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[dropcap1]O[/dropcap1]n Thursday June 26th, forty-five riot police, led by Leonel Gutierrez Lagares, Inspector of Police of Vijagual, raided the house of Henry Rincón Rinel, a school teacher in El Guayabo. After four attempts of eviction over the last year, Mr. Gutierrez Lagares with only 18 hours notice, ordered the surrender of Henry’s house whereupon the riot police entered Henry’s property using 15 tear gas canisters within the span of 7-10 minutes to disperse the community and take control of the house. During that time, riot police caused injury to several community members including severe reactions to the tear gas, lesions, and blows to the body. The community remained peaceful during the eviction and was surprised with the disproportionate violence caused by the riot police.
Eric Payares, a community leader from El Guayabo, stated on Thursday shortly before the riot police took action, that “what happens here today is the responsibility of Mr. Gutierrez Lagares, Police Inspector of Vijagual”. Mr. Gutierrez Lagares carried out this eviction without a court ruling regarding the land in dispute, without sufficient notice seeing as the letter only arrived to El Guayabo some 18 hours prior, and lastly, by taking advantage of a second eviction ordered for that same day in El Guayabo.
Rodrigo Lopez Henao, who claims to be the landowner of the farms in El Guayabo, has been terrorizing the community since 2009 in a legal battle attempting to displace a community of farmers who have been exploiting the land for subsistence farming since 1986. The land for which the Guayabo farming community is struggling to protect is divided in two sections, Altamira and San Felipe.
Mr. Lopez Henao arrived on Thursday June 26th at 9:00am to Altamira, accompanied by his lawyer, associates, a representative from the mayor’s office of Puerto Wilches, the Inspector of Police for Puerto Wilches, and 45 riot police. After hours of discussion between lawyers, the eviction of Altamira was postponed on the grounds that the eviction was illegal and arbitrary.
The Guayabo community celebrated with shouts of joy and songs of praise in gratitude. But the celebration was short-lived as it seems that Leonel Gutierrez Lagares used the threat of eviction for Altamira as a distraction from the raid he ordered for Henry’s house. As soon as the Inspector of Police of Puerto Wilches declared the Altamira eviction postponed, the community had to run 20 minutes north in order to protect Henry’s house from eviction of which the riot police violently took possession.
CPTers Hannah Redekop and Sarah Sommers were present in El Guayabo on June 26th. Hannah reflected: “it was so frustrating to watch a beautiful community gathering praising God for his protection turn so quickly into a violent attack against that same community. Unfortunately, Colombian law continues to favour the rich landowners while the victims of the conflict are revictimized”.
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Take Two Actions:
Urge the Police Inspector Leonel Gutierrez Lagares to respect the Colombian judicial process and the human rights of the community.
Encourage the community of El Guayabo. Write them a letter of support and prayer.
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The following is a translation of the petition you are signing:
Mr. Leonel Gutierrez Lagares,
I am writing you today in regards to the handing over of M. Henry Rincon Rinel’s house in San Felipe on June 26th, 2014.
I would like to express my concern about the way in which the eviction was carried out and for the people who were injured that day. According to the information we have received, this land is still under legal dispute and I would like to know the way in which you will guarantee the safety and integrity of the families who live on this land as well as respect due process and the rights of all of the factions involved in this legal process.
El Guayabo is a farming community that has been living and exploiting these lands for subsistence farming for over 30 years. The community is comprised of families, children, and seniors, whereby having been evicted, you are violating their basic human rights. Since this case is to be brought before a judge, I fear you are acting outside of your jurisdiction. I am sending a copy of this letter to the Prosecutor General of Colombia as well as the Ombudsman’s Office so that they may know of my concerns regarding this case.
Thank you for your prompt response to my concerns.
This petition is now closed. End date: Aug 08, 2014 Signatures collected: 177
Write to the Police Inspector
This petition is now closed.
End date: Aug 08, 2014
Signatures collected: 177
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Write a letter of encouragement to the community
Read the petition
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