Protect environmental defenders at risk
The Federation of Artisanal, Environmental and Tourist Fishermen of the Department of Santander -FEDEPESAN- (Federación de Pescadores artesanales, ambientalistas, y turísticos del departamento de Santander) is an organization that defends the environment in the department of Santander. FEDEPESAN had made public complaints about the contamination of the Ciénaga San Silvestre in the municipality of Barrancabermeja (northeast Colombia). The Ciénaga San Silvestre, supply water to around 300.000 persons of the Magdalena Medio region.
Due to their work various members of FEDEPESAN are victim of dead threats and security incidents, some of the latest are:
• On September 13, 2020,Luis Alberto González (Vice President of FEDEPESAN) found nearby his residence a small box with a toad with its throat slit inside and a note with the text "soon you will die. From the ELN” (Próximamente se va a morir. ATT comandante del ELN).
• On October 14, 2020, unidentified armed persons followed Luis González while he was traveling in the rural area of the municipality of Barrancabermeja.
• On January 20, 2021, Unknow people approached Yuly Andrea Velasquez Briceño, President of FEDEPESAN) house, an made gun shots. Yuly and her family were at home and they hide while they called the police. The armed persons left before the police arrived to her home.
• On November 04, 2020, 14 regional environmental leaders including the Vice President of FEDEPESAN, Luis Gonzalez, received a pamlhlet, allegedly from the armed group Black Eagles stating “You have 24 hour to leave the territory or else you will be declared as military target and killed by our units” (“A partir de la fecha tiene 24 horas para que desocupe el territorio o de lo contrario serán declarados objetivos militares y dados de baja por nuestras unidades”).
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for those who protect the land, the territory, and the environment. Human rights defenders risk their lives every day to protect their communities and to defend our natural resources. Due to their work the life of their families is at risk.