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Friday, May 4, 2018

We stand in solidarity with the Movimiento, and we request that the Colombian State investigate this act and punish those responsible. Furthermore, we ask that Colombia adopt urgent and effective measures to stop ongoing violence against environmental defenders.

The undersigned national and international organizations categorically condemn the assassination in Colombia of Mr. Hugo Albeiro George Pérez, member of Movimiento Ríos Vivos.

Movimiento Ríos Vivos denounced the murder of Mr. George, who is a member of the Asociación de Víctimas y Afectados por Megaproyectos (ASVAM) El Aro—part of Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia—and who, along with his family, was affected by the construction of the Hidroituango dam.

The incident, in which his nephew Domar Egidio Zapata George was also killed, occurred on May 2, 2018, in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia, in the context of regional community mobilizations against the social and environmental risks of the damming of the Cauca River.

Hidroituango would be the largest dam in Colombia, with a height of 225 meters and a storage capacity of 20 million cubic meters of water. The project will affect 12 municipalities and impact thousands of families who depend on the river. The project is being financed by a loan package from IDB Invest, the private-sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank.

For defending the land and the Cauca River, Movimiento Ríos Vivos has been the target of threats, intimidation, and human rights violations.

The owners of the Hidroituango project must respect human rights and act with due diligence in assessing the impacts of the dam’s construction.

In response to the incident, we express our solidarity with Movimiento Ríos Vivos and with the family of Hugo Albeiro George Pérez. We request that the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia investigate this act in an expedited manner and that the appropriate court penalize those responsible.

Likewise, and in the context of worsening violence against environmental defenders in the region, we demand that the government guarantee a safe setting for the work of Movimiento Ríos Vivos and to take all necessary precautions to stop the threats, intimidation, and murders against those who defend the environment and their territory.

Finally, we request that environmental authorities investigate the impacts communities suffer due to the damming of the Cauca River and that the government provide assistance to the families affected by the project.

  1. Accion Ecologica, RedLar Ecuador.
  2. Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network.
  3. Alianza Internacional de Habitantes.
  4. Alianza para la Conservación y el Desarrollo, Panamá.
  5. Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental, Lavida, México.
  6. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense.
  7. Bank Information Center.
  8. Bretton Woods Project, Londres.
  9. CEE Bankwatch Network, Hungría
  10. Center for International Environmental Law, Estados Unidos.
  11. Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales, Ecuador.
  12. Coordinadora de Afectados por Grandes Embalses y Trasvases, Coagret.  
  13. Colombia Grasssrooots Support, New Jersey, Estados Unidos.
  14. Colombia Human Rights Committee, Washington, DC, Estados Unidos.
  15. Colombia Land Rights Monitor.
  16. Consejo de los Pueblos Wuxtaj/CPO, Guatemala.
  17. Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos, Guatemala.
  18. Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Perú.
  19. Due Process of Law Foundation, Estados Unidos.
  20. Earthrights International.
  21. Ecosistemas Chile, Chile.
  22. Environmental Investigation Agency, Estados Unidos.
  23. Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Argentina.
  24. Fundación Chile Sustentable, Chile.
  25. Fundar, Mexico.
  26. Front Line Defenders, Reino Unido.
  27. Global Witness, Reino Unido.  
  28. IISCAL, Estados Unidos.  
  29. International Accountability Project, Estados Unidos.
  30. International Labor Rights Forum.
  31. International Rivers.
  32. Latin America Working Group, Estados Unidos.  
  33. Movement for Peace in Colombia, New York, Estados Unidos. 
  34. Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos, México.
  35. Movimiento Victoriano Lorenzo.
  36. Not1More.
  37. Oxfam.
  38. Plataforma Continental Somos una América.
  39. Pueblos Unidos de la Cuenca Antigua. 
  40. Servicios para una Educación Alternativa, México.
  41. Taller de Comunicación Ambiental, Rosario.
  42. Washington Office on Latin America, Estados Unidos.

Press contact:

Víctor Quintanilla, AIDA, +521 5570522107, vquintanilla@aida-americas.org