Date: 8:51 PM Sep 4, 1995
APC COnference: igc:reg.samerica
The Colombian Support Network has translated the following article which appeared in the Colombian press on Saturday, September 2, 1995. Although the article treads lightly on this, we will call it for what is -- the forcing into exile of one of the courageous defenders of human rights in the Colombian Government, Procurador para DD.HH. (Attorney General for Human Rights) Hernando Valencia.
"The Attorney General for Human Rights, Hernando Valencia, resigned his post and traveled to Spain yesterday (Sept 1), after saying that he felt himself pressured to resign as a result of his proceeeding which declared that an Army General was responsible for the murder of a woman guerrilla.
"Valencia obtained a special visa from the Spanish Embassy in Colombia which will permit him to carry on academic activities in Spain, and he immediately travelled with is son, Felipe, age 12, to Spain, but he did not seek asylum nor diplomatic protection, a spokesperson from the Spanish Embassy said.
"The spokesperson added that the Embassy had also helped Valencia establish contacts with authorities of Spanish universities, at his request, and insisted that rumors about asylum 'are unfounded.' "Valencia asked recently that General Alvaro Velandia Hurtado be forced to retire from the Army for his responsibility [in actions that resulted in the murder] of Nydia Erika Bautista, a guerrilla group member, in 1987.
"Velandia was the chief of the Twentieth Brigade of the Army in Santa fe de Bogota, when the guerrilla woman was kidnapped by a group of armed men. Her body was found months later in a common grave.
"The Army did not force the General to resign. He is now Chief of the Third Brigade in Cali, and the Army even gave him a decoration after the decision of Valencia was announced.
"This week the Council of State accepted a petition filed on behalf of the General against Procurador Valencia's decision, indicating the decision was not properly communicated in correct procedural form, but without responding to the basis of Valencia's decision.
"Procurador Valencia indicated that he felt pressured by this, but he did not accuse anyone when he asked for assistance from the Embassy to travel to Spain, the spokesperson from the Spanish Embassy added."
The article did not give more information about General Velandia Hurtado.
The following information is from the book published in Brussels in 1992,
"El Terrorismo de Estado en Colombia" (page 362-4):
In 1982, in Magdalena Medio, and also in the region of Honda in Tolima, there were a series of murders, disappearnces and threats to trade unionists and members of opposition (left) political parties. These crimes were committed by the paramilitary group M.A.S. On Feb 20, 1983, following an investigation by the Procuraduria General de la Nacion, the officier Velandia Hurtado, together with 58 members of the Army, is publicly denounced as one of the creators and leaders of M.A.S. by the Procurado... Of course, nothing further happened, given the fear of the military and the impunity they enjoy. (Other travesties of justice in which Velandia Hurtado was involved are also recounted in this book.) M.A.S., by the way, was bankrolled by druglord Rodriguez Gacha, military head of the Medellin Cartel, against which the U.S. spent hundreds of millions of dollars.
What can you do about this terrible situation?
1. Write or Fax U.S. Ambassador Myles Frechette in Bogota (fax: 011 571 287 9397; address: U.S. Embassy, Santafe de Bogota, Colombia), asking him how the U.S. can continue to support human rights violators like General Velandia Hurtado and let the civilians charged with human rights (specifically Hernando Valencia) be intimidated and forced into exile. Demand an investigation into all contacts between U.S. Military, DEA, and CIA and Velandia Hurtado, and all military assistance given all units under his command. Ask how the U.S. can support military officers who have been in bed with the druglords in deathsquads like M.A.S. Tell him that you are urging congressional hearings into this.
2.Write or Fax Senator Paul Coverdell (fax and address below), Chairman of the InterAmerican Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, requesting that hearings be held this fall into U.S. military, DEA and CIA assistance, training, and contacts with Colombian military officers like Velandia Hurtado, who have worked together with druglords like Rodriguez Gacha in the M.A.S. death squad. Stress that human rights must be included in any hearings on the "drug war" in Colombia, and that Procurador Hernando Valencia be called as a witness.
3. If your senator is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, write to her/him the same message. (The address is: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510) Here's a list of members and fax numbers:[. . .]
4. Pass this message along to others who can also respond
5. Send a copy of your letter to:
Colombia Support Network
PO Box 1505
Madison WI 53701
fax 608 255-6621