Sunday, August 31, 2008

ACIN Communique on Hector Mondragón

The Colombian Daily El Tiempo recently had a report about alleged links between Canadian Trade Unions and people linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC. In the report, they described how email messages found on the laptop of FARC's number two man Raul Reyes, showed evidence that money from Canadian groups may have been funneled to NGOs in Colombia with links to FARC. One of the people mentioned arbitrarily in the report was Hector Mondragon, one of the leading experts on agrarian reform, economic development and their impact on peasant and indigenous communities in Colombia.

The report came out of nowhere, and many human rights activists expressed concern that this is the latest attempt to silence critical opposition to some of the government's policies in the countryside. I have known Hector Mondragon since 1998, and along with many other human rights and solidarity activists and organization in the US, have tapped on him for his expertise on numerous occasions over the years, both through media interviews, as well as in public conferences and forums in New York and elsewhere. Needless to say, given the current context in Colombia, where serious political debate has been curtailed considerably and opposition activists have been repeatedly threatened and silenced, many of us are concerned what this latest report might mean for Mondragon's security, as well as that of his family.

Below is an English translation of the communique put out by ACIN, the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, put out yesterday, (the Spanish version is available in my previous posting). ACIN has been working with Mondragon on a number of key issues relating to indigenous territories in Cauca.


Public Lies and Defamation Against activist, researcher Héctor Mondragón


By: Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca – ACIN

In the name of the word of truth that researcher and activist Héctor Mondragón has always defended and expressed, we demand that his name be cleared of all false accusations. We clean his name from where we stand with total certainty of what we put forward.

The following claim appeared in a news article published in the August 29th edition of El Tiempo, titled “Links Between Canadian Trade Unions and the Non-Governmental Organization Fensuagro Seen in Money Funneled to FARC”: 'In an email of April 2, 2006, Reyes wrote to a man identified as Hector Mondragón: "I want to introduce you to Comrade Liliany, she works with me and at the same time advises Fensuagro (National Agrarian Workers' Union) in international relations. Naturally she is a Comrade that can
be completely trusted." '

That “Reyes” wrote this note to Mondragón, or that he even communicated with him, is completely false. This is a perverse fabrication with deliberately bad intentions, a criminal accusation designed to stain the good name, the incomparable transparency, the unquestionable honesty of this brilliant teacher and colleague, who deserves all the recognition, respect and affection of those of us who know him and have learned so much from him - and with him - over many years.

It must be another Hector Mondragón who supposedly received this note from “Reyes,” not the researcher, the veteran aid to peasant, indigenous, and popular processes throughout the continent and around the world. The Hector Mondragón who has presented solidly documented speeches, and has written invaluable and impeccable texts with total clarity, backed up by the truth, who has accompanied people and processes at great risk to himself in search of truth and justice, did not receive this email from Reyes. Hector Mondragón is the victim of an accusation designed to defame and silence him.

Hector Mondragón did not receive this message, but he has received threats, he has been persecuted, he has been the victim of attacks against his life and his family, and he was tortured, precisely because all his life he has operated with transparency in defense of life, of the rights of the people, of justice.

He has denounced the abuses of an exclusionist economic order that enriches itself through lies and infamous exploitation. He has denounced that the institutions of the state are put to the service of creating false evidence in order to justify the persecution of innocents, establish the illegitimacy of the social order, and generate the chaos in which we are currently immersed. To persecute Hector Mondargón is a falsity against life, liberty and the future.
The persecution of Hector Mondragón is not part of a witch-hunt strategy against institutions with ties to FARC. The purpose of this attack is to put into the same frame those people who do have ties with FARC with those who do not, simply because they want to fight against an unjust system. It is within this distorted propaganda that they persecute Hector Mondragón, and they intend to pursue other people and organizations.

On August 24, one day before El Tiempo published the above-mentioned article, that same newspaper published an opinion piece signed by Col. Luis Alberto Villamarín, which clearly demonstrates this strategy. This so-called “analyst of strategic issues” promoted the same distorted arguments to persecute any and all those individuals who happen to denounce the current regime, or who shows solidarity with those popular sectors promoting resistance, as directly tied to the FARC. This is a lie, a deliberate lie meant to silence dissent and the truth.

In the name of the truth of the word that Hector Mondragón has always defended and practiced, we demand that his name be cleared. We do it from here with the certainty of our word. The information contained in this report, that published details of a false and non-existent email supposedly sent to Hector Mondragón from Raul Reyes is an invention, a criminal accusation , an act of defamation that should be seen as a preamble to what a desperate regime is capable of doing in order to silence those voices that speak the truth.

We will not remain silent. It is not the time to be quiet. The truth should be told with firmness. Just as we’ve always been able to depend on Hector to teach us, to accompany us, today we accompany him and demand that only one strong voice speaks out against terror and dishonesty.

Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, - ACIN

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