Barrancabermeja massacre

This massacre took place on 16th May 1998 in Barrancabermeja (Santander), when highly armed paramilitaries murdered seven local inhabitants and disappeared another 25 people who had been taking part in a community fundraising event.

Since 1998, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective Corporation (CCAJAR) has represented 21 of the victims and has so far succeeded in obtaining convictions for approximately 20 paramilitaries, and 6 members of the security forces (Army, Police and DAS) being linked to the investigation, as well as the assistant head of security of Ecopetrol. The massacre took place as a result of a series of actions and omissions by members of the Colombian security forces.

Evidence gathered in the prosecutions conclusively shows that the massacre was the result of a complex criminal plan involving the participation of State agents, businessmen and paramilitaries. It was demonstrated that military and police officers from the area were aware of an imminent paramilitary incursion in Barrancabermeja, that they issued orders and took actions to enable the paramilitaries to enter the city, that they forbade their men from leaving their base to protect the population, and failed to take any actions to pursue the paramilitaries and rescue the people who had been kidnapped. The case was admitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).[1]


[1] Interview with CCAJAR, 13 September 2016

*Cover illustration: María Lessmes

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