On 11 July 2013, Juan Carlos Galvis, a trade union leader in the Magdalena Medio region and member of the National Victims’ Movement, which works closely with Justice for Colombia, received an envelope which contained photos of his children and a letter threatening him with death.
“You’ll be our first target” the threat stated.
The letter also directed a threat against the LGBT community who in previous days had carried out a march in the city of Barrancabermeja.
The leaflet was signed by a paramilitary group calling themselves the ‘Anti-restitution Army of Magdalena Medio’. It promised to target attacks against the gay community, trade unionists and human rights defenders.
Over the course of the year threats and attacks have been repeatedly denounced by local organisations operating in the region. The paramilitaries call the region the ‘second anti-subversive capital’ of Colombia, referring to the amount of control which the paramilitary groups enjoy.
In February, four female human rights defenders received a death threat, a victims leader was kidnapped and another human rights defender was sent a bullet with a message telling her she had twelve hours to live. A number of attacks and threats have also been carried out against the USO oil workers union – Barrancabermeja, the largest city in the area, has a large oil industry.
The organisations are calling on the authorities to investigate fully all these attacks and to ensure the definitive break-up of the paramilitary groups that continue to act with complete impunity.