La paz como reh茅n y la necesidad de un cambio urgente para lograrla

Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz

I. Consideraciones previas

La noche del 27 de agosto de 2012, el Presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, confirm贸 p煤blicamente acercamientos con la guerrilla de las FARC y la continuidad de un proceso exploratorio de conversaciones de paz con este grupo, en una perspectiva de di谩logos para la superaci贸n definitiva del conflicto armado, di谩logos que podr铆an extenderse tambi茅n al ELN, dado su anuncio de mantener una voluntad de negociaci贸n para dicha salida pol铆tica.

Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz (CCP) saluda con esperanza este paso trascendental y anima a las partes y al pa铆s entero a no desistir en la b煤squeda de una soluci贸n pol铆tica que nos permita construir un pa铆s con paz, con justicia, con futuro de bienestar y dignidad colectiva.

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Colombian Prison Strikes Continue

Colombian Prison Strikes Continue - Inhumane Conditions 鈥淢ade in the USA鈥

(Important Action Component at the Bottom of this post!)

by James Jordan

Strikes involving thousands of prisoners at 21 institutions continue in Colombia against the humanitarian crisis in the jails. Overcrowding is rampant and in many prisons the availability of potable water and clean, unspoiled food is severely restricted. There is little adequate health care, especially for the seriously ill. For instance, Jos茅 Lamprea is a prisoner whose four year sentence is in danger of turning into a death penalty. Confined to a wheel chair by what may be bone cancer, he has still not received medical treatment that was court ordered in November, 2011.

Torture is so commonplace in the jails that a 2008 study by Colombia's Committee in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners showed that when asked if the inmates had been tortured at least once during their jail time, 54% answered they had and 46% did not answer the question at all. Eighty-six percent said that they had experienced psychological torture, including threats to relatives and simulated executions.

Conditions in Colombian prisons should be of special concern for residents and citizens of the United States. In 2000, the US Ambassador signed an agreement with the Colombian Minister of the Interior named the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System (PICPS). Under the PICPS, the US would help build a series of new prisons to create a 鈥淣ew Penitentiary Culture鈥. This effort has been funded and advised via USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the US Bureau of Prisons.

One reason given for this program was to alleviate overcrowding. However, rates of arrests went up far more quickly than new jails and the number of political arrests that were later thrown out of court for lack of evidence rose by 300% (with most of the accused spending two to three years in jail before release). This does not include political prisoners who have been convicted for their activities. The estimated number of political prisoners has grown from 7,200 to over 10,000 since 2008.

New jail construction has been less about relieving overcrowding than preparing for a much larger prison population as a result of social and economic disruption and punishing political dissent. With passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement many observers fear that poverty rates will worsen and crimes of desperation and prison populations will increase. Unfortunately, US and Colombian authorities see the "New Penitentiary Culture" as a model and are seeking to replicate it in Central America (where in Honduras the US has announced a new 鈥淢odel Penitentiary鈥 program) and Mexico (where the US is funding construction of 16 new federal prisons).

According to Tulio Murillo Avila, who is a national spokesperson for the Movimiento Nacional Carcelario (National Movement in the Jails), jail not a new thing, being found today at a national level of 47%, due to the policies of the new centers of incarcerations constructed under the influence of the US Bureau of Prisons. In some jails the overcrowding has reached 400%.

Bellavista Jail in Medell铆n

In a video-recorded interview with the Colombian media outlet RPASUR (Western Colombia Alternative Press Network- ), one prisoner representative reported that, 鈥淭he gravest are the problems with hygiene in the jails and overcrowding. Colombia has a capacity for 78,000 prisoners. We find in Colombia more than 130,000 prisoners.鈥 Almost one-third of the incarcerated are unconvicted persons awaiting trial who are mixed in with the general population and are often subjected to processes that take years before a verdict is rendered.

The first prison constructed with US funding and advice was La Tramac煤a, located in the city of Valledupar. Although a 鈥渕odern鈥 facility built on the basis of US designs, it has become infamous for its terrible conditions. La Tramac煤a has been found on at least three occasions (by agencies from the United Nations and the Department of C茅sar, as well as by an international NGO) to be serving food tainted with faecal matter. Sanitary facilities are rarely working and inmates are forced to relieve themselves in buckets and plastic bags which are 鈥渄isposed of鈥 by being thrown over prison walls.

In 2010, Raquel Mogoll贸n, a member of the Alliance for Global Justice 鈥淐olombia Watch鈥 working group, had the chance to visit La Tramac煤a with a delegation of Colombian legislators and international human rights defenders. According to Mogoll贸n, ...Inmates say they鈥檙e getting access to water about ten minutes a day. However, in the cells there is water鈥isgusting, dirty water on the floors. [Editor's Note: Past visitors at La Tramac煤a have reported that sewage lines often overflow and open sewage runs by kitchen facilities.]

The prison was absolutely, suffocatingly hot with just a few water pipes. What was really bad鈥揑 got a look at the water bottles. They were all full of mold. They aren鈥檛 able to clean their water jugs. There鈥檚 just not enough water available. At one point, you could hear the water coming through the pipes. All the men started running鈥.

The whole place smelled. They said it was cleaned up for us. Mostly, it smelled like urine. They said the bags of feces had been gotten rid of....

The kitchen area was totally dark. They said they鈥檇 cleaned that up, too, but it wasn鈥檛 that clean. There were three fans and ten giant cauldrons where they were cooking some soup or stew. In the other room where they prepared the food, it was full of flies. There was grease all over the floor. It didn鈥檛 smell very good. I saw vegetables and fruit that were spoiled in the preparation area, with flies all around them.

Prisoner collecting daily water at La Tramac煤a

Since the beginning of the PICPS, there has been a series of prisoner strikes against such conditions. More often than not they have been violently repressed. Beginning on August 2, 2012, nonviolent resistance began that has included as many as 11,000 prisoners in 21 institutions and is still continuing. Prisoners have used a number of different tactics including hunger strikes, the refusal to participate in prison counts or work programs or to wear prison uniforms, and self-suspension from prison balconies and railings in make-shift hammocks and harnesses. The number one demand of the prisoners is that the Colombian government establish a National Board of Consultation that includes prisoner spokespersons in order to resolve the crisis in the jails.

The prisoners have formulated an additional five basic demands:

  • Declare a Social and Humanitarian Emergency in Colombian jails;
  • Regionalize prisoners in institutions near their families;
  • Reduce all sentences by 20% and increase the use of alternative sentences such as home detention;
  • Resolve problems of health, sanitation and overcrowding;
  • End the extradition of prisoners to foreign countries (which is interfering with Colombia's internal peace process and in ongoing investigations of links between paramilitary death squads and Colombian politicians).

The response of the Colombian Bureau of Prisons (INPEC) has so far been yet more repression and neglect. On August 10th, according to the legal collective and political prisoner solidarity organization Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity), which, along with Traspasa los Muros (Beyond the Walls), which they co-founded, has been one of the primary outside organizations supporting the strikers, ...prisoners of the La Modelo jail in Arauca informed us that, in the morning hours, INPEC guards physically attacked four prisoners in Patio reprisal for their participation in the National Days of Protest.....The attacked prisoners were placed in solitary confinement instead of being...attended by medical personnel....

The 12th of August of 2012, in the afternoon hours, spokespersons for the 34 hunger strikers at the Penitentiary Complex of Picale帽a (Ibagu茅, Tolima), informed us that the state of the strikers has deteriorated, [and they are] suffering severe dizziness, nausea, stomach sickness, cramps, fainting and decreased mobility, without INPEC offering adequate medical attention....

Of particular concern at La Picale帽a has been the condition of prisoner spokesperson Alba Libia Esquivel whose health has been especially affected. Esquivel has been on a hunger strike since August 8th.

Lazos also reported that on August 23, the afternoon hours, the Immediate Reaction Group (GRI) of INPEC entered the High Security Penitentiary in Combita, Boyac谩, in a violent manner, proceding to launch tear gas and to beat the strikers, leaving various wounds....Those wounded have been taken in stretchers from their units, their whereabouts unknown.鈥

On August 27, according to a report from Lazos, the jail of Valledupar, 鈥淟a Tramac煤a鈥...inmates of Tower Four climbed the structure as a form of protest of the present crisis in the jails. In the morning hours...Sgt. Lucio entered with a group of guards launching tear gas and repressing the protest and attacking the inmates with clubs. The prisoner Wilson Jim茅nez Mora, who was found suspended from the structure, was thrown from the third floor resulting in a fractured leg.

Isolation from families is the single most oft-cited prisoner complaint. Most prisoners come from impoverished backgrounds and families cannot afford trips to visit faraway prisons. Also, given Colombia's difficult terrain, and the lack of infrastructure development, a trip of 200 miles can routinely take 12-15 hours in the mountainous regions.

Mogoll贸n tells of a particularly poignant encounter she had while visiting inside La Tramac煤a:

The worst thing, the worst kind of torture, wasn鈥檛 any kind of violence or anything like that. It seems little, but so many people came up to me and told me about not being able to see their families, being completely shut off. When we walked between the Towers, the prisoners were all bunched up around the gates. People would be calling to me, 鈥楧octora! Doctora! Madre! Madre!鈥 They would want me to write their names down.

One man said, 鈥業鈥檝e been here eight years! I can鈥檛 see my daughter!鈥

Another said, 鈥業鈥檝e been here twelve years and I haven鈥檛 seen my mother the whole time!鈥

It was one plea after another like that, people who hadn鈥檛 seen their families for years. When I asked why, one man responded, 鈥榃e鈥檙e poor. Our families can鈥檛 afford to make the long trips. And when we think of them coming in here, how it smells like feces, it鈥檚 so humiliating, so disgusting. It is so hard to think of them seeing us like this.

Mogoll贸n again talked about the pleas she would hear as she walked through the institution鈥檚 halls.

We would have to walk through these passageways that crisscrossed among the different units. All the prisoners would be crammed up at the gates and windows, calling to me, 鈥淒octora! Doctora!鈥 or 鈥楳adre! Madre!鈥. I would put my hand up just to acknowledge them. They would give me papers with their names on them. One inmate called to me, 鈥楶lease, please, Madre! I鈥檝e been here six years and I have two hernias. I can鈥檛 get treatment, I can鈥檛 get medicine!鈥

Another told me, 鈥楲ook, you鈥檝e got to listen! There is no re-socialization here! There鈥檚 no such thing!鈥

Finally, at one point I stopped in one of the passageways and spoke back to them. I said, 鈥楲ook, I wish I could help each one of you, but I can鈥檛! I can鈥檛 because this place is modeled on a US system. This model is based on punishment and the people who designed this system don鈥檛 care about re-socialization. They don鈥檛 care what happens to you! All I can do is to go back and do what I can to change this whole system and draw attention to what you are suffering.

All of a sudden, they started clapping, yelling, 鈥楪o on!鈥 and 鈥榊ou speak the truth!鈥

And that is what we must do here in the US: we must go and speak the truth about this situation our government has helped create. We must intervene on behalf of Colombia's prisoners鈥攏ot only the more than 10,000 political prisoners, but on behalf of all those whose lives have been broken by the US/Corporate Empire and the neoliberal economic and political system it tries to impose throughout the world.

Take Action! Here are some things that you can do:

Cut and paste the follwing sample in Spanish or write your own message and email it to the following Colombian, United Nations and US State Department Officials, and to AfGJ, at:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Todo el mundo esta observando lo que pasa en los penitenciarios en Colombia. Sabemos del hacinamiento; que las c谩rceles no est谩n proviendo a sus internos las necesidades b谩sicas como comida y agua limpia y servicio desalud; que violencia en contra de las presas y los presos es epid茅mico; que los servicios de resocializaci贸n son limitados y en vez se favorecen las pol铆ticas de castigo y negligencia. Yo apoyo a los y las huelgistas de las c谩rceles colombianas que exigen condiciones mejores y especialmente apoyo la declaraci贸n de Estado de Emergencia Carcelaria y el establecimiento de una Mesa Nacional de Concertaci贸n que incluye portavoces para las presas y los presos con la meta de resolver esta situaci贸n.


The whole world is watching what is taking place in Colombian prisons. We know that Colombian prisons are overcrowded; that many prisons are not providing their inmates with basic necessities such as clean food and water and basic health care; that violence against prisoners is epidemic; that rehabilitation services are severely limited in favor of policies of punishment and neglect. I support Colombia's striking prisoners in demanding better conditions and, especially, the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Colombian penal system and the establishment of a National Board of Consultation, including spokespersons for the prisoners, to remedy this situation.

Call or fax the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC, using the above sample or your own words. They can be reached at 202-387-8388 or you can send them a fax at 202-232-8643.

There's a very good chance that your Representative and Senators in the US Congress do not even know about the US-sponsored PICPS and the 鈥淣ew Penitentiary Culture鈥. We encourage you to set up a visit with your elected representatives to educate them about this issue and to demand that they use their influence to call on the Colombian government to take immediate action to improve conditions in the prisons and to call for a Congressional investigation of the PICPS and the conditions it has lead to in prisons such as La Tramac煤a. We must also ask them to intervene to stop this model from being further imported into Central America and Mexico. If you would be willing to organize such a visit, please send an email to to receive background material for your visit.

WATCH "BEYOND THE WALLS"!--A play based on the testimonies and writings of the Political Prisoners of Buen Pastor Womens Prison in Bogot谩. This is a condensed version, 23 minutes long. The entire play takes about an hour and is available for presentations by community groups. If interested, send an email to .

Like the work AFGJ is doing? Please support us today 鈥

Watch a condensed version of "BEYOND THE WALLS", a play based on the testimonies and writings of the Political Prisoners of Buen Pastor Womens Penitentiary in Bogot谩, Colombia. If you are interested in presenting the play, contact


La Brigada Jur铆dica, se permite informar a la opini贸n publica nacional e internacional de DDHH, que el d铆a de hoy mi茅rcoles 29 de agosto de 2012, realizo una visita humanitaria al vocero nacional TULIO MURILLO AVILA, del Movimiento Nacional Carcelario- MNC-; la cual se desarrollo en el complejo carcelario y penitenciario de Picale帽a, en la ciudad de Ibagu茅- Tolima.

En primer lugar nos manifest贸 un saludo para toda la poblaci贸n reclusa, que de una manera valiente sigue desarrollando la Jornada Nacional de Protesta pacifica carcelaria, en buena parte de los establecimiento carcelarios y penitenciarios del Pa铆s.

En segundo t茅rmino solicita a las autoridades del INPEC, estudiar la posibilidad de su traslado a la Penitenciaria central de Colombia, La Picota, ubicada en la ciudad de Bogot谩, a fin poder llevar a cabo la instalaci贸n de una Mesa Nacional de Concertaci贸n, que le de cumplimiento a las diversas iniciativas que salieron del pasado debate de Control Pol铆tico realizado en La C谩mara de Representantes del Congreso de la Rep煤blica, los cuales se sintetizan en:

1. Declarar la Emergencia Social y Humanitaria en las C谩rceles de Colombia
2. Regionalizaci贸n de los prisioneros 鈥 Acercamiento familiar.
3. Rebaja del 20% de la pena, otorgamiento de subrogados penales y 聽beneficios administrativos.
4. 聽Soluci贸n a los problemas de salud, salubridad y hacinamiento.
5. 聽No a la extradici贸n.

En tercer punto se hace un Urgente llamado a las autoridades de control, en especial al Ministerio Publico, para que investiguen las graves violaciones a los DDHH de las personas privadas de la libertad, que se viene presentado como represalia por parte de la Guardia del INPEC, en la mayor铆a de las c谩rceles contra los lideres y miembros de los comit茅s de DDHH. Pues al parecer manifest贸 el vocero nacional se viene preparando una arremetida del CRI, CORES, (comandos de reacci贸n inmediata) con la ayuda del ESMAD, en todas las c谩rceles del pa铆s:

En cuarto punto hacen un llamado a la se帽ora Ministra de Justicia y del Derecho Dra. RUTH ESTELLA CORREA, para que les facilite el documento sobre Pol铆tica Criminal, con el fin de poder participar en el debate y aportes al mismo , desde una perspectiva de la criminolog铆a critica que examine el origen de la criminalidad, control social, identificar y analizar al margen de las definiciones legales las conductas socialmente da帽inas o negativas y que analice los procesos de criminalizaci贸n y los comportamientos socialmente da帽inos a trav茅s de elaboraci贸n e implementaci贸n de una pol铆tica criminal alternativa al sistema penal.

Agosto 29 de 2012.


La campa帽a por la libertad de lxs prisionerxs pol铆ticxs TRASPASA LOS MUROS comunica a la opini贸n publica en General, que el d铆a de hoy 27 de agosto de 2012, internos de diversas c谩rceles del pa铆s (Combita, Jamund铆, Arauca, Quibd贸, ERON-Picota, Barne, C煤cuta, Dorada, Gir贸n, Picale帽a y el L铆bano) iniciaron una huelga de hambre por 48 horas en repudio a la pol铆tica nacional carcelaria y a favor de la Mesa de Concertaci贸n Nacional con participaci贸n activa de la poblaci贸n reclusa.

Igualmente informamos que en la c谩rcel de Valledupar 鈥淟A TRAMACUA鈥, el d铆a de ayer internos de la torre 4 se subieron a la estructura como forma de protestar por la actual crisis carcelaria. En horas de la ma帽ana del d铆a de hoy 27 de agosto de 2012, el sargento Lucio ingreso con un grupo de guardias lanzando gases lacrim贸genos y reprimiendo la protesta y agrediendo con garrote a los internos. El interno Wilson Jim茅nez Mora, quien se encontraba colgado de la estructura, fue lanzado desde el tercer piso tras lo cual resulto con una pierna fracturada.

Denunciamos y responsabilizamos al INPEC por los atropellos impartidos en los 煤ltimos d铆as en diferentes c谩rceles del pa铆s, quienes con violencia y sevicia han reprimido la protesta pacifica que adelantan los internos en diversas c谩rceles.

Igualmente apoyamos la justa lucha que vienen desarrollando los internos a lo largo del territorio nacional y nos solidarizamos de forma activa con las reivindicaciones del Movimiento Nacional Carcelario. Igualmente apoyamos el pliego de peticiones elaborado por los internos y la exigencia de la conformaci贸n de la Mesa Nacional de Concertaci贸n.


Organizaciones sociales , populares, medios de comunicaci贸n, etc.

Los internos recluidos en la penitenciaria de Combita Boyac谩, junto a los reclusos de las c谩rceles y penitenciarias del Barne, Gir贸n-Santander, C煤cuta, Arauca, Valledupar, Jamund铆, Quibd贸-choco, ERON Picota patio 14, Dorada y otras penitenciarias a nivel nacional, desde las 06 horas 00 del 27 de agosto de 2012, nos declaramos en huelga de hambre por 48 horas continuas, reforzando las tres semanas de desobediencia y protesta para la cual nos vemos forzados de atentar con nuestra salud e integridad, ya que el gobierno ha hecho caso omiso a nuestros justos reclamos.

Por lo tanto exigimos:

1-Que se decrete la emergencia social en las c谩rceles y penitenciarias del pa铆s.

2-Creacion de una comisi贸n de internos a nivel nacional.

3- Una comisi贸n de alto nivel inter institucional del gobierno para que en una mesa de concertaci贸n entren a solucionar los puntos que nos ata帽en como poblaci贸n reclusa.

Los cuales son:

A) Derecho a la salud

B) Rebaja de penas para los reclusos de hasta un 20%.

C) Traslado de los internos a sus lugares de origen, sea por acercamiento familiar o procesal.

D) Alternatividad penal para los pa铆ses denominados tercermundistas. Que las condenas no sobrepasen los 25 a帽os, entre ellos Colombia.

E) Reforma a la ley 65 o su derogaci贸n con la participaci贸n de la poblaci贸n reclusa.

F) Eliminaci贸n del pago de las multas.

G) No a la extradici贸n.

Esta poblaci贸n vulnerable hace un llamado a todos los sectores sociales, populares, acad茅micos, estudiantiles, la iglesia, ONG麓S y dem谩s, para que sean nuestra voz de solidaridad en nuestra justa lucha.


La Lucha social no es un delito, es un paso hacia la Libertad...



La Lucha social no es un delito, es un paso hacia la Libertad...