Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo
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Peasants urge President Santos to declare a state of emergency in the Catatumbo region

As members of the Catatumbo Peasant Association, we want to declare publicly that:

There has been intense days of mobilization in the last two months; thousands of peasants have called for the urgent need for action in the region, including the integration of the peasantry into all dialogue tables.

The failure to recognize the peasantry has been diagnosed by the United Nations’ Human Development Report.

These mobilizations have unveiled the grave social emergency in the Catatumbo region, where the index of unsatisfied basic needs in households (NBI) oscillates between 50 and 80 percent.

The Catatumbo region is a high-victimization area of the rural population. These victimized peasants are those going under protest and mobilization.

The food crisis in the region has deepened to unacceptable levels; more than 30 percent of the region’s population suffer from some degree of malnutrition due to the recent and violent eradication of coca fields.

The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) has not complied with its institutional mandate of delimiting and establishing the Catatumbo Peasant Reserve Zone; this mandate is in accordance with Article 81 of Law 160 of 1994.

There are no agreements to halt the pressing situation in the Catatumbo region despite the announcements of political action made by the national government.

According to public statements by human rights monitoring bodies in the United Nations system, it has been manifest the excessive use of force as a tool to crack down on protesters. Such is the case of the extrajudicial execution of four peasants during protests in Ocaña.

If the aforementioned situations continue, the violation of the rights of children, women and men will remain at unacceptable levels. Thus, we urge President Santos to:

1. Declare a state of emergency in the Catatumbo region in accordance with Article 215 of the Constitution.

2. Exercise the powers granted by the Constitution under the declaration of a state of emergency, and thus ensure the improvement of the social conditions that gave rise to the mobilization.

3. To include the peasantry in all deliberations regarding cultural, social, political and economic decisions.

Traducido solidariamente por Laura Melissa Ordoñez