CODEPINK Denounces Deportation of Electoral Observer in Colombia

CODEPINK denounces the detention and deportation of CODEPINK Latin America organizer Teri Mattson, who traveled to Bogota to serve as an international observer for the May 29 election in Colombia. Ms. Mattson, a U.S. citizen, arrived in Colombia on Sunday, May 22, but was refused entry on the grounds that she “represents a risk to the security of the State.” We urge Colombia’s migration authorities to reverse their decision and allow Ms. Mattson, a duly accredited international electoral observer, to return to the country and perform her functions.

Ms. Mattson’s passport was seized and she was forced to wait in the terminal overnight before being placed on a plane the morning of Monday, May 23. In the deportation documents, Colombian migration authorities mistakenly identified her as a citizen of Argentina, despite her U.S. passport. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota was unable or unwilling to help Ms. Mattson with this ordeal, although a U.S. official characterized the retention of her passport as irregular.

Ms. Mattson visited Colombia in the Spring of 2021 as part of a human rights delegation to investigate state violence against peaceful protestors. On this recent occasion, she was invited by Colombia’s Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH), the country’s most prestigious human rights organization, to be an electoral observer.

The CPDH holds the Duque government responsible for the “persecution and violation of Teri Mattson’s rights, and for the violation of democratic rights and the lack of democratic guarantees in the current elections.”

CODEPINK notes with alarm the increasing threats to a free and fair vote in Colombia on May 29. These include death threats against the leading ticket of Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez, political interference by the Colombian army chief (who by law is supposed to maintain political neutrality), and baseless claims by the Duque government and U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg of Russian interference in the elections.

“The deportation of an electoral observer should always raise warning flags, and in this case it is particularly alarming given the climate of insecurity throughout Colombia, where there are legitimate fears of a potential assassination, electoral fraud or possible coup,” said CODEPINK’s Leonardo Flores. “The U.S. State Department must make it clear to its allies in the Colombian government and military that anything other than a clean, safe election and peaceful transition of power will not be accepted by Washington.”

Contact:

Teri Mattson: teri@codepink.org

Leonardo Flores: 202-840-4292

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