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2 dead and 5 injured in Army and ESMAD attack against campesinos in Ocaña

Two members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) died this Wednesday as the result of an explosion of a fragmentation grenade which, according to witnesses, they were manipulating during the repression of campesinos being carried out by this Police unit and by members of the National Army in the province of Ocaña, department of Norte de Santander.

During the same incident Vladimir Pérez, 40 years of age, was seriously injured. A campesino from the municipality of Hacari, who lost both his hands and an eye at that moment, he is now in intensive care according to information provided by Judith Maldonado, director of the Lawyers Collective Luis Carlos Pérez, a human rights organization which was accompanying the demonstrators.

The campesinos Germán Antonio Ascanio, José Elí Pérez and Yorley Carrascal were also sent to the hospital in Ocaña, injured during the combined operation which members of ESMAD and the National Army were carrying out at approximately 6am against the demonstrators who had blocked the road between the municipalities Aguachica (Cesar) and Ocaña (Norte de Santander) in the North West of Colombia. The demonstrators are requesting a declaration of the region as a Campesino Reserve Zone.

According to information received a fifth unidentified person who was also injured is now interned in the hospital Emiro Quintero Cañizares.

The serious situation going on in Ocaña, which at this time is experiencing a tense calm, is in addition to the repression endured by the campesinos of the zone of Catatumbo (a sub-region made up of the municipalities of Convención, Teorama, El Tarra, San Calixto, El Carmen, Tibú and Hacarí) in the Norte de Santander. (See

This Wednesday a formal dialogue was supposed to commence with the national government in Tibú, but the campesinos suspended the talks given that the Executive sought to impose the presence of regional military commanders at the negotiating table.

At the same time, it was announced that 350 political prisoners from wings 1, 2 and 10 of the prison of Cúcuta commenced a hunger strike in solidarity with the campesino demonstration, claiming that in recent years 460 campesinos have been prosecuted in the region, victims of legal set-ups.

[Source: Radio Nizkor, 19Jun13]

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