Yes, that is indeed how we wanted to call this edition of the half-yearly report, January to June 2015, of the We Are Defenders Program (Programa Somos Defensores). We decided on this name in memory of the writer Eduardo Galeano, but most of all, because of the pertinence of his renowned poem “The Nobodies”. This poem’s relevance is in describing what the murdered human rights defenders really signify, both for the Colombian government and for the legal authorities of the Nation, as well as for an indolent country that does not seem to be perturbed by the perverse daily of sacrifice of these men and women who, despite being anonymous to the public, were valued deeply by their organizations, communities, and families.
We do not tire of saying that in the middle of such an important and historic political situation like that is the current one, where the search for peace is prioritized, the worth of the social leadership and of the defenders in the territories still is not comprehended for the construction of a true democracy.
From the peace talks in la Habana, the different actors in the conflict as a whole have insisted that the construction of peace must be made both from and for the regions, and with the social organizations and communities. True; that is how it must be done. Nonetheless, the regional leaders are of very little value to these same actors, as they do not protect them, do not respect them, and even less do they understand that it is precisely these men and women who will contribute greatly in facilitating and channeling the pacts and peace agreements in the regions.
The current government, right from their first mandate, has been inclined to seek dialogue and find agreements, and it is from here that the first negotiation tables with various sectors originated (peasant farmers, indigenous, afro-Colombians, women, workers, etc.). Furthermore, they have paid attention to the National Process of Guarantees with human rights platforms that rightly have the protection of defenders and leaders as their main objective, as well as the construction of guarantees for the carrying out of their duties. However, the reality and figures inform us otherwise: during the terms of Juan Manuel Santos, approximately 320 cases of homicides of defenders have been documented, as well as 200 attempted murders, and 1400 threats, among other aggressions. Added to these lamentable and expressive statistics is the total impunity in which they are found.
Situations like these lead one to doubt the true value of the word of the government of Juan Manuel Santos in terms of peace and human rights, in addition to doubting his intentions of living up to his pledges at the negotiation tables. Hence the importance from now on of obtaining evidence certain of putting a stop to this crime wave against the leaders and defenders of the social movement. But just as important is that this government leads by example and puts pressure on the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the hundreds of crimes against this population, and to investigate and punish those responsible.