Some 100 troops from ESMAD, the feared Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron of the Colombian National Police force, were mobilized Nov. 21 to the corregimiento (unincorporated village) of Urimaco, in the outlying rural zone of Cúcuta, capital of Norte de Santander department, to evict an encampment of campesinos who had been displaced from their homes by political violence in the region. At least 50 makeshift dwellings and small farm plots were destroyed in the operation, carried out at the behest of Cúcuta municipal authorities. Local attorney Germán Urbina says he intends to bring suit against the authorities, charging the eviction was carried out in violation of an April order from Colombia's Constitutional Court mandating that new housing must be provided for the squatters before they could be expelled.
Two gunmen described as sicarios (hired assassins) killed Juan Álvaro Pai, a traditional governor of the Awá indigenous people, in an incursion into the resguardo (reserve) Inda Guacaray, in Colombia's southern Nariño department, Nov. 30. The gunmen arrived in the resguardo on a motorcycle, immediately made for Pai's home, and upon finding him fired six bullets into his body. Víctor Gallo, mayor of local Tumaco municipality, demanded that the Fiscalía (public prosecutor) and National Police open an urgent investigation, protesting the atmosphere of "impunity" that allows aggression against the Awá. In early July, Awá held a public demonstration, blocking the Pan-American Highway for a week, to protest the violence directed against their communities by various armed actors in Colombia's civil war.
Elements of the Special Operations Tactical Unit (UTOP), Bolivia's elite anti-riot force, used tear-gas Nov. 19 against survivors of the country's military dictatorship who protested in front of the Government Palace in La Paz to demand indemnification for torture they suffered in the 1970s. "Here they repressed us just as in the time of the dictatorship," said the group's leader, Victoria López. The survivors had maintained a vigil outside the Justice Ministry for over a year, but decided to move to the Government Palace, on the city's central Plaza Murillo, after receiving no response. Communications Minister Amanda Dávila told the press that the protesters were not on the registered list of victims who are entitled to restitution. The government is recognizing a list compiled by the Association of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of the Dictatorships (ASOFAM), which the protesters charge is incomplete. (Erbol, Nov. 19) Survivors of the military dictatorships have long pressed the government of President Evo Morales on a full accounting for the abuses of the "dirty war" era.
Sergio Úlcue Perdomo, a campesino leader representing veredas (hamlets) in the municipality of Caloto, in Colombia's southwestern Cauca department, was killed by unknown gunmen in civilian clothes who invaded his family's shelter in vereda Marañón on Nov. 17. Family members, including children, looked on as he was slain. The family has been living in the improvised shelter since November 2011, when they were forced by paramilitary threats to abandon their traditional lands and home in vereda El Pedregal. In 2009, Úlcue Perdomo led an effort to document rights abuses by the Colombian army and allied paramilitaries at the veredas of El Pedregal and El Vergel, bringing a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) on behalf of some 175 families. The CIDH issued a "Precuationary Measure," MC-97-10, calling on the Colombian government to guarantee the safety of the threatened families. (Corporación Justicia y Dignidad via Rebelión, Nov. 19)
On Oct. 23, National Police in Peru apprehended in Lima an accused commander of one of the two surviving remnant factions of the Sendero Luminoso guerilla movement. The Interior Ministry named the detained man as Rolando Pantoja Quispe, and said he was under the orders of Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala AKA "Comrade Artemio"—the notorious Sendero commander who was captured last year and condemned to life in prison. The ministry said Pantoja Quispe controlled cocaine trafficking in the Yanajanca Valley of Huanuco region, and hailed the arrest as a further blow against Artemio's crippled network. (BBC Mundo, Oct. 23)
On Oct. 19, a patrol of Bolivia's Joint Task Force, coordinating National Police and army troops in coca-eradication missions, was ambushed by unknown gunmen at Miraflores pueblo, Apolo municipality, in the coca-growing Yungas region, sparking a gun-battle that left four dead—three troops and a medic. Up to 30 were injured, but all the assailants seem to have escaped. Government vice-minister Jorge Pérez said the attack was "planned by people related to the narco-traffic," adding that the partially buried remains of a cocaine lab had been found nearby. Days later, Leopoldo Ramos, the public prosecutor appointed to investigate the case, said that "by the form of execution, for the Public Ministry it is probable that those who attacked in Miraflores are persons trained by Sendero Luminoso."
Colombia's government and the FARC rebels signed a landmark agreement on Nov. 6 that is supposed to guarantee the guerrilla group's political participation. The accord is the second of six foreseen pacts to end nearly 50 years of civil war in Colombia. "We have come to a fundamental agreement about the second point of the agenda," FARC and government negotiators said in a joint statement read by the Norwegian delegate, one of the mediators at the peace talks in Havana. The pact, which comes just two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the opening of the talks, outlines "guarantees for the exercise of the political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that arise after the signing of the Final Agreement." Details are not be made public until a final deal has been signed.
The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled in an unreleased decision on Oct. 23 that a constitutional amendment and pursuant statute (PDF) expanding the military justice system is unconstitutional. Magistrate Jorge Ivan Palacio announced that the decision was based on "procedural defects" within the law. The measure would have placed violations of international human rights law involving the armed forces—categorizing them as acts related to military service—under the jurisdiction of an expanded military justice system. Advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch have alleged that the measure would have increased impunity for human rights violators. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón, however, expressed the belief that the ruling was a blow to the military that would decrease morale. He also suggested that the government would attempt a revised version of the bill. Under the current law, all human rights cases are to be tried in civil court. The decision is not subject to appeal.