and obligated to pay an economic imposition, or ransom. He was later released.121
María Constanza and Juan Carlos Morales Ballesteros: This sister and brother were campaigning as mayoral candidates in the department of Santander when they were kidnapped by the EPL on May 19, 1997. Six others were taken at the same time and were released within a month.122 During their captivity, their father, parliamentarian Norberto Morales Ballesteros, negotiated directly with Francisco Caraballo in Itagüí Prison. Morales himself had been kidnapped by the EPL in 1992.123 María Constanza and Juan Carlos managed to escape after six months incaptivity and confirmed that they had been held by the EPLs Ramón Gilberto Barbosa Front for U.S. $2 million.124 On one occasion, guerrillas forced María Constanza to write a letter to her family announcing that she and her brother would be killed if the family failed to pay.125
Sardinata, Norte de Santander: On June 8, 1997, the EPL seized three police officers Jairo Ortiz Molina, Baronio Hormiga Méndez, and Víctor Manuel Gelves Cuervo and two civilians near Sardinata, Norte de Santander. The kidnapping was claimed by the EPLs Libardo Mora Toro Front.126 In return for releasing the officers, the EPL demanded the transfer of EPL commander Francisco Caraballo from Antioquias Itagüí prison to the capital, a press conference, and a portable radio for him.127 All five hostages were released. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Francisco Caraballo took responsibility for the kidnapping.128 The EPLs conduct is a violation of the ban on hostage-taking, since the case clearly satisfies the definition of hostages as persons who find themselves, willingly or unwillingly, in the power of the enemy and who answer with their freedom or their life for compliance with [the enemys] orders.
Other acts that violate the laws of war
Barrancabermeja: On December 17, the EPL burned several vehicles and set off explosives in this port town to commemorate the anniversary of its founding as a political movement. One of the explosives was placed in front of a neighborhood association on the citys northwest side. Among the vehicles destroyed were two public buses belonging to the Copetrán and Omega Companies.129 Civilian vehicles and offices do not qualify as military targets unless they are being used in militaryoperations, which they were not in this case. When they are dedicated to exclusively civilian use, they are protected under the laws of war.
144 Comisión Internacional, 25 años de lucha por la paz, democracia y soberanía (Comisión Internacional FARC-EP, May 1989), pp. 23-27. For a history of the FARC, see Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez, Las FARC: de la autodefensa a la combinación de todas las formas de lucha (Santafé de Bogotá: IEPRI/Tercer Mundo, 1991).
145 Human Rights Watch interview, Colombian intelligence service, Santafé de Bogotá, December 2, 1997; and Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, Farc alimentan la línea dura, El Tiempo, June 29, 1997.
146 Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Carlos Ospina, Mobile Brigade Two, San José del Guaviare, May 6, 1997.
147 As of this writing, the members of the General Secretariat are believed to include Marulanda, commander in chief; Jorge Briceño, known as Mono Jojoy and in command of FARC units in much of southern Colombia; Alfonso Cano, responsible for ideology; Noel Matta, known as Efraín Guzmán or El Viejo Efraín; Timoleón Jiménez, known as Timochenko; Iván Márquez; and Raúl Reyes, responsible for international outreach. Conclusiones, Octava Conferencia Nacional de las FARC, May 3, 1993; and El nuevo No. 1, Semana, September 10, 1996, pp. 50-51.
148 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
149 One example is a book widely distributed by the army that equates the FARC with the Medellín and Cali cartels, criminal syndicates dedicated to the export of cocaine and heroin. Major Luis Alberto Villamarín Pulido, El Cartel de las FARC (Santafé de Bogotá: Ediciones El Faraón, 1996).
150 Interview with U.S. Ambassador Myles Frechette, Santafé de Bogotá, May 7, 1997.
151 In November 1997, the army announced that it had prohibited officers from using the word cartel when referring to guerrillas. Nevertheless, officers continue to use the term, especially when lobbying for increased U.S. security assistance to fight what they term a narco-guerrilla threat. Ejército prohíbe llamar 'cartel' a grupos guerrilleros, El Tiempo, November 21, 1997.
152 Letter to Human Rights Watch from the International Commission of the FARC-EP, June 15, 1996.
153 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 15, 1996.
154 On June 15, 1997, the FARC also released ten navy sailors captured the previous January. For a summary of the Las Delicias case, see Guerrilla, Semana, June 9-16, 1997.
155 Human Rights Watch interview with independent investigators, Santafé de Bogotá, June 26, 1996.
156 Human Rights Watch interview, Santafé de Bogotá, June 25, 1996.
157 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Manual de Operaciones de las FARC (no date), pp. 110, 142.
158 Translation by Human Rights Watch. The FARC told us that this document had been approved at the groups first summit of commanders, but did not provide a date. Normas de Comportamiento con las Masas, FARC-EP.
159 The tactic of massacres has been in the FARCs arsenal since the 1960s. For more details, see Maria Victoria Uribe and Teófilo Vásquez, Enterrar y Callar: las masacres en Colombia, 1980-1993, Volume 2, (Santafé de Bogotá: Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, 1995). Human Rights Watch interview with humanitarian aid workers, Santafé de Bogotá, June 26, 1996.
160 These figures are based on 1996 and 1997 statistics compiled by the Data Bank.
161 Not all of the victims were confirmed to be non-combatants, however. Although many amnestied EPL members turned in their weapons after the 1991 demobilization, others continued as combatants and formed so-called popular commands to attack those suspected of supporting the FARC. Listado de personas asesinadas pertenecientes a Esperanza Paz y Libertad, Fundación Progresar, February 1996.
162 Human Rights Watch interview, Santafé de Bogotá, May 12, 1997.
163 Human Rights Watch interview with Mario Agudelo, Esperanza, Santafé de Bogotá, May 13, 1997.
164 Masacre de La Chinita, a report by the Sección para la Vida, la Justicia y la Paz del Secretariado Nacional de Pastoral Social, the Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (CSPP), the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo,the Comisión Andina de Juristas-Seccional Colombiana (now Colombian Commission of Jurists), the Comité Permanente para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, the Fundación Progresar, CINEP, and the magazine Colombia Hoy, August 1994.
165 Human Rights Watch interview with government investigator, Santafé de Bogotá, June 6, 1995.
166 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Luis Manuel Lasso Lozano, office of the presidential human rights counselor, December 12, 1997.
167 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
168 These massacres took place in the Urabá region of Antioquia. Human Rights Watch interview with Col. (ret.) Carlos Velásquez, Santafé de Bogotá, May 12, 1997; and Human Rights Watch interview with CINEP, Santafé de Bogotá, June 26, 1996.
169 Human Rights Watch interview with a humanitarian aid worker, Apartadó, Antioquia, July 5, 1996.
170 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
171 Relación de personal fallecido fuera de combate pero por acción del enemigo en el año 1997, Colombian Army, May 8, 1998.
172 Human Rights Watch interviews with farmers, San José del Guaviare, Guaviare, May 5, 1997.
173 Human Rights Watch interview with El Retorno residents, San José del Guaviare, Guaviare, May 5, 1997.
174 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Acuerdo entre la Comisión de Paz y las FARC-EP, Mesetas, Meta, March 28, 1984.
175 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Francisco Santos, País Libre, July 3, 1998.
176 El mundo de Alfonso Cano, Semana, May 26-June 2, 1997.
177 Las Farc amenazan elecciones en Cundinamarca, El Tiempo, August 31, 1997; Siguen amenazas de las Farc contra elecciones, El Tiempo, October 17, 1997; and letter to Human Rights Watch from Volmar Pérez Ortiz, national director, Office of Complaints, Public Advocates Office, December 12, 1997.
178 El Bloque Sur de las FARC-EP informa a la Opinión Pública, Montañas del Caquetá, October 17, 1997.
179 Encuentros en el exterior son etapas superadas, El Tiempo, March 29, 1998.
180 O mandan las Fuerzas Armadas o el Presidente de la República, Resistencia Internacional, May 1991, pp. 7.
181 Communiqué from the Bloque José María Córdoba of the FARC-EP, September 1996.
182 Farc amenazan a periodistas, El Tiempo, June 23, 1997; and Amenazas contra los medios en Popayán, El Tiempo, October 17, 1997.
183 Dramático rescate de extranjeros en Chocó, El Tiempo, March 5, 1997; and El mundo de Alfonso Cano, Semana, May 26-June 2, 1997.
184 Una mula lo llevó por el camino de la libertad, El Tiempo, November 24, 1997.
185 Human Rights Watch interview, San José del Guaviare, Guaviare, May 6, 1997.
186 Human Rights Watch interview, July 8, 1996.
187 Human Rights Watch interview with Human Rights Unit, Attorney Generals Office, Santafé de Bogotá, July 11, 1996; and CCJ, Colombia, Derechos Humanos y Derecho Humanitario: 1996, p. 28.
188 Human Rights Watch interview with Human Rights Unit, Attorney Generals Office, Santafé de Bogotá, July 11, 1996; and Reabierto paso en la vía a Urabá, El Tiempo, September 24, 1996.
189 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
190 16 campesinos masacrados: más víctimas de una guerra sucia, El Colombiano, May 6, 1996.
191 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Enalba Rosa Fernández Gamboa, office of the presidential human rights counselor, May 30, 1996.
192 Human Rights Watch interview with government investigator, Apartadó, Antioquia, July 5, 1996.
193 Carlos Alberto Giraldo, Alto Mulatos: la violencia, la estampida, El Colombiano, December 2, 1996.
194 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 3, January-March, 1997, pp. 86-87; and Nuevo éxodo de campesinos en Riosucio, El Tiempo, March 4, 1997.
195 Instituto de Capacitación Popular, ?Hacía dónde va Colombia? Una mirada desde Antioquia: 1996, p. 107; CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 1, July-September 1996, p. 52; and Asesinados 4 dirigentes comunales en Apartadó, El Mundo, September 8, 1996.
196 Urgent Action from Justice and Peace, October 9, 1997; and En Urabá asesinan a miembros de Comisión de Neutralidad, El Tiempo, October 8, 1997.
197 Letter to Public Advocates Office from Jesús Antonio Silva Urriago, regional Public Advocates Office, Neiva, Huila, November 25, 1997.
198 Report from police explosives expert Javier Briñez Vera to SIJIN, June 22, 1997.
199 The photographs were taken by Technical Investigation Unit (Cuerpo Técnico de Investigación, CTI) investigators attached to the Attorney Generals Office.
200 Report from Hugo Garzón Rueda, Chief, Hobo Station, to Huila Police Department, June 22, 1997; and Farc mataron a 6 personas en un bar, El Tiempo, June 23, 1997.
201 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 5, July-September 1997, pp. 86, 88.
202 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with U.S. Embassy, January 28, 1997; and Farc asesinó a dos misioneros de E.U., El Espectador, June 21, 1995.
203 As of this writing, none were in custody. Human Rights Watch interview with Human Rights Unit, Attorney Generals Office, Santafé de Bogotá, December 4, 1997.
204 Atroz muerte de tres soldados, El Espectador, April 27, 1996; and Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, Inspección General, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Infracciones al derecho internacional humanitario cometidas por los grupos subversivos, 1997, p. 23.
205 Farc asesinan a 11 policías en Chalán, El Tiempo, March 14, 1996; and Asalto Guerrillero a la población de Chalán, Sucre, División Derechos Humanos, Inspección General, Policía Nacional, 1996. The FARC accepted responsibility for the attack in an April 1996 press release. The guerrillas claim that they killed eleven police officers, but give no further details. Press release, Febrero-Abril 1996.
206 Human Rights Watch interview with CINEP, Santafé de Bogotá, May 4, 1997; and Delito de opinión, Semana, June 25, 1996.
207 Gobernador reclama libertad de Turbay, El Tiempo, June 18, 1995.
208 Human Rights Watch interview with Caquetá residents, Santafé de Bogotá, May 8, 1997; Letter to Defensoría from Edgar Ernesto Urueña, Defensoría Seccional, Florencia, Caquetá, December 3, 1997; and Convivir, objectivo militar, El Tiempo, February 28, 1997.
209 Human Rights Watch interview with Caquetá residents, Santafé de Bogotá, May 8, 1997; and Matan a vocero de campesinos cocaleros, El Tiempo, January 10, 1997.
210 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a U.S. Embassy source, January 28, 1997; and Recuperan cadáver de ingeniero estadounidense secuestrado, El Tiempo, February 27, 1997.
211 Letter to Public Advocates Office from Wilder Rafael Guerra Millan, regional Public Advocates Office, Riohacha, La Guajira, December 1, 1997.
212 The case is being investigated by the Medellín regional prosecutor. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Luis Manuel Lasso Lozano, office of the presidential human rights counselor, December 12, 1997.
213 In the bar where Agudelo was sitting when the grenade exploded, María Bernarda Lora was killed and six others injured. Human Rights Watch interview with Mario Agudelo, Santafé de Bogotá, May 13, 1997.
214 Before his inauguration as mayor in January 1998, Díaz received new death threats from the FARC. Frustran atentado con otro libro bomba, El Tiempo, April 16, 1997; and Farc impediría posesión de alcalde de Apartadó, El Colombiano, December 31, 1997.
215 Letter to Human Rights Watch from San José de Apartadó leaders, June 1, 1997; Human Rights Watch interview with María Girlesa Villegas, regional Public Advocates Office, Medellín, Antioquia, December 9, 1997; and CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 4, April-June 1997, p. 105.
216 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Pedro Juan Moreno, a personal friend of Vélez, vice-governor of Antioquia, September 17, 1997; and Guerrilla mata a un hacendado, El Tiempo, August 8, 1997.
217 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Antioquia Gov. Álvaro Uribe, August 8, 1997.
218 Case summary, Human Rights Office, National Police, 1998.
219 Condenan asesinato de Policía, El Colombiano, August 12, 1997.
220 Case summary, Human Rights Office, National Police, 1998.
221 Letter to Human Rights Watch from the OIA, October 16, 1997; and Asesinados dos líderes indígenas, El Colombiano, October 15, 1997.
222 U.S. Committee for Refugees, Colombias Silent Crisis: One million displaced by violence (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1998), p. 32.
223 Farc asesinaron al alcalde de Anzá, El Tiempo, November 16, 1997; and CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 6, October-December 1997, p. 110.
224 Human Rights Watch visit to Anzá and Guintar, Antioquia, December 10, 1997; and Guerrilla se atribuyó asesinato de alcalde, El Colombiano, November 19, 1997.
225 Letter to Human Rights Watch from wives Lorraine Van Dyke, Sandy Welsh, Patti Tenenoff, Nancy Mankins, and Tania M. Rich, May 10, 1995; and Case summary, New Tribes Mission, June 1997.
226 Testimony before the House International Relations Committee by Dan Germann, Executive Committee, New Tribes Mission, and Tania Rich, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1998.
227 Guerrillas claim the men were taken by common criminals and members of the security forces intending to damage the FARCs reputation. Comisión Internacional de las FARC-EP
México, D.F. December 1997; and Farc-EP Press Release, May 12, 1998 .
228 Perfil de Rodrigo Turbay Cote, Cámara de Representantes, 1996.
229 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
230 Turbay Cote murió ahogado, El Tiempo, June 19, 1997.
231 A la opinión pública, Bloque Sur-FARC release, July 18, 1997. The Turbay family accused local politicians of paying the FARC to prolong the congressmans captivity, and three men and one woman were later arrested by the authorities in connection to this claim. Turbay, Semana, July 7-14, 1997; and Detenida diputada en el caso Rodrigo Turbay, El Tiempo, September 11, 1997.
232 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Ochoa family, September 5, 1996.
233 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Raúl Reyes, Comisión Internacional-FARC, September 22, 1996.
234 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Alina Gautier de Ochoa, January 5, 1997.
235 Concejal murió de infarto en manos de las Farc, El Tiempo, August 16, 1997.
236 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Antioquia Gov. Álvaro Uribe, September 5, 1997.
237 Secuestran a candidato a alcaldía en Bolívar, El Tiempo, June 4, 1997; Secuestrado alcalde de Yalí, Antioquia, El Tiempo, June 16, 1997;
238 Human Rights Watch interviews with mayors, San José del Guaviare, Guaviare, May 5-7, 1997; Letter to Human Rights Watch from Volmar Pérez Ortiz, national director, Office of Complaints, Public Advocates Office, December 12, 1997; Las Farc amenazan elecciones en Cundinamarca, El Tiempo, August 31, 1997; and Siguen amenazas de las Farc contra elecciones, El Tiempo, October 17, 1997.
239 Denuncian amenazas de las FARC a candidatos en Caquetá, El Tiempo, March 6, 1997.
240 Farc reiteran que impedirán las elecciones, El Tiempo, June 9, 1997.
241 Secuestran a Alcalde de Buriticá y a seis personas más, El Tiempo, June 3, 1997.
242 Asesinan candidato a Alcaldía de San Carlos, El Colombiano, August 16, 1997.
243 FARC persigue a desplazados, El Espectador, January 6, 1998.
244 Farc dispararon contra carro de la Cruz Roja, El Tiempo, June 3, 1996; and CCJ, Colombia, Derechos Humanos y Derecho Humanitario: 1996 pp. 79-80.
245 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 4, April-June 1997, p. 136.
246 Letter to Almudena Masarraza, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, from Gen. Rito Alejo del Río Rojas, commander, Seventeenth Brigade, August 21, 1997.
247 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 6, October-December 1997, p. 100.
248 Human Rights Watch interviews in Apartadó, Antioquia, July 5 and 6, 1996.
249 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco León Calarcá, Frente Internacional-FARC, Mexico City, July 13, 1996.
250 Certificate from Carlos Alberto Vélez Betancur, prosecutor 148, May 28, 1996.
251 Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Alfonso Manosalva Flórez, commander, Fourth Brigade, Medellín, Antioquia, July 2, 1996; and Fuera de peligro, heridos por atentado con morteros, El Colombiano, May 28, 1996.
252 Human Rights Watch interview with Sister Teresa Gómez, FUNPAZCOR, Montería, July 8, 1996; and Bomb injures 10 at Police HQ in Northern Colombia, Reuters, October 21, 1996.
253 Atentado terrorista en Montería deja 17 heridos, El Tiempo, March 11, 1997; and AUC, Colombia Libre, August 1997, No. 2.
254 Continúa bloqueo del Atrato, El Tiempo, January 14, 1997.
255 Farc siguen con la intimidación en el Río Atrato, El Tiempo, January 21, 1997.
0 Elizabeth Yarce Ospina, Urabá se queda sin alimentos, El Espectador, September 19, 1996; Tres días cumple retén de las Farc en la vía a Urabá, El Tiempo, September 18, 1996.
1 There was no indication that police used any of the civilian structures, including the Red Cross office or the hospital, during the attack. CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 3, January-March 1997, p. 128; and Cuatro horas de terror en Caloto, El Tiempo, January 14, 1997.
2 Marisol Gómez Giraldo, La muerte llegó en carro bomba a Urabá, El Tiempo, February 28, 1997.
3 Marisol Gómez Giraldo, Hermanita, no me deje morir, El Tiempo, March 1, 1997.
4 Marisol Gómez Giraldo, La muerte llegó en carro bomba a Urabá, El Tiempo, February 28, 1997.
5 Cae autor de bomba en Apartadó, El Tiempo, March 25, 1997.
6 The FARC uses the M18A1 (Claymore) mines. It is not a smart mine, meaning it never self-destructs. Claymore mines can be used with trip wires or can be detonated manually.
7 Human Rights Watch interviews with Calamar residents, San José del Guaviare, Guaviare, May 6, 1997,
8 Report from Col. Germán Galvis Corona, Chief of Staff, Mobile Brigade One, to Regional Prosecutor, February 19, 1998; and Guerrilla utiliza cadaveres en atentado, El
Espectador, February 19, 1998.
9 ICRC press release, February 18, 1998.
10 FARC press release, February 19, 1998; and Encuentros en el exterior son etapas superadas, El Tiempo, March 29, 1998.
11 In an interview with Radio Caracol on June 28, 1998, COCE member Pablo Beltrán claimed that the UC-ELN had over 5,000 armed militants. For a history of the UC-ELN from the perspective of two commanders, see Carlos Medina Gallego, ELN: una historia contada a dos voces (Santafé de Bogotá: Rodríguez Quito Editores, 1996). For estimates of troop strength, see La versión alemana, Semana, January 21-28, 1997.
12 Human Rights Watch interview with Colombian intelligence service, Santafé de Bogotá, December 2, 1997.
13 Human Rights Watch interviews in the Middle Magdalena region, June 27-July 1, 1996.
14 Human Rights Watch interviews in the Middle Magdalena region, June 27-July 1, 1996.
15 Alejandro Valencia Villa, Humanización de la Guerra, p. 74.
16 Letter from Manuel Pérez, released to the press on July 15, 1995.
17 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Nuestra Ética En La Doctrina Militar, Comando Central del ELN, Manuel Pérez Martínez, Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, Antonio García, 1996.
18 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, July 3, 1996.
19 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Letter to Amnesty International from Manuel Pérez Martínez, Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, and Antonio García, January 7, 1995.
20 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, March 8, 1997.
21 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Principales apartes de la carta del ELN, El Tiempo, July 10, 1997.
22 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, March 8 and December 8, 1997.
23 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Declaración pública del comandante Manuel Pérez, July 15, 1995.
24 Human Rights Watch interview with humanitarian aid worker, Santafé de Bogotá, June 25, 1996.
25 Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, Las Farc inflitraron listas de los partidos tradicionales El Tiempo, September 29, 1997.
26 ACCU leader Carlos Castaño makes the same argument, asserting that he is willing to accept a creole version of international standards that would allow, for instance, the execution of prisoners taken hors de combat if guerrillas accept the same standards. Human Rights Watch interview with Carlos Castaño, July 9, 1996; Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, July 3, 1996; and Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, Las Farc inflitraron listas de los partidos tradicionales, El Tiempo, September 29, 1997.
27 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Declaración pública del comandante Manuel Pérez, July 15, 1995.
28 Galán and Torres noted that the treatment of captured combatants varies from front to front, demonstrating that the groups Guerrilla Code may be best termed a suggestion, not standing orders. Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, July 3, 1996.
29 Human Rights Watch interviews in Magdalena Medio, June 27-30, 1996; and Data Bank, Balance: 1997, p. 4.
30 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch interview with government investigator, Arauca, February 2, 1997; and ELN pone a temblar a la burocracia, El Corredor, December 21-January 3, 1997.
31 Acosta had repeatedly been accused by the UC-ELN of supporting an increased army presence in Arauca. Human Rights Watch interviews with government investigators, Arauca, February 2-3, 1997; and Herido vicepresidente de la Cámara en Arauca, El Tiempo, April 29, 1997.
32 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Medellín, Antioquia, December 8, 1997; and ¿Qué es humanizar el conflicto? Documento II Derechos Humanos, UC-ELN, May 1995, p. 34.
33 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Francisco Santos, País Libre, July 3, 1998.
34 This international scandal led to the arrest of the German couple in Medellín in 1996 and their release a year later. As this report was going to press, the Mausses were helping the German government facilitate peace talks between the UC-ELN and the Colombian government. Katy Barnett, Playing cat and Mauss, Latinamerica Press, January 16, 1997; Edgar Torres, Mauss empezó a romper 52 días de silencio, El Tiempo, January 8, 1997; and Radio Caracol interview with Pablo Beltrán, COCE member, June 30, 1998.
35 Colombia rebels say Bonn asked for kidnap case, Reuters, December 14, 1996.
36 José Fernando Hoyos, Cómo se apoderó Werner Mauss de un secuestro, El Tiempo, September 7, 1997; and Si alguien pagó por el rescate, fue Mauss, El Tiempo, September 8, 1997.
37 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, July 3, 1996.
38 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Contra el falso gobierno y la delincuencia unámonos todos, Ramón Emilio Arcila Front, no date.
39 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, November 11, 1995.
40 Human Rights Watch interview with humanitarian aid worker, Barrancabermeja, Santander, June 28, 1996.
41 Human Rights Watch interview with Arauca municipal official, Santafé de Bogotá, January 31, 1997.
42 Human Rights Watch has repeatedly requested from the UC-ELN results on the internal investigation they claim to have carried out on these killings, but to date the UC-ELN has not provided them. The Attorney Generals Human Rights Unit is investigating the case and has issued arrest warrants. Human Rights Watch interviews with human rights defenders, Arauca and Saravena, Arauca, January 31, 1997; Boletín informativo, Comisión Intercongregacional de Justica y Paz, Vol. 8, No. 2. April-June, 1995, p. 66; Hallan muertas a dos niñas secuestradas en Saravena, El Tiempo, May 12, 1995; and Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, November 11, 1995.
43 Electronic communication with John OReilly, British Petroleum-Colombia, July 26, 1998.
44 III Congreso Comandante Édgar Amilcar Grimaldos Barón (Montañas de Colombia: Ediciones Nueva Colombia, June 1996), p. 74.
45 Radio Caracol interview with Pablo Beltrán, COCE member, June 30, 1998.
46 Translation by Human Rights Watch. CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 6, October-December 1997, p. 85; and El Eln asesinó a cinco personas en Nariño, El Tiempo, October 15, 1997.
47 Translation by Human Rights Watch. CCJ, Colombia, Derechos Humanos y Derecho Humanitario: 1996, p. 61; and Violencia se ensaña contra los políticos, El Tiempo, August 10, 1997.
48 Justice and Peace, Boletín, April-June, 1996, p. 10; and El campanazo,Semana, April 16, 1996.
49 Justice and Peace, Boletín, April-June 1996, p. 15.
50 Human Rights Watch interview with family members, Arauca, February 2, 1997.
51 Justice and Peace, Boletín Informativo, Vol. 9, No. 2, April-June 1996, p. 10-11; and Infracciones al Derecho Internacional Humanitario cometidas por los grupos subversivos, Inspección General, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, 1997, p. 29.
52 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 2, October-December 1996, p. 108; and Infracciones al Derecho Internacional Humanitario cometidas por los grupos subversivos, Inspección General, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, 1997, p. 46.
53 Human Rights Watch interviews in Ocaña and Hacarí, Norte de Santander, April 1995; ELN asesinó a cuatro policías en Norte de Santander, El Tiempo, April 17, 1997; and Estamos desesperados La Opinión (Ocaña), April 23, 1997.
54 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 4, April-June 1997, p. 115.
55 Electronic communication with John OReilly, British Petroleum-Colombia, August 27, 1998.
56 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Antioquia Gov. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Medellín, Antioquia, October 1, 1997; and Hallan muerto a policía secuestrado, El Tiempo, August 25, 1997.
57 Editson Chacón, Se recrudece violencia política, El Tiempo, August 9, 1997; and ELN se atribuye asesinato de senador Jorge Cristo, El Tiempo, August 19, 1997.
58 Acusados por la Fiscalía cinco miembros del Eln, El Colombiano, September 2, 1998.
59 Letter pending to union; and CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 6, October-December 1997, p. 85.
60 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Volmar Pérez Ortiz, national director, Office of Complaints, Public Advocates Office, December 12, 1997; and Guerrilla ajustició a dos civiles en Risaralda, El Colombiano, October 22, 1997.
61 Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época, No. 26, March 16-22, 1997.
62 Guerrilla secuestró a dos observadores de la OEA, El Tiempo, October 24, 1997.
63 Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época , No. 55, October 19-25, 1997.
64 Marisol Gómez, Libres, delegados de la OEA, El Tiempo, November 2, 1997.
65 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, UC-ELN spokespersons, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, December 8, 1997; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Antonio Leyva, chief, Statistics Department, Centro Nacional de Datos del Programa Presidencial para la Defensa de Libertad Personal, July 9, 1998; and En carta al Papa. UC-ELN busca justificar secuestro, El Tiempo, December 3, 1997.
66 For instance, see Secuestran a candidato a alcaldía en Bolívar, El Tiempo, June 4, 1997; Secuestrado alcalde de Yalí, Antioquia, El Tiempo, June 16, 1997; Secuestrados cuatro alcaldes en Nariño, El Tiempo, August 6, 1997; Secuestran a dos candidatos al concejo y a un ex-alcalde, El Tiempo, August 25, 1997.
67 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época, No. 4, August 17-23, 1997.
68 Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época, No. 45-46, August 3-16, 1997.
69 ELN no permitirá proselitismo político, El Colombiano, July 18, 1997.
70 Jorge Iván García, Elecciones huelen a plomo, El Tiempo, June 29, 1997.
71 El Laín dice que no hay división del ELN, El Tiempo, November 26, 1997.
72 In 1998, we received reports of the UC-ELN kidnapping mayors in Nariño and Bolívar. Liberado alcalde, El Tiempo, January 4, 1998; Eln secuestra a alcalde de San Pablo, El Espectador, January 9, 1998; and Confirman desaparición de cinco alcaldes de Nariño, El Colombiano, January 27, 1998.
73 Statement from Arauca residents to Human Rights Watch, June 1997; and Criminal complaint from the Sixteenth Brigade Human Rights office to the Saravena prosecutor, May 6, 1996.
74 La guerrilla lo acribilló por asesinar a su familia, El Corredor, August 3-16, 1996; and Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, Inspección General, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Infracciones al derecho internacional humanitario cometidas por los grupos subversivos, 1997, p. 32.
75 Human Rights Watch interview, Santafé de Bogotá, December 3, 1998.
76 National Police, Human Rights Office, Informe: Ataques Subversivos, 1997, p. 24.
77 Alirio Bustos, Vengan por nosotros, si son tan valientes, El Tiempo, January 30, 1997.
78 The following September and again in April and May 1997, the UC-ELN attacked ships on the Magdalena River. However, in contrast to the Regidor attack detailed here, they did so from the river bank, not the village according to press reports. These attacks are all under investigation by the Attorney Generals Office. Human Rights Watch interview with Capt. Angel Conde, Flota Fluvial del Magdalena, Armada Nacional, June 27, 1996; Oleada guerrillera, La Prensa, January 28, 1997; and Summary of attack on Navy sailors, 1995-1996, Colombian navy.
79 Human Rights Watch interviews in Magdalena Medio, June 27-30, 1997.
80 4 heridos y una menor muerta en acción terrorista, El Espectador, March 19, 1997.
81 Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época, No. 31, April 20-26, 1997; and Carros bomba serían retaliación por secuestro de parientes de Gabino, El Tiempo, April 22, 1997.
82 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Volmar Pérez Ortiz, national director, Office of Complaints, Public Advocates Office, December 12, 1997; and S.O.S. por la población civil de Barrancabermeja, CREDHOS, June 19, 1997.
83 Human Rights Watch interviews with residents of Arauca and Saravena, January 31, 1997; and Detona carga explosiva en Saravena, El Tiempo, March 26, 1997.
84 ELN dinamitó otra finca, El Tiempo, July 13, 1997.
85 Ataques en 7 departamentos, El Tiempo, July 2, 1997; and Muerte y destrucción dejan ataques dinamiteros, El Colombiano, July 2, 1997.
86 ELN quemó finca de hermano de Uribe Vélez, El Colombiano, July 8, 1997; and Guerrilla destruyó campamento maderero, El Tiempo, July 18, 1997.
87 Three police officers died in the fighting. Combatieron solos durante las 11 horas, El Tiempo, July 2, 1997.
88 National Police, Human Rights Office, Informe: Ataques Subversivos, 1997, pp. 13-14.
89 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 4, April-June 1997, p. 129.
90 René Sierra, Sur de Bolívar, secuestrado por el miedo, El Tiempo, September 2, 1997.
91 ELN secuestró a siete dirigentes en Simití, El Tiempo, August 17, 1997.
92 Correo Del Magdalena: Resúmen informativo de noticias de Colombia, II Época, No. 41, June 29-July 5, 1997.
93 ELN quemó buses donde viajaban 140 niños scouts, El Tiempo, July 7, 1997.
94 Human Rights Watch interviews in Magdalena Medio, June 27-30, 1997; Human Rights Watch interview with human rights defenders, Arauca and Saravena, February 2-3, 1997; and Minas quiebrapatas cobran más víctimas, El Colombiano, April 29, 1996.
95 The UC-ELN uses M18A1 (Claymore) mines, Chinese-made antipersonnel mines (called Chinese or Vietnamese hats, or sombreros chinos o vietnamitas), and so-called foot-breaker and fool-catcher (quiebrapata and cazabobo) mines, generally fabricated in UC-ELN camps. None are smart mines, meaning they never self-destruct. Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, Itagüí Prison, Medellín, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
96 Diego Waldron, Ataque del ELN aplastó sueños de una niña, El Tiempo, July 10, 1997.
97 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, No. 6, October-December, 1997, p. 153; and National Police, Human Rights Office, Informe: Ataques Subversivos, 1997, pp. 5-6.
98 Human Rights Watch interviews, Barrancabermeja, Santander, June 27-30, 1996.
99 Human Rights Watch interview with government officials and residents, Arauca and Saravena, February 2-3, 1997; and ELN armed stoppage paralyzes transportation in Arauca, Santa Fe de Bogota Inravision, FBIS, Latin America, January 11, 1996.
100 For a history of the EPL written by its supporters, see Álvaro Villarraga and Nelson R. Plazas, Para Reconstruir los Sueños: Una historia del EPL (Santafé de Bogotá: Progresar/Fundación Cultura Democrática, 1994).
101 The EPL continues to be plagued by desertions and defections. Several groups surrendered to the ACCU while another surrendered to the government in 1996. Human Rights Watch interview with Commander Jacinto (Rafael Kerguelen), Montería, Córdoba, October 17, 1992; Comisión de Superación de la Violencia, Pacificar la paz (Santafé de Bogotá: IEPRI, 1992), pp. 24-28; and Se entregan 75 guerrilleros en Antioquia, El Tiempo, October 1, 1996.
102 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Caraballo, EPL leader, Itagüí, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
103 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Letter to the National Reconciliation Commission from EPL commanders José Manuel Robledo and Sebastian Arboleda, September 30, 1995.
104 Human Rights Watch interviews with Francisco Caraballo, EPL leader, Itagüí, Antioquia, July 3, 1996 and December 8, 1997.
105 Human Rights Watch interview with Mayor Gloria Cuartas, Apartadó, Antioquia, July 5, 1996; and Esperanza, Paz y Libertad: Grupo Paramilitar, signed by Francisco Caraballo, March 1993.
106 The FARC and its urban militias were believed responsible for 204 murders. Listado de personas asesinadas pertenecientes a Esperanza Paz y Libertad, Fundación Progresar, February 1996.
107 Listado de personas asesinadas pertenecientes a Esperanza, Paz y Libertad, Fundación Progresar, February 1996.
108 The EPL and the FARC have also clashed in the field. Public Advocate, Informe para el Congreso, El Gobierno, y el Procurador General de la Nación: Estudio de caso de homicidio de miembros de la Unión Patriótica y Esperanza, Paz y Libertad, October 1992, pp. 53-54.
109 En peligro, reinserción de la disidencia del EPL, El Colombiano, January 20, 1998.
110 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla: Balance Sheet 1997, p. 6.
111 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Francisco Santos, País Libre, July 3, 1998.
112 Justice and Peace, Boletín, January-March 1996, p. 8.
113 Ibid., p. 60.
114 EPL también pide despeje, El Tiempo, May 27, 1997.
115 EPL sentenció a otro de los secuestrados, El Tiempo, May 23, 1997.
116 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Caraballo, Itagüí prison, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
117 Human Rights Watch interview with Human Rights Unit, Attorney Generals Office, Santafé de Bogotá, December 4, 1997; Report 0707/BR5-FT27-S6-723, from Maj. Luis Rivera Alvarado, commander, Rogelio Correa Campos Battalion, to Regional Prosecutor, August 12, 1997; and ELN y EPL asesinan a 3 soldados en Santander, El Tiempo, August 7, 1997.
118 CINEP and Justice and Peace, Noche y Niebla, October-December 1997, p. 111; and Asesinan a familia del cómplice de la fuga de los Morales B., El Tiempo, November 19, 1997.
119 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Caraballo, EPL leader, Itagüí, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
120 Secuestran a representante a la Cámara, El Tiempo, April 27, 1997.
121 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Caraballo, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
122 Liberados a dos, El Tiempo, June 12, 1997; and De regreso a casa, Semana, November 24-December 1, 1997.
123 EPL secuestró a 2 hijos de Morales B., El Tiempo, May 20, 1997.
124 Los hermanos Morales se le fugaron al EPL, El Tiempo, November 16, 1997.
125 Luis Fernando Ospina, Confesiones de una liberación, El Espectador, November 24, 1997.
126 Cinco personas más en poder del EPL, El Tiempo, June 9,
127 EPL exige traslado de F. Caraballo, El Tiempo, June 10, 1997.
128 Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Caraballo, Itagüí Prison, Antioquia, December 8, 1997.
129 Saboteo del EPL a Barranca, El Tiempo, December 18, 1997.