• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now

More than two years after the signing of a peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, lawyer Diego Martínez is under attack. In a recent open letter to Colombia’s attorney general, he protested against possible legal action against him and surveillance of his movements. He reported threats of violence against him appearing in an email message from a paramilitary group. Martínez also mentioned an undetonated bomb found in the parking lot near where he works.

Martínez served for years as executive secretary of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights. He represented the FARC on a legal commission providing peace negotiators with technical advice. He is now the Technical Secretary of the agency charged with monitoring implementation of the peace agreement known by its Spanish initials as CSIVI. He serves as lawyer for ex-FARC combatants charged with crimes who appear before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a court established under the peace agreement for deciding upon punishment or pardon.

The purpose of this communication is to help build support for Martínez. I was with Diego Martínez in Colombia for a week in 2012.  In Colombia our group of U.S. and Canadian solidarity activists met with political prisoner David Ravelo in La Picota prison in Bogota, with the prisoner’s family and colleagues in Barrancabermeja (where Ravelo led resistance to paramilitary attacks), and with a variety of defenders of Colombian political prisoners. Martínez had arranged our meetings and shepherded us throughout the week. Our delegation was united in admiration of his expertise and dedication to a cause we shared.

Martínez’s record of defending human rights in Colombia and crucial role in advancing the peace process lend high profile to threats against him. What he reports illustrates apparent failings of the peace agreement. Former combatants and others are under siege. Threats against JEP independence have mounted. Action under the agreement toward agrarian reform and substitution of legal for illegal crops is non-existent.

In April the government jailed FARC peace negotiator Jesús Santrich as a prelude to his extradition to the United States where allegedly he is charged with drug trafficking. Lead FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez, fearing for his safety, has disappeared.

While Martínez labored at implementing the agreement, specifically from January 1, 2016 to October 3, 2018, unknown assailants killed 343 Colombians, according to the government’s Office of Public Advocacy. They included human rights defenders, community leaders, and former guerrillas.

The killings recall those of the past when collaboration flourished between private and public military forces   Government statistics show that between 1958 and 2012, 177,307 civilians were killed as the result of armed conflict, also that paramilitary forces and Colombia’s Army together accounted for most of the deaths. The Colombian state showed its hand in the impunity killers enjoyed and in the Colombian military’s collaboration with paramilitaries.

Paramilitaries remain active in Colombia and are implicated in the recent spate of killings. They may be acting against Martínez now: his letter mentions hostilities coming from two directions, government and paramilitary.

We take exception to Karl Marx. Referring to Hegel’s notion of “world-historic facts and personages” appearing twice, Marx claims they show up first “as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Wrong: it’s tragedy both times. Martínezwould agree.

The long-running drama features the Patriotic Union. Demobilized FARC guerrillas joined that left-leaning electoral coalition after its establishment in 1985. Candidates competed for votes at every level, from the municipal to the residential. Massacre of members and supporters has taken an estimated 4000 lives. Blame falls on paramilitaries.

In his letter Martínez asks the Attorney General to inform him of any criminal investigation of his activities. He says he would clarify things if such exists, but calls for investigation of “threats and illegal surveillance” if it doesn’t.

Readers are urged to inform the Colombian Attorney General that they know what’s happening to Martínez and are on his side. They can do this by emailing Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martínez, care of the Colombian Embassy in the United States. The address is: embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.org. Either English or Spanish is acceptable. Brevity is fine. And use Martínez’s full name, which is Diego Alejandro MartínezCastillo.   

Update: A prosecutor on October 11 indicated Martínez was not being investigated. Surely, despite the claim, Martinez remains on the hook.

More articles by:

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail