Colombia: 11,000 prisoners on hunger strike

From Libcom.org:

More than 11,000 Colombian prisoners across 21 jails are now over two weeks into a hunger strike and other acts of resistance.

They are demanding the following:

1) Declare a state of emergency in the country’s correctional facilities and install a National Board of Consultation with inmate representation to develop a plan to address prison conditions.
2) End overcrowding
3) End filthy and unhealthy prison conditions and maintain an adequate system of healthcare.

The prison system in Colombia has been given advice and money from the United States, which has resulted in a legacy of repression and mistreatment.

Water and food within the prison system is in short supply, and is often not fit for human consumption – some of which has been found to contain evidence of faces. In many jails, prisoners still have to shit and piss in buckets or plastic bags

Within recent years, overcrowding in Colombian jails has risen enormously (up to 40% in some areas). The prison estate has a maximum capacity for 78,000 people, yet there are at least 134,000 people currently incarcerated.

Also rising rapidly is the torture and ill treatment of prisoners, and in particularly – political prisoners.

Colombia recognises three types of ‘political prisoner’:

1) Prisoners of conscience – people arrested for political activities and charged with such crimes as, “Rebellion”.
2) Victims of set-ups – persons arrested for political reasons based on false testimonies.
3) Prisoners of war. An estimated 1,000 political prisoners are members of guerrilla groups.

Political prisoners (Colombia has 10,000) are kept in severely restricted conditions. They are often kept in solitary confinement, prevented from sending or receiving mail and the only human contact they are allowed is with prison officers.

Colombia: OAS condemns murder of Indigenous leader

An Organization of American States commission condemned Monday the shooting death last week of a Colombian indigenous leader and human rights proponent.

Luis Alfredo Socarras Pimienta, a Wayuu indigenous leader, dentist and human rights activist, was killed July 27 in the city of Riohacha. The city is located on Colombia’s northern Caribbean Sea coast.

“The information available indicates that the crime was committed by a hit man who shot him in the doorway of his house and then fled,” The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said in a release Monday.

Socarras Pimienta had led several demonstrations by the Wayuu people to protest in favor of better human rights and living conditions, the U.N. panel said. He also had run twice for the mayor’s office for the municipality of Manaure, somewhat akin to a county commission chairmanship in the United States.

The rights commission urged Colombian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the responsible parties to justice.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous panel created by the OAS. The commission consists of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country. They are elected by the OAS General Assembly.

The OAS, with headquarters in Washington, is comprised of 35 independent nations in the Western Hemisphere.