Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE ON THE AMERICAS
ISSUE #261, JANUARY 29, 1995
NICARAGUA SOLIDARITY NETWORK OF GREATER NEW YORK
339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499
Around midnight on Jan. 14, a group of about 20 armed and masked men, some in military and some in civilian clothing, abducted nine men from a party in Patino, Aguachica, in the Colombian department of Cesar. The assailants, believed to be members of a paramilitary group known as "Los Masetos," threatened everyone present at the party, accusing them of collaborating with guerrilla groups. They then selected their victims--all campesino farmers and fishers--from a list they brought with them. Two of the abducted men were killed a short distance from the house, and the bodies of another five were found in different locations in the area, two of them close to a military base on the outskirts of Aguachica. Jesus Romero and another man whose name is not known are still missing.
The next day, Jan. 15, brothers Melquicedet and Fanner Contreras Gomez were stopped at a roadblock on a main road out of Aguachica, near the community of Norean, by a group of about 30 armed men, also believed to be members of "Los Masetos." Early on Jan. 17, the bodies of the two brothers were found nearby. Their hands were tied, they had been shot in the head and there was clear evidence that they had been tortured.
The area around Aguachica is heavily militarized. There are military bases in all the principal towns, on the main roads and spread out through rural areas.
Although the government ordered them disbanded in 1989, Colombia's paramilitary forces continue to kill and disappear people with the support and collaboration of the security forces. President Ernesto Samper, sworn in on Aug. 7, 1994, has pledged to dismantle the paramilitary forces.
[Amnesty International Urgent Action Bulletin 1/19/95]