Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space: 2015

Among the most severe attacks against the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space in 2015, the following are worthy of note:

Threats and attacks

  • 14 June: threats from paramilitary alias ‘Miguel’ against the community of the Buenaventura Humanitarian Space, who are accompanied by members of CIJP and the international NGO Witness for Peace, who ordered that he leave the Space, to which he responded:“these sons of bitches don’t leave us alone, and I want to do myself a gringo and those leaders that keep fucking around.”[1]
  • 16 June: threat to attack the people of the Humanitarian Space and their national and international accompaniers with explosive artifacts, in a meeting by neo-paramilitary groups in one of the 88 neighborhoods of Buenaventura that are under their control.[2]
  • 4 October: threats were made by telephone towards afro-Colombian leader Doris Valenzuela. A woman’s voice claimed to know that Doris was in Bogotá, and added: “I am your worst nightmare, you can’t hide, wherever you go we will look for you, you and I have problems, caused by you being foul-mouthed, you have to withdraw the report, if you hide under the rocks we will drag you out”. Doris has since become an internally displaced person, and has spent the last year and a half living in Bogotá.The threats stem from an incident where she confronted the neo-paramilitary groups in Buenaventura. Her son Christian was assassinated on the 19th of July 2015.[3]
  • 6 November: threats were issued against the afro-descendant and community leader Pascual M. Garcés, his wife Cruz Elenis Sinisterra, and their child Wilton Garcés; these threats led to their displacement. The perpetrators were four neo-paramilitary members; the incident took place 500 metres from the Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayero. Garcés had not paid the requested extortion payments. Pascual M. Garcés has been precautionary protection measures, ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).[4]


At the end of 2014, CIJP reported on several occasions about the persistence of aggressions and even murders of civilians near the Humanitarian Space of Buenaventura. On the 30th of December 2014 two children were attacked by presumed neo-paramilitaries less than 50 meters from the Humanitarian Space when they rejected recruitment. The minors managed to escape and take refuge in the Humanitarian Space. Six armed men followed them to the Humanitarian Space.[5]

On the 2nd of January 2015 a man entered Humanitarian the Space in very agitated state with signs of having had his wrists tied up and additional injuries to his person. He announced that he had escaped from a “chop-up house”, where his wife and a friend had been dismembered in the Alfonso Lopez neighborhood, just meters from the EH.[6]

Meanwhile, leaders and members of the EH continue to be harassed by members of the state security forces.[7] They are also continued threats from neo-paramilitary groups against the families of victims of the violence in the Buenaventura port who are demanding their rights to truth, justice and reparation.[8]

The risk levels for the entire community increased at the beginning of March due to the presence of armed men around the Humanitarian Space. Among them the neo-paramilitary, alias Pempé, was identified. He had escaped from jail days before and since then has repeatedly threatened the families and leaders of the Humanitarian Space.[9]

In the area around Puente Nayero, armed groups continue to terrify the population through territorial control enforced via disappearances,[10] pillaging[11] and extortion.[12] In Puente Nayero and neighbouring area Punta Icaco, incursions and intimidation by paramilitaries continue to take place.

The Aragón Valenzuela family, which was systematically victimized by neo-paramilitary groups in Buenaventura for opposing forced recruitment and sexual crimes against under-age girls, continues to receive threats in Jamundi (Valle), where they have been displaced because of the persecution they have suffered for the last year.[13]

Threats also continue to be made against the Humanitarian Space’s leaders Orlando Castillo, William Mina and Nohora Isabel Castillo, as paramilitaries intend to take back control of Puente Nayero.[14] A plan emerged to kill Mr Castillo that was halted when perpetrators found that he was accompanied by national and international human rights defenders.[15]

In Punta Icaco, death threats continue to be made against business owners who refuse to pay extortion money and have sometimes resulted in assassinations, including the killing of shop owner Wilder Ubeimar Girlado Salazar on 6 April.[16] Other business owners were threatened into kicking out the international observers and human rights defenders who were staying at their property in Punta Icaco.[17]

The breakdown in a unilateral ceasefire by the FARC has unleashed strong tensions in the Departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Chocó, affecting and displacing family farmers, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to urban areas; many of them have fled to Buenaventura. In June, the United Nations reported the displacement of at least 110 indigenous people from the San Juan river basin to Buenaventura.[18]

Those affected belong to the El Papayo community, who were forced to flee non-stop fighting, intimidation, extortion and restrictions on their freedom of movement, their right to food, and their farming and hunting.[19]

During the third quarter of 2015, the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space, located in the Playita neighborhood in Section 4 of Buenaventura, has once again suffered from the presence and violence of neo-paramilitary groups.

The most distressing incident was the July 19th murder of 17-year-old Christian Aragón, inhabitant of the Humanitarian Space, at the hands of neo-paramilitary groups, which took place only 500 meters from the Humanitarian Space and less than 150 meters from where the Naval Infantry was stationed.[20] Hours after the murder, Christian’s family, who are beneficiaries of precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission, began to receive threats from members of these groups, forcing them to once again flee the city.[21]

On September 20th, community leader María Nieves Torres was approached by a neo-paramilitary member, on the outskirts of the Humanitarian Space, asking to talk with her.[22] María Nieves is the mother of 16-year-old Oscar Fernando Hernández Torres, assassinated in July of 2014, just meters from the Humanitarian Space.[23]

At the same time, in the streets surrounding the Humanitarian Space there have been cases of neo-paramilitary groups extorting [24] and robbing local fishermen.[25]

All these incidents are worrisome, in addition, because they have taken place despite the permanent Army and Police presence in Buenaventura and around the Humanitarian Zones.


[1] CIJP: Intento de asesinato y amenazas de muerte, 16 June 2015
[2] CIJP: Neoparamilitares atentarían contra habitantes de Espacio Humanitario y acompañantes, 17 June 2015
[3] CIJP Death threat made against Doris Valenzuela, 5th of October 2015
[4] CIJP Paramilitaries displace family of community leader in Buenaventura, 16 November 2015
[5] CIJP: Paramilitares intentan matar a dos niños en Buenaventura, 31 December 2014
[6] CIJP: No encuentran a joven descuartizada, 2 January 2015
[7] CIJP: Militar amenaza a joven del Espacio Humanitario, 29 January 2015. CIJP: Mientras paras desaparecen, así trata la policía a los afros, 27 February 2015
[8] CIJP: Intimidaciones, amenazas, señalamiento y asesinato en Buenaventura, 12 March 2015. CIJP: Amenazadas de muerte dos familias por paramilitares, 26 March 2015
[9] CIJP: Paramilitar fugado intimida en Espacio Humanitario, 5 March 2015. CIJP: Intimidaciones, amenazas, señalamiento y asesinato en Buenaventura, 12 March 2015. CIJP: Amenazadas de muerte dos familias por paramilitares, 26 March 2015
[10] CIJP: Posible desaparición de comerciante del barrio La Playita, 28 May 2015
[11] CIJP: Presuntos paramilitares roban a pasajeros de lancha, 13 June 2015
[12] CIJP: Armados disparan contra embarcación en Piedras Cantan, 11 May 2015
[13] CIJP: Golpean y amenazan a familia Aragón, 27 April 2015; Intento de asesinato y amenazas de muerte 16 June 2015
[14] CIJP: Paramilitares amenazan a lider Orlando Castillo, 27 May 2015
[15] CIJP: Por presencia internacional se frustra atentado contra líder de Espacio Humanitario, 2 May 2015
[16] CIJP: Paramilitares asesinan a Wilder Ubeimar, comerciante de Buenaventura, 6 April 2015
[17] CIJP: Amenazan a comerciante al solidarizarse con víctimas, 22 April 2015
[18] United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: Colombia Desplazamiento masivo de Litoral del San Juan (Chocó) a Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca) Flash Update No. 1 (17/06/2015), 17 June 2015
[19] CIJP: Nuevo desplazamiento de indígenasNuevo desplazamiento de indígenas, 16 June 2015
[20] CIJP: Paramilitares matan a niño Christian Aragón, 20 July 2015
[21] CIJP: Planean asesinato de familia Aragón, 23 July 2015
[22] CIJP: Paramilitares presionan a líder negra e indígena, 21 September 2015
[23] CIJP: Paramilitares asesinan a joven de 16 años que hace menos de 20 días se vinculó a los “Gaitanistas”, 1 August 2015
[24] CIJP: Paramilitares extorsionan impunemente, 9 September 2015
[25] CIJP: Paramilitares atracan a pescadores en Piedras Cantan, 14 September 2015

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